Monday, December 28, 2009

holy families?

Sunday was the Feast of the Holy Family.  Fortunately, they don't call it the Feast of the Perfect Family, but I think they got kind of an unfair advantage considering two of the members were sinless.  Poor Joseph!  But they weren't perfect - their teenager decided to stay behind in the city they were visiting without telling anyone, and his parents left without making sure he was with them. 

Our families, too, are called to be holy, though sometimes we are not anywhere close to that ideal!  So, if we are called to be holy, that must be an attainable goal.  Not perfection - just holy. 

The second reading from Sunday is one of my favorite bits of scripture.  It seems to come up fairly frequently, and it will always remind me of our previous pastor for a couple of different reasons.  This is from Colossians 3:12-17, and it gives us some direction for having a holy family: 

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, (that's us!) heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.  And over all of these put on love.... And let the peace of Christ control your hearts.... And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly....And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Oh, goodness!  Patience?  Bearing with one another - even when you are tired of bearing with some people?  Forgiving?  Again??  Patience?  Love?  Be thankful??  Really??  We are God's chosen ones?  So we have to act like it?  Was He running short on people to choose from ?  Patience??  Peace of Christ?  Peace?  Here?  In this house?  I have to forgive AS the Lord forgives me?  That means I'll be forgiving for years to come??  The same things over and over?  Patience?? 

Does anyone think that this call to be a Holy Family might be a lifetime work?  Probably best accomplished with prayers, as well as compassion, gentleness, humility, patience, forgiveness, love, and gratitude.  Lord, don't go anywhere.  I'll be needing you often for this project! 

Friday, December 25, 2009

christmas blues

Don't get me wrong, I like Christmas, though I probably like Advent more - the preparing and anticipating and waiting, the quiet expectation.  Christmas brings family togetherness, food.  The smiles on my kids' faces when they get something they really wanted.  All good things.   I just wish there was less emphasis on the gifts and more emphasis on THE gift.  

Last year, money was tight in the extended family, and the gifts were scaled back some.  There was less expectation.  This year, I feel like I let down some of the recipients.  Our gifts did not match up dollar for dollar.  And when the gift-giving is basically exchanging gift cards, it's easy to see who spent what.  On the other hand, I did not go in debt up to my eyeballs.

God is good!  Maybe someday there will be more focus on THE GIFT and less on the gifts!

we played with string

Back in the days before the dawn of time, back before the days of Atari, and cable TV, we amused ourselves with simpler entertainment.  Here my brother takes a step back in time and demonstrates how to create the ever-popular "cup and saucer" with a string.  I, for my part, could remember the "rocket ship", the "parachute", the "chicken-foot" (which is the parachute turned upside down) and the most difficult of all - Jacob's Ladder.  I was kind of amazed that I can still remember those things after 30+ years.  Our kids didn't "get it" at all.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

God is with us!

O come let us adore Him...

One of the scouts who helped us decorate was taken at the appearance of "flaming straw" around Baby Jesus and commented about it (more than once) to Father, who finally said, "Yes, He is burning with love for you.....are you on fire with love for Him?"  And that was part of the homily tonight.  Another point, was that straw is rather useless material.  Our lives are like the straw, waiting for Jesus to rest in the "stuff" of our lives. 

A few pictures from our decorating excursion at church yesterday:

Merry Christmas!

parts and pieces, part five

My former co-worker/friend was able to make it to my house this morning to complete my washer repair job.  $40 later he was on his way, and I am able to wash clothes in my own house once again.  Hopefully this will be the last repair for a little while!  And that will mean the end of the "parts and pieces" series.  I hope!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ready or not...

Here He comes!

This Advent has been relatively stress free.  My shopping was done yesterday - 2 days ahead of schedule by my standards.  I still need to wrap, but there is tomorrow for that, and some of it is done already. 

The tree was put up a couple of days ago.  Or half of it, anyway.  We decided to leave off the back side of it, in order to make it a little more compact.  Space is at a premium.  No ornaments this year, thanks to the cat.  But it looks nice with some twinkly lights and candy canes.  And an angel on the top that was handmade by the mother of one of my students 15 years ago or so.  Its head is a little droopy - maybe I should try to fix that.

Went to confession a week or so ago, so our souls are relatively clean; the house not so much.

Lessons and Carols was Sunday night at church.  We listened to readings recapping our salvation history and listened to/sang carols between readings.  Our choir did a wonderful job, and it was an hour well-spent.

Christmas cards got skipped this year, and I have a feeling I am not the only one.  I think I have only received 3, in spite of the fact that I actually sent them out last year!

Baking cookies was a thought.  Even bought the dough (slacker, I know).  But the kids decided (and I agree) that eating the dough is more satisfying than the cookies, soooo....the baking didn't quite happen this year.

The church is decorated.  I don't do much decorating at home, so this satisfied my decorating urge.  We were there because the boys needed service hours for their next rank in scouts.  I had been told that we would be needed to unpack some boxes, carry in the nativity pieces, and hang some stuff.  I really thought it would be 20 or 30 minutes, but we were there for 2 1/2 hours!  The boys did unpack boxes and carry pieces from the hall to the church.  We hung thingies on the walls.  They climbed around in the church attic looking for spray-painted pine cones.  We fluffed bows.  They hauled live plants and fake trees here and there.  I will try to take some pictures after Mass tomorrow and post them.  Our beautiful little church was all set for Christmas when we left!

Come Lord Jesus!

parts and pieces, part four

When we did the last bit of maintenance on the washing machine, before I closed it back up (sounds like surgery), I took a look around with the flashlight and saw that one of the two shock aborbers holding up the tub was broken.  I didn't order them right away, but one day last week.  They came in about a week ago, and last weekend, we endeavored to replace them (both of them are now broken).  We did manage to take off the ones that were on the machine, but try as we might, could not get the new ones on.  Picture in your mind - this is at the bottom of the washing machine, so we are laying down on the bathroom floor, trying to push or pull the particular piece into place.  Not a whole lot of leverage.

Soooo.... I called a former colleague from school, who left teaching this year to "pursue other interests".  Apparently the other interests are going pretty good, because it has been difficult for him to find time in his schedule.  But, he just called, and is going to come by in the morning.  Say a prayer that he knows what he is doing and can get humpty dumpty back together again, and I will be able to do laundry in my own house once again!

Monday, December 21, 2009

o radiant dawn

Here's a bit of Catholic trivia for you:  the "O Antiphons".   Click on the link for more specific information.  The O Antiphons are prayed during Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours from December 17 to December 23.  Each "O" is followed by a title (in Latin) that relates to Jesus and was found in the prophecies of Isaiah.  As an "added bonus", when the first letter of each title when taken in reverse order, spells the Latin for "tomorrow He comes". 

Anyway, the Antiphon for today was "O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:  come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death."  I wonder if it is an accident that an antiphon that speaks of radiant light was chosen for the shortest day of the year?

As I drove to Mass this mornng at 6:15 or so, the dawn was anything but radiant.  It was foggy and still dark, and I wondered where the extra daylight that we had a month or so ago had gone!  The good news is that the days will get longer from here on out...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

unthinkable impossibilities

Unthinkable impossibilities - like the Saints being 13-0.  Do we dare to think 14-0?

The homily this evening was about unthinkable impossibilities that give way to save realities.  An unthinkable impossibility like a virgin conceiving the child of God by the Holy Spirit so that He could walk among us as one of us.  And what a saving reality that unthinkable impossibility was!

In our own lives there are unthinkable impossibilities - addictions, struggles, family issues.  But given to God (and not taken back), we can be open to saving realities - in His way, not ours.

Edited to add:  Perhaps 14-0 was an unthinkable impossibility.  But perhaps this loss will be a "saving reality" for the Saints.  If they have to play Dallas in the play-offs, perhaps we'll be ready for them!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

gift from the heart

About 6 weeks into the school year, I got a new little student in my class.  His records say that he is mildly mentally disabled, but I'm not so sure.  The other kids have pointed him out as "slow", but he routinely has answers in my math class, when they do not.  He is quiet, never bothers anyone, and one of this "things" is to draw rows and rows and rows of these little men.  His box of crayons, pencils, glue sticks, and scissors is always present.  He will usually put these away when I ask, so that he can do math, but usually - when there's a break in the action -  they find their way back to his desktop. 

When I looked closely at what he was doing one day, I thought they were pretty interesting.  Each one is different, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason.  I asked if I could have one, and he shook his head "no".  One day on his way out the door, he shoved a paper at me, "Here".  It was one of his sheets of drawing, but uncolored.  The next day, I asked him if he would color it for me, and he took it back to work on it.  Periodically, I've asked him if he is working on it for me, and he nods. I told him that's what I wanted for Christmas.  Today, I got my present.  I think I will mat it and laminate it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

different scenery

Like many, I am a creature of habit.  It's just good knowing what to expect.  Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays will find me at 6:30 Mass at one church.  Unless I have a before-school meeting, Tuesdays and Wednesdays will generally find me at 7:30 Mass at another parish that is a bit out of the way.

Today, though, was rainy.  The school drop-off line was limited to the 3 or 4 cars that could fit under the pavilion at one time, and so moved more slowly.  By the time I dropped off my bundles of joy at school, I knew I would be late for 7:30 Mass.  Sometimes I will just go ahead and go, praying that the lights are with me and there is a parking place and I am not too late. I figure Jesus would rather see me late, than not at all.   But today, the weather was nasty, the roads were wet, and something told me not to make the trip across town.

But I have really come to depend on my early morning times with Jesus.  (Daily Masses are often a lot quieter than weekend Masses.)  The next best thing?  The adoration chapel.  So I went to "the little chapel down the road" and spent a nice quiet half hour there before I had to be on my way to school. Sometimes that's the best part of the day -  at the feet of Jesus.

Monday, December 14, 2009

cutting edge

This little gadget arrived in my room on Friday: 

It is a Promethean Board, and is something like a giant touch screen monitor.  I can hook a laptop to it on the side, and there is a projector on the arm at the top.  The screen can be raised and lowered.  It is SOOOooo cool. 

Even though the internet aspect of it wasn't working today, we still found plenty to do.  Everyone got a chance to write, draw, decorate.  By the last period, I had the sense to save their creations. 

This is exciting for me, because in special ed, we usually get the leftovers.  The textbooks that no one uses, etc.  For us to actually get something new and "cutting edge" is almost beyond words.

This little marvel sells for somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000.  It was paid for with Stimulus Funds.  Be sure to thank your grandkids for me someday!

spiritual tidbits

We are blessed to have a pastor who is an awesome homilist.  You never find yourself wondering what he's trying to say or how much longer he is going to go on about whatever.  There is always a point.  They take as long as they need to take, but never any longer.  More often than not, you are sure that he is talking to you!  Some are awesome, some are just good, but I think I could sit and listen to him all day. 

Anyway, here are a few insights from the past few days of daily Mass and Sunday.  Sometimes I take a few notes; sometimes I rely on memory, which fades pretty fast.  One of his favorite ways to start a homily is to highlight a few verses from one of the readings or from several of the readings and then go from there.  I'll put those verses in bold italics.

From Thursday: I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand.  It is I who say to you, "Fear not, I will help you." (Isaiah 41:13)  Fear not!  This is the command that we see most often in the Bible.  How do we do this?  After all, God made us, and fear is part of our make-up.  The way that we do this is to avoid making choices based on fear and anxiety.  I sit there thinking, "Well, I don't really do that," and he further explains.  We lie because we are afraid of looking bad or taking responsibility for our actions.  We cave in to peer pressure because we are afraid of not being accepted.  We engage in intimate relationships that the Lord does not bless because we are afraid of being alone.  Hmmmm....   Well maybe sometimes.  I think it is a comforting image to see the Lord taking us by the hand.  Just like a mom grabs a child's hand and says, "Let's go.  Everything will be alright.  I will help you!"

From Friday:  I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go. (Isaiah 48: 17ff)  Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life. (Psalm 1)  But wisdom is vindicated by her works.  (Mathhew 11:19)  You can't please everyone.  Follow the Lord.

From Sunday:  Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!  Sing joyfully, O Israel!  Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem... The Lord, Your God, is in your midst... (Zephaniah 3:14 ff) This was written while Israel was in exile and Jerusalem lay in ruins.  They were at a political and moral low.  What a strange time to rejoice!  Rejoice in the Lord always.  I shall say it again:  rejoice!...The Lord is near.  (Philippians 4: 4 ff)  These were written by St. Paul as he sat in prison about to be beheaded.  Rejoice?  How?  Know that joy is not the absence of sorrow, pain, and trouble in our lives.  Rather, joy is the result of the presence of God in our midst.  We are to turn to the Lord and hold nothing back.  What should we do? (Luke 3:10)  Well, rejoice!

From today:  I see him, though not now;  I behold him, though not near:  A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel. (Numbers 24)  This was a prophecy uttered by Balaam - a pagan. He was instructed by the King of Moab to curse Israel.  Instead, he is faithful to the voice of God.  St. John of the Cross, whose feast is celebrated today says that we must dig deeply in Christ.  He is like a mine of many treasures.  We allow this to happen in prayer.  Not babbling prayer, but prayer of listening, which leads to Wisdom. 

And that is all I've got for that.  Your mileage may vary.

the weekend in review

Just didn't seem like too much to write about this weekend.  Not sure why I'm writing about it now...

Friday night found me at an Ornament Exchange Party hosted by one of my mom-friends.  It was a crowd of a lot of teachers from several different schools.  The food was delicious, the company was good, the evening was fun, and everyone left with an ornament.  The only drawback was my attempt to park on the street.  In the dark, I did not see the storm drain / catch basin on the curb.  I hit it with my tire, and when I got out of the car I could hear a gentle  Sssssssss.  So not a good thing.  One of the other partiers volunteered that she had roadside assistance on her phone plan and offered to call.  She did, and within a half hour or so, a young man came and changed my tire.  Unfortunately Saturday morning found me at the tire store buying a new one.

Let's see:  cookies for the party, $8.99.....2 cute snowmen ornaments, $3.99 each and 20% off, 1 new tire, $113.00 + change... Wait - something's supposed to be priceless...

What was priceless was kid #1.  His school hosted a dance the same evening.  Previously he has not been very enthused about school dances, having attended only one in 6th grade, which he declared to be a tremendous waste of his time!  But he has discovered something this year:  G-I-R-L-S!  and he was really looking forward to the dance.  I was glad to find when I picked him up that he had a good time.  Even though some of the girls weren't really excited about dancing with him, no one refused him.  He came to me with his shirt and said, "Mom, smell.  You can smell the 'girl smell!'"  That was probably priceless.  But I am so not ready for this girl thing.

Saturday afternoon was confession and Mass.  There was an actual LINE at confession.  I almost forgot what I had to say by the time I got in there - had to look at my list!  But it was good to see some other sinners. We celebrated after Mass with Chick-Fil-A.  And while the boys filled up on chicken nuggets, I had a peppermint chocolate chip shake to go along with my meal.  You only live once, and it was worth it!

Someone's cell phone went off during the quietest part of Mass - apparently not for the first time. That was awkward.  Father refused to continue Mass until the offending phone was removed from the church.  I didn't know whether to pray for him or the cell phone owner.  Maybe both. 

Sunday passed in a whirl.  The Saints are 13-0!!  I wrapped some Christmas presents.  Lesson plans.  Math homework.  Laundry.  Cleaning the kitchen. Lighting the Advent wreath.

And now I guess you know why there was nothing very exciting to blog.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

playing on God's team

He chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. (Ephesians 1)

At today's school Mass held on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Father explained that when he was a skinny, buck-toothed kid in junior high, he was usually the last one to get picked for any sort of team.  And when you get "picked" under those circumstances, you're not really being chosen at all; someone is just getting stuck with you. 

But here we are chosen by God before the beginning of the world - from all eternity.  He actually WANTS us on His team!  I think that's a team that I want to play on.  I am often thankful that I have been chosen.   (And from what I hear, it's a winning team!)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

silent reflection

There were a few camp pictures that didn't make the good, the bad, and the ugly posts, but which I thought were still worth posting.  All of them reflections in the lake.  For some reason, the colors that are reflected in the lake are more vivid than the actual colors.  Maybe if we look at ourselves in God's mirror, the same thing happens??

about those crooked paths...

Today's Gospel reading for the 2nd Sunday of Advent was taken from Luke 3.  It quoted from Isaiah, and it made me think of the title of the blog.  At some point I will have to pull out my Bible and see if the scripture from Isaiah is the same one used in my title...

A voice of one crying out in the desert:
"Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."

There are some rough spots in my life that need to be made smooth, some winding roads that could be a little straighter.  So hopefully, we can make it to confession next Saturday.  Father even said the "c-word" in a sentence in his homily today - saying something about making a good confession before Christmas in order to better welcome Jesus into our lives. 

o is for ostensorium

Saturday evening found the boys and I attending Mass and later eating pizza with our former pastor.  He seems to enjoy our company a couple of times a year, and endures the all-you-can-eat buffet.  The conversation ranges all over the place - from "artistic" displays of people who have donated their bodies to science to how Catholic schools can only teach the degree of Catholicism that the people there are comfortable with practicing themselves to the origins of the names of the days of the week to catching up on mutual friends/acquaintances.  I always learn something.

Earlier in the week, I had emailed him asking for his help with an ABC book I am putting together for my Godchild.  I had pictures for many of the letters, but still needed some help with several.  So before we left for the pizza place, we brainstormed, and he scoured the sacristy looking for things to fill in the blanks.  A couple of the additions to the book:

Yep!  That's an Ostensorium.  AKA as a Monstrance!

And V is for vestments of which he is very proud.  They are a vast improvment over the old ones.  But I didn't see a pink rose chasuable in the closet....


There was a bit of snow here on Friday night. And just the THREAT of snow was enough to cancel all evening plans. The kids had fun in the slush and snow. The fact that we avoided a trip to the ER with all the slipping and sliding and swinging of golf clubs and general frenzied excitement is something of a miracle.

A few pictures from the evening:

And then there's the whole global warming thing...when we've gotten snow 2 years in a row in early December (technically still fall) in south Louisiana...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

first comes advent

Sometimes I feel like the lone ranger among friends and acquaintances. We celebrate Advent. Before Christmas.

I dislike that Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year. That what should be a time of waiting and preparation for the King of Kings to come to us in a deeper way, is often a frantic time of spending too much money, fretting over the getting the perfect gift, and trying to get everything "done" before the 25th day of December arrives.

What we are waiting for and preparing for somehow gets very lost in the hustle and bustle of making sure no person is forgotten, or worse yet, disappointed.

By the same token, with the early arrival of Christmas in November, by the time the actual celebration gets here, we are so saturated in the sights and the sounds that we are ready for it to be over with for another year. The Christmas season goes on until January 12 in the church. But in the secular world, almost everything is said and done by the evening of December 25. When I was a child, it made me sad to see trees already out "on the street" on the way home from my grandparents' house on Christmas night. When was the last time you heard Christmas music on December 26?

I only have one Christmas tree, and it is not up yet. It will probably go up the weekend before Christmas. To be fair, this is not SOLELY because I want to give Advent its due first. This was the way my family did it years ago, and the way it evolved with hubby and I in our earlier years. We would wait until the live trees were "marked down" before getting one! Then there is the lack of space in my cozy household. And my cat thinks that climbing in the tree and knocking down the ornaments is some kind of kitty-Olympic sport. Those reasons are also part of the reason that the nativity set is not set up, either.

The activities highlighted in the video below are some of the ways that we will celebrate Advent. For several years, we have lit an advent wreath and had some kind of reading to go along with it. Not every night, but some nights. Hubby is never a willing participant, but the boys have played along - if for nothing more than a chance to light and blow out candles. And we will "prepare our hearts for Christmas" by going to confession at some point. Trying to fix up some of the things in our lives, so that Jesus feels welcome there when He comes. And with the rolls of cookie dough in the freezer section, there might even be some cookie baking this year.

Part of me still wishes, though, for a return to a simpler Christmas where we are focused on what we were REALLY given on that first Christmas many years ago. That was THE perfect Gift!


I was 13 1/2 when my only sister was born, and no one was happier than me! With 2 brothers between us, I was quite eager to balance the odds. Thrilled as I was, though, when my sister was 4, I left home to go to college, and we really haven't lived in close proximity in the last 25 years. We are still close, enjoy each other's company, served in each other's weddings, and are Godmother for each other's children. But my circle of sisters has expanded.

My husband's sister says I am the sister she never had. And although we are as different as night and day, there is a closeness there, too. We have swapped Godparent duties and she introduced me to the Adoration chapel where I like to drop in sometimes. Last year we tagged along with each other to parish missions during Lent.

There are a few mom friends of my boys that I am close to; a few that we can talk about matters of faith. Some of them, by their example and witness, have encouraged me along the road. And maybe, by the same token, others will come to a closer relationship with Jesus by something I have said or done.

There are internet friends that have helped me along the way on my journey - other Catholic moms. People I may never meet this side of heaven, but whom I can bounce ideas off of and get feedback and ideas from . Some of them have become good friends with whom I can discuss matters of the soul.

There is my best, best friend from high school, who is a "real" Sister (a Poor Clare) Since she is cloistered and lives 1400 miles away, our relationship at this point of our lives is mostly by email. A visit is a rare treat; I think we have seen each other 5 times in the past 10 years. But, this is probably the one person with whom I can share anything. Who will "get" what I'm saying and still love me anyway. When I want an honest opinion, I can get it - sometimes unasked for. A shoulder to cry on. Advice. Prayers. Or just someone to listen to my rambling. All of the above! (or 'answers may vary') ;-)

And then there are my "church lady" friends, as hubby calls them. One that I have known for a few years (hi Cat!) and another that I just met this past summer. This week, I was lucky enough to meet both of them for coffee. Both are a few years further along in the motherhood business than I am, and their perspective is valuable. And both of them "get it". Someone to share a love of the Mass, the sacraments and our faith with - in real life. Someone who understands. When I got home after one of my coffee "dates", dear hubby asked me what I talk about with them that I can't talk about with him and the kiddos.  "Oh, faith, grace, stuff like that."  How do you explain that?  Female spiritual conversation.

And so even though it's after Thanksgiving, I am grateful for these sisters in Christ. Sisters who don't think you're crazy when you actually enjoy Mass or go to confession more than once a decade. Sisters who are sitting next to you at daily Mass. Sisters who listen. Sisters who pray. Thank you, God for these sisters. My family has expanded, and I am blessed to have their support on the journey!

drowsy hearts, lifted souls

Thoughts from the weekend homily: To you, O Lord, I lift my soul. (1)Jesus has come and is with us. He came to change us and to bring us hope and to make us more like Himself. He is WITH us, and He is here FOR us. We can let Him be our strength against all the storms of life and all the issues that we have. (2) How we live our lives determines our eternity. In that way we are the master of our own destiny. The choices we make here in freedom have eternal consequences. And at some point, we WILL stand before the Father in judgment. But He tells us in Thessalonians how we should live our lives: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all... so to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father...

Another phrase that caught *my* attention, but did not "make" the homily was from the Gospel (Luke 21): Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. I don't do much of the carousing and drunkenness thing these days - never did, really - but I can surely relate to the anxieties of daily life getting in the way. And a "drowsy heart" that a heart that just mopes through life?

Lord, remind me to draw upon your strength when the anxieties of daily life get in the way. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

advent video

Quite honestly, the music isn't really my style, and I'm not wild about it.  But I DO like the activities of preparation that the video shows  Your mileage may vary. 

(Plus I want to see if I can get a video to show up on my blog ;-))

Woo Hoo! It worked!

Friday, November 27, 2009

parts and pieces, part three

The washer parts arrived by Fed-Ex early Wednesday afternoon.  After I psyched myself up, I laid down on the bathroom floor with my handy flashlight to see what I could do.  I positioned the piece so that all three of the hose openings lined up with whatever they were supposed to connect with.  Then I put the clamp on the largest part.  It was the easiest clamp to install.  Then I tried and tried with the vice grips to clamp the other clamps open so that I could slide the rubber hose part onto the connecting part and then slide the clamp over the whole mess.  I didn't have a whole lot of luck, so dear hubby came to the rescue.  He clamped open the clamps, and then I slid the hoses on to the connecting parts.  Then he slid the clamp over the hose.  It took a few tries, but it worked.  The true test was putting a load of clothes in and starting it up.  No leaks!  :-)

Before I put the front panel back, I took a quick look around at the washer innards and noticed that there was another broken part.  The tub is held up by two shock absorber looking things, and one of them is broken.  $27 for a set of two.  I am not sure I know how to put them on, but I guess it couldn't hurt to order them now, before the other one breaks....

Side note:  The knob that I use to set the dryer timer has been broken for some time, so I have kept a special pair of pliers in the bathroom for that purpose.  While I was ordering the hose part, I ordered a knob, too.  Seems so strange to just start the dryer without looking for the pliers to turn it on!

Stay tuned for parts and pieces, part four...the continuing saga of As the Dryer Turns...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

unmerited gifts

Started off Thanksgiving with Mass.  It only seems right - on a day of giving thanks - to go straight to the giver of all gifts.  The One who owes us nothing, but without whom we wouldn't even exist.  The homily was about giving thanks for unmerited gifts; gifts we do not deserve - not the least of which is Jesus, Himself.  Others that I would add:  family, friends, friendship, faith, forgiveness.  Those who lead and instruct us in faith, those who pray for us, those who inspire us.  Those whom we can serve.  The blessing of being born and living in a country where freedom is all but taken for granted.  Employment.  Health.  Life.  Sacraments.  Guardian angels.  All way more than we deserve.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

the good

Two days and one night with my boys at Boy Scout camp, were filled with many good things:

Beautiful, peaceful sights:

Time spent with my sons:

Personal achievements and new skills:

And friends: 

the bad

We have been to this camp before, and the FOOD is one of "the 4 F's".  (The other "F's" are Fun, Facilities, and Friendliness.)  The "4 F's" are several of  the reasons why we select this camp over others.  Well, you can scratch "food' off of the list.  What little we had was tasty, but the portions were not adequate and the only way to supplement was with junk at the trading post.  In the past, the food has been tasty, the portions have been generous, and  PB&J has been available at all meals.  I realize that I probably need to eat less, but I wasn't going to camp looking for a diet.  This was my lunch on Tuesday: 

That reddish liquid in the bowl is "chili".  Lunch on Monday was 4 (FOUR!) dry chicken nuggets without ketchup or BBQ sauce, one scoop of mashed potatoes with no gravy, one spoonful of "baked beans" and one spoonful of red jello.

Don't even get me started on the brown liquid that was referred to as "coffee".  

But, hey, I weighed a pound less today!

and the ugly

Accidents at camp are never a good thing.  This is what happens when one kid throws a stick at another kid and misses by a large margin. When the target sarcastically says, "nice job, " a rock lands a little closer to the mark.  This is why our mothers told us not to throw rocks.  This could have been SO much worse.  Missed it by that much.

And this is why Boy Scouts teach knife safety AND first aid.  Five stitches later....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

be fire!

This afternoon, I was going through some things looking for lost items (which I did not find) when I came across this tidbit.  It was on a handout that I received last May when I went to a Mother's Day of Reflection.   I thought it was appropriate since I will be camping for the next two days:

God's endeavor is to give himself to us entirely.
Just as the fire seeks to draw the wood into itself,
and itself into the wood, it first finds the wood unlike itself.
It takes a little time.
Fire begins by warming it, then heating it,
and then it smokes and crackles
because the two are so unlike each other.
The hotter the wood becomes,
the more still and quiet it grows.
The more it is likened to the fire, the more peaceful it is,
until it becomes entirely flame.
That the wood be transformed into fire,
all dissimilarity must be chased out of it.
Meister Eckhart, OP (13th - 14th century) 

Lord, chase away the things in my life that are dissimilar to You.

more thankfulness

Haven't run out yet...

Yesterday - Saturday - was a wet, rainy gray day.  And I was very thankful that our boys made it safely to camp and that I was NOT out there with them.

Today - Sunday - I am thankful for my brother-in-law who lets me wash my clothes at his house, since our washing machine in not currently operational.

Tomorrow - Monday - I am headed to the woods to spend time with my boys (and about 8 others).  I am grateful for the time away from television, homework, computers, cell phones (for the most part), and other distractions.  I am grateful for the peace and the times you can hear quiet.

parts and pieces, part two

Dear hubby had told me that the local parts place wouldn't order the part without a model number and a part number, and wasn't too helpful about finding them.  Sooooo....I found the model number on the inside of the dryer door, and then I did a search for "frigidaire washer parts" and went looking for the part number.  That took me to a few different websites, each with a schematic of the insides of the washer/dryer with numbers pointing to each part.  It didn't take me long to find the parts I needed - (the hose thingy and a knob that has been out of commission for quite a while).  And as long as I was there, I placed an order.  The knob was $20 (highway robbery) and the hose thingy was $30.  Shipping was $13 (I paid $6 extra to get 2-day shipping because I didn't want it to be caught up in the Thanksgiving holiday).  Bet it would have cost me a lot more to call a repair guy. 

what have they done with Him?

I had some "extra" time this afternoon, and thought I would go to the Adoration chapel down the road.  It's been quite a while since I've been there.  This parish has a 5:30 evening Mass, and I got there about 5:15.  I walked into the chapel, signed in, genuflected, and then noticed (because another lady sitting there told me) that Jesus was gone!  They had come and taken Him, she said, because there was going to be a procession after 5:30 Mass in honor of the Feast of Christ the King....

So I stayed for a little while, and other people came in and out.  It was quiet, but it wasn't the same.  Maybe next year, I will check into the procession.  I wasn't quite sure how a procession  through the streets at 6:30 in the evening - in the dark - was going to work out...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

whose terms?

This weekend we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.  This marks the last Sunday in the Liturgical year for Catholics. 

All 3 of the readings at Mass had something to do with Kings, Kingship or Kingdoms.  The Gospel was from John and has Jesus standing before Pilate who is asking Him if He is a king.  And Jesus doesn't answer Pilate directly because His Kingdom is not going to be defined on Pilate's terms.  In this exchange, we are Pilate.  When we stand before Jesus, are we going to define Jesus' Kingship in our lives on our terms or His terms?  The verdict in this trial depends on how much we mean it when we pray, "thy kingdom come, THY will be done..."

Jesus, I am yours.  Do with me as you see fit.

parts and pieces

So what is it??  Give up? 

It's the drain hose thingy on my washing machine.  And it has a hole in it.

This afternoon, I found a large amount of water on the bathroom floor - more than what might be caused by an enthusiastic bath-taker.  So I started to investigate.  There were items far away from the bathtub that were wet.  And the more I looked, the wetter the things were.  Needed to be cleaned out, anyway.  Then, as I listened, I could hear the steady trickle of water.  That's not supposed to happen. 

I took off the front of the washer - took a little while to find the proper tool to unscrew the oddly shaped screws, but I did it.  Then I could easily peek in and see where and what the problem was.  I was able to undo the silver clamp at the top, but had to call on dear hubby to get the two green ones loose.

We took the nasty rubber item to Lowes, after dumping out the remaining water and finding 3 quarters and a thin piece of metal that probably caused the hole in the drain hose thingy.  A nice employee at Lowe's was able to tell us where we might find a store that sells parts.  They won't be open until Monday, however.

Hopefully, we will get the part ordered and reinstalled and I will be able to use the washer again.  And we might have saved the price of an iPhone by doing it ourselves.  Maybe.


The other night, my offspring served for our parish's confirmation Mass.  There were 10 high schoolers being confirmed.  (Our parish is not very big and a large percentage of our population is elderly - way past high school age.) 

Last year, the bishop came, and it was quite a production with the Bishop, the Pastor, and 2 other priests (masters of ceremony?), and 4 altar servers squeezed into the sanctuary.  This year, it was just our pastor (and 3 handsome altar servers), and I think I preferred that.  He gave what I thought was a wonderful homily to the candidates, starting off with a story from his own confirmation.  Then he related a conversation he had had with a young lady who had been shot and survived the Columbine High School massacre.   She said "yes" when asked if she believed in God, and how that "yes" came from a lifetime of "walking with Jesus".  He went on to give them specific examples of what it means to walk with Jesus.... "And when you fall in love.... and there is the temptation to express that love in ways that God can not and will not bless....And you know what I'm talking about..."  He conveys his thoughts so clearly.  Towards the end of the Mass, he mentioned that it is unusual for a pastor to confirm the confirmation candidates from their own parish, and how meaningful it was for him to be able to do so.  Come Holy Spirit!

There was a reception afterwards and we visited with friends from Boy Scouts whom we hadn't seen in a while.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

gut feelings

Children don't come with owner's manuals, and we are at a crossroads, as it is time for Kid #1 to choose a high school, after 10 years at his Catholic elementary/middle school. 

The public high school that we are zoned for also offers a technology "academy" and this is where his interests lie.  If he spent the time that he spends on his computer homework on his academic courses, who knows what he could achieve?

When I realized some months ago that this might be a viable option for him, I was a little sad.  I had always assumed he would go on the the nearby Catholic high school.  His older brother went there many years ago, and it was a good place for him.  I had hoped that he would continue to receive a Catholic education mostly for the faith aspects.

Tonight was Open House at the Catholic high school.  I went hoping that there would be something that I saw there that would make me think that it was the place that he should go.  But there was nothing.  The more I saw, the more convinced I became that he would not be happy there and that we are being led somewhere else.  The rap songs that the students created as a religion project.  I have heard that the Theology department is very good, but to pick that as the thing to show to prospective parents was just a bit odd.  The constant mantra about how challenging the classes are.  The fact that the classrooms seem to be mostly unchanged from when big brother went there 15 or more years ago, but there is a new state of the art, awesome weight room and pictures all around of the stadium that is to be built.  I would bet that the library still has the same encyclopedias that it did 20 years ago, too.  The fact that there is one - count it - UNO computer class available for the four years.  The idea of weekly Mass and confessions available a couple of times a month was nice, but we can do that on our own. 

Oddly enough, kid #2, who tagged along with us seemed to picture himself there the following year.

Again, I feel a little sad.  But I suppose I should be thankful that we have a choice, that there is an alternative that really interests him, and that it doesn't come with a $5,000 + price tag.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

more gratitude

Continuing with the gratitude theme - leading up to Thanksgiving.

Sunday found me grateful for my big, orange, riding lawnmower.  I got the back of the backyard mowed.  It was SO dry.  So I was also grateful for the Zyrtec that allowed me to continue to breathe after inhaling all that stuff.

Monday, I was thankful for my kids.  Basically, good kids that keep my life interesting.

Tuesday, we're going with a religious theme.  Today is my patron saint's feast day - St. Elizabeth of Hungary.  So I am thankful for all the Saints that have gone before us:  Sts. Elizabeth, Clare, Francis, and Anthony to name but a few.  I am also grateful for St. Cody who taught me so much in the years he was in my class.  I am grateful for the Eucharist (literally Thanksgiving) and the opportunities we have to receive.  I had the opportunity to attend Mass at my kids' school this morning.  We are so blessed.

Wednesday I was grateful that my stepson will be returning from Iraq for good - hopefully before Christmas.

Thursday I am thankful for the people that I work with.  Some days they make it worthwhile.

Friday I am so thankful that it is Friday.  And that we have an entire week off of school. 

Saturday I am thankful that I am not at winter camp in the rain with my boys, and thankful that when I get there on Monday, the weather should be nice!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

no accident

If we get to Heaven after we die, it won't be by accident and it won't be because God was having a good day when we got there.  It will be because we choose in freedom to give glory and honor to God by the things we think, do, and say.  Admittedly, some days I make better choices than others with my freedom.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

missed it by *that* much

Yesterday, leaving Mass, I turned right on to a major road - heading for the turning lanes at the stoplight.  I had looked both ways and everything was clear.  As I pulled into the middle of the road, an SUV flew out of nowhere cutting right in front of me.  He must have come from across the street - turning left onto the road, headed for the far right lane.  There was not time for my life to flash in front of my eyes or for me even to react.  I just took a deep breath, and knew once again that my guardian angel was on the job and that I am richly blessed.  Had I pulled out a second earlier, the results would not have been nearly as good.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

giving thanks....

Thanksgiving officially shows up in a few weeks.  A Facebook post challenges us to post something each day that we are thankful for.   So....

on 11.10.09, I am thankful for the nice weather - not too hot, not too cold....

11.11.09 - I am grateful for the veterans who have defended our country and our freedoms throughout our history.  I am also grateful for Pennye.  It's her birthday today and she brings sunshine into any situation.

11.12.09 - I am thankful for the "Good Monsignor", our parish pastor, and the awesome Bible studies that he facilitates.  He says he plans to offer many more.

11.13.09 - I am appreciating that hubby cleaned the kitchen and all the dirty dishes in the sink vanished while I was at work.  It was either him or the Kitchen Fairy!

11.14.09 - I am thankful for my computer and all the friends that "live" in it.  Wierd how that happens.

[Side note:  Does Blogger have a spellcheck?  I need it.]

Sunday, November 8, 2009

walking a tight rope

The Boy Scouts built it, and I walked across on it - without falling.  Kind of fun in the scheme of things. 

Saturday, November 7, 2009

so where did saturday go again?

Quickest Saturday on record, I think. 

First of all, I slept until I was good and ready to get up - which was around 7:30 or so.  Said my morning prayers - which if I don't do before I climb out of bed on Saturday, they usually don't get said.  Then I checked a few things on the computer - email, facebook.  Got out of bed, ate, made coffee, did a load or two of laundry.  Took a bath. 

Met a friend at about 11 at the "fall frenzy" to take a look at our school choices for next year for our 8th graders.  My son is most interested in the computer program, and her son is interested in the medical program, so we looked at those two programs.  That took every bit of 2 hours.  She had locked her keys in the car, so we gave them a ride home.  That added a little bit of time. 

Took Kid #2 to meet the Boy Scouts on a campout (over an hour late).  Talked to one of the Cub Scout moms who was there for a while.  She has had some personal issues in her life, as of late, and I hadn't seen her in quite a while.

My original plans had been to drop Kid #2 off at the campout and then head to the nice little chapel and spend some quiet, peaceful time, there, but it didn't work out that way at all.  When I got home, I got ready for 4:00 Mass, though.  I knew I needed at least that bit of peace, and I was right. 

From there, I passed by Walgreens to pick up a prescription for dear hubby, and then out to the campout to drop off some dish towels and pot holders that I had washed up from the previous campout. 

And finally home, in time for supper. 

What happened to my day?  I don't think I even ate lunch.

driving home the point

Often, especially in the spiritual realm, I have found that when there is something that I am dealing with - whether it be prayer, forgiveness, sin, relationships, or whatever - it seems like that topic seems to come up in everything I read or hear. 

So most recently, the idea of giving everything to God - not just 95% - has been playing on my mind.  I have been praying about it, as the Good Father advised, and that has helped a lot.  Prayer doesn't change God, it changes us.  It seems like at least one of the readings at every Mass I've attended in the last month or so has been about giving everything to God or trusting God.   Same thing is true of the psalms that I pray or any reflections that I pick up. 

Even music gets into the act.  The other day, I was coming home from somewhere, listening to a Christian music radio station when I heard the song, "Who Am I" by Casting Crowns.  I've liked this song for a long time. 

Who am I?
That the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name,
Would care to feel my hurt.
Who am I?
That the bright and morning star,
Would choose to light the way,
For my ever wandering heart.

It ends: 
I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean,
A vapor in the wind.
Still you hear me when I'm calling,
Lord, you catch me when I'm falling,
And you've told me who I am.
I am yours.....

So I sat under the carport listening to (singing along with) the song, and as the final chorus of "I am yours" came on, I could almost feel that 5% or so that I want to hang on slipping away.  Really, it is pointless to hold on to what is not ours, anyway.  It is a powerful illusion that we are in control.

Tonight's Gospel and homily were yet another example.  The Gospel was about the woman who gave her last 2 coins - who from her poverty gave everything she had, because she deemed God worthy of everything that she had.  I've heard that one before.  It touched me then, too.  She, in her humility, recognized her total dependence on God.  The opposite of humility is pride and arrogance - thinking that we are running the show, that we don't owe everything to God (or that He owes us).  The homily continued to drive home the point, that we can hold nothing back. Our time, our treasure, our talents are ALL God's.  God held nothing back from us.  He felt that WE were worthy of his suffering, dying, and rising....

The good Father then challenged us:  Tonight during the Consecration, when we pray, "Take this all of you...this is my body..."  look at Him, and say to Him, "Lord, take MY body... Take MY blood."  Powerful stuff, I tell you.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

who you are

A couple of one-liners from the last 24 hours are still with me.  From Bible Study last night...the topic was Matthew 6, and personal piety - about doing things because God sees them, not because the world sees them.  The point there was "Who you are when you are in private, is who you really are."  Not the personna that the world sees.

From the homily this morning...the Gospel was the one about the shepherd leaving 99 sheep to go after 1 lost sheep.  "Even if you were the ONLY person who ever sinned - the only sinner in the world - Jesus would have still suffered and died - for YOU!"  That kind of personalizes it a bit.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

speaking of saints...

I think I made the acquaintance of a saint while he was still earth-bound.  He spent most of his time in a wheelchair during the years that he was in my class.  In spite of pain that was nearly constant, he always had a twinkle in his eye and a great sense of humor.  He brought sunshine into our classroom on a daily basis.  His life had value.  Cody would have been 18 today.  We remembered him, and oddly enough, 2 of my current students celebrated birthdays today, both turning 14!
I know that St. Cody is looking down from heaven.  And I can picture him smiling with that twinkle in his eye!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

all saints day

I love Mass on any given day, but I particularly enjoyed it today.  The first reading was from Revelations - you rarely have a reading from Revelations.  The gospel was from Matthew - the Beatitudes which we spent an hour or so on last Wednesday.  The homily was short and to the point, as always.  The saints had no advantage over us.  We are made for heaven.  And the way to get there it to allow God to work through us in the ordinary things of life - in our successes and failures, our triumphs and tragedies, our sinfulness and holiness.  The choir sang the Litany of the Saints during the offeratory.  It was beautiful. 

Then came real life.  Oh my!  I have a long way to go towards Sainthood.  What IS the big rush to get out of the parking lot after Mass.  At our parish, you park in lines, and as luck would have it, neither the car in front of us or the car behind us moved when Mass was over.  I thought dear hubby was going to have kittens because I didn't wiggle the car out of that spot right away.  It was not pretty, especially when the boys joined in.  Then both boys decided to accompany me to WalMart.  It wasn't too bad until we got to the checkout - though I probably added $30 to my bill by all the stuff that they throw in the cart.  Then they started.  Kid #2 was aggravated by Kid #1, so Kid #2 felt he had to explain things in explicit detail to anyone within 20 feet of our location.  Repeatedly.  Words like "be quiet" or the seldom used "SHUT UP!" have no effect.  I let them both have it when we got in the car.  Again - not one of my better moments, but enough was enough!  Not sure where God is working today.  Not sure if He's in my part of the world today.

Any peace I might have had, I'm not feeling right now.  PMS, perhaps? 

momentarily distracted

While taking pictures of the racecar driver for Halloween, this flew by.

da-niece and da-nephew

The little ones in the family all dressed for Trick or Treating....  Cute, cute!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

fight the flu; don't clean house

My house will never win any Good Housekeeping Awards for organization or cleanliness, but we are seldom sick.  I thought maybe one reason was that we have a better chance to acquire immunities than most people with spotless houses.  So tonight I ran across this little tidbit about flu-proofing your home.  Bottom line - it says that some of the cleanest houses have some of the highest germ counts and that some of the most "untidy" bachelor pads have the lowest.  In the clean houses, the germs are constantlly moved around by dust rags, mops, etc.  But in the houses with "lazy housekeeping" the germs are generally contained in the sink or to the garbage can.

You can sanitize all your cleaning tools between uses, but that sounds like even more work.  Or you can use lots of paper towels.  Or you can just stop moving germs around.  I vote for option number 3!

Friday, October 30, 2009

happy anniversary

16 years ago, today, hubby and I were married..  It was a day a lot like today - a rainy cold front moved through. 

Some of those 16 years have seemed longer than others, but I'd do it again!

How did we celebrate?  With take-out pizza and "birthday cake" ice cream.  I wanted "wedding cake" ice cream - I think Blue Bell had such a flavor during the summer - but this was the closest I could find. Perhaps a better celebration will be forthcoming in future days.

lost and found

Things being lost is just a part of our unorganized life.

About a month ago, I took Kid #2 to detention early one morning.  Returned home to get Kid #1 to school.  Somehow in the 20 minutes or so between trips, I lost the key to the car.  Fortunately we had an extra set.  I looked unsuccessfully in the more obvious places before deciding that they would probably eventually show up. 

Today, they made their reappearance.  I found them at the bottom of a bag of chips (the big bag that holds the smaller individual bags) in my classroom.  I really not at all sure how they got there.But glad to have them back!

Thanks St. Anthony!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

blown away

My parish priest has adult faith formation as one of his favorite things, and consequently has offered several Bible Studies from the Great Adventure program.  I enjoy them a great deal; there is always something for the intellect, and often something for the heart. 

Sometimes at the conclusion of one of our weekly classes, you leave thinking, "Well, that is surely interesting...I didn't know that before."  And other times, when the DVD clicks off, you just think, "Whoa!"  Tonight was one of those "whoa" nights. 

Nearly the entire time tonight was spent on the Beatitudes in Chapter 5 of Matthew's Gospel.  I never knew that the Beatitudes build upon each other.  The speaker spent a long time discussing the virtue of humility.  It doesn't mean going around with a long face, moaning about how pitiful you are, but rather having an honest idea of your strengths and weaknesses and knowing that you need God's help in all things.

Blessed are they that morn, does not necessarily mean cyring over deceased love ones.  It means that we are aware of our brokeness and morn that the world is not all that it could be.  And God comforts us!

Blessed are the meek.  The meek are not pitiful little people that let themselves get walked over.  Meekness is about having humilty and faith in God.  It is about having serenity and self-control in difficult circumstances.  It is about being "teachable".  (Moses, for example.)  It is "submitted strength" (think Jesus on the cross).  And the meek inherit the earth, because God can safely entrust it to them.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are not satisfied with earth, but long for something better in heaven!  St. Augustine said, "God thirsts for us that we might thirst for him." 

Blessed are the merciful.  Those that are humble and have been comforted, those who have thirsted for righteousness and been satisfied with God's mercy want to extend this gift to others.  They imitate God by forgiving their neighbor.

The pure of heart have the capacity for truth; intellect and will that are attuned to the holiness of God (CCC2518) .  They have a clear spiritual vision, thus, they shall see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers.  True peace comes from reconciliation with God.  The "pure of heart" already stand in God's peace.

Blessed are the persecuted.  The peacemakers who are spreading the gospel will inevitably be persecuted. Participating in the suffering of Christ is a way to also participate in His Glory. 

There is a passage (in one of Paul's letters?) that says something about making up for what was lacking in the suffering of Jesus.  And I have always wondered how anything could have been lacking in Jesus' suffering.  Did God leave something out?  Odd, because everything else that He has done, He has done perfectly.  But tonight that question was answered.  Pope John Paul II apparently wrote that nothing was lacking in the sufferings of Jesus, but that we are allowed to participate in them, and to offer our sufferings for the redemption of others. 

Great, great class.  It could probably stand alone as a single class on the Beatitudes.  It was what I needed to hear at the time I needed to hear it.  When it was done, I thought, "Wow - that makes SO much sense."

as heard at Mass

The parish where I attend Mass on Wednesday mornings,  often has a retired priest saying Mass, and you can usually count on some kind of humor preceding the homily. 

This was yesterday's (I'm retelling from memory; the original was probably much better):  Billy Bob and Cletus wanted to buy a mule, and saw an ad for one in their local classifieds.  They paid the farmer $100 and arranged to have the mule delivered the next day. 

The next day the farmer arrives with the sad news that the mule had passed away.   Billy Bob and Cletus demanded that the farmer return the $100, but the farmer replied that he had already spent the money. 

"Then we want the dead mule," they said. 

"What are you going to do with a dead mule?" the farmer asked.

"We're going to raffle him off."

"You can't raffle off a dead mule," the farmer replied.

"Oh yes we can," was the reply.

Months later the farmer ran into Billy Bob and Cletus at the Piggly Wiggly.  "How did things work out with the dead mule?" he asked.  "Well, we made a profit of $898," they replied.  "Really??"  "Yes, we sold 500 raffle tickets for $2 each," they said.  "Well, weren't some people upset?" the farmer asked.  "Well, the guy who won the raffle was a little irate," they said, "but we just gave him his $2 back." 

Billy Bob and Cletus are now working for the federal government.  They are in charge of the Bailout Program.


I just report.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I spent last weekend with my kiddos' Boy Scout troop at the recreation area of a military installation.  One of the boys has a military contact.  Thursday night when we were packing, I asked Kid #1, if he knew the whereabouts of any of our air mattresses, because another mom coming along needed one.  "Oh, y'all are coming, too?  Awesome!"  How many 14 year old boys think that it is awesome that their mom goes camping with their Boy Scout troop? 

We camped on the side of a lake and had modern conveniences (flush toilets and electricity) within easy reach.  The day time weather was beautiful.  The night - a little cooler than I would have liked.  Even though I have a pretty decent sleeping bag, I could never get everything warm at the same time.  Then there was the soothing sound of gunfire (night target practice) in the background. 

The boys worked on a few outstanding requirements from some of the merit badges that they had started at summer camp or winter camp, but other than that there was plenty of time just to "be".  They spent time canoeing, fishing, hiking, skipping rocks on the lake, and beating sticks on a dead tree (??).  They cooked in their patrols with little adult interference. 

A few pictures:

pardon and peace

Ahhhh...the first [hopefully] annual Fall Break for the local school system.  A day off with nothing to buy or attend (except for conferences for my boys later this afternoon).  So a list has been forming in my head all week of things I can do with the day.

Top of the list was confession.  After spending a good bit of my life being on the "once every few years" schedule (or worse yet, the "once a decade" schedule) for this poor, misunderstood sacrament, one of my children asked why we only went once a year.  I didn't have a good answer, because surely we can benefit from this font of mercy more than once a year.  So, I take them every three months or so, and have come to find that every month or two works pretty well for myself.  The list doesn't get too long that way. 

Things have been so busy lately, I'm not even sure I've had time to sin, much less time to think about it and ask for forgiveness.  But gradually a mental list started to form, and a day like today where I can just get up and go to Mass without worrying about getting ready for work and getting children ready for school works well for confession, which is before 6:30 Mass. 

On the way, my heart pounds, and I wonder why am I doing this?  Well, because I have never been met with anything other than kindness and encouragement, because graces that I never even expected have come from my encounters with a merciful Jesus, and because often the advice that I get from the priest there in the place of Christ is just what I need to get a handle on something that I haven't been able to do by myself.  I wonder if priests get nervous before they go to confession.  I don't imagine that I will ever be "not nervous". 

Once I am there, it is a matter of opening the door and walking in.  There, the nervousness usually falls away.  I remember at one time thinking that the priest would be shocked or horrified - borrowing from Fred's the big one, Elizabeth! - but they never bat an eye.  Sometimes I get advice (which is - without exception - always helpful); sometimes not.  Sometimes I have a question, and the answer usually makes things so much simpler than it was in my head.  With my current priest, the penance is always "remedial".  Never "say 2 Our Fathers and 3 Hail Mary's", but more likely to spend some time in prayer for a specific person, to perform some small act of self-denial, or once - "go enjoy the quiet before Mass and let Jesus speak to you." 

Then there is time for an Act of Contrition, and that beautiful prayer of absolution asking God to grant pardon and peace.  "Go in peace", the priest says, sometimes followed by, "have a good day."  What is the answer to that?  "Sure thing?"  "Thank you?" Sometimes, as I leave, I feel the weight of the world lifted.  Sometimes not.  It's all good.

The idea of "giving everything to God" has been bouncing around in my head.  I found myself OK with giving about 95%, so while I was there today [and had a 'captive' audience], I asked the priest about it. The 5% that we find ourselves clinging to for dear life, he says, is exactly the part that we need to give up.  Otherwise we risk it becoming an idol in and of itself.  And that in giving whatever it is over to the Lord, we do not lose anything because He perfects it and gives it back to us.  Though not always in the way that we might have thought we preferred. Our God is a God of surprises, and we shouldn't place limits on how He can work.  Is it easy?  No.  "So, prayer?" I asked.  "Yes."  A little spiritual direction and wisdom before sunrise!  And a chance to make some of the crooked lines in my life a little straighter.

I stayed for Mass, so not a bad way to start the day at all!  Can the day get any better?

Seeing that I have parent-teacher conferences for my children and half of the junior high faculty requesting a meeting between the 2 kids, a sink and more full of dishes, a son who needs to do 35 or so note cards today for a research paper, and a bathroom full of dirty clothes to wash, I'm inclined to say NOT!