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!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

breaking bread

It was a wonderful weekend of camping.  Gorgeous fall weather, wonderful friends, and great food.  We are so fortunate that in our scout group everyone pretty much gets along.  There are sometimes differences of opinions, but there is not the back-stabbing and bitterness that you see in so many groups. 

Besides the peacefulness and the relaxation, one of the best parts is the food. The boys had favorites like foil dinners and the adults were treated to deer meat chilli and apple turnovers.  It is good to eat with friends. 

It always does my heart good to see a good many of our group at Sunday evening Mass after these expeditions.  Tonight, of the 9 who camped, 5 or 6 were at Mass.  Cleaned up from the smoke and grime of the weekend.  Tired, but there.  It is a chance to share one more meal together.  A chance to give thanks for the gifts of the weekend.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

the fingerprints of God

Today was a day filled with grace and blessings.  I took the day off and went to meet my dearest friend who was on a rare visit home due to her mom's poor health. 

Everything fell in to place so beautifully, starting yesterday.  I had called my school around 7 am to alert our faithful clerk that I would need a sub for today.  By the time I got to school at 8, she had found a sub (not always an easy feat).  My assistant offered to bring my boys home, if hubby wasn't able to pick them up after school.  And darn it, there was a department meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning that I was just going to have to miss.  With a new supervisor, these have become stressful ordeals.

I dropped my boys off at school and hit the interstate for the hour drive east.  The morning was still new, and I could see the mist rising off of the Basin.  The sunlight coming through the trees.  It was an easy, uneventful drive. 

I arrived at my friend's house as she was making breakfast.  I joined her and her dad for breakfast, watching the birds as we ate.  Her dad is such a beautiful witness to "marriage on God's terms".  Tidied up after breakfast and got things ready to go to the hospital.  On the way to the hospital, I asked my friend if she'd been to the Adoration Chapel at the nearby church lately.  We had been once about 20 years ago, and wasn't sure if I even remembered where it was.  She was happy to oblige, and we stopped in there for a brief moment of prayer.  (Cushy kneelers!)  It was nice - different from what I remembered, though. 

Onward to the hospital to see her mom.  When we got to the room, they had the curtain pulled, so we walked down to the chapel just to have a look and spend a few minutes.  It was shortly before 11:30, and it appeared that they were setting up for Mass.  She wanted to be upstairs when lunch arrived for her mom, so we left before Mass.  Upstairs, the nursing staff said we should come back in about 10 minutes.  I looked at my friend, and asked, "Mass?"  Back down we went.  An unexpected blessing!

Back upstairs to spend some time with her mom.  IV's, etc.  Once everything got settled, her dad arrived and suggested that we go for a walk or to get something to eat.  Which we did.  One thing that I missed when I visited her at the monastery last summer was being able to walk AND talk.  The weather was absolutely beautiful.  We don't have that much perfect weather around here, but today was a "Top 10" Day!  Last week at this time, the weather was unbearably muggy and rainy and hot.  Like living in a rain forest.  Today was cool, dry, and sunny.

Back upstairs and dad suggested that we go to a nearby shopping area to look around.  It was quite nice, and we enjoyed walking and talking.  A nun in a habit gets a few odd looks in little clothing shops. We went to visit her sister who works nearby.  If we had been a few minutes earlier or had a better idea of where she worked, we would have missed her altogether.  As it was, we missed her by about 5 seconds in the stairwell, - she was coming from the floor above, and us from the floor below.

Then we went to the nearby mall.  Walked, bought some frozen coffee, found a place on an outside patio and talked and talked long after the coffee was gone.  The sun started to go down and there was a chill in the air.  It was so, so good. 

Just about as perfect as a day can get!  You could see the fingerprints of God in the weather, the traffic, the scenery, the chance to attend Mass, the close parking spots and in the wonderful company.  A true "bonus day".

On the way home there was a tiny bit of a moon - a "fingernail moon" one of my boys used to call it.  The sky was a dark, dark blue - not yet black.  Wispy clouds passing in front of the moon.  In that still, small voice, I could hear God....See what a day I have given you? Do you know that you can trust me?  Do you know that I desire good things for you?  And what can I reply, but "Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief."

Continued prayers are needed for her mom and family.  While no doctor will say "how much longer" there is a feeling that the end is not too far off.  Hospice care will soon be entering the picture. 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

prayers answered

My friend called tonight.  When her mother was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday, it was uncertain if she would survive the night.  Turns out she had an undiagnosed UTI and is doing MUCH better at this point.   God is good! 

So Tuesday, I will skip work and drive over for a visit while she is in town from Pennsylvania.  Which is surely better than driving over for a funeral, etc.

Friday, October 16, 2009


There have been no daily Masses at my parish all week, save for the 12:15 on Wednesday, which doesn't really fit into my schedule.  I have been blessed to other parishes to pick from, so I haven't had to miss out on Mass, but I have missed my parish, my pastor, and "my people".  I will be glad to return to "normal" next week!

what a night!

Hubby had a job that took him cross-country this week.  When he is not here at night we let the dog in, set the alarm, lock the doors, and I sleep with a loaded weapon in close proximity.  About 11:30, in that state between wake and sleep, I heard something that sounded like a shot.  But it could have been the cat knocking the toilet seat down.  I got up and asked Kid #1 if he had heard anything and he said, "no".  I left it at that.  I could see flickering light (lightening) through the window when I made a stop in the bathroom. 

About 12:30, the alarm starts screaming.  Kid #1 is knocking on my door.  I pick up my loaded weapon.  He says the dog knocked over the baby gate.  Very uncharacteristic for her.  She probably needs to go outside, but it is thundering, lightening, raining.  She ain't gonna go.  So we put her back in the kitchen. 

About 1:00, I hear Kid #1 fussing again.  The dog had knocked over the gate again.  The rain is slacking, so I tell him to put her out.  I head back to bed, and he goes into the kitchen to get a drink.  I hear him fussing....there is rice all over the kitchen floor.  Dog has knocked over a box of Minute Rice.  We picked that up, let the dog back inside, and head back to bed.

1:30.  Same song.  Third verse.  The rain has pretty much stopped.  The dog goes out for good.  We go back to bed.

No further problems.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Things just seem scattered this week.  I have missed my regular daily Masses with my regular daily Mass people and priest.  That should resume its regular schedule next week. 

Yesterday was a field trip with Kid #1's class.  He has spent 2 days at the library (university and public) but has nothing to show for it.... Let me just pull out my hair now.  But the field trip and break in routine was nice for me. 

My best friend's mom is not doing well.  She is at the "it probably won't be much longer" stage.  Friend is flying in.  I look forward to seeing her, but wish it was under different circumstances.  I want to be there, but do not want to infringe on family time.  Prayers.

Hubby has been gone all week on a cross-country trip.  He should be back late Friday or Saturday.  I miss him, but life has been simple and the house has been quiet while he has been gone.

My observation has come and gone at school.  It went well.  On the paperwork - I will never be able to catch up to all the things that I have to do for school.

All the lines at Curves went down this month - weight, body fat and inches!  Woo Hoo.  Four months, and it is finally starting to pay off.  My blood pressure is also down.  I was able to run up and down the stairs at the library yesterday without passing out or feeling the burn.

Taxes.  Maybe the accountant made a mistake that will benefit us greatly.  Or maybe not. 

Tomorrow is Friday!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

pain in the neck

Literally.  It's too early in the year to be physically feeling the stress.  But things never seem to slow down, we never seem to catch up, and we will never get ahead.  Saying "we" because it's not just me. Many of my co-workers express the same sentiments.  My observation is done.  Nothing earth-shattering, but done.  And yet the stress remains.  I was hoping it would drop away.  Last night I worked out, hoping to relieve some stress.  Tonight I went to the chapel down the road, hoping prayer might bring some relief.  At best, the relief was temporary.  I could really use a good massage.  Something has to give.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

giving it all?

Earlier in the week, by way of making a point about how what we give to God (in prayer or whatever) is always imperfect (because we are not God), Father mentioned something about "absolute conversion".  Not a term I've heard before, but as I thought about it afterwards, my gut reaction was, "but I don't want absolute conversion."  I mean, I'm willing to give God about 95% or so (that's still an 'A'), but 100%???  I want to keep something for me.  Now, intellectually, I know that everything I am and possess is because of God.  Without Him, I have absolutely nothing, so really nothing should be held back - like the widow who gave her last 2 coins. But there is a part of me, deep within, that says, "no, you can't have it all; I need to keep some."

Today's gospel and homily echoed those thoughts.  The young man who asked Jesus what more he needed to do to follow Him.  Jesus told him to go sell everything he had and give it to the poor, and he went away sad, because he had many possessions.  So what possesses us?  What do we need to let go of so that God can give us everything He has for us?  Our anger?  Our laziness?  Love of pleasure? 

Why do we hang on to the things we hang on to?  What is it that I am hanging on to?  What would I not give, if Jesus asked?  Food for thought and prayer, I guess.

maybe he's getting it!

Such a rare sight to see my child studying that I had to take a picture - mess in his room not withstanding.  And doesn't he look excited?  I see him making an effort this year and actually caring.  Actually studying.  After all these years - maybe he's actually "getting it".  Maybe.

Friday, October 9, 2009

i can only imagine....

I was planning to go to the little chapel down the road tonight.  But the incoming bad weather and me feeling a bit under the weather has made me change my plans.  Still - this is a cool video.  I Can Only Imagine

doing God's will?

From today's gospel:  "'Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste'....Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever odes not gather with me scatters."  (Luke 11: 15-26) 

So how to know if one is doing the will of God?  According to our homily, examine whether you bring division or unity into your family, your workplace, your church, your community.  Unity is the work of God.  Division is the work of another....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

proud mom moment

Gotta take them when you can get them.  Kid #2 went with friends to the New Orleans Hornets scrimmage held here in town.  His friend's mom told me that he caught one of the shirts thrown into the crowd and then gave it to a kid behind him.  He said he felt bad because he jumped in front of "the kid".  Kid #2 ended up with a shirt in the end, as "some guy" who saw what happened gave him one. 

marriage on God's terms

The subject of the homily tonight.  (Which occurred after history was made with Father reading the LONG form of the Gospel.)  Marriage on God's terms - for better, for worse; in sickness and in health; til death do we part.   Good food for thought.  Just as Jesus is with us - for better, for worse; in sickness and in health; for eternity.

Friday, October 2, 2009

chickens or feathers

My thought for the day came from our friendly custodian cleaning my classroom this morning.  "Some days are chickens, some feathers!" 

Yesterday was feathers.  Today was chickens, I think.  We stay SO busy this year, it seems.  Today it seemed like the students got along with each other, and that always makes the day better! 

Today was the feast (?) of guardian angels.  Messengers sent by God in our lives - just because He loves us.  Father says he probably doesn't have just one - maybe he has a couple of different shifts.  Thank you, God for guardian angels and Fridays.