Sunday, February 28, 2010

my baby is a teenager!

That little 8 lb 8 oz baby boy that was born 13 years ago [by unplanned natural child birth, no less] is now 80 something pounds and running full speed into adolesence.  The time has flown!  Somtime in the last year, my little boy disappeared and now there is another little mini-man running around the house. 

Happy Birthday Baby Boy! 

scripture today

Today's first reading came from Genesis.  It tells of God making a covenant with Abram.  Back in that time and place, covenants were made by sacrificing animals, cutting them into halves, and then walking between the two halves.  The intention of that was that if one of the parties should break the covenant, then what happened to the animals should/would happen to them.  A serious matter.  A modern day variation of this is when the bride and groom walk between the bride's family seated on one side of the church and the groom's family seated on the other side.  But back to Abram.  Only God walks between the sacrificed animals.  That is because God knew that it would be impossible for Abram to keep the covenant.  And eventually He sends Jesus to pay the price for the covenant being broken. 

The second reading from St. Paul's letter to the Philippians tells us:   He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.  We are to be changed and transformed.

The gospel tells the story of the Transfiguration - the Apostles in the presence of the glorified Jesus - in God's presence.  "And don't we wish we could have been there?" Father asks.  But we are.  At every Mass we are in God's presence; in the presence of the risen and glorified Lord.  The question last week was "how free do you want to be?"  The question this week is "how Christ-like do you want to be?"  Do we let Christ transform our sinfullness into grace?  Our hurt into forgiveness?  Will we let Him change anxiety to peace; selfishness to love?  This is my chosen Son; listen to him.  If we listen to Him, we will be become more like Him.

disappearing saturdays

Saturday says... sleep late.  I stayed in bed until nearly 10:30 today.  That NEVER happens.  But the sleep seemed to be needed.  Too bad my back doesn't like staying in bed as much as the rest of my body.  The longer I stay, the stiffer my back is.

Slowly I got moving.  Kid #2 wanted to look for a guide to his new video game.  We visited 2 different stores, but went 0 for 2.  I figured if Gamestop didn't have it, it was probably senseless to make the trip to WalMart (true penance in my opinion).

I mentioned to the kids about going to confession one weekend soon, with today being an option.  Usually we treat ourselves to chick-fil-a or ice cream afterwards, but tonight we had a Boy Scout banquet to attend.  One said he'd wait until next weekend, and after the other realized that the banquet would postpone the chick-fil-a outing, he decided he'd wait, too.  That was fine.  I'd had plans on going since earlier in the week, and sometimes I can be more tuned in to the sacrament, if they are not with me.

So I got ready and went.  As I have started Lent, there were some things that I realized that I needed to bring to God, so that is what I did.  It is a paradox, but sinfulness is turned into grace in that sacrament.  There are so many paradoxes, but that's a post for another time.  Anyway, I had an idea of what I wanted to say, of what was tugging at my heart, and I did my best.  Wasn't the most eloquent of confessions, as I kind of searched for words and a way to wrap it all up, but the good Father waited patiently and understood what I was getting at.  His advice was both practical and encouraging.  I didn't feel the huge weight lifting when I left - and often I don't - but as I sat in the pew with my penance, peace descended.  The penances he assigns are never the "say three Our Father's" variety, and this was no exception.  They are always "remedial" - something to give you a start on fixing the problem or changing the situation or correcting the damage done.  Often the penance is as helpful as his advice.  And so it goes.

I stayed for Mass, and since confessions are over at 3:30 and Mass doesn't start until 4:00, there was plenty of time for thought and reflection.  Always good.

After Mass, we got ready for the Boy Scout banquet.  Boys from our troop were part of the flag ceremony, so that meant the parents got to tag along. The food was OK, but my dear hubby makes better brisket.  The program, moderately interesting.  The awards - well - our scoutmaster was awarded scoutmaster of the year!  Awesome!  And the boys did a great job with the flag ceremony!  (The picture was after the flag ceremony and is in need of red-eye correction....)

And now I am home. The end of a day.  How do weekends zip by so fast??

Friday, February 26, 2010

sacrificial seafood?

It's hard to have "penitential" meals during Lent when you live in south Louisiana.  It just is.  Oh - no meat.  Pity.  I guess I'll just have to have some fried shrimp or crawfish etoufee or maybe boiled crawfish.  Ouch!  One priest who writes a column in his parish's bulletin noted last week that *something* should be penitential about your Friday if it won't be the food.

My favorite of favorite school cafeteria meals is their vegetable soup.  To have it with a grilled cheese sandwhich makes it even better.  They have had it twice this year, and both times I have not been at school - once visiting my friend from Pennsylvania and once attending her mom's funeral.  Go figure.  But today was my lucky day - vegetable soup AND grilled cheese.  A menu change from the fish and cheese burger.  (Now THAT would be a penance!)  The soup wasn't as good as it could have been, but I enjoyed it anyway.

And tonight....dear husband fried some speckled trout for the kiddos that just about melted in your mouth.  (I had to try a piece.)  And he baked some catfish for he and I - with the bone still in.  Mmmm - lemon, seasoning, and a little butter...  It was all good!

There were sacrifices today, but it wasn't in the food!

unforgiveness, revisited

Not really one of my "themes of the month", per se, but it seems to be coming up quite often lately.  This morning, it was again part of the homily, with Psalm 130 being highlighted:  "If you, O Lord, would mark our iniquities, who could stand?"  Well, not me, for sure!

Bottom line was that none of us have the right to hold a grudge.  We have been forgiven such a huge debt by our God, a debt that none of us ever could have repaid, that none of us have the right to withhold forgiveness from another.  Certainly easier said than done.  But just as we receive mercy and forgiveness from God, when we bring our sinfulness to Him in the sacrament of reconciliation or otherwise, we are called to be conduits of that mercy and forgiveness and to pass it along to the world.

s is for stations of the cross

A few years ago, I discovered Stations of the Cross on Friday afternoons during Lent.  One of our Catholic treasures.   The booklets were probably as old as the church, and they smelled funny, but there was something about this devotion that I liked.  Probably you shouldn't use "liked" when referring to the Stations of the Cross - how can you like an execution? - but maybe "appreciated".  After sharing this walk with Jesus every Friday, Easter seemed to be more meaningful when it finally rolled around.  As a kid, I only remember going to the Way of the Cross on Good Friday, but to go weekly seemed to make it more "real". 

And so I have continued to go every year.  In part, because when our new pastor's first Lent at our parish began, I saw nothing in the bulletin about the Way of the Cross.  Thinking that it might have been an oversight, but fully prepared to look up the times of other nearby parishes, I emailed him.   I soon had a reply that said it just wouldn't be possible with his schedule.  Fair enough, he also has duties with the diocese.  A little while later, another email saying that he would lead them until someone else was found to lead them.  Three years later, he's still leading them, and I don't think he's looking too hard for a replacement. 

Last year there were new booklets.  They don't have an odd aroma, and they are written in more modern language.  They are the Biblical Stations as opposed to the Traditional Stations.  I have no real preference, but my boys went with me last week, and acted like they were being cheated because these stations don't match up with the ones on the walls of the church. 

Which brings me to my point, I think.  This year and last, I have found myself SO distracted during these prayers - especially during the early weeks of Lent.  I find myself replaying events from all though out the week as the readings and prayers are said.  Is it just a matter of finding "the zone"?  Is it because on a Friday afternoon, I should be sitting on my recliner with my laptop on my lap just chillin'?  Or  maybe I should find a way to offer all those thoughts playing in my head - some of them ARE crosses - to Jesus as we're walking along?  I don't really know the answer to that, but I hope that I will find it somewhere along the way during this Lent. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I hate, hate, hate days like today.  They embody just about everything that is wrong with our school system, and maybe with society as a whole. 

I am a teacher who taught nothing today.  (Well, maybe I did teach my 6th graders how to figure out how old a person is....I'll get back to that story later, because that may well have been the highlight of my day...)

Back before the holidays (I guess that would be B.H.) one of my students got in a fight.  It was a serious fight and she was seriously mad.  A teacher was hit inadvertently.  Our "school resource officer" (campus cop) had to be called and she was restrained with handcuffs and shackles before the madness was over.  So the school administration requested that she be educated at another site.  Fine. 

The paperwork that it takes for that to happen is INSANE.  Prior to the 10:30 meeting, I probably spent an hour or so making sure that I had what they needed (because often it is my paperwork that is "on trial", not the student). Then SIX school system employees sat around a table in a conference room for 2 1/2 hours to discuss whether the child's behavior was related to her disability, to decide the consequences of her actions, and to complete the paperwork required.  I missed lunch.  I missed duty.  I missed teaching 2 ninety minute class periods.  I didn't do any lesson planning.  I didn't grade any papers.  I didn't make up my quiz for tomorrow.  After the meeting adjourned, I spent another three hours or so at my computer completing the paperwork that had been discussed at the meeting.  Over 20 man hours spent on a fight!  That is where your tax dollars are going...

In the end, a very remorseful child (a rare thing in my experience) was placed for several weeks at an alternative site, and that will probably be best for all involved. 

Way too often in our educational system, the misbehavior of one or two negatively impact the learning and education of many students. 

Oh -and on the thing about figuring out ages... This week, I have been spotlighting a different "Moment in Black History."  I am so tired of the Obama-mania that has taken over in the last year, so I picked MY favorite success stories from the black community...Dr. Ben Carson (a wonderful story), Condoleezza Rice (another good story), Louis Armstrong, and Bill Cosby.  Always the kids want to know how old the person in question is, so I showed them how to figure it out.  Yesterday, one young man was shocked to find out that Condoleezza Rice - whom he thought was "pretty" was in her mid-50's.  And so, although it is probably nowhere in the Almighty Curriculum, they may have learned a something that will be of use to them.  Or not.

Tomorrow will almost certainly be better.


Last night's Bible study was on Matthew Chapter 18.  I have said before that some of these presentations are for the heart and some are for the head.  This was a heart one. 

A few tidbits from Matthew 18 to jog your memory.... Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven....Whoever causes one of these little ones who belive in me to sin...if a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray...and if he finds it....he rejoices more over it....if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone...whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.

And so, each of these was touched on.  Becoming "child-like"... dependant on the Father for everything.  Jesus' teachings about conflict resolution (go first to your brother...).  One of the least practiced teachings of Jesus, he said. 

But the bulk of the presentation seemed to touch on binding and loosing.  Forgiving those who have hurt us.  Releasing Jesus came to bring release to the captives.  What He did for us, we are to do for others.  When we hold others bound, we are also binding ourselves.  There is freedom in the releasing.

Father emphasized some points after the video presentation.  Many years ago, he had a brother who was murdered.  He said he knows first hand that there is freedom in forgiveness.  He also made a point that forgiving does not necessarily mean forgetting.  Sometimes there IS remembering, and the thing to do then is to "renew" your forgiveness and move on.  "Go watch a comedy or something." 

I had plans on going to confession this morning - even before I watched the video last night.  Unfortunately those plans didn't work out this morning, but I definitely got another perspective to approach things from.  What resentments and grudges and unforgiveness am I holding on to? 

I can't do the presentation justice in a blog post, but I will say that if you ever have a chance to participate in one of Jeff Cavins' Great Adventure Bible Studies, give it a try!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

centennial forest

The weather was absolutely gorgeous today, and we spent most of the day in the Basin planting trees as part of a huge service project celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Boy Scouting. Over 4,000 bald cypress trees were planted - one for each registered scout in the council.

We arrived about 9:00, and after registering and standing around for a while, walked a short distance to where the saplings were being given out. After listening to a short orientation about how to plant the trees, we picked up a pack of about 50 saplings, and walked some more to the area where they were being planted.  When we were finished planting, we returned to the main area where we were treated to lunch - either gumbo or red beans and rice.  There were environmental exhibits set up, fun jumps, and food vendors.  There was Cajun music in the background and we experienced a flag ceremony with the national anthem played by a Cajun band.

We attempted a swamp tour, and we got to the front of the line, only to be told that it would be another 45 minute wait for the 45 minute tour.  We opted for ice cream instead at Borden's.  Mmmmm....kind of broke the Lenten "don't eat between meals" resolution that I had made, but....  Beautiful weather, good friends and good food.  Doesn't get much better than that!

Above is most of our group near the check-in point, and below are all 8 of those who attended, waiting to plant trees.  

"Inter-racial brothers" is what they call themselves.  Also, note the "raising the bar" stair-step arrangement. The actual tree-planting in progress and part of the group posing on the bank after they were done.

Friday, February 19, 2010

precious dust

I enjoyed a nice day off today. A REAL day off. The kids had school, and I, conveniently, did NOT!

I started the day off with Mass. There is something that draws me there time after time, week after week, year after year - even on days off. I remarked to one of the other people - someone I've seen there a couple of times a week for a couple of years, but I have no idea her name - that "this" is the best part of our day. She agreed.

The homily today was about compassion - being in someone else's skin. And God is the model of compassion - having sent His son to "be in our skin". We are called to live out of this compassion. And to do this, the good father says, means we have to fast. Not from TV or chocolate, he says, but from the things we do that send us to confession - assuming that we are humble enough to go to confession. (That's what he said.) Fasting AND confession in the same breath?

OK - I get the point there, but don't you think that if I could, I would? Just avoid all the things that I end up confessing - wouldn't that make everyone's life better? Maybe it's just a matter of trying a little harder, submitting to God's grace a little more?

I came home, got the kids up and out of the house, opened car doors in the car rider line, and then came back home. I could get used to that, real fast! I prayed Morning Prayer in the peacefulness of my own house, and then decided - what the heck - let me check out the Office of Readings. In the back of my Christian Prayer book there are various biblical and non-biblical readings for various seasons of the year. I don't often look back there because life is just too hectic, but it's Lent, and I had time on my hands.

So I looked at the first "non-biblical" reading for Lent - a sermon by Peter Chrysologus. It was titled "Prayer knocks, fasting obtains, mercy receives". Sounded interesting enough. It is too long to put here, but I found it on the internet.  I was impressed that a normal person could understand it.  (In my search I saw that Chrysologus means "Golden-Worded").  The sermon  spoke of fasting, prayer, and mercy and how they are intertwined.  Worth the time to read it.  The last sentence jumped off the page at me, though:  "You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others."  There's food for thought there. 

This started off to be about my day, but it has meandered into other territories.  I had a list of things to accomplish and I think I scratched off all of them except getting the car inspected, because "Monique just left and we're short-handed."  Doctor's office, school board office, scout office.  Done.

Picked up the kiddos from school, and they accompanied me to the Stations of the Cross at church later in the evening.  There were lots of people there!  I would estimate that the church was nearly half full; I was amazed.  Kid # 1 pulled on my shoulder at about the Third Station and asked, "Mom, are these the REAL Stations of the Cross?  I pointed to the cover of the booklet that said "Biblical Stations of the Cross".  I have no real preference; I know these booklets smell a whole lot better than the ones we had a couple of years ago with the "Real Stations", but I was informed by both offspring afterwards that they prefer the "real" stations.   Apparently there was too much "background information" with these; they would rather jump right in with Jesus being condemned.

And so the day draws to a close and so does this post.  There was one other thought that I saw that I wanted to pass along to those who might not have seen.   Pope Benedict in his Ash Wednesday address noted,  "Man is dust and to dust he shall return, but he is precious dust in God's eyes, because God created man for immortality. "  Precious dust.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

we rise from ashes

So, I'm a day late here, but campfires are one of my very favorite things.  Or maybe I should say that I have many fond memories of good conversations and sitting around a fire with friends.  I read this reflection yesterday, and I thought it was so perfect that I can't resist sharing it.   The picture is mine, but the reflection is not. 
God is fire -- we rise from ashes  

A campfire warms you in the cold night air.  In silence and solitude you reflect on questions:  "Who am I?"  "Where am I going?"  "What must I do now?"  The campfire dies does, it crackles no more, and there are only ashes.  

Today is Ash Wednesday, which begins the great season of Lent.  We reflect on the core values of our Christian faith, the rhythm of death and new life.  Ashes indicate there was once fire.  The fire is now gone.  We go to the source to be inflamed again.  God is fire; without God, we are ashes.  
The Lord says, "Return to me with all your heart!"  In other words, "Come in out of the cold and warm up!"  God pleads for our return.  "Now is the acceptable time!" says Paul.  Don't wait.  Come and light the fire. The gospel gives us the spiritual tools of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting for bringing cold embers back to life.  

Hike into the furthest reaches of your heart.  What has gone to ashes?  Prayer?  Discipleship?  Enthusiasm?  Joy?  Hope?  Trust?  Perhaps we need to fast from noise and busyness in order to hear God speaking in the silence.  Perhaps we need to fast from television and entertainment in order to hear God in the cries of the poor and the stranger.  As you leave the campfire, what is in your backpack?  With ashes on our foreheads, let us walk toward the blazing energy and promise of Easter fire.    

Credit for the reflection goes to Rev. Robert F. Dueweke, OSA in the February, 2010 issue of "Living With Christ" 


Current events.  A small plane has crashed into an office building in Austin. An office building where the Internal Revenue Service is housed.  Now WHY would anyone be angry with the IRS and do something like that on purpose??  Defies the imagination.  For our part, we've been waiting 3-4 months for a tax refund.  Looks like we might be waiting a bit longer...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

psalm 51

In honor of Ash Wednesday...

Wordle: Psalm 51

Thanks to Wordle for the image.

happy lent?

Is it wrong to wish someone a "Happy Lent?"  After all, Lent, by its very nature, is supposed to be penitential in nature.  But one need not go around with a long face when doing penance.  Lent is not necessarily sad, just more introspective and reflective.  My hope is usually that Lent is a fruitful, productive time for people.  A time to look at what isn't working 100% in our lives and fix it. 

And so, I've got my plan.  I've got a good idea of the things that need work, and a good idea of the things I want to offer as penance.  So I need to do my share, and at the same time, step aside and let God accomplish the things He has planned - which could be totally different from the things I have planned.  (Wanna make God laugh???  Tell Him your plans!)

I remember last year, the priest talking about things that God wanted to do in our lives, and thinking rather smugly, that my life was pretty good, and God really didn't need to accomplish too much there, that maybe He could go help the people who really needed help.  This year is different in that regard.  God probably has plenty to do in my life to keep Him busy for a while. Maybe that realization is growth?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

learning with legos

Took a little trip to the outskirts of Dallas to the Lego Education Center.  We were a little disappointed in the instruction the kids got in the robotics program (the original instructor was sick), but it was a fun trip.  Always fun to do something a little different. 

The boys posing with some Lego creations. 

They used a computer program to show them how to construct robots from Legos.  There is also some programming involved, but I'm not sure they got that far!
We did not make these robots on the shelf, but I thought they were cute!
Nearing the end of their time, you can somewhat see what they accomplished. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

blessed are you

I should just credit my pastor for most of this post.  And Jeff Cavins because obviously Father's homily was influenced a bit by Jeff's presentation on the Sermon on the Mount.

The gospel this weekend was the Sermon on the Plain in Luke.  Coincidence that the Sunday before Lent last year was the Sermon on the Mount??  In any case... 

Besides our sinfulness, we all have one thing in common, and that is the desire to be happy.  God also wishes this for us - we are made for happiness.  But He wishes it for us on His terms - not ours.  We can look for happiness in all the wrong places....and we may come close, but we will never be able to grab it. 

What are God's terms? 

Blessed are the poor.  "Poor" is not talking about how much money you don't have in your bank account.  Poor means that we are dependent on God for everything and we know it.  That we trust that God will provide for us. 

Blessed are those that mourn.  More than the loss of a loved one, we are mourning sinfulness in ourselves and in the world around us.  But if we know that we depend on God for everything, then we also depend on Him for mercy.  And when we become aware of our own sin, then we take responsibility for it, own up to it, and run to God, seeking his mercy and his loving embrace.

Blessed are those who are persecuted.  When we walk with Jesus, when we put Him first, when we bring all things (good, bad, triumph, tragedy)to Him, we will be laughed at, ridiculed, rejected.  Comes with the territory.  But if we are walking with Him, then that is where we will ultimately find peace and happiness.  Some of it in this life, and infinite amounts of it in the next.  And you will be blessed!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

hearing God

The Scriptures from both Thursday and Friday dealt with listening to and/or hearing God.  On Thursday, the Optional Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes was celebrated and the gospel used was the one of the wedding at Cana.  There, Mary tells the waiters, "Do whatever he tells you."  We, too, must be ready, must be humble enough to "do whatever He tells us."  Listening in the sense of obeying. 

On Friday, we had the scripture where Jesus heals the deaf man and allows him first to hear and then to speak.  Ephphatha!  (Be opened!)  Listening in the sense of actually hearing.  We must be open to what Jesus is trying to tell us.  First we listen; then we speak.  Is it just me, or is that easier said than done?  No, sometimes we all tell God to "shut up" by ignoring what He is trying to tell us or telling Him how things should be. 

I can remember a conversation about 25 years ago with my best friend.  "How can you hear God?" I asked in frustration.  "He doesn't speak English!"  I wanted to hear God, but He wouldn't speak so that I could hear him, I thought.  Remembering where my life was 25 years ago, it is more likely that what He was telling me was not what I wanted to hear, and so I just turned a deaf ear to it.  Selective hearing, you know. 

But how do we hear God?  My own kids have asked me that question, and I struggled to answer it with something that made sense to them.  God speaks to us through His Word - proclaimed and preached.  He speaks to us through other people - especially the people in our lives who tell it like it is.  He speaks to us through events.  One of the defining points in my life was 9-11.  Think God used that event to reach me?  You bet!  But also when everything just seems to fall into place for a certain outcome.  Or conversely, when nothing seems to work out! 

He speaks to us through listening prayer.  To me, that is the most difficult.  Throughout my life, there have been "ideas" that have occurred to me that must have only come from God, but those didn't happen on any kind of frequent basis, and I'm sure God speaks more often than once every 5 years or so.  At this point in my life, I am trying more to tune into and listen to those little things that we all "hear" - whether it is calling or emailing someone, having maintenance done on the car, or volunteering for something.  It is definitely a work in progress, and sometimes I do have to remind God that He might need to send a neon sign or speak really loudly. 

Then there is the "do whatever he tells you" aspect.  The obedience.  Right now, there are a couple of things that He is telling me to do.  And yet, because of my own stubborness, I have not yet picked up that cross to carry it.  Something to work on for Lent.

pictures, please?

This blog is in sore need of some pictures to break up some of the monotony, but I haven't taken many since our trip to Tampa nearly a month ago.  I have a few of the snow yesterday, but they are not among my better pictures.

Yesterday, 49/50 states had snow.  Hawaii was the lone hold-out.  Here, it had rained all night.  I was on my way yesterday morning to 6:30 Mass.  It was raining and dark, but in the headlights, I could see what looked like the occassional weird raindrop/snowflake.  By the time I got to church, I could see that it was, in fact, snowflakes, and there were quite a few of them.  The temperature was around 36, which made this all the more unusual.  Probably goes back to that whole "the Saints won the Super Bowl, so now hell is freezing over" thing.  It snowed until about 9:00 a.m.  The kids were not impressed that school was not cancelled.  I, for my part, have seen more snow in the past two years, than I've seen in the previous 43.  Further proof of global warming, I guess. 

A few of my pictures: 

Friday, February 12, 2010

week in review

It has been a week.

There was the amazing high of the Saints winning the Super Bowl.  I remember when they had their first winning season (after 20 some years as a franchise). That was the year of the "strike" teams.  I remember the fans in the Super Dome chanting "Stay on strike!" because the Replacements were winning!  I remember once - about 20 years ago - being in New Orleans in the French Quarter on a game day - the reason escapes me.  Under the windshield wiper of a car parked on the side of the street were a pair of Saints tickets with a sign that said "Take Me."  No one had.   I remember when they finally made it to a play-off game.  And then when they won a play-off game!  I remember 2005 when all of their home games were played on the road.  I remember the emotion of their real home game after Katrina.  And I watched the Super Bowl this year and watched them win!  They did NOT manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory - something they have raised to an art form over the years.  We set off fireworks in the driveway.  On Monday, "Who Dat?" sufficed for a greeting.

On Tuesday, a parade had been planned for the Saints - win or lose.  New Orleans knows a thing or two about parades.  But I don't think they anticipated that this would possibly be the biggest parade the city had ever seen.  Close to a million people - it was said - celebrated Lombardi Gras/Dat Tuesday.  I would have liked to have seen it myself, but there was work....

The low of the week was my sixth grade girl students.  In the past 2 weeks, three of the four have been in a fight.  Seperate fights.  Teachers who have tried to stop the fights have been injured.  It is crazy.  One morning, I left one parent meeting in the office to see one of my students sitting cuffed and shackled.  She didn't want to stop fighting.  And like night follows day, paperwork follows fights -especially "big" ones like this. And so, paperwork must be completed with i's dotted and t's crossed, and more instructional time will be lost when we meet to decide whether this behavior was "related" and where the best "setting" for her is.  Why can't they just do what they are supposed to do??

Today there was snow.  But snow merits its own post!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

geaux saints

Wow!  The Saints have won the Super Bowl!!  Hell has frozen and pigs are flying!  Wow!  Fireworks.  Craziness.  They didn't think we could do it!  Who dat sayin' dey gonna beat dem Saints?  Who dat?  The celebration may go on for weeks.  Ash Wednesday might not be enough to end the insanity in New Orleans.  Wow!

Friday, February 5, 2010

pearl of great price

One of my best Lenten practices of all time came about by waiting until the last minute to do something.  (Or maybe more accurately - in spite of waiting until the last minute...)  Ash Wednesday had come and gone, and I was still fumbling around for *something* to do for Lent when the idea of attending daily Mass occurred to me - might have been the Holy Spirit speaking. At the time, I had to be at work for 7:05, and my parish (just a few minutes away) had a daily Mass three days a week at 6:30. I was surely not a morning person, but I figured I might be able to swing this without too much revision to my schedule. (You can do just about anything for 40 days...)  At the time, my boys were in Cub Scouts, and every February, our pack would participate in a Mass at our parish. A practice would be held a few days before, and our pastor would usually be there to answer questions or lend a hand. Afterwards, I caught him and asked how long daily Mass was - just in case. He avoided the question, and said it depended on whether he had had his coffee yet, but I was left with the impression that Mass would be finished in time for me to get to work.

So I showed up the next morning. And I was hooked. Long before Lent was over. Mass was on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, and the days between Monday and Thursday seemed to stretch forever. I would wake up EXCITED that it was a Mass day. Me - who hated mornings?! I didn't understand it, but there was such a draw. When Lent was over, I couldn't stop. I knew I had discovered a pearl of great price, and today I am grateful for the opportunity to attend, and can't imagine my life without this treasure.

preparing for lent

One of my favorite ways to prepare for Lent is by emptying my surroundings of preparation... 

This year, I think I've done a decent job of anticipating it.  I almost look forward to it after the excesses of Christmas.  It is a way to re-order, re-balance things in our lives, or at least in mine.  Some years, though, not too long ago, Ash Wednesday would show up on the calendar, and I would think..."Hmmm.....wonder what I should do/give up for Lent this year??? Hmmm...."  "Oh maybe I'll give up....ummm....the computer....or maybe....I'll pray more.....or.....ummmm....." 

Recently I've come to look at Lent as a way of fixing what's "broken" in our lives and a way of joining in the Paschal Mystery with Jesus.  So before Lent, I try to tune into the things that God might be trying to tell me he'd like to help fix, those things that I feel a little twinge or stress when I think about. 

A few years ago, I had the 8th grade class from hell.  Almost as a joke, I gave up complaining about them.  It was hard; they were awful.  But by the end of Lent, amazing changes had taken place in that class - several had been moved to other placements, and a pleasant, new student showed up.  My worst class finished as one of my favorites.  Coincidence?  Or God at work? 

Last year, I decided to give up complaining about my dear hubby, and it wasn't as hard as the 8th graders, and paid much bigger dividends.  I knew it was God at work.

One of my usual penances is to give up chocolate.  Giving up stuff seems to get a bad rap these days, but it has its benefits, too.  I don't imagine that I'm doing God a favor by giving up chocolate.  But when you consider that most (all) sin is us putting our will ahead of God's will, then it makes sense to say "no" to our will.  If we can do it with something that is fairly neutral, like chocolate, then perhaps when we are tempted to sin, we can also say "no".  There is also value in redemptive suffering.  I won't pretend for a second that passing up the chocolate chip cookie is anything close to the suffering that Jesus endured on our behalf, but he does allow us to share in His unite our suffering with His.  Jesus' sacrifice was complete on its own; he surely doesn't need my chocolate withdrawals to save mankind, but He allows me to offer it.  Something like when a mother allows a 2-year-old to "help" her mix up a cake.  She certainly doesn't need his help, but she allows him to put a spoon in and stir. 

And along with the giving up, comes the doing something "extra".  I have found that attending the Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings help me appreciate the season and the celebration more.  One year, I read a meditation each day and journalled; that was a good thing.    Last year I tried to attend adoration every week; but that was sometimes difficult to find the hour or so involved. 

So for now, I will look at the things that take too much in my life:  too much money, too much time, too much stress, too much interference with my peace of mind - and look for ways that God might be calling me to change them - whether through fasting or prayer or giving up or doing more. 

God willing, at the end of Lent, my will shall line up a little closer to His will.  Join me?

Until then, I'll be eating healthy quantities of chocolate!

catholic factoid

Some of our Bible Study classes are more interesting than others.  Some really touch the heart; others are more for the head.  The class this past week was on Matthew 16, and focused almost entirely on the papacy.  It was more for the head.  Anyway....did you know....that the word "Pontiff" means "bridge".  I always thought it was just some fancy word for "Pope".  But "pont" in French means "bridge", so this made perfect sense, once I heard it  The Pope - the Pontiff - is a bridge between Jesus and His church (us).  I thought that was kind of neat.  Your mileage may vary.

making changes

I've been tinkering with the template and some of the blog settings trying to find a good combo that I like.  Something that doesn't strain my eyes and/or my brain too much. 

I notice that my header picture doesn't fill the space in this template.  Maybe I'll figure that out tomorrow. 

I wanted something that was a little wider than my previous format.  It seemed like you had to scroll forever on some of the posts.  I didn't think they were THAT long, but they surely looked long when posted!

Stay tuned...


I don't think I've ever heard the word "auditors" used in a sentence with any kind of positive connotations.  Auditors must be like tax collectors in the Bible.  So now in the education profession, we have "academic auditors" that come to observe tell us if we're doing what we're supposed to be doing.  And one day last week was audit day.  (Last spring when they came, I did not need the stress, and simply took the day off.) 

To start the day off, we had to be at school at the crack of dawn to fill out a survey that maybe took 5 minutes.  That was followed by a lengthy interview of the leadership team, of which I am a member (for some reason that is still not completely clear to me.)  This all-important interview had to be redone the following week, because we had an "ineligible" participant.  My assistant was out this particular day.  She hardly ever misses school, but this day she was at a special ed conference.  You don't realize how much you miss someone until they are not there.

Anyway, the auditor came in during my 2nd block.  This is normally a good class. Four eighth graders who have some sense of how to conduct themselves in a classroom.  My assistant's substitute was out of the room on lunch duty.  First we had to find a spot for the audtior that was clutter-free and close to an outlet so he could plug in.

One student was doing some make-up work for social studies.  Not a big issue in the scheme of things for me - at least he's doing something constructive, but I would have hoped for purposes of the audit he was doing Math.  Another decides to start dropping these oh-so-subtle hints about who the "good" teachers are and who the "teachers who are not doing their jobs" are.  Not really too subtle, and disruptive to the math lesson that I was trying to present.  Another - who is always on her own wavelength - asks in the middle of class if she can use the printer to print something for chorus. is math.  And another decides it would be a good time to stick his pick in the back of his hair and sit there looking like a rooster.

I just wanted to crawl under a desk somewhere.  When my assistant's sub came back from duty, she failed to see the auditor sitting at the table in the front of my room, and proceeded to oooh and ahhh over the very cool technology (Promethean Board and ActivExpressions) that we were using.  She is a wonderful, enthusiastic person, but it didn't really help the whole state of the room at this point in time. 

And so life goes on.  After he left, I mentioned to the little darlings that MOST people decide to act better when there is a visitor in the classroom.  Unfortunately, this was NOT the case with them.  Perhaps at some point, I will look back on it and laugh.  Or not.