Tuesday, June 29, 2010

can life get any better?

Here I am taking a cat nap on a nice stack of warm, clean, folded clothes.  And you think dogs have it made?
My kids are camping this week.  The cat was an easy target!

Consider sharing Sixty Seconds on Tuesday in word or picture.  Visit Jenny at Just a Minute to see other "minutes" or to post a link.  Finding beauty in the ordinary.

Oh - and the folded clothes are on the countertop next to the sink in the bathroom because the washer and dryer is in the bathroom.  Pros and cons about that arrangement!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

show me

The Adoration Chapel near my house has a few open slots on Sundays.  About six months ago, I signed up to be a substitute.  I can't commit to a certain hour every week, but I can sometimes fill in when needed.  And today was one of those days.

A couple of three years or so ago, I remember hearing a priest at daily Mass say that we should ask God for the grace to see things as He sees them - especially in regard to our own sinfulness.  I thought that was something I'd rather not see, so I didn't pray too hard for that grace.

But things change.  Lord, help me to see.  And He did.  It was a productive "conversation" today at Adoration.  I think I was mostly listening.  But that's OK.  Speak, Lord, I'm listening.  He spoke; I took notes.

Spent the rest of the day taking care of odds and ends around the house.  Scooped the litter box.  Watered the plants.  Washed a load of clothes.  Sorted the clothes on the top of oldest child's dresser.  Downloaded backgrounds to use with my Promethean board.  Dear hubby was gone all morning and part of the afternoon, so it was very quiet.  *I* got to use the remote and watch a couple of shows that I had DVR'd. 

The electricity went off twice.  For no apparent reason.  Gee, I love our electric provider.  NOT!  It could be a long summer.

Waited to see if I would hear from the happy campers.  News was hard to come by, but at last report, the boys were all tucked in and sleeping. 

When I was watering the plants, I saw some more of those very hungry caterpillars on my tomato plants.  They are SO hard to see.  Even when you are looking right at them, you don't see them.  The give-away on most of them was the droppings that they leave behind.  You know, what goes in, must come out - and the poop doesn't blend quite so well.

It occurred to me that sin is kind of like that. The attitudes and thoughts blend so well with the ways of the world.  When we're sitting there in the middle of it, sometimes - often times - we fail to see it for what it is.  Even when we're looking for it - really looking - preparing to do battle by confession instead of insecticide - it is hard to see.   Except for the poop - the inevitable consequences.  That's the give-away.  That and the branches stripped bare by the appetites that can't be satistfied.  The hateful words that spring from the need to always be right.  The impatience that comes from wanting to be in control.  The hurt feelings.  The failure to pray for those we don't like.  And on and on.   Lord, help me to see.

ils sont partis

They're on their way!

The last few days have been taken up with details related to getting two boys off to Boy Scout camp.  Though I must say that the older they get, the more they take care of themselves and the more they do for themselves.  They did most of their packing yesterday, so today wasn't too crazy.  I went through their stuff, once they were packed, wrote their names on it, and tried to notice if anything vital was missing.

So here's what we ended up with:  2 18-gallon totes filled to the brim, 2 stuffed day packs, 2 sleeping bags, 2 sleeping pads, 1 box to hold snacks, 12 bags of beef jerky, and 2 cases of water.

We met at 8:30 this evening to load the trailer.  I think the thinking was that it would be "cooler".  LOL!  It was still 85 degrees and about 1000% humidity.

So 14 boys, 7 adults, 1 van, 1 truck pulling a trailer, and 1 personal vehicle departed before 10 pm for the trip to Georgia.  They went to the same camp last year, and had a great time, so I think most were looking forward to it.  I know my guys were.  They will be taking Lifesaving, Personal Fitness, and Water Sports (water skiing).  My older teen will also take Rowing, and the younger teen will take Leatherwork. One afternoon, they will go on a whitewater rafting trip.  I would have gone with them in a heartbeat!

If you look in the dictionary under "organized chaos", this is the picture that would be there.  Here they are loading the trailer.  One of mine is in the trailer and the other is near the center of the picture holding a camo duffle bag.  He informed me tonight that his shorts are too short.

My part in this fun, is to put together a schedule with all of their classes, so that they know which classes they have when, and who is where.  I print in on cardstock and laminate.  Last year, because it was an unfamiliar camp, I also found a map on-line and printed it on the back of the schedules.  I was told that it was helpful, so I did the same this year.  I googled the camp and found a couple of different maps.  One from 2002, and another revised in 2006.  I pulled them both up.  Compared.  Printed a test copy of the 2006 one.  Then I loaded up the printer with 21 sheets of cardstock and proceeded to print 21 copies of the 2002 map.  In color.   Oh well.  I had a few pieces of cardstock left, so I printed a few more of the new map.  Life goes on!

I hope they have great time.  Hubby and I have the house all to ourselves this week.  It will be good, I think, to have some time to connect!

A somewhat related side note.  I schedule the altar servers for our parish. Our parish is mostly elderly, and as the years pass, we have fewer and fewer kids willing to serve.  This summer got to the point where I just didn't have people to put on the schedule some weeks.  The good monsignor is fond of saying that "God will provide," but I didn't think I should put that on the schedule.  There is an older man who serves at daily Mass.  He is a simple soul, and has some physical disabilities which make him a little unsteady on his feet and unable to manage the steps, but he does fine serving.  I asked if he could fill in some this summer and got an affirmative answer.

Before we leave for camp, our troop usually attends Mass together at another parish and the priest there gives the boys a blessing.  My guys said they preferred our own parish tonight, and I didn't argue.  (They said as long as all the other kids were blessed, they would be alright.).  ;-)  I had scheduled my fill-in altar server for Mass tonight, so my kids weren't serving.  It was great to see one of the boys from our parish, who "retired" from serving about 3 years ago at the end of 8th grade, put on an alb and take a seat next to the older gentleman to help out.  God does provide!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

of spills and moratoriums and enemies and prayer

Days without a post, and then two in one day!

There is oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.  It's been gushing for quite a few days - 65, I think at last count.  It was an accident that shouldn't have happened.  11 men lost their lives.  They shouldn't have.  There were safety issues on the rig that shouldn't have been ignored.  But it was an accident.  A preventable one, but an accident all the same.

Those who depend on the Gulf waters - those in the seafood industry - from fishermen to processors to restaurant workers and owners - are feeling the effects in a big way.  Tourism has also suffered.  Who wants to go to a mucky, gooky beach?  The damage to wildlife is heartbreaking.

But then our government goes and declares a 6 month moratorium on offfshore drilling!  So not only will the seafood and tourism industries be hurt, but the oilfield and everyone (like my dear hubby) who depends on the oilfield for their livelihood.  Literally tens of thousands of people affected directly or indirectly.  They are so, so clueless.  It's not as if everyone can afford to take a six month vacation.  And it's not as if the jobs will return in six months.  Oil companies will not let their rigs sit idle for that long while some Washington paper pusher does their thing; they will be moved to other locations.  Not to return for years.

And so one starts to wonder if it is stupidity and not knowing how these things work or vindictiveness that drives the decision.  One starts to feel as if the federal government wants to finish off Louisiana once and for all.   Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike gave it their best shots, and came up short.  But the federal government just might be able to pull it off and inflict massive amounts of pain.  BP is not the enemy.  More likely BO. Quite possibly fueled by greed and the opportunity to make money off of foreign oil while killing jobs and wrecking the economy here.  But no one cares.  Here, the attack feels very personal.

Immaculee, in her good-byes to us on Sunday, noted that the people in this area are suffering (even more true because the retreat was in New Orleans) and have suffered, and that she knows what suffering is.  God allows it, and that love can come from it. And we are called to love.   She said that she would pray for us, if we would pray for her. 

Today I went to Mass with my SIL and a friend of her and some friends of the friend.  We went to a local religious community.  THe chapel was at an old Catholic school.  Looked like it might have been a classroom.  Very simple.  Very traditional.  The priest faced away from the people during the Eucharistic prayer and there were snatches of Latin here and there.

The heavens opened while we were inside and we were deluged with rain.  We were headed to a restaurant for lunch and they finally decided we couldn't wait any longer, so we ran through the rain.  We looked like drowned rats.  Maybe it was appropriate for the solemnity of John the Baptist.  We looked baptized, all right.

Anyway (I'm getting to the point here) we were 5 women sitting around a table in a restaurant talking about spiritual matters.  One of the ladies mentioned that she volunteers at the monastery in town and as such talks to many people who have issues with enemies.  So much so that she had written a prayer about enemies, and before we parted ways for she gave SIL and I each a copy.  (She also gave us a beautiful picture of Jesus super-imposed on a monstrance - which was beautiful - I'll try to see if I can share it.)  I must say that there were many fervent prayers for the judge who ruled on the moratorium - for wisdom and common sense.  And without further ado....

Prayer for Enemies

Lord, you know our hearts where our foes are concerned.
We are filled with doubts about their motives and their actions, but at the same time we acknowledge that You alone know how to read souls and You alone are the judge of men.  
We come before You in humility, in repentance, and neediness. 
Left to ourselves, we can never exercise true charity; we will always fall short.
We can't see the whole picture; only You can do that.
The Holy Scriptures assure us that no purpose of Yours can ever be thwarted. 
No evil can ever defeat You or overthrow Your designs.
Help us to keep that in mind as we pray.
Help us to grow in trust that You can and will work all things for good, even the foulest and most despicable situations.
Help us to think twice when we express aversion toward others.
Help us to use those occasions to stop in our tracks, to redirect our thoughts, and to turn those negatives to  positives, believing that with You in the equation, the bitter can become sweet; the dark can become flooded with light; the sinister can fall prostrate before You in repentance; the most dismal situations can become infused with hope, the black storm clouds can reveal their silver linings.

Lord, we pray for our enemies. 
We unclench our fists and release all the energy we've expended in distrusting them to trusting You to take care of them in ways we never can.
To the best of our ability, we pray You bestow blessings on those we don't like, don't agree with, don't want to associate with.  
We ask You to bring us all, Your children, into the family You envision us to be, a family united in love and peace and joy.
In the words of St. Thomas More, "Make us saved souls in heaven together."
To God be the glory for the conversions of hearts that will ensue, both in ourselves and in our foes.

Thank You, Lord, for hearing our prayer.
Amen. 

~ Bonnie Taylor Barry



To that end, our governor has declared Saturday a day of prayer for perseverance in the face of the oil spill.  It is the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  Appropriate.  

summer

Monday was the first day of summer, according to the calendar.  But it's been summer for a couple of months now in these parts. I always start summer with great plans of the things that will get done - and some of them DO get done.  But then the heat limits your activities, and afternoons seem like perfect time for naps, and kids sleep until whenever.  You start off thinking that there will be infinite time - no commitments - and then the time fills up and you are as busy as you were during school - albeit with different, and  usually more pleasant activities.

It seems like things aren't as interesting during the summer.  Days pass, and nothing says,"blog about me".  And so I don't, because I can always do it later.

Monday, I got up and went to Mass.  That is always the best part of a day.  I had gotten Immaculee's book, Our Lady of Kibeho for my pastor at the retreat on Sunday.  I waited until the last day, and something pointed me to that book.  The idea that the story of Our Lady's apparitions in Kibeho might be the story that Immaculee was left to tell.  That and one of the ladies working at the bookstore mentioning that while priests here might be different, where she is from, 10 out of 10 have never heard of Our Lady of Kibeho.  So I bought the book, and had it signed.


It says, "God bless you more.  Love, Immaculee"  My sister-in-law also bought her priest a [different] book, but she just signed it, "God bless you".  SIL made sure to tell her priest that Fr. R (my pastor) was more blessed than he was.   Anyway, I digress.  I gave him the book after Mass on Monday.  I think I caught him off guard.  He thanked me, but didn't say much and I didn't hang around.  Either he'll read it or he won't - depending on where the Holy Spirit leads.  I have to think though, that he'll at least open it up out of curiosity or to look at the pictures.  And maybe read.

Met a friend to work out.  I think I overdid the back-ab machine trying to get the little @#$% light to stay green.  My back hurt all day - not a pulled kind of hurt, but a stiffness.

Last week, when I went to confession, we talked about quiet places and how to find them.  His suggestion was to visit a somewhat-nearby monastery, and he mentioned that he said Mass there on Tuesdays.  There is no Mass at our parish on Tuesdays.  Usually I go to St. P's or Our Lady of the Library on those days.  So I debated.  I don't want to look like a priest groupie/stalker following him to the Monastery, but it was a viable option.  I also enjoy OLOL, but sometimes it is just too busy  joy-filled and the library is crowded cozy.  In the end, I went to the monastery.  And when Mass was over, I stayed and prayed the Rosary. 


                                                                                                 

The Rosary is something that I've never developed a great affection for.  My mind seems to wander a million different directions, and its most common use in my life has been as an almost sure-cure for insomnia.  It's been so long since I've prayed it with any kind of regularity, that I had to print off a cheat sheet for the mysteries.  But I stayed, and recalling Immaculee's meditations on the sorrowful mysteries, I actually meditated on them.  It might be the first time ever!

Wednesday found dear hubby and I taking a car to the shop in the early morning and meeting with an accountant to see about our taxes mid-morning.  Mass was at 12:15.  Sitting there before Mass, I had an idea.  Backing up:  Prayer is something that I struggle with at times.  Mass is non-negotiable.  If I can get there, I'm there, and my day is better for it.  But personal prayer is more hit or miss...for the last couple of years, I've tried to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in the morning and evening.  It has been both a blessing and a burden.  I have found some great treasures in the psalms.  It is at times a way for God to speak to me.  And probably most days, I pray both morning and evening.  Each takes about 15 minutes and sometimes there is a temptation to just blow through it with half a mind or put if off or skip it altogether.  Then this weekend, there was the exhortation to pray the rosary.  Pray.  Pray. Pray.

I struggle with this because there are only so many hours in a day.  Don't I do enough attending Mass?  How can I add in something else?  And then sitting there... I thought.... I could pray the Rosary and one of the Hours.  It was such an obvious and simple solution.  Who knew?  Let's see if it will work.  It still involves taking time from "my" stuff to focus on something else.

Late afternoon, dropped the kids and a friend off to see Toy Story 3, and did some shopping with friend's mom.  It was quite enjoyable.

Skipped working out.  Fell asleep working on this post and neglected that nighttime prayer.  :-(  I'm a work in progress.  






Sunday, June 20, 2010

father's day

With the retreat, Father's Day kind of got pushed to the side.  We tried to celebrate a little something earlier in the week. 

My children spent the weekend at my parents' house and today was also my dad's 71st birthday.  I ate some birthday cake when I picked them up today, but we were in a hurry to get home so they could wish my dear hubby Happy Father's Day.

Happy Father's Day to all the Fathers out there!

kibeho

This weekend, I had the awesome opportunity to attend a retreat weekend with Immaculee'. 

That's me in the back with Immaculee and my wonderful sister-in-law.  (I hate pictures of myself ;-))  Here's a better one that SIL took with her iPhone.

I first heard of Immaculee a couple of years ago, when a friend of mine was going on a retreat with her.  She explained that she was the woman that hid in a bathroom with 7 other women for 3 months in Rwanda and survived the genocide in 1994 when a million people were killed.  Last summer I checked her first book out of the library (Left to Tell).  It is a book that will leave a lasting impression on you!  Then, around Christmas this past year, I heard that she was coming to my hometown to speak at a conference this spring.  I was SO there.  She had one brother who survived the genocide because he was out of the country.  Two brothers, both parents, extended family, and friends were killed.  But her message is one of forgiveness and mercy.  Just amazing!

At the conference here in the spring, where we were able to listen to her for about an hour or so, she announced that she would be back in our state in June for a retreat!  I knew I had to be there!  Isn't she beautiful?  Doesn't she glow with an inner joy?  Instead of bitterness and hatred? 


There was a lot that happened this weekend.  I imagine it will take some time to process it.  But I will share as best I can at this point.  I didn't really know what to expect going in, and I tried to open to whatever was there and surrender to what God wanted to tell me. 

The first evening, she shared her story with us.   That was followed by a Mass and a healing service conducted by Father Ubald.  Father is also a genocide survivor.  The healing service was a first for me.  The Blessed Sacrament was exposed, and then slowly processed around the room that we were gathered in while we sang "Jesus".  (Only say the word, and I shall be healed.... the word is Jesus.)  I started the evening praying for others in my life that need healing.  I don't have any pressing health needs, and I'm doing pretty OK.  But as I knelt there, I could see the things in my life that need healing.  The attitudes.  The thoughts.

After the procession, Father sat for a little while and then  began to name the things that Jesus had healed.  He speaks French, so Immaculee translated for him.  And then people were invited to give testimony if they had been healed or thought it might be them.  It was a new experience for me.  It was late when we finished.  Before we left, Immaculee asked us to bring a flower for Our Blessed Mother. 

So we stopped at Winn Dixie on the way the next morning.  We offered our flowers to Mary. 



Our Lady of Kibeho





Immaculee spoke about Our Mother and how she leads us to her son.  She spoke of love and of how it is better to build up one another.  Instead of praying that a pesky co-worker gets fired, pray that he or she finds a better job.  That way both of you get something good! 

Her faith is so powerful.  She spent her time in the bathroom praying a rosary that her father had given her before sending her off to hide. 27 Rosaries a day for 90 days.  You do the math. 

But those seeds were planted long before she ended up in the bathroom.  Her parents had a devotion to the Blessed Mother and a strong belief in the power of the Rosary.  Our Lady had appeared to school girls in a small village (Kibeho) in Africa about 12 years before the genocide, and warned of the genocide if people did not change their hearts. 

One of the things that Mary asked was that the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows be prayed.  It is a devotion that was popular in the Middle Ages, but had fallen out of favor. 



There are seven medals depicting the 7 Sorrows of Our Lady's life and then 7 Hail Mary's between each.  Seven groups of seven. This particular Rosary was made in Rwanda by workers who are paid a "living wage" so that they can live with dignity. 

When I was in fourth grade, Sister Agnes told us that we would go straight to hell if we dared to put a Rosary over our heads and wear it as a necklace.  Apparently that rule has been changed, because that was where you mostly saw them this weekend.  If the gang banger wannabe's can wear them to school, I think I might try it, too!

There was a local priest there who spent many hours yesterday (and a little while today) hearing confessions over in the corner.  This is the confession line sitting across the front of the stage during a break.  It is always wonderful to see people take advantage of this sacrament. 







In the afternoon, Father Ubald told his story. (And he IS bald!)  Another priest to pray for!  We fell in love with him.   He told how the Rosary brought him back to his faith, even as a seminarian.  His English is limited, so we would speak and Immaculee would translate.  He returned to Rwanda after the genocide and has worked in trying to help people heal and reconcile.  He is building a center where people can come and also including housing for retired priests - who can continue to minister to the extent that they are able to those who are in need of healing and reconciliation.  He has the gift of healing, but he seemed to stress the physical healing that often accompanies forgiveness. 

The testimonies after the healing service of the ways that Jesus is working in people's lives were particularly moving Saturday night.  Parents who had lost children.  Spouses who had forgiven spouses and been healed from physical ailments in the process.  Very emotional.

This little girl belonged to one of the musicians who was there this weekend.  Adopted from China, she was just precious.  She just embodied the innocence of childhood.  Here she is making herself very comfortable on stage!


One of the ladies giving testimony on Saturday evening had remembered that Sunday was Father's day and on her lunch break had bought Father a beautiful Father's Day gift.  On the side of the boat there was the scripture verse about being fishers of men and she thanked him for putting us all in his net and dragging us in and thanked him for pulling in all of the retired priests in the center he is trying to build.  He was moved to tears.  (And so were most of the rest of us.)  He placed the gift next to the Blessed Sacrament.



And what were the messages that I got this weekend?  I went not really knowing what to expect, but just trying to be open to whatever might present itself. 

I learned that Immaculee was indeed left to tell, but it was not necessarily the story of her survival that she was left to tell.  Quite possibly, it was the story of Our Lady of Kibeho that she was left to tell.  She sympathized with us about the suffering that has gone on in our area.  First Katrina, and now the oil spill and moratorium.  We, also, are left to tell the story of God's goodness and faithfulness and almighty power with our lives.  More than anything, God is about love. 

I know that I need to pray with my family.  That was a pretty clear message. We should pray with our children when they are young, so that they are not easy prey for the devil when they get older.  I need to pray the Rosary.  It is such a powerful weapon, but something I have never developed an affection for.  I have always felt like I could go straight to Jesus.  Why stop and talk to His mom along the way?  But my sister-in-law pointed out that John Paul II had quite a devotion to Mary, and  surely he could have gone straight to Jesus.  Maybe we would do well to imitate that. 

Pray.  Pray.  Pray.

The greatest of these is love!

and he ate and he ate

This very hungry caterpillar was found on a tomato plant in my yard today.  I regret to inform you that he is no longer with us.  But he was pretty to look at.  Too bad his kind can eat up an entire tomato plant in nothing flat. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

random thoughts

Random things all in one post.

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. 

I have that verse on the wall in my classroom (among others).  Not in plain view, of course.  Someone might be offended.  But where I can see it.  That was part of today's gospel.  We would do well to examine our motives for doing things, Father said.  They either come from love or from selfishness.   As a final thought, Father added that what you do in secret - when no one else is around - is a good indicator of where your treasure is.

My oldest child came with me to Mass this morning.  I think we were the youngest two people in the church.  Seriously.   And I am not young.

Leaving with my sister-in-law to go on a retreat this weekend.  Perhaps I'll have something to update on that when we get back.  Very much looking forward to it!

A few random pictures - just because the blog looks better with pictures.  I'm sort of envious of some people's blogs with beautiful pictures.  Oh well....

A picture of the crepe myrtle in my back yard.  Surely there are others with more flowers and prettier colors, but this is mine.  It adds beauty all the same.  

And a picture of some potential cantaloupes in my garden.



Thursday, June 17, 2010

shhhhh.....

Does anyone else crave quiet? Or is it just introverts?   I seem to have an  unquenchable thirst for quiet.  Not necessarily quiet time for prayer, but just quiet in general.  The need seems to have grown with age for me.

My dear husband does not share this need.  When he is home, the TV is on.  Only in recent years does he sleep with the TV off.  When he is awake, he seems to need to talk [over the TV].  Often I start off in the same room as him, but between the TV and the talking, I can only take so much.  I find it nearly impossible to have a complete thought.  One night I was in the bedroom (where it is quiet) saying my evening prayers.  He came in to go to bed, and asked if I minded if he did so.  "No," I said, "just don't talk, let me finish with my prayers."  He could not help himself.  He HAD to talk.  I finally got up and finished my prayers in the bathroom that night.

The need for quiet is something that has come up repeatedly in conversations with my priest - in the confessional and outside.  I sense that he is a kindred spirit in that respect.  Our first conversation on this topic centered around the Rosary.  I had gone early to Mass at another parish for the very reason of having some quiet time with the Lord.  But when I got there, the Rosary was in full swing.  Nothing against the Rosary, but I didn't want to pray the Rosary that day.  So I waited until the end.  Then there were another 39 prayers tacked on to the end of the Rosary.  It was like the first Alien movie.  You thought it was almost over, but then BAM!  another twist.  So much for my quiet time with the Lord.  But I was left feeling guilty that I had such ill feelings toward the Rosary.  So I asked in confession - sin or no sin?  No sin, he said.  And furthermore - he says -  that's why you won't find the Rosary before any of our Masses except Wednesdays.  Another time my penance was to "go enjoy the silence before Mass and let Jesus speak to you."  How awesome is that?

Today, when I brought up the difficulty of finding quiet, he told me to get in my car and drive to a quiet place.  I do try to do that with the chapel, but it is not nearly often enough. I feel guilty for leaving.  He suggested a nearby monastery, and that is something I am going to have to try on for size.  Unfortunately, if I left every time I felt the need for quiet, I'm afraid I would never be home.

People, in general, though don't seem to "get" quiet.

catching up

So....where were we?  Back on the weekend?  Saturday evening?

Sunday found us up early again to shoot guns with our scout group.  Not officially a scout function, but the only people who were there were scouts.  I took my handgun along, since it had been nearly a year since I fired it.  I wasn't very accurate this time, but it was the prevailing opinion that if I just shot it in the general direction of an intruder, that they would not stick around to see if my accuracy improved.  Sunday evening was an "adult only" scout meeting to take care of details related to summer camp. 

Monday.  Mass. Plumbing issues at home.  And a visit to my parents who live an hour away.  My sister and my 2 year old godchild were there, as well as my grandfather and my godmother/aunt who is visiting from New Jersey.

Tuesday.  Mass.  The homily was about the fact that sometimes "the enemy" is the person we see when we look in the mirror.  Haircut. A little cleaning and decluttering around the house - we're talking very tip of the iceberg.  Returning paint from the parking lot project.  Dropping off receipts and invoices for the weekend's adventure to the church secretary.   Continuing plumbing issues that were eventually resolved. I really, really wanted to go to the little adoration chapel down the road, but I didn't make it.

Wednesday.. Mass at Our Lady of the Holy Library.  The library was standing room only today.  Father was celebrating his 20th Anniversary of Ordination.  He took a little stroll down memory lane during the homily, introducing us to many of the priests who had had an effect on him. It was, at times, emotional for him, at times humorous.  Mass was long - 45 minutes for a daily Mass.  Upon leaving, I gave him a hug - he is a hugger, even on a regular day, but this was a good one - and I thanked him. He asked us to pray for all priests and gave us a holy card for a priest who had been a mentor to him.  Once I exited, I was dragged back inside by the good ladies who were having a "little something" for Father.  It seemed a little too early in the morning to have cake and punch, but we did.  The people there are so welcoming and caring.

I had an inservice in the afternoon to learn how to better utilize some of the technology in my classroom.  Interesting.

I grabbed pizzas for dinner, talked my friend into skipping an evening workout, and went to the little chapel.  There is such peace there.  I wanted time to look into my life and see what needs fixing, to sit there with Jesus and see how he sees things.  I was somewhat successful, I think. 

Thursday:  That's today.  Confession.  Mass.  Workout.  Dentist with my oldest.  And now I'm sitting in my recliner.   It had been a while since I'd been to confession.  The living is easy right now, so there wasn't a lot of pressing stuff.  I have found that prayer is almost always an issue during times of transition.  There is the whole thing of where to fit it and the realization that summer time is still God's time - not all Karen time.  It was good.  Good advice/spiritual direction.  I'm going on a retreat this weekend with my SIL, and I wanted the graces to be able to flow.

The dentist.  My older child had a tooth with a deep cavity.  Several months ago, we tried to fill it, but in April when he went for his check-up, he told them that it was still hurting and the x-rays showed that there was decay under the filling.  It has continued to hurt, while we debated what to do - root canal and crown or extraction.  $1200 vs. $70.  In the end, it was purely an economic decision.  Thanks to our illustrious president, my husband who works in an oil-field related industry will soon see a dramatic reduction in his work.  God willing, he won't be totally unemployed, if his company manages to stay open, but he is likely to make only a fraction of what he now makes.  And since he won't be totally UNemployed, we won't be eligible to mooch off the government.  We are trying to prepare, and the tooth was a casualty.  Hopefully his wisdom teeth will help compensate in a few years.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

painting, parking, and pizza

It was a full day.  And so the question is - one long post or a couple of shorter ones??  And the winner is.... one long one!

I noticed when I began this post that I have 200 entries.  (I guess that makes this #201.)  Anyway, I saw on another blog that for the 100th post, you are supposed to list 100 things about yourself.   Never knew.  So do you think I need to tell you 200 things about myself? I'll spare you for now!

First of all...the parking lot.  We were there at 7 a.m. to try to (a) beat the heat and (b) finish in time to have a break before it was time to eat pizza.  A picture of our guys before they got things underway this morning.
 

Here they are imitating government workers...standing around and watching those who are working: 


But it got done in record time.  We were almost done by 9 a.m., when it really started to feel like a sauna outside.  And things wouldn't be complete without a "before" picture somewhere in the vicinity of an "after" picture.  I would put them side by side, but who knows where they will land with blogger?

Given the name of this blog, I must include this picture::

Following our morning in the parking lot, the scouts joined the altar servers for our "annual trek" to a local pizza place that also has all kind of games, bumper cars, go-carts, etc.  It's like a casino for kids.  Almost.  Here's our obligatory picture of our group with Father and my "partners in crime" who not only help paint parking lots, but also help pay for pizza.  I love that our pastor takes time out of his day and joins the kids for this event.  He doesn't stay to play, but he sits down at the table with them and joins them for lunch. 




If you would, please say a prayer for the dad of the kid in the New York t-shirt.  He has been hospitalized the past week+ with a collapsed lung.  Apparently it's something that can just sometimes happen to perfectly healthy people.  What should not have been a huge deal has resulted in a misplaced chest tube, surgery, pneumonia, and a staph infection.  But God has had a hand in it, because the dad of the kid standing behind him (in plaid) is a critical care pulmonologist, and even though dad #1 is in another city an hour away, dad #2 has been very helpful in getting him the right care. 

My boys were serving at Mass this evening, and we went straight from pizza to Mass, with about 5 minutes to spare.  That means that my oldest was wearing shorts for Mass (which I never allow), so the ladies across the way might have been scandalized by his hairy legs sticking out under his alb.  (I thought we would have time to go home and change first, but we didn't...) 

I loved the readings tonight.  The music went right along with the theme of mercy and reconciliation.  And the homily, I'm sorry that I'm only going to hear it once.  He said that what tied the three readings together was that each of the "characters" (that's not the word he used) experienced God.  For some reason, I can so relate to the woman in the Gospel.  The one who has been forgiven much, and so loves much.  And that even though we might want to believe that there isn't really sin in the world (just look around, he says), we experience God through forgiveness and mercy.  God is God, and we aren't.  No matter what or who we think we are, we are sinners.  When we open ourselves to that forgiveness, we open ourselves to God's love and when we have received that extravagant love, we can give it to others.

Ant that, boys and girls, was our day.  Not bad at all!

Friday, June 11, 2010

straight lines

Hopefully when we are done with this project, I won't have any pictures that I can use as a header for this blog!

Our Boy Scout troop is striping (not stripping) the parking lot at our church on Saturday.  A before picture:  The Fire Lane markings are much more noticeable in the picture than in real life.  Do you see those lines out there?  (No, not really....  That's why we are painting them!)   There are 16 of them....
 

My boys and I met my partners-in-crime there tonight, so we could get an idea of what we were doing and get a head start.  We worked about 3 hours.  The boys did a great job.  Good attitudes.  Good work.  My co-conspirator said they could work for him any time!  Here he is - lending a foot and words of advice.  You can see by the close-up that this project is overdue!

sacred heart

Today is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  For daily Mass, a solemnity means that there are three readings, instead of two, and usually the Gloria is recited as part of the Introductory Rites.  Usually for daily Mass there are only two readings and the Gloria is not said.

The readings today were beautiful.  The first reading was from Ezekiel 34, and said in part, "I myself will look after and tend my sheep...I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark...the lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal...."  You have to love that image.  God isn't out-sourcing his caring and pawning it off on someone else to do.  He has got our backs!  The responsorial Psalm was the 23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want."  Really?  Probably, most of the time.  The second reading from Romans 5 says, "The love  of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit....Christ...died for the ungodly....we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son....  And the Gospel was the beautiful parable of the lost sheep from Luke 15.  One of my favorite images of Jesus...when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy...  I've been that lost sheep...
 

Father said that all week long, through the readings from 1Kings, we have been shown the "heart of God" and the Heart of God is mercy.  Plain and simple, when we sin, returning to the heart of God is about forgiveness and reconciliation, strength and grace.  Mercy.  And if we follow Jesus in humility and obedience, it will lead us straight to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Those Sacred Heart pictures have always seemed a little odd to me.  So in honor of the day, how about a lost sheep image?

I was able to get to Mass early today.  That is my goal every day - to get there 15 or 20 minutes ahead of time to enjoy the quiet and pray, but during school it just doesn't happen.  Today was the first time this summer that I've been there significantly early.  (I thought I was early a couple of days....but I really wasn't.)  Anyway, I was there before the candles were lit.  One of my Facebook mom friends had posted about her cousin last week who had been given only a few weeks to live, so she was one of the people I prayed for while I was there.  Kind of strange to get home and see on FB that during the same time frame I was sitting in church before 6:30 Mass, she had passed away..

I picked up the paint for our parking lot project this morning.  Our test run will get underway this afternoon....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

teacher camp

I spent this week "at camp".  It was a camp for educators that enabled us to visit area businesses to see what opportunities there are for employment for our students and what skills employers are looking for.

The places we visited were varied:  a local manufacturer of seasoning, a public utility company, a casino/racetrack, a monogramming gift shop, a dinner club, a car dealership, a cable company.  We heard the same things over and over and over:  Send us kids who know how to show up on time, who know how to dress appropriately, who know how to interact and get along with others, and we will teach them everything else we need for them to know.

We also heard them say over and over again, how much they value their employees, how the employees are like family and how they have little turn over.  It made me a little sad, because while we are valued by the community (and were told "thank you" often), it feels like our school system places little value on its employees.  One company is in a "depressed" neighborhood, and many of their employees ride their bikes or walk to work.  They are planning to move to a larger facility a few miles from the current location.  They said that they have plans to provide transportation for those employees when they move to their new location. 

All in all, an interesting week, but now I can officially begin my summer vacation.  I think!  We also ate VERY well this week.  Exercise should be a big part of my summer vacation!

water wars



It started out as washing the car.  And then it deteriorated from there.  Two boys.  Two water hoses.   But I think the car is somewhat clean.  And the boys, too.  And they had a good time.  Teenagers aren't too old to play in the water...

mercy!

Another homily post.  I was back at my "home" parish this morning.  I had to chuckle when Father referred to yesterday's first reading (1Kings 18:20-39) as the "bar-b-q of all bar-b-q's." 

At the end of today's first reading (1Kings 18: 41-46) I was thinking, "I hope he explains this one..."  And he did explain that the rain cloud was the symbol of the end of a three-year drought.  Elijah revealing the "heart of God" to his people.  God giving them a chance to start over with life-giving water.  And somehow he managed to tie it to the gospel (Mt 5:20-26), which was Jesus revealing God's heart.  He noted that we need to check our thoughts and attitudes because behavior comes from thoughts and attitudes.  We don't just "do" something; it comes from somewhere - a thought or an attitude.  He also tied in mercy and how the degree to which we show mercy is the degree to which we reveal the heart of God to others around us.

Tomorrow.... the Feast of the Sacred Heart...so appropriate that the readings today were revealing "God's Heart". 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

as heard in the homily

I've been lucky enough to go to Mass during the mornings this week, and along with that comes the homilies.

My pastor took some time for R&R last week, but he was back in the saddle on Monday.  Monday's gospel reading was the Sermon on the Mount (or the Sermon on the Plain? - I get confused).   In any case, it was what we call the Beatitudes.  Things that were once "curses", Jesus turns into "blessings".  And that is pretty much how Jesus operates.  He came to raise the bar, to change our way of thinking about things, etc.  What a difference it would make, if we each embraced all of the Beatitudes in our life!

Yesterday and today, I went to Mass at Our Lady of the Holy Library.  Yesterday, the priest shared his Katrina story.  If you want to read an account of the saga from a seminarian's point of view, you can do so here. But he shared a personal incident.  At the time, he was a faculty member at a seminary in New Orleans.  For Katrina, he and about 45 others remained at the seminary.  Katrina hit on a Sunday night.  On Monday, they thought that Katrina was just like any other hurricane.  They spent Monday picking up sticks and trying to figure out how to patch holes in the roof, he said.  Then on Tuesday, they heard that the levees had been breached, and they watched the water slowly rise, until they were surrounded by water.  By Thursday they were able to leave - some in "high-wheeled vehicles", but most by boats floating down the street.  Thursday night, he reached his hometown, exhausted.  On Friday, he rented a car - the last one in town - and then took some seminarians to the airport in Baton Rouge, so they could fly home.

Then he proceeded to take care of some pressing matters for himself.  One was sunglasses.  He wears them when he drives, and they had been left behind.  The other was a certain kind of pillow.  He said he went into a mattress store - dressed in street clothes - and mentioned that he was a Katrina victim.   The man corrected him, saying that he was only a "displaced person", not a victim.  Whatever.  So he selected his pillow and took out his credit card to pay for it.  He said the man took his credit card and seemed to be spending a long time getting it to work, and then finally returned and told him that the other managers and he were buying the pillow for him.  He said at that point, he broke down in tears.  All of the emotion of the preceding days and then that random act of kindness that touched him so deeply.

He tied his story in with the act of kindness given to Elijah from the old woman, and challenged all of us to remember to be kind to one another.  He also praised those in attendance, mentioning how kind and caring they are.  I saw that in action the other day when my dear son wasn't feeling quite "right" during Mass.

Today he reminded the people that a prophet is not someone who foretells the future, but someone who speaks the truth.  He tied in the false gods of the people in the first reading and mentioned Elijah's humor, "Go ahead, call your god louder.  Maybe he's meditating or on vacation and he can't hear you..."  "Maybe we need to look for the false gods in our own lives, " he said gently to the people.  Ask God to help you see your false gods, so you can move on from there.

So far, we're batting 3 for 3 on great homilies, and I suspect we'll finish pretty strong.  As for me...I'm falling asleep at the keyboard....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

i'm ready

I'm ready for the lazy, lazy days of summer.

Since we've been out, I don't really feel like I've had much of a break.  I spent 3 mornings in my classroom getting it "decent".  Then I spent 3 more days last week at inservices.  It paid well, was moderately interesting, and not too stressful, but still it was something to occupy most of the day.

This week - for 4 days, I'm participating in a "camp" for educators.  We visit area businesses to get an idea of what's available in the world of employment and what kind of qualifications employers were looking for.  It has been eye-opening.  When an owner of a retail establishment says, "If the kid can say "please", "thank-you", and "yes, sir", we hire them," you know that the pickins are slim.  Today we visited a casino/racetrack, a food seasoning company, and a medical equipment distributor.  All said about the same thing.  It is interesting and we have been fed well, but I'll be glad when the next two days are done! 

Saturday is our great parking lot project!  Be glad when that's done, too.  The stripes on our church parking lot are barely visible to the naked eye.  Many of our Boy Scouts need several  hours of service before they can move to their next rank. Soooo.... we have a little project planned for Saturday.  Someone I know is getting the paint and rollers.  I have to figure out when to meet up with him.  Prior to the parking lot project being on this date, I had arranged for our altar servers to make their annual pilgrimage to a local pizza/acrade place.  Plan were modified to include the  Boy Scouts tagging along with them after the painting of the parking lot.

The two things causing me stress over this are that are that the menfolk (dads) have decided that this would be a good time for them to do some repairs to the troop trailer.  Honey, you're not leaving me with 12 boys and buckets of bright yellow paint!!  Hopefully some of the moms will come through.  The second issue is that the parking lot project ends and the pizza outing begins an hour later.  In that hour, I plan to go home and become human again, but I KNOW that there will be at least one kid that no one picks up at the appointed time.  I told them that unclaimed children will be left in the confessional, but it's an idle threat because the church is locked.

And then there's the whole confession thing.  I usually like to go every month or six weeks, but I've passed that ideal.  And if I was to go right now, I'd just sit there and look dumb, because I wouldn't know what to say.  Not because the last several weeks have been the picture of a saint on earth, but because I haven't really had time to stop and take stock of all the things that haven't been so saintly.   But that needs to happen soon.  I find that I have less time to pray during the summer than doing the school year.  What's up with that?

My boys are enjoying their lazy summer days - staying up late and sleeping until whenever.  Both are going to the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia later this summer.  One is a very motivated worker doing things that have been undone far too long around this house in return for spending money.  The other one has been nursing earaches last week and a toothache this week.  And so that is another thing to do - dentist appointment!

And that is my ordinary, not very exciting, too hot, kind of blah summer so far!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

corpus christi

When I was growing up, I always wondered why we Catholics had a feast day for a city in Texas. 

Well, now I know that it is a "solemnity" and that it was instituted after the Council of Trent as somewhat of a response to Protetsants who would say that the Eucharist (the Body of Christ) is a symbol. 

I thought Father's homily tonight was wonderful.  I wonder how much of it I can recall?  He started off by saying that for many "satisfaction" is one reason that many people attend Mass.  So that they can "satisfy" an obligation or so that they can be "satisfied" by receiving the Eucharist.  But that is pretty low on the list of reasons and that even though the crowds in the gospel went away "satsified", there is something much deeper than that going on. 

The Eucharist is not so much about satisfaction as it is about transformation.  The bread and wine are not the only things that are transformed.  When the gifts are brought forward, along with that are the things that we offer from our lives - our trials, our tragedies, our joys, sorrows, successes, and sinfulness.  Offered imperfectly so that it can be taken and given back to us perfectly.  It is not only the bread and wine that is transformed at Mass.  We are also there on that altar, and we are called to be transformed, as well. 

When the priest says, "take this all of you....this is my Body...given up for you", we need to adore Jesus (and not with our noses buried in the misallette) and give Him  OUR bodies to do what He needs.  When the cup is offered, "take this all of you and drink it..."  We need to thank Him, acknowledge our sinfulness, ask for mercy, and offer ourselves to Him.  Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

And when we receive the Eucharist - we need to realize that we are to become what we receive.  It is about transforming our lives to become more and more like Jesus. And when we are transformed, then we are called to transform the world in which we live and work.  God's deepest desire for us is that we become the gift we receive.

Friday, June 4, 2010

wrappin' up the week

It's almost like being back at school again!  I had inservices Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday this week.  A "Spcial Ed Blitz".  It's the first time (and probably the last with all the budget cuts) that we've had this.  I spent most of the three days listening to a nationally-known consultant speak about autism.  I enjoyed what he had to say, but by this afternoon, it had gotten a little dry.  He told many stories, but one stood out. 

He ran a residential camp for autistic kids for several summers.  One of the kids' mothers had asked if someone would take her son to Mass, and he had agreed.  Not finding any volunteers among the staff members, he proceeded to take PJ to Mass on Sunday.  One of PJ's obsessions was fast food - the whole experience - ordering, eating, whatever.  Anyway, they talked about behavioral expectations before Mass, and the camp director said he was happy to see that when they arrived at the "church in the middle of nowhere" PJ was very comfortable.  The routine at Mass is always the same,  the priests dress the same, it is very predictable - something very important to those with autism.  All went well until Holy Communion.  As he approaches the priest - PJ raises one finger, and in his monotone voice says, "One Body of Christ!"   The story probably plays much better in person than in a blog - sorry!  PJ's explanation:  You order food products!  Made perfect sense in his head...

The last three mornings I've been to Mass at the church that burned.  This morning, though, Father mentioned that his church did NOT burn.  It was the church BUILDING that burned.  The Church was alive and well and gathered in the library for adoration, benediction and Mass. 

Wednesday, when I got home, my older child mentioned that his ear was hurting.  I diagnosed it as "swimmer's ear" and called the doctor to see if they could call something in without me bringing him in.  They were able to, and I put the drops in his ear that evening.  Apparently they don't work immediately.  He woke me up about 1 a.m. to tell me the other ear was also hurting.  I did what I could, but he spent most of the night on the recliner and didn't sleep very well.  When I was leaving for Mass Thursday morning, he was up and about, so I asked him if he wanted to come.  Surprisingly, he said, "Sure!"  About 15 minutes into Mass he whispers to me, "I don't feel good."  Not wanting to make a big scene, but not wanting him to barf if the middle of the library chapel, I gave him the car keys and sent him out.  He had been fine 15 minutes earlier, and I figured he'd put the A/C on in the car and listen to his CD for another 15 minutes and it wouldn't kill him.  On his way out, one of the ladies in the parish stopped him, and took him into the kitchen where she sat him down and made him a nice glass of ice water. I thought that was so nice of her!  He rejoined me a little while later, and he feels much better today.  He was dizzy, he said.  That happens with ear issues.

This morning, I was back there again.  I forgot that Adoration started at 6 a.m.  When I got there slightly before 7, it was almost a full house.  There was a light rain as I walked in, but you could tell that more was coming, so I took my umbrella with me.  As Mass progressed, you could see it get dark outside and see the lightening and hear the thunder.  The rain came down in buckets!  To get back to my car 30 minutes later, I had to take off my socks and shoes and roll up my pants (and my legs are oh-so-attractive) and wade through about 6 inches of water.   Then I broke the cardinal rule of never driving through water when you cannot see the road.  I knew the road was down there....somewhere. 

The drama from last school year has turned into drama for next school year.  Got an automated phone call from the principal yesterday saying that he had to cut 5-7 teachers from our staff, and that there would be a lot of changes and he would let us know more on Monday.  So far, I've heard of 3 who are gone.  Two were only there one year, but one of our coaches has been there for several years.  It's just not good.  Our class sizes will be larger; every year more is expected of us (higher test scores, etc); and every year the powers that be make it more difficult for those of us in the trenches to succeed. 

Guess there will be plenty to pray about this summer, too!

how to

How to plug the oil leak in the Gulf!  My dad sent it to me in an email, and I thought it was pretty good - good enough to post on Facebook.  But, oh my!  I should remember never to post political items on FB - because for some of my friends and co-workers, it is STILL georgebush'sfault. 

When?  When will this president's actions be his own?? 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

i'm bored!

No I'm not! I don't get bored anymore.  There is ALWAYS something to do!  But I did hear those words from one of my offspring today!  (this was written yesterday, published today, and I'm not going back and changing all the "todays" to "yesterday".)

It was a different sort of day today.  There is a monastery in our area where an order of cloistered nuns live.  I have never been.  A couple of weeks ago, one of my church-lady friends mentioned going to Mass there, and I told her I'd never been and wanted to tag along one day.  So we made plans for today.  The chapel was very simple.  The artwork not my style.  I will have to go again, though, because I didn't really get to LOOK (like at what was behind me).  The nuns sit in a section to the right of the altar.  You could hear them sing, but you couldn't see them.  Afterwards my friend and I went to have coffee and visit.  I think we covered everything from faith to curtains to kids.

I made a few phone calls that I needed to make for upcoming events when another friend called and asked if my boys wanted to go to the movies with her son.  They eventually agreed on something to see.   Today marked the first day that we [gasp] dropped them off at the theater.  Apparently, all was OK.  (We didn't just drop them off; I did return to pick them up after the film was over.)

I was going to return to my regularly scheduled workouts today.  I've been trying to go 3x a week, but the last 2 weeks, it just did not happen with everything else going on in the afternoons.  But it rained heavily this afternoon, and I didn't want to be on the roads unnecessarily.  ;-)  Tomorrow...

I have inservices the rest of the week.   I may learn a thing or two, but money is a motivating factor in my attendance.  With that said, I will have to be up early and there will be no possibility of a nap!

My pastor has taken the week off.  He said he was going fishing, but with the oil spill, I'm not sure how that's working out for him.  I miss him when he's gone, but it gives me the chance to go to Masses at other places.   (When he takes off, he just cancels daily Mass, rather than trying to find subs.)  Yesterday I went to St P's which always, always, always has a 7:30 Mass - holiday or not.  Today I went to the Monastery.  Tomorrow I will go the parish near my house - the one that burned a month or so ago.  Daily Mass is in the parish library for now, and it is very cozy.  The parishioners at this parish are overwhelmingly African American (and I'm not).  I feel a little bit conspicuous (like a speck of rice in a gumbo pot) but the priest is awesome and the people are kind and welcoming.   It has been about a year since I went there for the first time.  That was an experience that made me smile all day.

Today is the first day of hurricane season.  Maybe all of the storms will avoid us this year.  There are churches around the diocese that have held prayer services to ask for protection during the next six months.  To that end, this is a copy of a prayer card that circulated a couple of years ago. with the following prayer on the back, written after Hurricane Audrey in 1957. (You can tell it's an old prayer because it's wordy and uses a lot of big words.)  I first saw it a few years ago after Katrina.

O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children. The Sea of Galilee obeyed your order and returned to its former quietude; you are still the Master of land and sea. We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control. The Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming lethargy, overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land and spread chaos and disaster.


During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O loving Father. Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with the passing of time. O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our Beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son in our behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem where a storm-less eternity awaits us. Amen.

Wow!  A whole post on virtually nothing. One of my gifts.  ;-)