Monday, September 27, 2010

top ten

Today was a Top Ten day, in terms of weather, at least.  The weather was cool - about 65 this morning, sunny, and dry.  Our first "real" fall day.  I savor them.  I think we get about 10 a year.  And in the spring, we'll have about 10 more nice days.  And if I'm exaggerating, it's not by much.  But it was a lift to the spirit.

The full moon is past.  That makes a difference when you are a teacher - seriously.

Mass this morning.  He nailed me in the homily.  The first reading was about Job and concluded with how Job never said anything bad about God, in spite of all that he endured.  "He didn't try to tell God how to do things.  May the same be said of us."  Ummm, well.....

Today was the funeral for our murdered student.  Two of my "most challenging" students were not there today.  They were close to the boy who died, so I'll assume they were at the funeral.

Bible Study tonight.  It just skimmed the surface of Luke and John, but still I learn.  Our pastor is an awesome teacher.

How about a Boudreaux-Thibodeaux joke?  (That's pronounced BOO-dro and TIB-uh-doe for non-Cajun speaking people.)  I got this one today from my sister-in-law, and thought it was pretty good.  Maybe you have to understand Cajun-speak to "get" it, I don't know.  Your mileage may vary. So without further ado...

So Boudreaux suddenly quit drinking, quit chasing women, and quit his poker games.  He took a bath, started cutting the grass at church, was the first one in the pew on Sunday mornings, even went to confession!  Father Thibodeaux asked him, "What about dis wonderful change that done overtook you?"  Boudreaux explained, "I heard 'Crisis in the Gulf' and if He's dat close, I wanna be good to go!"

Have a great week!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

week in review and lazarus who?

First of all, let me say that the picture doesn't have anything to do with the post, as far as I can tell.  I took it.  I liked it.  I'm sharing it.

The world has looked brighter since Tuesday.  I made it to Mass Wednesday morning and filled up a container of holy water, which is now sitting on my desk.  I have good conversations with our head custodian, and his suggestion was to get a tanker truck (like what they haul gasoline in), fill it up with water, have it blessed, and douse the school with it.  Might work...

My boys went to the high school football game for the Catholic school where most of my 9th grader's friends went.  They had a blast.  I did the slacker parent thing and just dropped them off at the game.  I didn't think I could deal with the couple of hours of teenage noise and the hard bleachers.  Maybe next time I'll go.  Maybe.

I got a bit of good news on Friday.  There is a program in the works for our overage 8th grade students.  That we are six weeks into the school year, and it is not operational yet, is another post, but so typical of the way the school system here does things.  Always reactive.  Never proactive.  Anyway, two of my students have been accepted. and we are trying to count the days until they leave.  I found out on Friday that another of my "breakfast club" (sweathogs) is on the list.  I didn't tell him; don't want him to quit working for me.  Someone picked up their records Friday, so hopefully the move will happen soon.

Friday morning, I went to my younger son's school, St. ABC, to help unload cars in the car rider line, when the new principal stopped me.  "What is going on at XYZ Middle School (where I teach)?" she asked.  "It's pretty bad this year," I admitted.  "We've had three of your fifth grade students request to transfer here in the past week," she replies.  Two of them will start on Monday.  We are losing our "good" students in our effort to  lower our suspension rates and make everything look good on paper. 

The funeral for our murdered student is tomorrow.  Not sure how that will go.  The counselors have encouraged the students to go.  

Went to confession yesterday.  In times like this, it is important to stay close to Jesus, and that is one way for me to do just that.  An effort to remove the things that stand in the way, and a way to be more open to the graces that He sends.  I actually had to WAIT yesterday.  I was there just a little after 3, and there were two people in front of me.  Maybe it was because it was close to First Friday.

Confession is always good, and even though at one time, I thought I would run out of  "stuff" if I went more than once a year, I always have "stuff".  What is also nice, is that my confessor doesn't seem to mind throwing in a little spiritual direction while I'm there, and so sometimes I go with questions, too.

Prayer.  My prayers used to be very structured.  Morning prayer.  Evening prayer.  Lately, though, it is more "whatever".  Sometimes I'll throw in a Rosary.  More, I feel an ever-present awareness of God, but without very disciplined prayer times.  Sometimes I wish someone would hand me a script and say, "this is what and how you need to pray".

Second - and I hesitated with this because I don't want to go and confess others' shortcomings, - there is a certain person who almost always has some snarky comment when I set out to spend some time alone - most often at the adoration chapel - as if I am neglecting my family.  This bothers/angers me, because I know it's not true - it's just a control tactic. 

The good Monsignor jumped on that one first, and said to nip it in the bud. "Time with the Lord is special and we have a right to that time", he said in no uncertain terms..  Don't even acknowledge such comments; don't let them take any of your time or emotion.  Just go.  And the prayer will follow.  Maybe some structure will return.  But things ebb and flow.  "Just keep listening". 

I love this sacrament, and I have a wonderful confessor.  For my penance, I had to meditate on the gospel (the rich man and Lazarus), put myself in the position of the rich man, and identify those who are Lazarus in my life.  He said he could probably guess who would go at the top of the list.

His homily was also related. God loved both Lazarus and the rich man, and they both had "jobs" to do.  Lazarus' job was to be patient in his suffering. The rich man's job was to help tend to some of Lazarus' needs.  This required a love that couldn't be generated on his own, but God gives us His Heart so that we can embrace Him in a mutual love.  His Heart that would generate the kind of love needed to love those who are difficult to love.  It is there for the asking, and love is freely given. Our actions have consequences, he reminded us. 

Lazarus has a face.  Who is Lazarus in YOUR life? 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


There just seems to be a darkness throughout the school.  I suppose that part of why I am there is to be light.

I wanted - needed - to go to Mass Tuesday.  But it didn't happen.  There was a Saints game on Monday Night Football, and getting the younger teen out of bed nearly required an act of God.  So I ended up at a Math department meeting instead.  I figured maybe that was where God thought I needed to be.

In the context of talking about our student who was murdered over the weekend, one of my students told me on Monday that she thinks about hanging herself sometimes.  But then in the next breath, she said/asked, "But I'd go to hell if I did that, right?"  There is such a cheapness to life in our society.  We kill little babies before they take their first breath.  I think sometimes we contribute to the cheapness of life when we don't recognize all life - even aggravating teens - for the gift that it is.

On the way home, I saw the most perfect rainbow.  I needed to see this.  It was a whole rainbow.  You often see a part of a rainbow, but this was the whole thing - from one pot of gold to the other.  I think it was God reminding me that He is there with us in the storm, and that everything will be OK.

My sister-in-law hosts a rosary group on some Tuesday nights.  I always ask my boys if they want to come.  Sometimes they do; sometimes not.  Last night they both came and prayed the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows along with the group of women.  That was a blessing.  The conversation on the way home was priceless.  The younger - feeling safe in the darkness of the back seat -  saying how "good" he felt about praying, and how he was trying to be better; to get his life together.  We talked about how God doesn't call us to be good; He calls us to be holy.  It was a great conversation.  Wish I could remember it all. It was good for my mom-ears to hear.  Light in the darkness.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Just senseless.

While I was out in the woods with my 13 and 15 year olds this weekend, one of our 8th graders from school - a 14 year old - was murdered.  Stabbed in the chest by another teen and left lying in the street after dark.  For a watch. 

There just really aren't any words.

We flew the flag at half-mast.

Possibly sadder - we found out this morning that another of our students had attempted suicide over the weekend.  Due in part to bullying.  But they can't tell us who it was or what grade he or she was in. 

And that was the incentive I needed to email my older child's guidance counselor to let her know about a child that I hear about on nearly a daily basis.  Someone he just wants to beat up so he'll leave him alone.

Today in our public school, God was mentioned.  How we don't understand His plans.  How we never know when it is "our time" and so we need to be "right".

Sunday, September 19, 2010

empty tent syndrome

We used to camp a couple of times a year when we were in Cub Scouts, and those were always fun-filled memorable times.  Times I looked forward to and enjoyed.  Sometimes my dear hubby came with us, but most often, it was me with the boys.  Our scout groups have always been pretty close-knit, so there were always good friends (dads and moms) along, too.  The adults had fun.  The boys had fun.

We had a nice sized tent.  I think it was an "8-man" tent, which means that 4 people can fit comfortably in it.  Eight people will fit only if they have no gear and you pack 'em in like sardines.  In Cub Scouts, boys stay with their parents.  Those were good times - together, without the interruption of television or other things.  Some of those times we will always remember.  In Boy Scouts, they generally share a tent with another boy.  Last year when we went camping, I shared a tent with another mom.  But this year, none of my close mom-friends were coming, so I was all alone in my big empty tent.  It really wasn't that bad.  :-)

 That's my tent, on the right.  It was a little warm.  It seemed on Saturday the hottest part of the day was after the sun went down.  It probably seemed that way because the breeze died and the humidity picked up.  Anyway, sleeping alone, I was able to sleep with only the essentials covered. 

We didn't have too much planned.  The boys swam in the lake (and played with algae and scooped clay off of the bottom).

A mid-afternoon nap fit the bill.

I was hoping for one myself, but some of my companions were a *little* on the talkative side.  Towards evening, I told one of the dads that I was taking my camera and going for a walk to find some quiet time.  As I was making my escape someone saw me leaving and asked where I was going.  "For a walk to find some quiet."  "Mind if I come?"  Oh well.  It was a new person.  So we walked together.

We ate.  Here are some of the guys waiting in line for lunch.  Hot dogs always taste better in the woods.

I got a quick peek at brotherly love. 

I walked up "the road less traveled".  It led to the showers.

And even though the weather didn't reflect it - I saw signs of fall in the changing colors of leaves.

All in all, a good weekend.  :-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

weekend plans

Looking back - what a week.  People are talking about bring holy water to school to counteract the evil.

Looking ahead - I'm going camping with the Boy Scouts.  It's a family campout and there is running water.  Flush toilets are a minimum requirement.  Showers are icing on the cake.  I was hoping the weather would be somewhat moderate, but predicted a high of 97 tomorrow.  Not really looking forward to that.  My best scout-mom buddies are not going.  I'll miss Mass at my parish this weekend (no Sunday evening).  But I am looking forward to the quiet, the fresh air, the time with the kiddos, and the chance to use my camera.  And did I mention quiet?

Hopefully I'll be back with some pictures and some good memories on Sunday.  :-)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

hmmmm...the school edition

I swear, sometimes it feels like I work in the twilight zone.

I have a child who had/has a serious medical problem.  Could be life-threatening.  I'm not about to take any chances with that.  Therefore, when she had a difficult time standing this morning and said she couldn't walk to the classroom, I became concerned.  I called the front office (having programmed the new number into my phone since this incident) and explained my situation to the secretary.  I specifically asked her to send an administrator, because I wasn't sure whether or not to call 9-1-1.  In the meantime, I managed to get the mother's phone number from the child and called the mother, who said she would be there in a minute.

About five minutes later, the secretary - of all people - rolls a wheelchair into the gym for me to use for the child.  I was relieved to see an administrator behind her.  My other first hour students and I managed to get the child into the wheelchair.  I looked around for the administrator.  Gone!  Didn't even come over to us and ask if everything was OK or see if we needed help.  Some things I just don't understand!

As the day unfolded, crazy things continued to happen.  I can't spill all here.

A prejudice and dislike for special education children and personnel seems to more and more obvious.

And life goes on.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

our lady of sorrows

Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.  Only in recent times have I come to understand the sorrows of our Blessed Mother.

I've always felt kind of sorry for poor Joseph - the only sinful one in the Holy Family.  Anything went wrong - it must have been his fault.  There is the temptation to think that because Mary and Jesus were sinless that their lives must have been so much easier/better than ours.  But one doesn't have to look very hard to see that that certainly wasn't true.

Mary's sorrows - Simeon's Prophecy, The Flight into Egypt, Losing Jesus in the Temple, Meeting Him on the Road to Calvary, Standing at the Foot of the Cross, Receiving His Dead Body, Placing Jesus in the Tomb. After meditating upon these sorrows, it seems to me that the adage holds true for her, too - "Little children, little problems; big children, big problems."

It also points out the suffering that Mary endured.  What a strong woman she was!  But, as it should, her strength came from the Lord.  May we have the courage to endure the suffering that comes our way!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


You know, sometimes there are just things that make no sense to me. 

For example:

I got a new gadget to go with my Promethean board.  Here is the quick reference guide.  It is about 100 pages thick.  SIX of those pages were writen in English.  Seems like a waste of good trees.  On the up side, all of the English was together.  I hate, hate, hate when you have to sift through directions looking for the English.  (I don't really know how long the book is, because it was just numbered 1-6 over and over and over.)

Exhibit 2: 

I completed my training to be a counselor for Ad Altare Dei, which is a Catholic award for Boy Scouts.  I got the patch in the mail today.  Isn't it beautiful?  (not really - kind of ugly as patches go, IMHO)  Notice anything else?  There's just one of me.  So I'm not a Counselors.  Notice anything else?  How about - they need to buy another vowel for "religious"?   Fail?

Here's another one: 

This makes me absolutely crazy.   I try to get to Mass early, so I don't have to see it.  It's our parking situation at church.  We have a parking lot.  It has lines.  You park between the lines.  One behind the other.  Supposedly all facing in the same direction.  Everyone fits that way.  We don't have much problem with people leaving Mass early, because if you park in the parking lot, you can't get out anyway.    Except for some people. 

I arrived towards the end of Mass a couple of weeks ago, because we were taking altar server pictures after Mass. There was no place to park.  See all that empty space??  You couldn't get to it because people facing the wrong way had totally blocked off any access to the space in the middle.  Just go with the program, people!  It maybe takes five minutes for the lot to empty after Mass.  When we painted the lot, we even painted arrows pointing the correct direction.  For all the good it did.  Enough to make me lose my religion sometimes! 

God had the last laugh on these pictures, though.  I had brought my camera so that I could get a picture of the altar servers.  But the batteries gave up their last bit of juice to take the parking lot pictures.  :-(

My last "thing", I'll have to "paint the picture" with words.  A couple of years ago, we (the kids and I) decided that we would aim for confession every 3 months or so.  It was more than once or twice a year, but not so often that it would be over the top.  Since then, I find my way there more and more often, but with the kids, every three months is the goal.  They both went during Lent.  July would have been a good time to go again, but the summer was just crazy.  I thought I was going to have to confess being a slacker parent with regards to my children's spiritual welfare, but when I actually looked at a calendar, there were only about 3 weekends all summer when we were all home at the same time and Saturday confession *might* have worked. 

Fast forward to last weekend.  Oh - and my boys have decided that our priest "knows them too well", so they have asked to go somewhere where they can be anonymous. Whatever works. 

So, the planets all lined up, and Saturday afternoon found us on the way to a nearby parish.  First of all, my car was running on fumes.  Then the nearby soccer fields were emptying of spectators, and we were stopped to let them out.  More traffic down the road.  Took an alternate route, and got stopped at every. red. light.  One of the kids remarked that it was Satan trying to keep them from going.  I was in a bit of a rush because I really wanted to make 4:00 Mass at my own parish.  Anyway, we made it, and there was a handful of cars in the parking lot, and I thought "uh-oh, a line." 

But, alas, there was no line.  There was a sign saying, "Confessions will not be heard today.  Sorry for the inconvenience."  That is just something you should never have to see.  You do the prep work.  You find the courage and get yourself there.  And then... no priest?  What a let down!  (Although I'm not sure my kids shared the disappoinment.  It might have been relief I saw in their faces.)

The end of that story...they served early Mass at our parish on Sunday, and then we went back to this church, because they have confessions 30 minutes before each Mass on Sunday.  This time there was a priest (and a line). 

Are there sometimes things that just make you go "hmmmm???"

Monday, September 13, 2010

random scattered bits

Dear husband has been on the road since Saturday.  It is always quieter when he is gone, but he doesn't do so well with travel any more.  He misses the comforts of home.  He forgets that life goes on here even when he is away.  Tonight, one kid had catechism, I had open house at my school, and we had our first night of "adult ed" at church, so I was not sitting at home in the recliner tethered to a laptop able to help him find a hotel room.  But he doesn't "get" that.  And even if I had skipped adult ed, I would have been stuck at open house.  (I showed my face, and then slipped out.)

Went to Mass this morning.  I go because I need to be there.  Not to do something nice for the Lord.  I need it as much as I need food and water.  Maybe more.  The Gospel was about the Roman Centurion (a pagan) who asked Jesus to heal his servant.  He exhibited great faith.  So much so, that at every Mass we say "the Centurion's Prayer".  Does this tidbit from today's Gospel sound familiar:  "Lord...I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof....but say the word and let my servant be healed."  That was a little bit of trivia that I picked up during a daily Mass homily a few years back.  It was kind of cool to "learn" something at Mass that I hadn't known after a lifetime of attending.  And another bit of trivia that I learned from another priest... A fourth grader had asked him, "Father, you know when we say, "Lord I am not worthy.....?"  "Yes."  "Well, Father, what's THE WORD??"  The Word is "Jesus". 

Which just leads so nicely (and unintentionally) into another little tidbit from today.  The Holy Spirit might be blogging with me tonight.  There is a classic devotional book entitled God Calling that my Poor Clare friend gave to me.  It sat on my bookshelf for a couple of years, and recently (maybe with my visit last summer), I dusted it off, and have been reading the meditations.  Today's was just what I needed to hear:

My Name is the Power that turns evil aside, that summons all good to your aid.  Spirits of evil flee at the sound of "Jesus".  Spoken in fear, in weakness, in sorrow, in pain, it is an appeal I never fail to answer.
Use My Name often.  Think of the unending call of "Mother" made by her children.  To help, to care, to decide, to appeal, "Mother."  Use My Name in that same way - simply, naturally, forcefully.
Use it not only when you need help but to express Love.  Uttered aloud, or in the silence of your hearts, it will alter an atmosphere from one of discord to one of Love.  It will raise the standard of talk and thought.
"There is none other Name under Heaven whereby you can be saved."

Just as God showed me on Thursday, that He "has my back", on Friday, I was reminded that there is still a thorn in my side, a cross to bear at my workplace, and that I do best when I remember that He is there with me in that, too.  The biggest bully at our school is not in eighth grade, but has an office.  This person is so obviously unhappy, that a passing encounter is a reminder to pray.  And yet for whatever reason, I am a target.  I have lots of company in the target department, but that's only small consolation.  My "dilemma" is whether to confront or to just suck it up, offer it up, shut up, and move forward.  Both are possibilities.  Retirement is on the near horizon for this person.  For now, I will just trust that if confrontation is the answer that God will supply the words.  

Which leads me to just one more thing (maybe) that caught my attention today.  This was from Word Among Us posted on my Facebook page:  

The courage that counts with God is that type of courage which our Lord showed in the Garden of Olives:  On the one hand, a natural desire to turn away from suffering; on the other, in the anguish of the soul the willing acceptance of the chalice which his Father had sent him. ~ St. Therese of Lisieux

Maybe one more random, scattered bit?  About three or four years ago at Mass, seated in front of me was a mom with two children about 5 or 6 years old.  They were just awful, poking on the mom in unmentionable places, making noise, wiggling, etc.  I just closed my eyes (so I didn't have to see them) and said a prayer for the poor mom.  I've been almost in her shoes.  My two once managed to stop a homily in mid-stream.  I am pretty sure that the younger of the two children showed up for altar server training yesterday.  She looked so angelic in an alb.  (Mine look angelic, too).  Guess it shows there is always hope!

And on to tomorrow!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

lost and found

September 11, 2001.

It's one of those days that most of us will remember forever.  We will remember where we were, who we were with, what the weather was like, and what we felt.  We all have a story to tell about that day.

It was a Tuesday.  I had a mindless meeting before school, so I was already at school when the first plane hit the first tower.  The bell rang, school started.  First hour.  Second hour.  I was doing "inclusion" with an 8th grade science teacher at that hour.  My students were included in his2nd and 3rd hour classes, and we were standing on the sidewalk during the change of classes.  Someone came up to us and handed us a typed-written memo.  It said something very generic about the terrorist activities in New York and advised us not to say anything to our students and not to worry because local law enforcement was monitoring things..

First I'd heard about any terrorist activities.  So third hour started, and the teacher started with his daily routine - taking roll, etc.  I went to the computer in the back of the room and tried to find something - anything - that would tell us what was going on.  The servers were incredibly slow (overloaded) that day.  I think I probably tried the fox news and cnn.websites trying to get something.  Finally I went to - a parenting website with bulletin boards where I frequently posted.  Today that site would have been blocked, but not in those days.  There, I could see by postings of other parents what was going on.

I saw that both towers had fallen.  This was just inconceivable.  I couldn't cry then.  There was a class full of kids.  So we just carried on like normal.  I remember conveying the information that I had found to the teacher.  And we went on.

The day was beautiful.  Clear blue skies.  And not a plane in them, as I stood outside on playground duty.  It seemed more quiet than usual.

My sister had gotten married on September 7.  She was honeymooning in Pennsylvania.  I wondered about her safety.  My aunt and uncle from New Jersey had come down for her wedding.  They flew home on September 10.  They saw the World Trade Center towers from their plane.  They were beautiful in the setting sun. Who knew it was the last time the sun would sent on them?  My brother-in-law was living in LA at the time, but had a friend in NYC.  He had been visiting her that weekend, and he was on a plane from NYC to LA.  His plane was grounded in Ohio or some such place.  I think he finally rented a car and drove home.

There were a lot of things lost on that day.  3000 lives.  Innocence.  Security.  Liberty.  We saw evil that day. 

But there were also some things found on that day.  As only God can do, there was good that came from what was evil.  Our nation united in grief, in support, in a common purpose, but that unfortunately did not last.  Remember those flags that were everywhere??  Our family found its way back to church that weekend, and that did last.  While 3000 lives were lost, our 4 lives now have a fighting chance to be saved. 

I had always felt so safe in this country we call home.  Even if someone were to invade us - we would have at least *some* warning that they were coming, I rationalized.  Only with this, there was no warning.  They turned our own airplanes into weapons to be used against us.  The simplicity and the ease with which it was done deeply shook that sense of security I'd always had.  Suddenly we were vulnerable.  I was vulnerable.

It was a wake-up call for me to stop and look at my own life.  What would have been my fate on that day, if planes had hit *my* building???  It wasn't a reassuring thought.  We were infrequent church-goers, I hadn't been to confession in nearly a decade, and my confessions before that had been rather "selective" in what I confessed [read: not totally honest].  I had some "things" that needed to be set right.  This started the wheels turning and that did happen a few months down the road - the setting right - and it was a wonderful, wonderful thing.  

So, on this day, let us not give into the temptation to hate. Let us pray for our enemies. Let us morn for the things that were lost, and give thanks for the things that were found.   Let us always look for ways to bring good out of evil.

Here's a picture from the archives for you.  A picture of a picture because I'm not so fond of scanning any more, and the original is probably forever *stuck* in one of those "magnetic" photo albums.  This was taken on one of those visits to New Jersey to see my grandparents. We took a day trip to NYC.  I think this is about 1974.  My younger brother, my grandfather, my mother, me (I think those were seersucker pants) and my dad.  My then-2 -year old brother had been left behind, and my much-younger sister, not yet born.  Aren't we some stylish people??   Don't know who the back of the head belongs to.

Friday, September 10, 2010

'nother prayer answered

Another prayer answered, or maybe another promise kept.

Back in July, when I wrote this post, I was not looking forward to the start of school - at all.  Last year's ending was not good, but as bad as it was, I was looking at the real possiblity of this coming year being worse.  One of the things that I was apprensive about were new co-workers.  Of the two who worked most closely with me last year, one had accepted a different teaching position and one was expecting a baby and not returning for various reasons. 

This left TWO openings in our department. No big deal, except that at other schools, teachers were displaced.  A friend of mine teaches at a near-by middle school which lost teachers, and one of them she described as "evil".  My friend is a kind-hearted soul and does not routinely call people "evil", but worked closely with this person and saw how she operated.  She was so abusive to her teacher assistant, that the assistant had to be reassigned.  So I was a little worried that she would be MY new co-worker partner.  But towards the end of the summer, we heard that she had accepted a job at a high school.

Today my friend told me that the evil one HAD been offered a job at my school, but had refused it!  This news just left me feeling, "There is a God, and He has my back." 

Lord, thank you.  Help me not to complain about the co-workers You have seen fit to surround me with this year. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010


"Wow."  That was my friend's whispered repsonse at the end of the homily today.  I had to agree.  Though when we talked about it later, it was hard to define what made it "wow". 

The Gospel itself hooked me.  I think it is one of my favorites, and it is rich.  Luke 6:27-38, in case you missed it.  Can I jog your memory? your enemies, do good to those who hate you...
...pray for those who mistreat you...
...Do to others as you would have them do to you....
...Even sinners love those who love them....
...expect nothing back...
...Be merciful...
...Stop judging...
...Stop condemning...
and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.

That's the "Reader's Digest" version, and as I said I was hooked before the Gospel was over.  Be merciful.  Stop judging.  "Lord, I hear you.  Really." 

But the homily.  Maybe it was because he used the "jackass" word.  As in, "That jackass wants to burn the Q'uran on Saturday, and he's gonna do it in the name of the 'Lawd Jesus'."  He said that the biggest scandal in the church today is not the sexual abuse scandal (as horrible as it is), but the scandal of hatred.  We are not called to hate.  Is it easy to love in the face of hate?  No.  He points to the crucifx and says, "That wasn't easy, either!"  But He gives us the Gift of Himself (in the Eucharist) to help us along the way.  And in the next couple of days [as the anniversary of 9-11 approaches], we will be sorely tempted  to hate, he warned, by the 'Idiot from Hell' (Satan).   

Somehow he worked in the first reading, which he says was to say that we must be sensitive about how what we do appears to other people.  Sometimes without even meaning to, we can give people wrong ideas.  Our lives must stand for something.  And somehow he worked in St. Peter Claver (who's feast was today) who served the least of his brothers in newly arrived slaves from Africa.

In any case, let us take this reminder to pray for our enemies during the next few days.  They are real.  They are out there.  And they hate us.  But we are called to more than that.

Maybe that should be enough to elicit a "wow". 


Got home from school today, and next thing I knew, one kid was dressed and waiting for the Saints game to begin (3 hours later). 

They have been waiting for a long time - obviously looking forward to the opening game of the new season.  Though I am not sure if anything will ever compare to them winning the Super Bowl. 

Schools in New Orleans closed at noon today (and I bet attendance will be less than impressive tomorrow).  There was a party in Jackson Square (or is it called Champion Square now?)  Not that New Orleans needs any reason at all to party...


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

candles in heaven?

Today the Nativity of the Blessed Mother was celebrated - Mary's birthday.  I went to Mass to celebrate, and I wondered if they celebrated her birthday in heaven.  I thought of how many candles there might be on that cake.  Wow!  I've come to a much greater appreciation of Our Blessed Mother since this summer.  I thought about having a blue cake or dessert for the family tonight, but I ended up at Open House for my high schooler instead, so we ate at different times.   (His teachers said he is doing great.)

At Mass, the priest remarked that after 55 years of priesthood, he had realized something at 5:30 this morning.  That the Immaculate Conception - which we celebrate on December 8 - is exactly 9 months before Mary's birthday on September 8.  Who knew?  He said he counted it off on his fingers to make sure. 

Happy Birthday to the Queen of the Universe!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Four weeks of school in, already.  And it is SO time for a break!  I can remember when we would just have a week or so down by Labor Day.  But, lo and behold, we've already sent home mid-six-weeks progress reports.  Just doesn't seem right.

I have been tired, tired, tired, and this weekend, I mostly rested and caught up.  My boys spent most of the weekend working with their uncle next door, so my house was quiet.  He  they is are building a chicken coop. 

Using math skills in real life.

Putting screen on the door.

And me? 

I went to Mass a couple of times. 
(Went to 7:30 this morning, and then came home, went back to bed, and SLEPT until after 10!) 

Took someone's place at the Adoration chapel on Saturday evening. 

Wrote my lesson plans for the week. 

Took some pictures. 

Blogged a bit. 

Did laundry. 

 Got the dishes reasonably caught up. 

Called my mom.

Set a new personal best on Bejeweled Blitz (that I will probably never match again). 

Found out where to get the 13 pages of directions for using our new on-line gradebook. 
(Stopped short of actually using my ink to print it out.) 

Logged all my CLU's (continuing learning units). 

Emailed my pastor and dropped off paperwork for a new adventure.
 (Ad Altare Dei counselor for Boy Scouts). 


Monday, September 6, 2010

blessed are the peacemakers

Last week one day, we received a letter in the mail from my younger son's school.  It was a letter stating that the principal had resigned a few days earlier for "deeply personal reasons".  My first response was disappointment, though that was not shared by anyone else in my house.  Is that not a kid's dream - to have the principal resign??  And my dear husband - he has never really liked him.

A few years ago, I would have been the most excited of the bunch!  We had been through a really rough year.  There was one issue where I felt which could have been handled MUCH better with communication on the part of the school.  Once that was past, I kind of swept my hurt feelings under the rug, until another ugly situation raised its head.  All year long, I felt like I had tried to address this issue - and again it was largely a result of lack of communication.  This time with the classroom teacher, and I was not the only one with the issue.  It was incredibly frustrating, and things intensified. I looked into other schooling options for my children, and emails were exchanged between the principal and myself.  Some, I couldn't believe that a professional person was sending, though mine weren't a whole lot better.  When I would turn the corner to the school, my stomach would begin to knot up.  It just wasn't a good thing.

Mercifully the year ended.  My boys were not too gung-ho about switching schools, and I didn't want to push them into that because of my issues.  But that meant this issue needed to be resolved.   I approached my then-pastor one morning after Mass and explained that I had some issues and asked if he would share his wisdom with me.  He said he wasn't sure how much wisdom he had, but he agreed to help.  We made an appointment for a few days later. 

I printed out the emails for him to read and winced a little bit at the tone and content of some of mine.  But I went in to the meeting convinced that I was right and that he would agree with me.  Mostly, though, I just wanted to know how to make the situation workable again.

What transpired during that meeting was most amazing.  He sorted through "the evidence", asked questions, advised, and shared examples from his own life.  Not once did I ever feel judged, but neither was I absolved from any wrong-doing.  "I suppose," he said, "if one wanted to repair the relationship, one would need to apologize."  And then we went from there.  We talked about what could have been done differently and what would lend itself to an apology, and what should not be apologized for.  There really was the feeling that the Holy Spirit was guiding things.  As I left an hour and a half later, my pastor looked at me and said, "I'll be praying for you."  At that the time, I thought that was kind of weird - I wasn't opposed to prayer; in fact, I'd asked my best friend to pray for things to go well with the meeting.  Maybe what struck me as odd was that he just volunteered that he would pray for me "out of the blue".  I mean, a priest praying isn't really that odd.

And so I left, with a peace that I hadn't felt in a long time, and even more remarkable was that I left at peace with the idea of apologizing to this person who had caused me so much grief.  It could have only been the grace of God or the working of the Holy Spirit.  Because I was pretty certain that God was working through His representative on earth, and because didn't have a clue how to fix things on my own, I followed Fr. P's advice. 

When I got home, I emailed the principal and asked if I could meet with him.  We met a couple of days later and visited.  I did indeed apologize to him, and we agreed to start over.  I always thought there was enough that had been exchanged that I wasn't the only one in the room who could have been apologizing, but I was, and that was - strangely - OK.  I went to Mass that day at noon, and found my pastor afterwards.  I told him that all had gone well, and he gave me a hug.  That weekend, I went to confession and kind of closed out the whole ugly chapter.

Later that summer, the man's mother passed away.  A part of me knew that it was time to "put up or shut up".  So I bought a card and had a Mass said for his mother.  I made sure the Mass was on a day when he would be able to attend during the day (noon, as opposed to 6:30 a.m.), and sent the card.  I didn't hear anything from him.  The day of the Mass came and went.

Then one day in the car-rider line there was a knock on my window.  I often used my time inching along in line to pray.  I was "in the zone" this particular day, and him knocking on the window startled me.  He wanted to thank me, he said.  The card was on his desk and the Mass came on a day when he really "needed" to go to Mass.  And there began a tentative peace.

I joked that he was "my new best friend".  In the years that followed, when I had a problem, I went straight to him.  We never had another issue.  He was encouraging when my boys did bonehead things and helpful when we had a problem.  When I spotted poison ivy growing outside the gym last spring, he ripped it out with his bare hands.  When I was nervous about flying, he shared his "trick" about making the sign of the cross on the plane as he boards. 

I got some grief from those who love and know me about my decision to make peace.  Some thought I was crazy to apologize.  It certainly went against the ways of the world in which we live, but I have no regrets.  God uses all things for good, and my skills at apologizing have come in handy a few times since then in other situations. 

I know that all can not be well with him and/or his family for him to leave like this three weeks into the school year.  I do wish, however, that God does bring good out of whatever the situation is that he currently finds himself in.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

humilty and wisdom

Yesterday morning, after a long and exhausting week at school, I got into my car to take one dear son to a swimming party.  On the way home - because it would be forbidden to interfere with his diet of classic rock - I switched over to my CD of the Seven Sorrows Rosary.  Tuesday and Friday are the "preferred" days to pray this rosary, but I'd missed them both this week. So Saturday morning found me listening and meditating - although the meditating was somewhat scattered.  One thing that did catch my attention though, was the prayer asking the Blessed Mother to obtain humility and wisdom for those praying the Rosary.  A nice combination, I thought. Both of which I am in constant need of.

I enjoy going to Mass on Saturday afternoons, so yesterday found me there.  And what would the homily be about, but humility and wisdom?  Humility is openness to the Truth, Father says.  And Wisdom is the ability to see and accept that Truth.  (I've also heard "wisdom" defined as "seeing things as God sees them.")  In any case, Father says that we all have a "no compromise" point.  The "I will follow Jesus until He asks for _______" or "I will follow Jesus as long as I don't have to ____________."  But Jesus does not leave us where we are, so He asks us to give those "no compromise points" to Him.  He says that we have these points either because of stubbornness or fear.  "Lord, I'm just this way, and I'm NOT changing." That would be stubbornness.  Or, "Lord, I'd like to let that go, but I'm afraid of what would happen if I do."  I do think I see myself in both of those scenarios. 

And so we go.  Life goes on.  I will enjoy the extra day of vacation this week.  The weather is cooler the past few days - hanging out in the 80's instead of the 90's.  Trying (not very successfully) to get more sleep.  And hoping that all things together will result in me being less tired and able to still function in the evenings. 

Lord, grant me humility and wisdom.

Editing to add:  The "bottom line" of the homily:  The cost of following Jesus is nothing less than everything.  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

silver linings

Silver linings - literally.  Nothing profound.  Nothing requiring much thought at all.  I have been too tired most nights for such things. 

The other night - when I had a little leftover energy from the day, I had gone to work out.  On my drive back home, I had to pull over and capture this cloud shot.  Might have made the workout worth it.

I rarely get awesome cloud pictures at home, because we are surrounded on all sides by trees.  But when I am driving - morning and evening - I see amazing things.  But driving and taking pictures...I've done it...but it's hard to get good pictures.

Then I went a little further down the road and saw this.  I just stopped right in the middle of the road and snapped a few pictures.  The first few washed out the clouds, but this last one did a better job of getting  the colors I was trying to get.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

another day

September 1.  So that sounds like it should sort of be fall.  But not really. 

Today started off nicely enough.  Kid #1 got on the bus at 6:30.  I thought Kid #2 had to be at school for 6:45, but he thought it was 6:30.  Still don't know for sure, but he got there about 6:40 and there were other parents dropping off, and the bus for the field trip wasn't there.  They headed to the State Penitentiary. 

That left me kid-free by 6:45 a.m.  I have to be signed in by 8:20.  So, you know what I did.  I drove to a church I sometimes attend.  They have Mass at 7:30.  I was there plenty early.  The Rosary was just starting.  So I prayed.  Then there was a little time for quiet before Mass.  There is a retired priest who says Mass at this parish on Wednesdays.  They hear confessions 15 minutes before daily Mass here (and at my church as well) and he didn't get any reading done while he was in there today.  I think maybe he had a coffee pot set up in the reconciliation room, because it seemed to be a rather leisurely pace.  The Rosary and Mass was a good start to my day.

When I got back out to my car, there was a message from my dear husband to go by the house and turn off the coffee maker.  What do you think my parting words to him were when I left the house at 6:30ish??  Yeah, you know it.  "Don't forget to turn off the coffee maker."  Well, I have enough time to leave church by 8 and be at work before 8:20, but I don't have enough time to make a detour by my house and be at work on time.  But I detoured anyway.  Otherwise I would have had to go on my lunch break, and instead of wasting 7  minutes or so, I would have wasted 20. 

My laptop (which attached to my Promethean Board) would not boot in my classroom.  This is a crisis, because I can't function without my Promethean Board.  I took it to the lab to show our computer person, and it booted. Took it back to my classroom, hooked up 8 various cords to it, and it failed to boot.  Unhooked, took it out in the hall, turned it on.  It booted.  I carried it back inside and hooked up everything.  No further problems.  Arggghhhhh!  It left me perplexed.

I love my first hour!  Four sixth grade girls and one boy.  They are awesome.  My second class is my sweathogs (breakfast club) from last year.  I had a new student in that class today, and they were in RARE form.  Two of them have been accepted into a program at the career center.  Sept 1 was the target date for them to attend, but it is not ready.  They were NOT happy campers today, and took it out on all of us.  My seventh graders are pretty good kids, but with the attention spans of fleas! 

It is playground duty that gives me the blues.  Not the duty, so much, because it really is somewhat refreshing to watch them PLAY.  I have duty with fifth grade, and there is still a shred of childhood innocence left there.  But getting them off the playground and into lines at the end of recess, is horrid.  I emailed my principal today that they really do not deserve recess until they can follow the proceedures.  So tomorrow, the little darlings will not have recess.  They will receive remedial instructions on how to get off the playground when the whistle blows, not throw rocks, and line up with their classes.

I came home today and did nothing, save for putting a load of clothes in the washer.  Some days are like that.  I probably ate way too much for my level of non-activity, though.  Yesterday,though I had energy left over, and worked out.  It was good.  But now I am falling asleep at the computer.  That is a sign that it is time to get off.

Tomorrow will be a no-Mass day at this point.  My pastor cancelled the 6:30 Mass for tomorrow, and I have a faculty meeting at 7:30, so that negates Mass at that time.  Pray for me!