Some Lenten Advice (that I’ve gleaned and want to share)…

http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/13324

I want share this bit of advice I just read by sharing the actual article.

We all make it somewhat of a game, the MY Sacrifice is Bigger than Yours thing, right?

“I’m giving up cookies.”

“Oh, really?!  I’m giving up cookies AND candy!”

“Is that all, you two? I’m giving up desserts AND hair products AND all songs that mention sweets and hair products.”

You get the picture, right?!

For so many years I “gave up” something and come Easter Sunday I was glad to get the coffee or candy or whatever back, but I didn’t feel stretched or that I’d grown at all, you know?

I have adopted the idea over the last few years of adding something rather taking it away.  This year, I signed up for Dynamic Catholic’s Best Lent Ever program.  It’s still a bit of a mystery (slightly terrifying), but I’m committed and adore what Dynamic Catholic stands for so I’m sure I’m in good hands (God’s anyway, right?).

Another idea is to immerse ourselves in the Word of God. This one has some personal relevance as the Holy Spirit keeps whacking me over the head with it, in the form of a suggestion from a priest, articles here there and everywhere. I like a guy with a sense of humor, don’t you?!

Another idea which has plusses and minuses is the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge. I mean it cleans out the crevices and corners of our homes, but what about our hearts? Are we doing it to clean our own cobwebs or are we trying to give what others truly need? This article really nails how we should be approaching this task.

So, I’m not saying one way is better than another, I’m just sharing that there are so many options out there and pain isn’t to be avoided as it affords a chance to grow closer to God and just plain grow.

May we see one another on the other side of these 40 days in the desert refreshed and renewed.

photo courtesy of MorgueFile – http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/13324

Relativity

soda - morguefile

Yesterday was the Super Bowl (or as the priest put it the fourth Sunday in Ordinary time). And, I have to say there wasn’t much super about it. I mean the food and company were terrific, but couldn’t really care much about the teams and my knitting was just more interesting. Just sayin’.

On the other hand, I went to our parish’s “Jesus, Mary and a Cup o’ Joe” book/bible study where we are working with Fr. Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” book. It is always an interesting discussion as some are very well read and knowledgeable and could even be called Biblical Scholars. Some are just plain opinionated and some just like to talk. So, it’s always an opportunity for me to practice patience and humility and mind my own business. Ahem, but I digress.

It was fascinating to me to think as we looked at Exodus 3 and then compared Old Testament God with New Testament God as well as Jesus being the new Moses (that part was gleaned from the homily – nice product tie-in, God). I had this vision of Old Testament God being the Bad Cop and New Testament God (in the human form of Jesus) being the Good Cop. OT God is the one standing menacingly you’re your shoulder slamming his fist on the table of the interrogation room as he tries to get you to “spill it”. Jesus is the NT God who offers you a soda and a smile.

Another point that was brought up in the discussion was how Moses was an “outsider” who wasn’t even part of the catechized when OT God (in the form of a burning bush – what a party trick, boy!) tells him that he is part of the tribe of his ancestors, David and Jacob, etc.   Moses is thinking, “but I’m growing up in an Egyptian household where we have the god of Fire, the god of Water, the god of whatchamacallit”, you get the idea. And yet, OT God chooses him to be the one to lead his chosen people out of Egypt…an outsider. So cool!

Flash forward to Jesus’ time (NT God, remember) and he, too, is an outsider who comes along after relative obscurity and bursts onto the scene and proclaims himself to be the Messiah (whom his father, God, has chosen to lead the rest of us to salvation). He could have chosen some more prominent figures to do this job, but no, this guy was special and therefore stood apart from the beginning.

I mean even Bono of U2 fame states that if all of these people from all of these centuries and countries believe Jesus to be the one true Savior either he is positively maniacally crazy or the rest of us are OR it’s true.

This whole connectedness fascinates me. What are your thoughts?

Image courtesy of Morguefile – http://mrg.bz/9IRV4L

Top Ten Things to have for a Snow Day

sleepy snow day puppy

  1.  Plenty of blankets available to sit under while you’re typing up your blog post or writing some other form of material.
  2. Chocolate to ply yourself and your child with while you try to persuade her to do schoolwork even though the public school kids are out sledding.  #homeschoolingishard
  3. A warm cup of coffee/tea/hot chocolate to keep your fingers from falling off after typing the items in number 1.
  4. An exercise ball  (or two) so that if you don’t get to go outside sooner rather than later because the schoolwork mentioned in item 2 takes longer than expected you can at least get some stretching and balance work done.
  5. Homemade chicken soup to have once you come back in from igloo engineering “class”.  #ilovehomeschooling
  6. A great internet connection so that you can see how much snow everyone else did or (in the case of #BlizzardofJanuary2015) didn’t get.
  7. A second set of gloves/mittens for a second run outdoors to go enjoy the aforementioned igloo or fort.  These are also for throwing to the snowball-obsessed Vizsla (who is clearly exhausted in anticipation of said outing).
  8. A working smartphone to text the neighbor to try to coincide their playtime with yours and therefore facilitate a #polarplaydate.
  9. A camera or smartphone to capture some memories to look back on fondly, say in August when we’re sweltering.
  10. And the final item to have on hand is a wonderful, joy-filled, fun-loving kid to enjoy the day with!

The answer already exists…

Carrier charges may apply...

Carrier charges may apply…

I came across this article on my Facebook feed this morning.  The woman who posted it had seen it on a friend’s blog and didn’t want to offend the friend by commenting that our church actually is the answer to all these complaints.  The CEO of our church is the biggest pacifist there is.

Warriors against warmongering like this guy, this guy and this guy are all a testament to the fact that we are the original and we are not only surviving, but thriving.

And it’s not just the men who corner the market on being real examples of how life should be lived.  There’s a whole network of women who resemble the way we should be, but in a very approachable and human way.   And it’s not an exclusive club.  We have members who are like fun, distant cousins.

The problem has become that we think life should be easy and problem free.  We fear that if we have issues or problems or strife in life…well, we’ve failed.  That’s the picture that is painted by modern society.  You’ve heard the ad campaigns, “You CAN have it all”,  “You deserve it”, “Ah, what the heck, go ahead…YOLO!”

Well, guess what, you can’t have it all. Something has got to give. You may have the perfect job, but family life may take a hit. Or you may have a beautiful house with a beautiful wife, but you go to a job that you loathe daily.  And how come we don’t feel “you deserve it” when something goes awry?  Well, that’s not what it’s about.  It’s about balance.  We’re not supposed to be all self absorbed or self-loathing.  It’s about faith…active faith.  Prayer, involvement, giving and inviting.

And remember when you were little and woke up in the middle of the night crying because you had pains in your legs.  They ached and if you were lucky, your mom rubbed them ’til her hands hurt (never complaining, though). Those, my friend, were growing pains.  And just because there is pain does not mean there’s not growth.

Around Christmastime my sister-in-law told me she’d heard it said that life is about focusing on JOY – Jesus, Others, then You.  If we keep that in mind, all the rest should fall in place.  That’s not to say we’re not going to have falls and scrapes and diagnoses we do not want, but we will be better equipped to deal with these struggles.

Believe it or not, God sent his only offspring down here, to what is clearly second class seating compared with Heaven, to live and die here.  And, he didn’t do it small.  No, sir.  He sent his precious only child down to die a horrific and painful death.  What for?  A better mortgage rate? An upgrade to business class? A Michael Kors purse?  Nope.  For us and our miserable failings.  For our sorry (for ourselves) selves who can’t get out of our own way.  And God is THE most patient parent EVER.  Imagine if we had to deal with the problems the general public caused…wait, never mind.

Anyhoo, I used to think that we should all just get along and if we each find our own way to goodness… that works, but now I’m coming around to the fact that the original is long-standing for a reason.  If it hasn’t been sunk in decades or centuries then it bears a second look.

I, too, have been worried about what people would think about me and I have worried about hurting other people’s feelings, but there are bigger things to worry about.  It’s a Maslow’s hierarchy thing here.  We need to protect souls, not feelings.

Lately I’ve been praying that God make sure to text me and let me know that I’m either a) on the right track or b) way off and need to pull up the Google app to find my way back.  My word of the year is purposeful.  I’m trying to do things with purpose and not just float or drift.

So, I dare you (read invite!) to come to my church and sit with me and see what happens.  You can always do your own thing again next week, but maybe, just maybe you might find something that intrigues you and brings you back.

Photo courtesy of http://textinggod.tumblr.com/

It’s all relative…

roses

It’s in the teens now (degrees and times matched at 6 and 9 this morning, however) and we are hunkered down with some ribs in the crockpot and the blinds closed to keep the bitter cold out.

We are blessed to have a warm home with working heat and electricity.  We are blessed to live in a first world country where even if the bureaucrats screw up on school closings it is not life being lived under some form of law that would stagnate and paralyze us all.

After being all grateful and philosophical I must say that I still keep the Phoenix temps and the Germany temps on my phone (one makes me drool most days and the other usually makes me grateful, today however it’s about 30 degrees warmer in the European city than here in our nation’s capital region).

Things can seem like they are coming apart at the seams and that you’re just going to lose it, but then you’ll catch a glimpse of a sweet child absolutely besotted with her best friend (her dog/four-legged sister) or you’ll think about someone who is facing an insurmountable task and she is kickin’ its butt.  She is not merely surviving, but thriving and you realize that good is winning and will win.

We all make choices about how to react to things in various situations whether it be to have a meltdown over a mess in the house (hypothetically speaking, of course) or something bigger.  I choose to be as a certain 7-year-old proclaimed the other day, “I’m a balcony person, not a basement person.”  Me, too, Sweet Pea…me, too.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile – http://mrg.bz/TRPDP9

*snow*

snowy morguefile photo

The snow looks like someone is shaking powdered sugar

all over the landscape.

It falls silently and yet you can seem to feel its motion

even through the window.

I am warm, yet I know what the cold feels like.

I remember it.

It’s not unpleasant, but it still makes me shiver a bit.

The blanket looks comfortable to lie in.

Although I know the truth.

While soft, it is definitely not going to be called cozy.

Cozy would be the hot chocolate with whipped cream that warms the chilled

fingers after shoveling and playing.

Photo courtesy of MorgueFile – http://mrg.bz/jWCmux

Endings and Beginnings

years-text

The last day of the year, the final page in a book, the last scene in a movie…these are things that bring mixed emotions to be sure.

If the book is one you’ve loved and is well written and doesn’t have a sequel you’re quite possibly heartbroken, bereft, wondering what you’ll do with all the free time you’ll now find on your hands. If however, the book or movie wasn’t handled well at the end you may feel angry, frustrated, as though you’ve been cheated.  If you loved the book and it’s the first in a series…well, Hallelujah!

Life is not unlike these scenarios. If it’s the end of a year that was terrific you may be facing the next one anticipating even greater feats and experiences. Some would approach the new year with fear that it won’t be “the same” (it won’t) or “as good” (it might be better).

Still others exiting a year that was less than stellar might be counting their blessings that it wasn’t worse and they might be anticipating that “sometimes a change is as good as a rest” to quote my mom and grandmother.

Life (and a book and a movie) are all in how you approach them. I’ve seen people who’ve had the rug yanked from underneath them more than once and yet they picked themselves up (with a cheerful disposition) and soldiered on. Now, this isn’t to say they didn’t have moments of sadness or frustration. No, sir. That would be abnormal. But, it does mean that these folks didn’t let these setbacks color their entire perception of the world. There are too many things to be grateful for and to be appreciative of to let the fear and negative take over.

For all who are fearing 2015, hang in there as I’ll look forward with a smile for all of us until you are able to join me.

 

 

Graphic courtesy of Morgue File.