One of my best memories is visiting Arlington National Cemetery with my mom and dad, before my dad's Parkinson's got the best of him. Dad served proudly as a US Marine, and standing with him watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was sweet and sad and perfect.
Let's remember all those who have given all in service to our country, so that we remain free to do things like blog.
For those of you who aren't Catholic, we use a 3-year cycle of readings, and we read/hear almost the entire Bible in that cycle. (If you are Catholic and DON'T know that, shame on you. May guilt follow you all your days.) Remember, it's almost all of the Bible, so Proverbs doesn't get a whole lot of air play, especially on Sundays.
So here is part of today's reading, from Proverbs, ch. 8; the voice speaking is the wisdom of God:
...and I was [God's] delight day by day,
playing before him all the while
playing on the surface of his earth
and I found delight in the human race.
What a stirring image: the delight and joy of play in creation. This inspired snippet gives us such a broad view of our God: a God who in wisdom is joyful in us, the prime creation. God delights in us! God plays! Play is carefree, in-the-moment, and uninhibited. Play is comedy, drama, farce, and opera. It is diversion and sport, action and rest. It is who our God is.
With an extra day this weekend, take some time to delight and play in God's creation, for surely, God delights in you.
We all know what a treat family car trips are. Growing up, my sibs and I enjoyed an added feature. You see, my mother cannot read maps and my father could not follow directions. As kids, we never asked, "Are we there yet?". We asked, "Are we lost yet?" My sisters and I spend loads of time, necks craning backwards, staring wistfully at that just-passed exit, knowing it would be another hour or so until we finally located that motel we had reservations for. On one memorable trip, my dad drove around the CN Tower in Toronto for an hour, muttering, "How do you GET to the damn thing?"
Little did I know, this magical mystery tour I endured on every family trip would be good training for life. I am often not where I thought I was going to be. I thought I would get married, get pregnant and have a houseful of kids. That sorta happened, but not without a lot of tears, frustrations, classes, social workers and courts. And the whole pregnancy thing never did occur.
I thought once I got the kids, I'd contentedly homeschool and raise a nice Catholic family, following the rule book and getting the desired result. Uh, let's just say that the rule book doesn't exist and my kids had other ideas.
Now, it seems, I face new challenges: road blocks, detours, an old map that isn't accurate, and a place that I'm not familiar with. I guess I could pull over to the side off the road and sit, but clearly that will not get me where I want to be. My best bet is to get directions from people I trust, and get back on track. It may be a different route, a different trip than I had planned, but my ultimate destination remains the same. I just have to learn to enjoy the trip more, and worry about the route less.
This website is WAY too good not to share, especially if you are a soccer fan. Even if you're not into soccer, take a couple of minutes to look around.
The video is amazing - ooooh, cute babies!! Check out the World Cup prayer, too!
A librarian? Books? Really old books? Really old Bibles? Joy!
There are a lot of stupid things on TV, and you don't need me to tell you that. However, I do want to call attention to one stupid thing that burns my toast.
TLC has a show called "Say Yes to the Dress" that features women with way too much money shopping for wedding dresses. I mean WAY too much money: thousands and thousands (and even more) on a....dress. Not a house. Not even a vacation of a lifetime. A dress. (As my father would say, "And it doesn't even have a basement under it.")
One young woman, after driving the sales staff nuts with endless fittings and her general neediness, finally made it to her big day. The camera caught her just after the ceremony, and smiling with great joy, she said to the camera, "Everything was just perfect. And the most perfect part of the day was [wait for it] the DRESS!"
Gee, honey, what about that guy standing next to you? Doesn't he count for anything on this special day?
Dear husband and I just celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary. My parents made it to 59 years before my dad passed away. My dress cost a couple hundred bucks. My mom's was even less - my grandmother made it in 1947, and it couldn't have cost more than $100. And while both our dresses were lovely, and fun to wear, I guarantee you neither my mom nor I thought the dress was the most important aspect of our respective wedding days. Nor would I have cared if I got married in an old dress, a simple suit or a gunny sack. I was just thrilled with the idea that I was going to get to spend my life with this wonderful man, and we were going to promise each other that our union was going to be for a lifetime.
I said "yes" to him and to God. "Yes" to the adventure of a lifetime. "Yes" to good, bad, ugly, rich (relatively speaking!) and poor, better and not so great. "Yes" to kids, dogs, cats, birthdays, Christmases, weird relatives and even weirder friends. "Yes" to a covenant that will outlast either of us, in our children, and God willing, our grandchidren. You wanta say yes to a dress? Go ahead, but I guarantee you, saying "yes" to your groom and to God will work out a whole lot better for you and that guy standing next to you.
And yet, over and over again, Life keeps showing me that I can't get comfy. There is too much change. Circumstances change, then I have to change. I don't wanna. I wanna lay down on the floor, and have a temper tantrum. It doesn't do any good: I still get dragged, kicking and screaming into my future.
There are a lot of trite things we can say about change: "I don't know what the future holds, but I know God holds the future." Yeah, well, that's not very comforting when you're scared, confused, unhappy and your head is spinning. Please, God, can I just keep on keeping on? No change for me, thanks! I'm perfectly happy where I am! Give my bucket of change to someone else, please! I don't think I'll be taking any change now; maybe later, k?
However, the opposite of change is stagnation, and I KNOW I do not want that. I'm not yet where I want to be, even though the known is more comfortable than the unknown. Maybe I should re-think the whole temper tantrum thing. Maybe I should act like a Big Girl, making the choice to be a willing participant in my life, rather than a victim. I will embrace the change and step boldly forward, rather than get dragged forward. Yes, I shall.
Right after I dry my tears.
http://www.wordle.net/ (Click on "Word Play" to go to the site.)
I entered my blog address. The site creates a "word picture" for you, and the size of the word is based on how often you use it. Apparently, I mention "time" a lot here; hmmmm, wonder what that means, Mr. Freud?
Anyhow, I am going to use it for vocab. words in my class. I figure for kids that are "eye-minded", it might be a cool, new way to look at things!
1. Celebrity moms who complain about struggling to "balance" their careers and motherhood. Yeah, must be tough, what with the nannies, personal trainer, chef, cleaning staff and personal assistant. I'd hate that....
2. My neck. I always thought Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck was quaint...until it happened to me.
3. Parents who step in and won't allow their kids to fail. Failure isn't necessarily a bad thing, Mom and Dad. It's how we learn. If your kid never has to pay the consequences for his or her stupid decisions, he or she will continue to make said stupid decisions. Quit trying to make everything "good" for the little buggers.
4. A court system that holds juveniles accountable for the REST OF THEIR LIVES for crimes committed when they were 11 and 12 years old. Yes, I know they did something wrong and should be punished. However, would YOU want to be held accountable for all your actions at age 12? Should you pay for that your entire life??
One of my co-workers came to the startling realization today that we are only a week and a half away from exams, then the exams themselves, then done. Yikes! The teachers are scrambling to stuff a bit more knowledge into the kids' heads. The kids are fighting to get a few more assignments done and in the grade book. Administration is struggling to figure out how we are going to pay for it all.
We are happy to launch our seniors into the world, a bit sad to see them leave (most of them...not all of them.) The juniors are strutting around - almost seniors. The freshmen are happy that this horrible year is almost over. (If you don't remember your freshmen year in high school, thank your lucky stars.)
At the beginning of June, we'll all heave a great sigh of relief and look forward to the alarm not going off for a while. We end things, we close things up, we take stuff down, and call it done - whether we are ready for "done" or not. We'll enjoy our summers and then begin again - the cycle of school and rest we live by.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the sons of men to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has put eternity into man's mind, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live. Ecclesiastes 3: 1-12
I have to admit, it is hard sometimes to find the beauty in my school building. It's an old place - not old as in "enchanting" and "charming", but old as in "cold", "utilitarian" and "decrepit".
But look a little deeper and walk through our halls: there is awesome student-created art hanging in the halls. Three junior girls laughing so hard they are crying, over something silly: just a shared moment. Our statue of Mary wears a beautiful crown for the month of May. The cafeteria walls remind us, by quotes from saints (diligently painted by our campus youth minister), what our purpose in life is. The staff choir practicing a (surprise!) benediction for the senior Mass and Baccaleaurate.
All of this reminds us that we humans, together with our Creator-God, are the only ones who can create beauty. Tress don't, cats don't, stars don't. Just us. It is our responsibility and our joy. Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Seeley.
I didn't sleep last night, and that always puts me in an "off" mood for the day. I get to work, grab a Diet Coke and plunge into the day, head full of fuzz and body struggling to keep up the pace set by a school full of teens.
Students straggle in. The sophomores are doing generalized testing this week, so my classes are scattered - a few kids missing here and there. They turn in their weekly reflection papers (this one on Fr. Damien - who took care on the lepers on Molokai - and the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick), and check the board for today's work.
One of the boys seems to think he's playing baseball - he's making all sorts of weird gestures. "Are you telling Dom to steal third?" I ask, and he goes back to his reading. They take delight in pointing out a mistake I made in a worksheet. They shuffle out, and in comes the next herd.
My afternoon is quiet, as most of the seniors are done. A couple stop by, one to drop off an open house invite and another for a signature on some paperwork. They have service presentations this week and have some questions.
It doesn't seem like much, this teaching life, when you break it down day-to day. Yet, I get the chance to tease and teach, instruct and ignore, laugh and be laughed at. In the front of my room hangs a crucifix, Christ in His greatest moment of sacrifice, and that is the beacon. It may be a manic Monday, but it is always a merciful Monday, where Christ teaches all of us - me and the students - how to manage in this life, so that we can be ready for the next.
The amazingly bad decisions by some people in MI make me want to scream. Dear husband and I work our lovely derrieres off to support ourselves and our kids. Such idiocy.
(By the way, love the Acton Institute, and I'm only one month away from attending Acton University - yippee!)
It's Friday; time for a little pet peeve-o-rama!
1. Spouses who complain about their hubby or wife to others. Ya know, a spouse should be the ONE person in the world you can ALWAYS count on to be your biggest cheerleader. Gotta beef? Keep it between the two of you.
2. Students who don't put their name on their work. Geez, people, this is high school!! (And you've been reminded three times...sigh....)
3. Menopausal mind meltdowns. What was that thing called again?? Oh, yeah, a "pen."
4. Not minding your own business. Don't be nosy. If I want to tell you more, I will.
5. The pajamification of America. That's right, you slacker, you over there in the produce section, wearing your pajamas to the grocery store. Put on clothes - you know - the kind you wear in public. Get dressed!
6. Dressing casually for church. I don't mean a pair of clean jeans and a polo shirt. I mean the shorts and the Iron Maiden t-shirt, finished off with the flip-flops. You are in the presence of Almightly God, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. You can't put on a pair of pants and some shoes???? If you got invited to the White House for dinner, would you wear running shorts and a "Bud Light" t-shirt??? I think not...
Tune in next week for more pet peeve-o-rama!
If I had to choose a metaphor for my life right now, it would be this: "My life is like eating yogurt with a fork: not altogether impossible but difficult, and occasionally quite ridiculous."
As the mom of five teens, I often have questions that go unanswered, wafting aimlessly through the air like dandelion down: How many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches CAN a thirteen year old boy eat? How long have you known about this project you now so urgently need $30 of art supplies for? What do you do to your socks? Has anyone fed the dogs?
My current unanswered question is: Where are all our spoons? Really. I don't know. We have knives. We have forks. The spoons, apparently, have run off, sans dishes, never to be seen again. Thus, I had to eat my yogurt with a fork this morning.
So goes my life. The laundry is never caught up, I feel like when I'm at work, my mind is at home and vice versa, there is always a forgotten appointment or a phone call that needs to be returned, and oh, yeah, when was the last date with my dear husband? I'm unorganized, scattered, a step behind, and falling through the cracks. It's just like eating yogurt with a fork.
There are no saint quotes about eating yogurt with a fork (so far as I know...) but St. Clare of Assisi said, "Love God, serve God; everything is in that." Our lives here are going to be like eating yogurt with a fork, 'cause this ain't Heaven. Our vocations here are meant to love and serve God, despite the harships and ridiculousness of our varied situations, so that we can enjoy Heaven. And Heaven will be all we have ever needed or desired.
I've always been a big fan of Stephen Mosher over at the Population Research Institute, and his newest blog merits consideration (click on "POP Science" above to go to that website).
It is unconscionable that a woman or man would be sterilized against his/her will or without prior consent. As Mosher points out, there is no way to read this EXCEPT as ethnic cleansing.
What many people don't know is that Margaret Sanger, founded of Planned Parenthood, was a strong believer in ethnic cleansing and eugenics. She believed that, "Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race." Her goal was to target blacks especially, and called for black ministers to spread the word of artificial birth control so that "word [would not] go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population".
Did you know that 50% of pregnancies in the African-American population today end in abortion?
We can be silently complicit, or we can raise our voices in protest. We can pretend these are nameless, faceless people far away whom we will never have any contact with, or we can join our brothers and sisters and demand justice for all. Get educated and find your voice.
So, no surprise that this story caught my attention: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125223168
I have an affinity for Japanese Buddhism anyway (no gift for it, mind you - I couldn't sit in meditation for more than a few minutes before wandering into the next room for a nice cup of tea), but the idea of walking the distance of the world's circumference in search of peace of mind is enthralling. And I really love the idea of the Immovable Wisdom King.
I'm constantly seeking Wisdom. Teaching high school, I don't see a lot of it. (You DO know what "sophomore" means, right?) I'm not saying that I'm much wiser than my students. I'm probably just a step or two ahead of them. Actually, I find Wisdom quite frequently. However, I want Wisdom to bend to my will, my desires, my wants. And it doesn't. Wisdom, as Endo the Monk has discovered, is immovable.
Christ, of course, is the Way, the Truth, the Life: Wisdom beyond Wisdom. The best thing for me to do is put myself at His will and His Wisdom, and walk in His ways. I know this. But, sophomoric human that I am, I wander away from The Truth. I try to move it. I try to get Wisdom to see things my way, walk along the route I've chosen, go off grid, get lost, get disorientated, back-track and generally go astray.
This is my pilgrimage: to walk in the Way of Immovable Truth, to walk HIS line, and not stumble...too much.
(With all due respect to David Bowie):
(Turn and face the strain)
Don't want to be a richer man
(Turn and face the strain)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
[Insert whiny tone]: "But I don' wanna change!" Apparently, the Universe and its Creator have other plans.
And don't give me that "God closes a door and opens a window" crap. I'm not ready to hear that quite yet. I know it's true; I just don't want to hear it....yet. I'll get there.
It's been a tough few months for our family. We live smack in the middle of Recessionville, and with my dear husband working in the auto industry, finances have been tight. (Okay, squeaky tight.) With five teens, there is always drama, but with five special needs kids, you can quintuple the drama. Now, it seems as if my job is on shaky, shaky ground.
Thus, the David Bowie singing in my head, and I'm just gonna have to be a different girl. Love my job, love teaching, love the people I work with...but it may be time to face the strain.
The only thing I can do is, to quote another favorite song of mine (from Casting Crowns) is to tell God, "I'll praise You in this storm."
The Grand Rapids Press does a regular Sunday feature about 'someone you need to know': a local phenom of some sort. I always read the feature, and I always agree that it is someone I need to know. I got sidetracked today, though.
The woman featured, at one point, stopped the interview to shoo away a stray cat tempting her dog. Then she acknowledged, "I feed the cat. I suppose it's mine." And that's where my thoughts went astray, along with that cat.
There are a lot of things about myself I don't wish to acknowledge. I can be stupid, stubborn, selfish and mean. I would like to think those things don't really 'belong' to me, but like the lady in the interview, I feed them, so they are mine. I shoo them away, but then leave out morsels to tempt them back. Like a scrawny, slim cat, they take up residence, not because I've created a home for them, but simply because I let them. They aren't cuddly, personable or cozy...but they are mine.
How do you get rid of a stray? Simple: stop feeding them. Easier said than done of course. If it were easy, I'd be a saint right now, instead of a struggling sinner. Of course, most of the spiritual life is easy; we muck it up pretty regularly with our own ideas, desires, and whims. We keep opening up the doors to our souls, letting in the strays, leaving out scraps for them to feast on, and then wondering why our lives are now filled with ugly, unwanted beasts.
Time to take a look at the strays in my life, and feed only the things in my life I wish to claim as my own. No more crazy cat-lady for me.
This is probably my favorite image of Mary. For those of us who are Catholic, we honor Mary every day, but especially on Mother's Day. Since we are brothers and sisters in Christ, Mary is our Mother as well. Since God honored her with the greatest of honors - to be the Mother of the Savior - we honor her.
We don't worship her; that is reserved for God alone.
In my own life, Mary has been a contant source of comfort. Granted, there have been times when I've though, "Her kid was perfect; what can she do to help me??" Then I humbly remember that we are ALL her children, and we are less than perfect. She has far more worries about her kids than I do with mine.
Happy Mother's Day to all you moms, and Happy Mother's Day to Mary!
Come on, people! Throw me a bone; it's been a long, hard week!
It has been a long week. School was long and hard, home was tough, my body and brain rebelled, and I'm done. All I've got left is a little piece of my mind to share, about peace.
I've been looking for some peace this week, and ran across this lovely (if disconcerting thought) from Father Bede Jarrett, OP: "[Peace is] compatible with every form of suffering, with every privation, with every failure....it as compatible even with discontent; nay, it really necessitated discontent." He goes on to say that we must be always be discontent until all things are restored to Christ.
I know this is true. I know that my dark-haired daughter won't have the peace she needs and deserves in this life, but I am confident she will in the next. However, I plan to do everything in my power to make sure that gets as much peace as she can enjoy now.
I know that our finances will be "discontented" for some time, if not forever, in this life anyway. And I really shouldn't complain, given the incredible abundance we enjoy given the way most of the world live. My worries about money, bills, and finances are miniscule compared to many, many others.
The trick - if it is a 'trick - is to find peace amidst the struggles and hardships. I know that I'm not going to have complete peace in this life. The best we can get is those small slivers of it - creeping in on a rainy day when the kid is napping and the tea is hot. Or a quiet dinner with the dear husband, even if it is only at the bowling alley in town. A phone conversation that leaves me laughing. A drawing from the curly-haired daughter that is simply breath-taking.
It is these moments of peace that all peace is built on. I'm going to be restless, empty and tired, until Eternal Life grants me Eternal Peace.
Let's take "Hansel and Gretel", for instance. Two parents who are desperate: they can no longer afford to feed their children. Lot of that going around these days. That much is true.
The parents hit upon a stupid plan: kill the kids or take them out to the woods and abandon them. Sadly, stupidity abounds. Some parents have taken these routes, either out of fear, ignorance or evil. We've become accustomed to abortion and abandonment in our culture.
So, we end up with two kids trying to survive on their own and using their wits to stay alive. Yep, kids around the world do that all the time.
Then, something evil, which appears to be good appears: a candy house! (Of course, H & G don't know that the witch is drawing them in.....but they will!). Things in our world that appear good but are really bad, marketed to children? Hmmm, that DOES sound familiar.....
The point is, just because something hasn't really happened, doesn't mean it isn't true.
Now, let's talk about God. Did God make one woman and one man, named Eve and Adam, from whom the whole world was populated? (At some point, you HAVE to deal with the incest issue, ya know.) That doesn't mean the story in Genesis isn't true.
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