Monday, December 12, 2011

Pacific Northwest Day 2 - Donner Pass

After driving all day through 115 degree heat across endless Nevada deserts, we reached the turn-off for Reno, which would take us to Lake Tahoe.  Hoping to camp in the pristine pine forests I remembered from my childhood, and wake up to take a dip in the lake, I drove the mountain roads with enthusiasm.  As night fell, the lights around the lake revealed that there was a lot more development here than I remembered.  Every single campground we passed was full.  Finally, we met a ranger at yet another full campground.  He had just come from Donner Pass, 45 minutes away, and informed us that every campground between Lake Tahoe and there was full, this being the last camping weekend before the start of school in California.  He mentioned that there was one site open at the Donner Memorial State Park campground, and if we wanted to chance it, it would be worth a try.  Having few other options, besides pricey motels, we made the drive.

Midnight at Donner Pass can be creepy, if you know the history.  But at least it wasn't snowing...
After setting up the tent and organizing the rest of our camp for morning, we made a camp fire in the fire ring, but decided we were all too tired to eat.  So one by one, we settled into our bedrolls.   When I awoke the next morning, our camp was better than I had even hoped for at Lake Tahoe.  Old pines towered over 100 feet above us.  Donner Creek playfully spilled into Donner Lake, just yards away.  I cooked our breakfast on the campstove while we warmed ourselves by the fire ring.  After cleaning up the breakfast things, we repacked and broke camp.

We drove the short distance to the lake, and made use of one of the park's many hiking trails.  By now, the sun was fully up and the temperatures in the high 70's at our altitude.  Donner Lake was irresistible, so we donned swimsuits and went in.  Though there is really no designated swimming area, we were at a small inlet that was not very busy with boats, and had a very refreshing swim.  The water was clean and cold.  We could see the bottom of the lake up to about six feet.  After drying off in the warm sun, it was with deep regret that I changed back into my clothes, and we left our enchanted campground to continue our journey.  Today we would be visiting an old friend near Vacaville, then travelling through Mount Shasta in hopes of finding another camping spot for the night.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Amazing Love

As a prisoner in a Nazi death camp, Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch watchmaker, saw many of her family and friends die.  A fateful mistake caused her release only one day before all women her age were to be killed.  She had every reason for despair and revenge.  Instead, a few years later, she brought the Gospel of Jesus to the very women who were her guards in that concentration camp.  The same women who had hated and despised her, were now imprisoned, and hungry for hope.  With some difficulty, the grace of God and a box of chocolates, Corrie won these women to Christ.

Amazing Love is the story of Corrie Ten Boom's life of evangelization after surviving the Nazis in World War II.  Originally published in 1953, the audio version is well read by Nadia May, (c) 2010 by Christian Audio.  Ms. May's reading gives a personal quality to the narrative.  I almost believed I was listening to the author herself. Corrie travels all over the world bringing the Gospel to movie stars in Hollywood, communists in Russia, and the poor in developing countries.  Her courage and confidence are inspiring.  She even admits to bouts of arrogance, when relying on her own talent and strength fails her, until she remembers to pray, and turn her will over to Jesus once again.  Time and again, she is called upon to perform the impossible.  Exorcizing demons, healing the sick, flying across the world to spread the gospel, with no money for plane tickets all demonstrate the power of God, manifested in the weakness of this woman.  Relying only on her faith and trust in Jesus, Corrie does all that is asked of her, and many souls are converted to Christianity.

This is a very thought provoking, as well as entertaining account of Ms. Ten Boom's adventures.  As Christians we are called to evangelize.  To spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  Do we really know how to do this?  Can we even spread it around us in our current every day lives?  I am left with much to ponder, and a thirst to learn more about how to do what I can to lead others to the love and peace I find with Jesus.

On sale right now for $7.49 from

Thank you to Christian Audio Reviewers Program for providing me with this free review copy.  No other compensation was reveived for this review.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Month of the Dead

November is the month we remember our dead.  On All Souls Day, November 2nd, we took a field trip to the local cemetary.  Our own loved ones are buried in other states, but we spent some time praying for others' loved ones, forgotten ones, and contemplating our own mortality. 

In our own small town cemetary, there is a mix of rich and poor, known and unknown, heroes, babies, parents, grandparents and scoundrels.  We wondered at long ago lives, and shed new tears over more recent losses.

Finally recalling that, perhaps, they are the lucky ones.  Already enjoying their eternal reward.  Wondering what it is like to see Jesus face to face.  To live in His glory forever and ever.
Someday we will know.  Until then, we've got alot of livin' to do.  Remember our veterans on November 11th.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Modest Dressing

I am a convert to modest dressing. I have only been conciously trying to dress modestly for about eight years now. Prior to that I was all about fashion and being "appreciated". I have to put that in quotes because the kind of "appreciation" I got was not really what I was looking for. In my pursuit of guidelines for modesty, I ran across a book by Colleen Hammond called "Dressing With Dignity", in which she discusses some very unpleasant but true facts about how we dress and how we are treated. I did some research on my own, and concluded that her evidence was real. In defense of women, I am not just speaking of us, here. Modesty is just as important for men. Women may not be as visual in nature as men, but we do take notice of physical attributes. And in looking around me when I'm out in "the world", I realize just how important it is to encourage our children to dress modestly. I mean, is it really that "cute" when little children run around topless, or a first grader bends over and you can see her entire torso? Do we really think pedophiles are limited to the internet?

While there are many degrees of modesty, from fashionable to frumpy, I think most agree that basic modesty includes covering all cleavage and "privates". This would include not only necklines and waistbands (as opposed to hip bands), but also sleeve lengths and hemlines. Ms. Hammond's book gives one of the best basic guidelines I have found. To paraphrase: a woman's neckline should be such that cleavage is covered and when you bend over you are not giving a display; sleeve length should be long enough that when you lift your arms, you cannot see through to undergarments or what is underneath. Also, fabrics should not be sheer or see-through.

For myself, I prefer dresses and skirts, and I like my hemlines to be mid-calf or below, without slits, wraps or buttons that can inadvertently open to show my legs. I like my legs just fine, but I don't feel I have to show them off to everybody anymore. In cooler weather, I add a layer of leggings and socks under the dress. I prefer my sleeves 3/4 length or longer, I can always roll them up. Again, I wear an extra shirt in cooler weather, a sweater is also an option. I do wear shorter sleeves in hot weather. I do not bear the burden of excessive cleavage, however, I do try to keep my necklines up near that little dip in my collarbone (forget what it's called). Sometimes this involves adding a pin to close a low neckline a bit higher, or wrapping and tying a pretty scarf.

As far as head covering, sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. This is more because of the fact that I have very fine hair that doesn't like to cooperate, and blows wildly in the slightest breeze. I frequently wear scarves and hats, and have always enjoyed them. I always try to wear a chapel veil in church, though there are many times I forget, and once in a while choose not to. But that is a whole 'nuther issue.

Swimsuits are a challenge. Though there are many options and offerings for modest clothing, there is a severe lack of choices in the swimsuit area. I love to swim, and for years now, I have been wearing long shorts and a long sleeved tshirt to swim. I have tried different materials, but unfortunately, the skin tight spandex seems to be the best choice for comfort, quick drying, and coverage. Lately I have run across some great styles in modest swimwear, and hope to make a new modest swimsuit for myself for next year. My favorite style is from Simply Modest, and consists of leggings ending just below the knee, and a tunic style shirt with short sleeves (which could be lengthened) and the tunic ending just a few inches above the knee, thereby covering the hip and buttocks area. I am not sure how this would do in the water, but from my experience with the tshirts, I believe the spandex on the torso would stay put, while the longer area may ride up in the water, but could be smoothed back down upon exiting. Another trick to keep in mind here, is choosing a patterned material for the top to de-emphasize the cling, and a solid, darker color for the leggings, for a slimming effect. As for men and boys, I appreciate the long, baggy trunks, held up, of course, to cover their "cleavage", and the mesh shirts, popular for many sports are preferable, in my opinion, to a bare chest. On a purely practical level, the more covered you are, the less need for sunscreen.

So there you have it - my take on modest dressing. Now that I'm started, I'm sure I'll have more to say in future posts.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Touch

by Randall Wallace, (c) 2011, published by Mission Audio
"The Touch" is that rare, life affirming sensitivity that a few medical professionals and others posses.  Doctor Andrew Jones is one of them.  After a tragic accident in which his fiancee is killed, he abandons his gift and loses himself in teaching instead.  Lara Blair is the billionaire heiress of a medical research and equipment company.  For years her firm has been trying to perfect a surgical instrument that will duplicate a surgeon's movements and allow never-before-possible deep brain surgeries to succeed.  When one of Lara's executives stumbles across an exhibit containing a highly detailed micro-miniature sculpture of the Lincoln Memorial, and discovers the identity of its creator, Blair Pharmaceuticals begins a relentless pursuit of the talents of Dr. Jones.

There is a higher power at work, however, as Lara and Jones find themselves facing old fears, and questioning whether their lives should continue on their current paths.  The most compelling question is, will Andrew be able to defeat the demons that have tormented him since the death of his fiancee, in order to save his new love?

This audiobook contains a powerful message about the dignity of life at all stages, as well as the healing power of God's grace.  It is a touching romance, without vulgarity, though one brief passage is probably not suitable for young ears.  Paul Mitchell delivers an exceptional reading, his voice resonating with the different emotions conveyed throughout the story.  Available for $12.98 from

I had trouble loading the MP3 files onto my ipod directly from the website, but no problem whatsoever downloading it to the computer and then transferring it to my ipod from there.  The complete zip file loads really fast and opens easily.

Thank you to Christian Audio Reviewers Program for providing me with this free review copy.  No other compensation was reveived for this review.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Prelude to the Pacific Northwest

Getting ready for vacation wears me out.  Trying to pack as little as possible and yet have everything we need sets off some lively discussions at our house.  Nevertheless, my travelling companions and I managed to divvy up the labor and circumvent any pre-trip explosions.  The plan, visit family and see some sights in Oregon and Washington over 3 weeks in August.  The mode, a 24 mile per gallon Jeep Cherokee and a newly acquired used tent trailer.  The new (to us) tent trailer was checked out, and minor repairs made.  Camping supplies were reorganized and streamlined into two boxes and a cooler.  Sleeping bags, camp chairs and camp stove were packed.  Personal items were packed, unpacked, and repacked into half the space.  This weary pilgrim fell into bed early to grab a few hours sleep before the epic vacation was to start.  At 2:20a.m., grumbling and threatening bodily harm to a certain travelling companion who begrudged me my last 10 minutes of sleep, I stumbled to the espresso machine and made myself a large double (would that be a quadruple?).  I dressed myself and my son, gathered my purse and book, and packed us into the back seat of the jeep, where we proceeded to fall directly back to sleep.  It was still too dark for any sight seeing anyway.

First stop, Las Vegas, Nevada.  Breakfast buffet at Palace Station.  The cheese blintzes were awesome, but the strawberry sauce I put on top of them was not.  Should have stuck with a dusting of powdered sugar.  Coffee and sausage were plentiful, and after some in our party topped off with ice cream cones, we made our way to Bass Pro Shop for air mattresses.  Unfortunately, we forgot the air pump at home, so had to get another one.  I was in favor of a 12volt that could be left attached, to inflate the mattresses while we set up the rest of our camp, got the fire going, cooked dinner, etc.  I was overrulled by manly men insisting on a bicycle style pump.  Okay by me, I'm not the one going to be inflating the air mattresses anyway.

Now with the sun up, the drive through Nevada towards Reno was alot of gray, hot, dreary desert.  It was too hot to stop anywhere to make sandwiches for lunch (our cooler and other food were in the tent trailer), so we just snacked.  A roadside stand boasted buffalo jerkey, but it was rather pricey, so we opted for garlic stuffed olives instead - yuck! were they sour!  Then we read the label and found they weren't even local...

We stopped again to stretch our legs in Goldfield, Nevada.  While everyone else went over to inspect an ancient Mercedes diesel, I walked around the even more ancient Goldfield Hotel.  Repairs are apparently being attempted on the dilapidated building, but they do not appear to be historically correct, which is a disappointment because it must have been a beautiful building.  I must know: why such a huge hotel exists in such a remote town and what is the story of Goldfield?  I will report at a future date.

The remainder of our first day is spent driving through the unmerciful heat of the Nevada desert.  We finally reach our first camp at midnight, Donner Pass, but that will have to wait until my next post...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Grand Canyon Pilgrimage - August 2011

I just spent the most awesome day at the Grand Canyon with my daughter and her friends.  It was kind of a last minute thing, they were camping up there for the weekend, would I like to meet them? much gas is in the car?  Yup, I'll be there.  I really needed a day off from my worries and anxieties and I can't think of a better therapy than a day in one of the National Parks.  Of course the fact that I live only 90 minutes away helps, also.

Our adventure started in Tusayan, with a visit to the Indian PowWow Swap Meet.  While the younguns shopped for beads and baubles I chatted up some of the Navajo vendors and even found one with whom I shared a mutual friend.  I wished I had some spending money, because the silver, turquoise and beading was authentic Navajo, exquisite, and inexpensive.  Next stop, the IMAX Theater for a showing of Grand Canyon: The Movie.  I enjoyed the film for its reenactment of the Anasazi occupation and Major John Wesley Powell's river exploration of the Canyon.  Afterward we took in the Condor Encounter in the courtyard.  Hoping to see actual California Condors up close, we were disappointed to find out that only injured and non-flying California Condors were allowed and none were currently available.  However, we were entertained and delighted by the "smart" raven who took a dollar bill from an audience member and dropped it in the donation box; and the dancing crane.

Finally we proceeded to the park.  Prepaid passes are the only way to go during peak season.  Our cars were ushered straight into the prepaid lane and our entry into the park expedited.  The first stop, as usual was Mather Point and the main Visitor's Center.  Boy, have there been alot of changes in the six months since I was last there!  Extra parking, more bathrooms, and a complete remodel in progress on the visitor center.  I walked in and back out, making a beeline for the bookstore.  At least everything is still familiar there.  The boy and I picked up our summer visitors guides and stamped them with the commemorative stamps (free).  We browsed the new offerings, and played with the raven puppets, then regrouped with our peeps and went for a 2 mile stroll down the paved, safety-railed Rim Trail.

Several times we noted tourists trying to feed the squirrels.  Bigtime no-no!  Those cute little friendly furballs have fleas and ticks which will jump onto humans just as happily and transmit lovely souveniers such as bubonic plague, lyme disease and if little furball decides to bite, he could be transmitting rabies as well.  Not to mention that feeding them does them no favors, as they become reliant upon human handouts and will not survive the winter on their own.  Best to enjoy the wildlife with your eyes, not your hands!  Okay, rest now, my rant's over.

Though I much prefer to visit the Canyon mid-week in the off season, this particular Saturday was glorious.  There were crowds, but they were friendly and not overwhelming.  I think the presence of extra park rangers on the trails greatly contributed to the relaxed, genial atmosphere.  Our recent rains seem to have given the sky a more sparkling blueness, and made the air more fresh and sweet.  The view from the Rim Trail is dramatic.  Some spots drop straight down over 5,000 feet.  Others are deceptively inviting, yet treacherous and slippery.  You can walk the trail a hundred times and get a different perspective every time.

It was such a refreshing day, and totally occupied my mind, relieving anxiety, and relaxing tension.  Once back in my car at the IMAX, with a cup of coffee, I was ready to get back to reality, though perfectly willing to stay at the canyon if that had been an option.  I know that God, who made such a glorious wonder as the Grand Canyon, also cares about me and my seemingly insignificant troubles.  In getting my mind off of them for a day, I found some solutions and rediscovered gratitude.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Blind Side

Typical upper middle class (is there still such a thing?) soccer mom meets underpriviledged, homeless youth. Recognizes hidden talent and alternataive learning style. Takes child into home to shock and dismay of friends and relatives. Sound like an overused storyline? Possibly, but The Blind Side is based on actual people and events. The names are not changed, but of course the actors are more "Hollywood" than the real people.

Family and child adopt each other and love brings out the best on both sides. Child garners attention of college football recruiters. "Non-governmental-organization" tries to foil child's chances at a college scholarship, "in his best interests". Child defies non-governmental-organization and chooses to go to college he picks, despite the fact that it is the college his "white" family endorses. All ends well.

How often do special interest groups become enforcers "in the best interests" of a child, a monority group, the environment, (add your pet peeve here), while really serving only their own best interests? As Catholic Christians we are called to the Works of Mercy - shelter the homeless, instruct the uninformed, feed, clothe, give drink. We are not necessarily called to form NGO's with boards of directors and large staffed offices to carry out these duties for us. All of which require money to operate. I liked The Blind Side because it shows people doing what people should. Feeding, clothing, sheltering and educating those less fortunate. Not asking for a grant to do it with. Not sending out fundraising letters or taking up a collection at church. Not calling social services and pushing the job off on someone else. Just seeing a child in need, and quietly doing what needed to be done. Amen.

The Blind Side is availabe in several formats at
No compensation was received for this review. I borrowed the movie from our church library.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Pilgrim Virgin of Guadalupe

A couple of months ago I was priviledged to participate in the pilgrimage of Our Lady of Guadalupe within our Mexican community.  Once a year, a couple from Prescott brings a life-size portrait of the Virgin to our small town and She visits a number of homes where we gather for a nightly rosary, singing and a snack or meal afterwards.  The food is always wonderful, the fellowship is comforting and the prayer time is liberating.  More than one person has remarked on the relief experienced after laying his or her troubles at the feet of Our Lady. 

This last visit lasted two months.  Though it was often difficult to drag myself out of the house in the evening, when all I wanted was to eat a simple meal in front of the TV or read a good book, once I got there the power of shared prayer and devotions worked its healing magic on my weary body and mind.

Now that the Pilgrim Virgin has moved on, I struggle to say my daily rosary.  The day gets so busy that when evening finally comes I am so tired that I fall into bed, reach over for my beads and maybe make it past the opening prayers before sleep overtakes me.  On days when we have somewhere to go, we manage to say the rosary in the car.  Living 50 miles from anywhere does have its perks.  Sometimes my best time to say the rosary is in the evenings when I am topping off water troughs for the animals.  The rhythm of the prayers, the cool of the mountain evening and the glory of the Arizona sunset just seem to lend themselves to meditation.  Even then, frequently the boy is pestering me to play cowboy squirt guns or throw the baseball with him.  Well, we keep trying.  And we are truly blessed!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Love Amid The Ashes

I found this book in our public library's NEW section.  Looking at the title I thought 'ick, another Harlequin or Avon romance type'.  But the cover illustration drew me in, and I picked it up and read the back, then glanced inside.  Hooked, and intrigued by our librarian's seemingly sudden propensity for Christian fiction, I checked it out at the desk. 

Set in Uz, (actual location lost, but several possibilities in Middle East) Love Amid the Ashes interlaces the Biblical stories of Job, Jacob and Esau, Joseph (of the many colored coat), the migration of the Hebrews to Egypt, and Dinah (sister of Joseph), in a very compelling way.  By the end, I was ready to reread the book of Job, and start my own investigation to see if I could pick up on the threads Mesu Andrews so skillfully weaves together from the Bible as well as other ancient texts and rabbinical tradition.

As Dinah nurses and cares for Job during his long suffering, the story of her ill fated love, betrayal by her vindictive brothers (the same ones who sold Joseph into slavery) and her subsequent rejection by her clan as "ruined" is presented.  The distinctive stories finally combine in Egypt, when it is discovered that the great vizier and "Father of the Pharoah" is none other than Joseph himself.  Job and Dinah's tale comes to a gratifying conclusion and the reader is left hungry for more. 

A little research on the internet and a look into Biblical, as well as ancient Egyptian timelines, convinced me that Ms. Andrews did, in fact, do her homework.  That yes, it is just possible that these stories which we normally take separately in the Bible and in history, could maybe have intersected with each other in this or some other way.  Which makes it all the more fascinating for me.

Love Amid the Ashes, by Mesu Andrews, (c) 2011, is available from and other booksellers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Drawn to Life - Our Parish Mission

Leighton Drake original print

Where's "The Happiest Place on Earth"?  As a native SoCal gal, of course I knew the answer to that - Disneyland!  Suddenly, Leighton Drake had my attention, and our parish lenten mission became personal to me.  Having been to Dland dozens of times, not only as a child, but then with my children, I am well acquainted with the "happiness" factor of their marketing slogan.  I am also familiar with the bleeding feeling as money escapes the wallet in mass quantities for parking, entry, food and souvenirs.  Then there are the cranky children and exhausted adults.  I totally relate to Drake's disenchantment with the Enchanted Kingdom.  Based in Phoenix, Leighton Drake is an artist and youth minister, most familiar with the Disneyland dilemma.  For some reason, Walt Disney's original theme park is a coveted destination for Arizona youth groups and senior class trips.  Or maybe I'm just jaded, amusement parked-out.

After captivating us for nearly two hours with his conversion story and ongoing journey of faith, Drake, husband and father of four,  stood before his empty sketch pad, and with seemingly random strokes of a chunk of charcoal, transformed it into a passionate portrait of Christ, bloodied and crowned with thorns.  He then offered the breathtaking work at a silent auction after his talk.

My son, who has never been to Disneyland, but has discovered an interest in art, due to an art program on DVD we have been using in his homeschool, was absolutely delighted with the demonstration, and insisted upon examining the drawing in more detail.  We came away with one of the artist's prints, a gift for ds's upcoming 1st Communion/Confirmation, (the opening bid on the silent auction was waaaaaay beyond what I could even consider) and a burning desire to become "on-fire" for Christ again, and to seek out ways to keep our love for Him burning steadily.

Click on this link to learn more about Leighton Drake and his Drawn to Life Ministries.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Damascus Way

Tiberius, Jerusalem, Damascus, in the year 40AD.  Saul of Tarsus is hunting down followers of The Way and brutally bringing them to justice.  Julia is the pampered daughter of Jamal, a wealthy merchant, and Jacob is one of his best caravan guards.  Both are couriers of secret messages between the dispersed groups of Christians.  When Saul and his retinue of temple guards join Jamal's caravan to Damascus, Jacob and Julia risk discovery as well as their very lives to warn believers there of the impending danger.

Christian historical fiction just keeps getting better and better.  I really enjoyed The Damascus Way for its portrayal of daily life and business in the first century after Christ.  I also liked the light romance and heavy suspense.  Not only are messages being smuggled, but also frankinscense, a rare and costly spice.  Bandits and Zealots threaten lives and livelihoods.  Then there are the Roman guards who are also secret Christians...and the temptation on the road to Damascus to simply do away with Saul and his threat to their new faith. 

With a guest appearance by the apostle Philip, and his encounter with the eunuch on the road to Gaza (Acts 8:26-39), Bunn and Oke continue to bring the Bible alive, especially the Acts of the Apostles.  A refreshing story, full of adventure and imagination without being morally offensive or degrading to other faiths.

New from Bethany House Publishing, this is the third book in the Acts of Faith series by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Sunday There Was No Mass

We live in a very rural area.  We were actually considered a "mission" church for many years before the Diocese restructured all the churches into independent entities.  For a while we didn't even have a priest assigned to us. 

Finally the Bishop decided to combine us with two other "local" churches and assign one priest to all three.  So our parish priest travels over 100 miles every Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist with three different communities.  Not to mention a "daily" Mass once a week, confessions, weddings, baptisms, etc., in each community.

So when a late winter storm struck last week and dropped a foot of snow on us, the middle church, on an early Saturday morning, we knew Father had alot more snow up at his higher altitude.  Snow continued off and on all day, with intermittent thawing, enough to wet the roads for ice overnight.  Sunday morning, the roads were closed due to multiple accidents and there was no route open for him to get to us to say Mass.  Inevitably, that Sunday the church was packed.  There is no deacon in our community, and without dispensation from the Bishop, we could not have a communion service.  We did, however, sing and have the Liturgy of the Word.  We then made a spiritual communion before leaving.

Afterwards, we had a food sale in the hall, and one generous patron made a large donation so that any who could not afford to buy could still eat.  It almost felt like what the early church must have been like.  But it also felt suspiciously Protestant.  Without the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, I left with a longing and a hunger not satisfied.  I also missed the usual rituals.  I love the entire process of the Mass, from the processing in, the readings, the shared profession of faith, offering the gifts, consecration, Holy Communion, and final blessing.  When I was away from the Church, this is what I missed.  Since I have come back, I don't want to be without it.  To receive Jesus, fully, into my body and soul; to have His grace well up inside me and overflow all around me, this I long for.  This I desire most of all.  I continue to pursue it and can never get enough.  I am weak and human, and utterly fallable.  I need His strength to attempt to live fully.

In our area we get this reminder several times a year when Father is sick, or the weather prevents him from coming to say Mass.  How fortunate and grateful we are that we do have a priest to come and say Mass on Sunday, even one extra day a week.  With the shortage of vocations and a culture that despises celibacy, we may someday soon have to drive a great distance to get to Mass.  What a tragedy indeed, if the odd Sunday was the one that we did have Mass.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cultural Diversity

Several recent events have given me cause to be grateful for our cultural diversity here in the United States.

Once again, St. Patrick's day came and went, this year, with more meaning to me.  I had watched the movie  "St. Patrick, The Irish Legend" and subsequently did a little further research on this beloved saint.  I'm not so much on corned beef and cabbage, but my Irish heritage has a bit more meaning when I contemplate the sacrificial love with which Patrick won over the Irish people, and stayed with them to continue to lead them to Jesus.

I read "Hopi Summer" by Carolyn O'Bagy Davis for book club.  The story is about a Massachusetts family who toured the U.S. one year in the late 1920's, spending a lengthy time on the Hopi mesas in Arizona.  (The book was the Arizona One Book winner for 2011).  They struck up a friendship with several Hopi families which lasted their lifetimes, and left behind a wealth of photographs and correspondence which serves to chronicle that moment in American history. 

I attended a Presentation celebration for a young Mexican friend.  At the age of 3 or 4, a Mexican child is "presented" to Jesus and Our Blessed Mother at a special Mass, followed by feasting, etc.  The Mass was very simple, the child dressed like a princess, knowing it was her special day, and taking all the ceremony and blessing very seriously.

I watched "The Singing Revolution", a documentary about the non-violent Estonian revolution and their ultimate break from Communist oppression in the late 1990's.  Through their persistent preservation of their culture of singing, the Estonians eventually won worldwide support in their cause to liberate themselves from the USSR.

In the past, groups of immigrants would form their own close communities and preserve their language, culture and tradition.  Not so much any more.  Oh, we can still find tiny pockets of Polish, Amish, Native American and others.  But mostly we really have to search them out.  There is so much beauty in each different cultural tradition. Yes, we have our Sacramental celebrations, but the Mexican Presentation and Quincenera are beautiful additional reminders to continue to dedicate our lives to the Lord.  The Polish blessing of the food  before the Easter Vigil, reminds us that all we have comes from God, and Jesus lived and died that we might have it more fully.  Shrove Tuesday (before it became a corrupted form of Mardi Gras) is the day before the start of Lent, when English-speaking immigrants would feast on foods rich with fats, sugars and eggs, before giving them up for Lent.  The Swedes celebrate the feast of St. Lucia in December, with a teenage girl portraying the saint, adorned with a crown of candles and dressed in white; the candles symbolizing the fire that would not consume the saint when she was condemned to be burned.  If you've had a chance to celebrate Passover, just as Jesus and the Apostles did, maybe you've experienced the mystical connection between the Jewish and Christian celebrations.

Americans are as guilty as any other country of trying to eradicate the customs and traditions of our many different citizens. A great deal of the Native American culture has been lost through earlier governmental intervention, much of which was done in the name of Christianity. Somehow, I don't think Christ would approve.

This Lent, instead of or in addition to giving up some thing, maybe we can try to give up some attitude that prevents us from being more Christ-like.  I promise, once you get started, there is no end.  We are forever slipping back into negative thought patterns.  But as we confess our weakness and firmly resolve to try again, little by little we become more the children God created us to be.  And like little children, we can accept and celebrate our wonderful cultural diversity.

Friday, March 4, 2011

St. Katherine Marie Drexel, American Saint

And now for some GOOD NEWS...what is better than an inspiring American Roman Catholic from currently tormented Philadelphia?  And a modern saint to boot?

source - freebase

March 3rd gives us the feast of St. Katherine Drexel. It couldn't be more timely this year. With the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in an uproar over more old clergy sex abuse cases coming to light, now would be a good time to remind ourselves of the good that comes out of the Catholic Church.

Katherine Drexel was born in Philadelphia in 1858 to wealthy parents. Following their example, young Katherine used her fortune to help the poor and suffering.. After touring the western U.S., she began establishing mission schools for Native Americans. Later she became a missionary and founded the "Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament", an order of religious sisters to help the poor and needy. She financed over 60 missions and schools for Native Americans and Blacks and also founded the first United States university for blacks in Louisiana.

She is the second American born saint. Katherine died on March 3, 1955 and is buried near Philadelphia, PA.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Homekeeper's Journal 3/1/11

This week the Homekeeper’s Journal is about Spring Time Changes.

In My Kitchen This Week … spinach salad with red onions, pork roast and baked potatoes, ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery (a treat!).  Eating more meals outside in the nice weather.

Changes I Make To My Home In Spring … repotting the houseplants, cleaning out the corners, washing and putting away the extra blankets.

Changes In My Schedule … feeding the animals earlier, before the people; staying in the workshop later; having more homeschool lessons outdoors.

Changes In My Yard/Homestead … putting in a gate to get into the chicken yard; replacing gate to goat pen; mixing up the compost pile.
What I Look Forward to This Spring … sunshine and warm days; opening the windows; lighter layers of clothing.

Spring Brings with It … pollen and sinus activity; new grass for the critters; bugs.

A Sure Sign Of Spring … juniper berries popping and making noses run and eyes itch; ruffly, lacy Easter dresses; pansies at the nursery.

A Favorite Spring Activity … taking a morning walk; dozing in the lawn chair; putting a line in the water at the lake and claiming that I'm fishing.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Homekeeper's Journal - 2/23/11

Here's something new I found, thought I'd try it, hope you enjoy it;) If you would like to participate, go to


“Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey” (Matt. 21:5; cf. Zech. 9:9)

Gentleness is one of the Fruit of the Spirit. We’re commanded to be gentle with others. In the Bible the word Meekness means Gentleness. Most women don’t have too hard a time being gentle or meek. The problem women sometimes have with gentleness is in thinking that gentleness equals weakness.

In my kitchen this week ….. spaghetti with meat sauce, lentil chili and cornbread, pizza bread...

On my mind this week … my mom has leukemia, my grandson is wonderful, my goat is giving fresh milk.

Gentleness is one of the Fruit of the Spirit so as a Christian ….. I want to strive to temper my words to family with gentle understanding. Especially when they are being rude and inconsiderate, and I am feeling tired and vulnerable.

When the Bible says that Moses was the meekest of all men (Numbers 12:3), it reminds me that …. great leaders lead by example, not by force, or threats, or complaining.

The gentle person has died to self, so when I am gentle in situations that cause others to be angry and violent (Proverbs 16:32; 25:28) …..I can be grateful to be sowing peace, and contributing to the solution, not the problem.

Knowing that gentleness is not cowardice or lack of conviction (1 Peter 22-23), I am encouraged to …. beg my Lord for help in staying gentle when it is difficult to do so.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Life Is Worth Living « The Gospel in the Digital Age

Well, the boys shook hands and moved on, without leaving Fulton Sheen's cause for sainthood in limbo. Time to let them out of their corners. See original post on November 10, 2010.  Then go to Archbishop Timothy Dolan's blog and read the joyful news, the Diocese of Peoria (New York) has resumed the cause for Archbishop Sheen.

Life Is Worth Living « The Gospel in the Digital Age

Monday, February 7, 2011

Confession For Spiritual Direction

I have an ongoing debate with a friend about Confession.  It goes something like this:  "I'm going to confession, you wanna come with?" (strength in numbers).  "I don't need to go." "Huh?" "I haven't committed any sins." "Hah! What about...?" "No mortal sins!  I just confess my venial sins straight to God." etc.

I can kinda see her point.  For the most part we committed our mortal sins in our "wasted" youth.  I'm sure some priests would agree with the late Fulton Sheen that hearing our confessions now would be "like being stoned to death with popcorn".  I guess it takes a special kind of priest to sit through the confessions of people whose sins don't involve tragedy, chaos and breaking all 10 Commandments. 

People who are looking for a deeper relationship with God. 

People who want more help and direction in imitating Jesus and correcting their character defects. 

I've been lucky since I returned to the church.  I haven't yet been laughed out of the confessional.  Even when I haven't prepared very well, I can think of at least one thing that plagues me and that can be enough.  Resentment.  Impatience.  Entertaining distractions during Mass or personal prayer.  Foul language.  The list goes on.  There is always something to wrestle with.  Even if I just bring up one issue, whatever priest I am confessing to, whether he knows me or not, has been able to address that fault and suggest the steps to take to correct it.

I trust  in the seal of the confessional.  That my anxieties and failings aren't going to be gossipped about.  I trust that most priests have been trained to give appropriate guidance and spiritual direction.  I also know that they are imperfect men.  But in the Sacrament of Penance, as at Mass, they are an open channel to Jesus Christ.  To bestow grace and forgiveness.  Forgiveness we sometimes refuse to give ourselves.  In the confessional, the Holy Spirit should influence any advice the priest imparts.  It should always lead one to a closer walk with Jesus.  One of my resolutions was to go to Confession more often this year.  I've already started.  Won't you come along with me?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shepherd of the Church

Bishop Thomas Olmstead, of Phoenix, Arizona, has come under alot of fire in the seven years he has been here.  The latest is an uproar over his revocation of St. Joseph's Hospital's Catholic status.  Yet, what else could he do but stand up for and insist upon Catholic moral principles at a Catholic hospital.  Catholic Healthcare West, the administrators of the hospital, purport to subscribe to the "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services", set forth in its fourth edition, by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2001, which plainly states in Part Four, directive number 45, that " never permitted".  In this case, the abortion was performed on a pregnant woman with pulmonary hypertension.  Doctors predicted that she had a "100% chance" of dying of this complication of pregnancy before the baby was born.  We all know how accurate doctors "predictions" can be.  I don't intend to debate that particular issue. 

My intention is to uphold and thank Bishop Olmstead for being a true Shepherd of the Catholic Church in an era of political correctness and lukewarm Catholicism.  For saying the rosary out in front of abortion clinics every week in all kinds of weather.  For making the Sacramental Marriage Preparation process harder, instead of making the annulment process easier.  For speaking and writing to politicians who want to be identified as Catholic, and telling them that they need to embody and protect Catholic morality if they want to do so.   We need this kind of example from our leaders, religious as well as secular.

Of course, the bishop has done some things that I disagree with.  But those deal more with administrative issues. As Paige Byrne Shortal mentions in her excellent column in this month's Ligourian Magazine, "The Word in Our World", Catholic "bishops and pastors are cast into roles of corporate CEOs rather than enlightened gurus".  And this is much of what inspired me to start this blog.  My deep, abiding love of the Catholic faith, and Catholic tradition, versus my abhorrence for administrative nonsense.