Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were simply marvelous, magical, and pregnant with the love of the Newborn King. In my church, it is STILL Christmas proper for a number of days. So while the past few days have been charged with the electric excitement of the coming of Emmanuel, with the love and joy and gifts of goodwill, love, and appreciation of those close to me - now I can relax and bask quietly in the glow of this holy Christmastide. It is quiet in Bethlehem as the Babe lays sleeping on Mary's breast. And so it is quiet in my heart and soul as well.
Because I can't get a flu shot, and because with CFS I have a compromised immune system, I haven't been out among people for a couple or so weeks now. It is nice to NOT have the flu or a cold or any of that rotten kind of stuff. This comes at the cost of not getting to go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, but I was able to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. I am so blessed that my dad brings me the Eucharist six days out of every week. God is so very, very good to me!
While my dad was at Midnight Mass, I baked Gingersnaps for someone whose mother died a week before Christmas. After that, I got a yen for some Christmas Stollen like my Italian Nani used to make, so I got out the cookbook and did it the easy way - mixed the very rich dough in the bread machine. Several hours of Christmas music (Gregorian Chant, some of it - so lovely!) and a messy kitchen later, by 4:30 Christmas morning, I had produced three magnificent and beautiful Christmas Stollen like my Nani used to make. Later, when my dad got up for breakfast, he pronounced these stollen to be even more delicious and delectable than those made at his father's bakery when he was growing up. That is quite a compliment, because the family bakery was quite famous for being an excellent one. The secret to my stollen? Nani used to put pure almond extract in both the dough AND the icing.
I received many lovely and thoughtful gifts. But the greatest gift is that the Father gave me Jesus.
For the first time, we had standing rib roast for Christmas Day dinner. It's the first one I ever made by myself. I wanted so badly for it to be a success that I prayed! And it turned out absolutely PERFECT! There must have been angels watching this roast in the oven. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed prime rib so supremely. I think we have a new tradition on our hands. We had the leftovers for dinner tonight (St. Stephen's Day). It was just as excellent this evening as it was yesterday.
The kitties were absolutely angelic over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Then today about Noon, Kiki T. McFierceson decided that was enough of that, picked himself up off of the very comfy sofa (I call our new sofa The World's Most Expensive Glorified Cat Bed™ because the kittens spend more time on it than anyone else, and thus they think it their exclusive property ), walked casually over to the Christmas tree, and then promptly began to CLIMB THE CHRISTMAS TREE. There were a few tense minutes, and much hollering, wheedling, pleading, and then more hollering emanated from my mouth. The Cat decided to continue in his Dire Deed... until I got out the kitchen broom and started screaming at him like Hallmark's Screaming Banshee®.
When he gets his hearing back, I think he will think twice before he climbs the Christmas tree again.
Today has been peaceful and joyful, but I am really suffering from intense fibromyalgia. All the PT exercises in the world can't help on a day like today. There is nothing to do but to grin and bear it, and to offer it up to Jesus in union with His suffering on the Cross. I am trying to make the best of it.
Seeing as how the pain made me keep to my bed most of the day, I was at least fortunate to have two very warm and fuzzy footwarmers (the kittens) keep me company as I read Charles Dickens' The Holly-Tree (I heartily recommend that book, especially the title story). For those of you who are going to be paying off Christmas debts for awhile and don't want to buy books, I'm sure you can find this book at your local library. If you're not good at returning library materials in a timely fashion, I'm sure you can find it as a free ebook for Microsoft Reader or as an etext at Project Gutenberg. *Note: Project Gutenberg now also has MP3 audio files of books being read aloud. There are also computer-read books for the blind there. I'll look up the link shortly and post it when I edit this entry. (And for all I know, some kind Dickens' aficionado has recorded it as a podcast available for free download through the iTunes store).
I am now officially on vacation from the library until flu season is over. I can put books and CDs on hold through the online services of the Marshfield Public Library for my dad to pick up, but I can't do that with videos and DVD's. So, my dad kindly treated me to a nice big Netflix subscription for this month. By Wednesday or Thursday, I should be enjoying Mork and Mindy, Season One, Disc One, and Therese, the movie about St. Therese of Lisieux who is my favorite saint.
Well, that's enough out of me for now. Who knows but what I might be up in the middle of the night on a Green Acres "high" and feel the need to blog some more.
Thank you for reading. Each of you have been in my prayers.
Merry Christmas! Christ is born for us!!!!!!!!
PS: If you don't want to Google the links for Microsoft Reader and Project Gutenberg on your own, the Xanga version of this blog entry will take you directly to both places upon clicking on the magic green and gold letters. :)
By Charles Dickens
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Tuesday Night's Xanga Post
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Prayer for the Advent Wreath
Lord, our God, we praise You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, for He is Emmanuel, the Hope of all people.
He is the Wisdom that teaches and guides us.
He is the Savior of us all.
let your blessing come upon us as we light two (purple) candles and the third (pink) of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ’s promise of salvation.
May He come quickly and not delay.
We ask this in His holy name. Amen.
"(The desert) will bloom with abundant flowers and rejoice with joyful song." "Rejoice in the Lord always!" "Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!"
The Scriptures for the Third Sunday of Advent proclaim their message in no uncertain terms: Rejoice! Joy is all around us and our celebration of Advent calls us to discover it. The joy that the Scripture passages speak about is not a joy that equates with hilarious laughter. It is a joy that comes from a security with our God, those around us, and our place in the world. It is the joy Isaiah describes when he writes, "I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul." It is a joy that cannot be bought or obtained from artificial highs. It is a joy that comes from our living faith in a living God.
It is the joy we feel as we approach the birth of our Savior and remember the awesome beauty of what happened on that cold Bethlehem night.
© Sacred Heart League
On Friday, I finished making the last of the goodies for my Momsie in Florida.
As I finished making the rum balls, I gobbled down a couple of them as a celebratory measure, then braced myself for the packing ordeal that lay ahead.
I have to note that as the bubble wrap, shipping peanuts, packing tape, and brown kraft package paper were flying around the room, so too was my kitten Maggie McGee. She LOVES to help pack! But yesterday, I was oblivious to her antics. I had a glow on from those couple of rum balls (it doesn't take much to do that for me!) and mostly I was just so glad that life was going to become somewhat more sane again soon after getting the infernal and nefarious cookies packed and shipped.
Today, 24 and a half pounds of cookies, pumpkin bread, and gifts got shipped FedEx 3 Day Ground delivery. They wouldn't promise us the three days, but the shipping place said Thursday, December 21st was The Big Day.
And now I am going to watch a movie!
PS: If you're shipping - be sure to find out what size boxes are "kosher" with FedEx. My package to my mom would have cost nearly half what we paid today had I shipped in the appropriate sized box!
Edit: Xanga's fine spell check suggests that I change "FedEx" to "Vodka". Methinks the spell check has been attending too many office Christmas parties....
It's a Wonderful Life
By James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers, Beulah Bondi, Frank Faylen, Ward Bond, Gloria Grahame, H.B. Warner, Frank Albertson, Todd Karns, Samuel S. Hinds, Mary Treen, Virginia Patton, Charles Williams, Sarah Edwards, William Edmunds, Lillian Randolph, Argentina Brunetti
What joy this brings me, Lord. Thank you for guiding me into the kitchen for some time of silence with you. The room fills with wonderful smells and I share tastes and samples with my family as they make extra trips through the kitchen on days like this. Thank you for each and every one of these special people in my family. They are like the ingredients of my own life, adding spice and heat and wonderful flavor and melding together into a unique dish designed to glorify you.
You know, God, cooking is quite a bit like my life. It's messy, I get careless and sometimes things don't turn out as I had planned. But in the mess of my life, that's where I can turn to you. Help me when I have to deal with being so imperfect. Bless me with humility when I grapple with my own poverty. Let me feel how deeply you love me, even when all I have to offer is scorched and humble.
Be with me Lord, in this kitchen today. Help me to take the time in this intimate silence with you, to pray for each person who will eat this food. Allow me to remember all of those around the world who have so little food, and bless those who share what little they have.
Appropriate mention, right in front of the other
fellow, of superior qualities or of a
job or deeds well done.
The Gift of Consideration
Putting yourself in the other's shoes and
thus providing your genuine understanding
of his side of the case.
The Gift of Concession
Humbly saying at just the right point,
"I am sorry, you are right and I am wrong."
The Gift of Gratitude
Never forgetting to say "Thank You"
and never failing to mean it.
The Gift of Attention
When the other fellow speaks, listen attentively.
If his words are directed to you
personally, meet his eye squarely.
The Gift of Inspiration
Plant seeds of courage and action
in the other person's heart.
The Gift of Personal Presence
In sickness, in trouble, or in great joy,
there is nothing quite equal to your
personal expression of sympathy or
congratulations. Resolve to give these gifts
each day. You will be pleasantly surprised
at what you will receive in return.
Friday, December 15, 2006
I have had an incredibly stressful day... week... month, and life ::sarcasm:: and then I came across this
Hallmark Screaming Banshee Holiday card which totally made me howl with wild laughter. I have been watching it over and over and over again. What can I say? It beats going to a $400 an hour shrink!
Enjoy! And pass it along!
I am going to have to write a fan letter to the Hallmark creator of the Screaming Banshee cards! Ain't it great to know that we're not alone in our holiday preparation madness and stress?!
For stress relief, I have prescribed for myself some Intensive Winnie the Pooh Therapy. I have literally been sitting in bed with my youngest cat (Maggie McGee) reading about the "Expotition to the North Pole". I don't just mean sitting in bed propped up with fluffy pillows and a fuzzy blanket with my youngest cat at my feet. No! I have been holding my poor cat on my lap while I read Pooh to her and let her sniff the pictures.
I hope that Happy Dale Rest Home will have a room ready for me by New Year's Eve...
The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh/WTP
By A. A. Milne
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Well... just to show ya how very abundantly God answers prayer, tonight, at 1:12 in the a.m. these two little bandits organized themselves and gave me some exercise.
I went down to the basement to do some last minute chores before planning to curl up in bed to read some Charles Dickens Christmas stories.
Two little tiger/tabby people came downstairs with me.
Then they hid themselves amongst the Christmas decoration boxes and empty moving boxes.
I was going to bring the recycling bins upstairs and just leave the light on and door open for the kitties for awhile until they decided to come upstairs of their own volition.
But then... I remembered there was a big stash of Christmas cookies that they could easily destroy and/or get sick on, should they choose to dabble in more mischief.
Not just any Christmas cookies, but ICED Christmas cookies. Frosted Gingersnaps. Iced Nutmeg Logs.
Not only could little sandpaper tongues ruin a lot of hard work (I realize I've been complaining this year, but I really am NOT enjoying baking because I started late and am running behind and am stressed trying to get the goodies ready to go to Florida)...
... I digress. Not only could two little sandpaper tongues ruin the cookies, they could also make my diabetic cat Kiki Thomas McFierceson very, very sick.
So I energetically went about attempting to shoo two stubborn, mischievous, spoiled, much too doted on kitties up the stairs.
Ha! They laughed at me! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! HA!!!
They had their strategy ready and I had fallen into their trap!
First, I chased Kiki Thomas, as he is a bit slower than Maglet (but he's still faster than greased lightning when he wants to be). Kiki is usually more willing to go upstairs when I want him to than Maggie the Mischief. Ha! He fooled me tonight! He led me around in circles, racing through the basement past the washer and dryer, through a door, past the Air-Dyne, through a pile of half-empty Christmas decoration boxes (precariously stacked... KABOOM!), around the furnace, and past the washer and dryer once again. Finally I used my Mean Cat Mom tone of voice and called him a cuss word. He hissed at me, tucked his tail down, and went scuttling up the stairs at breakneck speed.
Meanwhile, picture Maglet with an expression on her normally sweet and innocent looking face which is the equivalent of Cat Rolling on the Floor Laughing Out Loud. The only thing I can think to compare with it is when Snoopy of Peanuts fame is laughing. I could have sworn I heard Maggie laugh out loud!
Once Kiki was up stairs and I was half worn out from chasing him, the REAL FUN began.
In other words, Maggie and I played Ring Around the Furnace.
I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that Maggie is faster than the speed of light. I was so busy dodging empty moving boxes on one side of the furnace that I couldn't keep count of how many trips we made around the furnace, but finally I gave up and decided to head up the stairs and let Maggie the Marauder stay downstairs for the night with all the lights on and the door open. I had a headache and I was going to vegetate and relax before bed, come "H" or high water.
Maggie finally came upstairs (looking very innocent, of course), pranced into my bedroom, and parked her naughty little self on the foot of my bed where she is now snoring peacefully and sonorously. Kiki Thomas is cuddled up on the sofa looking like nothing happened. He looks simply angelic, paws over nose, also snoring peacefully and sonorously.
You see, last week when the kitties were so very, very ill, I prayed and asked Jesus to touch them, heal them, AND TO MAKE THEM EVEN BETTER/HEALTHIER THAN THEY HAD EVER BEEN BEFORE.
The two little dickens will probably wake me up at 5 a.m. for breakfast!
Look out what you ask Jesus for. You might just get it... abundantly, to boot!
Monday, December 11, 2006
Today is the day when the Patience Posse will be in my kitchen in full force - testing and taunting me while I attempt to gracefully and carefully bake cut out cookies. Ha! I laugh! Cut Out Cookies are IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO DO NEATLY - because my mom insists on having them thin and crispy, while my dad insists on having them thick and soft. I go especially out of my mind trying to do the thin ones. They invariably end up MANGLED.
Today is the day the nice men in their nice white coats will come to take me away to the Home for the Permanently Patience Impaired - specifically to the Cut Out Cookie Challenged ward.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Today is the Second Sunday of Advent! Time to put cookie baking aside and to spend a little extra time in prayer and reflection.
I was given some of my Christmas gifts early this year, and one of them is a SanDisk Sansa MP3 player which OfficeMax had on sale dirt cheap in October. I love it because I can listen to all sorts of podcasts - everything from MP3 files from EWTN (the Global Catholic Network) to Old Time Radio Comedies, such as Jack Benny, Burns & Allen, Fibber McGee & Molly, Our Miss Brooks, The Great Gildersleeve, and Abbott & Costello. I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoy those old radio shows from "The Golden Age of Radio". They were clean, and let me tell ya, they were a zillion times funnier than a lot of the junk that's on TV these days.
I also feel so connected to my grandparents when I listen to these old time radio programs, most of which were recorded during WWII. Man, times have sure changed. Some of my grandparents' brothers and sisters are still alive and I try to keep in touch with them, but over the past few years, more and more of them have been going Home to their reward in Jesus. I feel like the world is not as nice a place any longer because of our loss of them. I believe Bing Crosby had a hit song back in the 1940's or 50's called something like "I Love Those Dear Hearts and Gentle People (Who Live in My Hometown)". That's what my grandparents'/their siblings generation are: Dear Hearts and Gentle People. Yes, they can get feisty like the rest of us, but that particular generation has a special fingerprint of grace and gentleness and goodness upon it.
Well, I'm going to listen to Cardinal Rigali's Advent Reflection for today, and then watch some EWTN live television on the Internet. I am blessed to have a well working broadband connection. Lately I've been missing cable TV, but as I only used to watch a very few channels, it isn't worth the money. Though I think we are considering getting Charter's "basic" package so that we can get our local stations in more clearly. I wish the basic package had EWTN in it instead of WGN, much as I would like to watch the Cubs baseball games in the summertime...
I plan on going to the library this afternoon, Lord willing. My DVDs aren't due until Tuesday, but there are things waiting for me that I'd put on hold some time ago. Anyway, I need some more DVDs to tide me over for the next couple of weeks. I am really hoping that last year's Disney The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe movie will be available today. I might just have to sneak over to the children's section of the library and grab that copy. I also need The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
Speaking of movies, this past week I watched two Miss Marple movies, starring Margaret Rutherford. These are old movies dating back to the late 1950's or so, and made for MGM in England. They are in black and white. I have heard that Agatha Christie, the author of the Miss Marple mysteries considered these the best adaptations of Miss Marple to film. Personally, I like the more recent versions starring Joan Hickson. But Margaret Rutherford expanded my view of Miss Marple! I especially recommend the two movies Murder at the Gallop and Murder Ahoy - especially Murder Ahoy. Lionel Jeffries portraying the captain in Murder Ahoy was simply hilarious!
Also, last night I finished listening to the BBC Radio production of Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers. I have listened to that at least 3 times in the past three years, and I enjoy and love it more every time. I will have to make a note of checking out the BBC website to see if they have MP3s of any of their old literary/comedy shows.
Okay, time for coffee!
I had tried to post a praise report last night, but my computer ate it. Hmmmph!
Anyway, both of my kitties are fatter and sassier than ever before! Praised be Jesus Christ - now and forevermore!!
Thank you from my heart to those of you who prayed even a two second prayer for my kitties and me!
We had been to the point of hydrating Kiki Thomas McFierceson with an eye dropper and also spoon feeding (and when necessary, force feeding) him Gerber baby food (turkey - blek! That stuff smells terrible in food form, and smells even worse in the litter box! Hee hee!).
Anyway, the kittens are full of mischief - moreso than ever before. They seem better than new! I am so very grateful to God for sparing their little lives. I really thought we were going to lose them. I feel very, very blessed!
Here is a picture of Kiki Thomas from last December. I need to take a day off from cookie baking today and then get the camera out to take some pictures of my dad and the kitties, even if the house is a blooming mess! My housecleaning does not get done while I bake cookies. This house is a pig pen right now! Eek! It is making me crazy! Dust and books and CDs and cook books and cat hair and unmade beds all over the place! My grandmothers are probably rolling in their graves!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
While I really like Santa Claus, I am more interested in the real St. Nicholas, who was a servant of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. I have a great devotion to the real St. Nicholas because of his holiness, kindness, and generosity, which are reflections of those particular attributes of our dear Lord.
I wish each of you a happy and holy St. Nicholas Day. Suggested family friendly movie watching for a St. Nicholas sighting is to watch Hans Brinker (or the Silver Skates), based on the Mary Mapes Dodge book. I LOVE that Disney movie!
Actually, it's not the baking itself that wigs me out. It's all the cleaning up! And then the packing the cookie boxes up carefully with about three bajillion dollars worth of bubble wrap! And then the getting the big (as in typically 15 - 17 pounds each Christmas) box labeled and securely taped before we manage to get it to the shipping place (yes, the shipping place where I invariably make contact with the most lethal flu germs of the ENTIRE winter!) on the most dangerous driving day of December (what can I say?! Snowy days make me want to go out and do things! ). Did I mention that I belong in the Home for the Permanently Shipping Impaired? That I am Postally Challenged? That some malevolent being has cursed me with the dreaded "May your shipping tape always shred and be impossible to use especially when you are in the biggest and most stressed hurry" curse?!
Yikes. I am sounding rather Grinchly. I wish I could have started baking cookies a month ago, but I was so ill and exhausted until a few days ago. But that would have been an exercise in futility (to bake cookies that soon), because a Certain Parent whom I live with, though I love him dearly, is a Cookie Monster. Meaning, he cannot leave cookies alone. Which is a nice compliment, because his father and grandfather before him owned a couple of excellent bakeries decades ago, and I keep on hearing flattering words that my cookies are even better than the family bakery's cookies. But then again, Cookie Monsters are known to butter people up in order to supply their Cookie Habit (ha! get it?! Butter! Butter goes into cookies! Hee hee. I am delirious from eating frosted Gingersnaps!).
Anyway, it's a good thing I got the Christmas tree up the first week of November because I sure wouldn't have time to do it now, and I'm enjoying it. It's been decorated for a month already. Here is a test picture I took using my new tripod which was an early Christmas present from my Dad the Cookie Monster.
Mostly, we try to not light it much during Advent and try to save enjoying it until the liturgically proper Christmas season (Christmas through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord). I will likely keep the tree up until just before Ash Wednesday.
Will catch up with Christy, Jen, Mike, Rene', and others after I recover from running a Cat Hospital.
(Picture coming later; Blogger is being a stinker and not letting me upload images for the past fifteen minutes. This is why I prefer Xanga and am glad to pay for Xanga Premium).
It has been a heck of a few days, with sick kitties. Maglet is mostly better now but still not 100%. Kiki is older and this cat tummy flu is taking more of a toll on him, thus it is taking longer for him to win the war against it. He was beginning to dehydrate last night and so I began administering water to him via an eye dropper. He is such a patient boy, even if he was feeling a bit feisty this a.m. He's displaying some more "personality" today, and that is a wonderful sign. However, his tummy is still obviously bothering him, so I've been spoon feeding him Gerber's baby food - the turkey, which he simply adores. He must have eaten at least 12 to 14 spoonsful at two different sittings.
Kiki is a diabetic cat, so with him not eating much, I couldn't give him much insulin. Last night, however, he came into the kitchen as if to "ask" for his insulin injection. He did seem to feel better after having 1.5 units of Humulin, and then came in my room with me for some pampering and purring time while I had my bedtime prayer time.
I don't want to see the devil around every corner, but I also don't want to make the error of pooh-poohing the idea that the enemy retaliates against God's children. This whole weekend/early week simply smacks of Satan. We have a lot of spiritual activity going on around here - intercessory prayer for the radical healing, deliverance, and most of all - CONVERSIONS of people to Jesus and the Gospel, for one thing. Also,on the same block that I live on are some very hard core occult people, who strangely enough, used to live next door to us once upon a time on the other side of town. Now mind you, I am not saying that Satan is equal in power to Jesus - not by far! But as Fr. John Corapi says, the devil is a Terrorist with a capital "T". I have a few ideas what I am doing in appropriate response to God's grace to make the devil mad, so I am just going to stick to my guns and keep on doing what God has told me to do.
To God be the glory!
Anyway, Maglet is back to being a bouncy little Tigger, plus eating like a piglet. It does my heart good to see her getting back to her normal, playful, rambunctious self. And Kiki really IS getting better. We just need to keep on praying for the dear fellow. He seems to do better after sleeping, which is how I know it goes for me when I have the stomach flu. But if he isn't tip top by Wednesday noon, it's off to the vet we go!
Here are a few pictures from the "sick ward" the other night. They are dimly lit because I didn't want to subject the kittens to bright lamps or the flash.
I do love my babies! Long life to the kitty cats!
Sunday, December 03, 2006
I have two sick kitties on my hands this weekend. I know it's bad because neither of them want to eat. Even the Universal Magic Kitty Attention Getter Word ("TREAT!") doesn't evoke much of a response out of them. That's pretty bad. What's worse is that the Super Secret Kitty Attention Getting Weapon (CORNED BEEF) isn't tempting them that much either.
So, while Jen has had her hands full with the Chicken Pox at her house, I am having my own small version of watching my "babies" feel miserable in the kitty sick ward. They don't seem to have fevers or upper respiratory infections. This seems parasitic. I pray we don't have a vet visit in the making because it is frigidly cold out there. Which is all the more reason to worry about my kids because cold weather like this usually turns them into ravenous eaters.
Anyway, time to get them in their little cozy, warm, safe places for bedtime. I am thinking they will get the bed and I will sleep in the bedroom Lazy Boy.
I get so sad and anxious when my little friends get so sick. Jesus, bless the little kitties!
The pictures are my two lovies from days when they felt better.
I am having trouble keeping my wits about me enough to blog properly tonight, but here is the link to a couple of great prayers for today http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/Advent/index.htm
We light a candle today, a small dim light against a world that often seems forbidding and dark. But we light it because we are a people of hope, a people whose faith is marked by an expectation that we should always be ready for the coming of the Master. The joy and anticipation of this season is captured beautifully in the antiphons of hope from the monastic liturgies:
See! The ruler of the earth shall come, the Lord who will take from us the heavy burden of our exile
The Lord will come soon, will not delay.
The Lord will make the darkest places bright.
We must capture that urgency today in the small flame of our candle. We light the candle because we know that the coming of Christ is tied to our building of the kingdom. Lighting the flame, feeding the hungry, comforting the sick, reconciling the divided, praying for the repentant, greeting the lonely and forgotten – doing all these works hastens His coming.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I am in one of those seasons right now, and I am *feeling* hard-hearted - darned hard-hearted! Shame on me, whom God has forgiven so much!
Please pray for me that God will grant me an abundance of grace to forgive from my heart everyone whom I need to forgive, especially those He is dealing with me about at this present time.
I realize that forgiving others is not a "one time only" thing. Some of these dear folks, I've had to make repeated acts of my will to forgive over the years, but every now and then the struggle is harder to put up against residual bitterness and resentment. This current season is an important hurdle for me to get over (by the grace of God) at this stage of my spiritual journey. I am finding it hard.
Thank you for even a brief prayer.
I am thankful that God is kind all of the time, and that His kindness is not limited by things like a poor night of sleep, migraine headaches, PMS (!!!), the weather, or any of the things that make me more prone to being unkind.
I am thankful that God loves me and you all of the time – not just if, when, or because we are doing “good” things or having a good day.
But especially, I am thankful that God does not have PMS. Because if He did, He would wipe out the entire universe in one fell swoop like I feel like doing this week. :) ::tongue in cheek::
While I have to watch out for the Eggnog Weight Gaining Devils, I did just snack on a bowl of creamy Edy's premium Vanilla Bean ice cream TOPPED WITH NUTMEG. It was delightful. :: burp::
Now off with me to Google a Nutmeg Cookie recipe or two, or to make up my own.
Monday, November 27, 2006
For those of us who've outgrown Monty Python's Flying Circus and who prefer something ... cleaner yet even funnier... I highly recommend that we check some Wodehouse books and videos out from our local libraries. *Note: Columbia House DVD Club does carry some of the DVDs of Wodehouse Playhouse. I am hoping that Santa will bring me Season Two for Christmas, as the local library doesn't have it. Then again, seeing as how I am avoiding going inside the library this flu season, I will probably be Netflixing again come New Year's Day... so, I guess I will just Netflix the series.
2006 has been the year of my going deeper, deeper, and deeper into my lifelong love of almost all things British. It has truly been a year of major Anglophilia Fever for me. I enjoy British books, movies, television, and other things so much that I fear that I would be sorely disappointed in the real thing, if you know what I mean is. I always heard when I was growing up how polite the British were. Now I hear they are incredibly rude! I don't know who to believe! I surmise that the Britain I love lives only in my imagination. Oh well. At least it lives there. And who knows but what I might be a pessimist and a cynic, and someday might be delightfully surprised that Britain is even better than I'd thought.
In any event, the Britain I love will be there in Heaven. That's one of the things I enjoy thinking about. Even when things we enjoy on this earth disappoint us while we are in our “earth suits”, the true, good, lovely, beautiful, joyful, marvelous, wonderful things that are the true essence of what we love will be fully present in Heaven. The good that we enjoy and love is only a dim reflection of God's wonder, and in Heaven it shall be fully revealed for us to enjoy for all of Eternity, with our Daddy Father.
This year, I felt Grammy's absence more than ever before. I was filled with remembrances of all the many things she did to make Thanksgiving such a special family time: sumptuous feasts, family traditions, and my favorite donuts for breakfast every morning of the weekend. Most of all – her dear smile, which she beamed on each of us no matter how weary she was nor how sore her aching feet. God rest the soul of Grammy. I still miss her.
This year, the “crud” hit me a month earlier than usual, and with a vengeance. I was not exactly possessed of an exceedingly thankful spirit this past week, being so sick and tired and achy. I made little acts of my will to thank God for His blessings on my life – and even for permitting some of the trials (I am not enough of a saint to thank Him for permitting all of the trials!), and I rest in the assurance that my sacrifice of thanksgiving might be more precious to Him than if I were all full of warm fuzzy feelings.
Let's keep this in mind, my dear friends in Christ, that when times are difficult, our feeble little prayers to our Abba – our Heavenly Daddy – are the most precious to Him and increase in worth. He sees and knows and understands our trials and struggles and pains and fears and sorrows ever so much better than we ourselves do, and like a good parent of a toddler, He cheers us on as we take each step, with indulgent affection and Fatherly pride. When we are crippled, limping, or lame, He cheers us on and rejoices in our little baby love offerings all the more, and He scoops us up in His great, strong arms and carries us.
As someone I know used to say, “He knows.”
Thank You, dear Abba, that You know.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Been cleaning up some stuff on my computer before heading to bed to read something, and have been listening to an 80's music station on Launchcast Plus (aside from the frustrations associated with Yahoo/Verizon, I find the extras worth it). Been listening to Jangle Rock, New Wave, and Power Pop - especially to The Romantics and Tommy Tutone. Time travel treat again - back to when I was in my mid teens to early twenties.
Well, time to do a virus scan and hit the hay. Happy Sunday. I hope and pray all y'all will have a blessed Lord's Day.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Next month on December 14th, it will mark my 26th "anniversary" of having CFIDS and fibromyalgia. I had just barely turned 16 when I got leveled with a monstertruck case of mononucleosis (which, for the record, I did have a lot of fun getting. Little did I know that it would rob me of having fun for many years to come!). One night I was a rambunctious, fun-loving, life-of-the-party teenager. The next morning I woke up sicker than hell, and I haven't been the same since. Some days I don't remember who I used to be B.C.F.S. (Before CFS). I feel like I *am* this awful illness. But dammit all, I am not going to let it win in the end!
The Center for Disease Control is FINALLY coming out with a large publicity campaign this fall and winter aimed at educating the public and the medical profession that CFIDS is NOT a psychiatric illness, that there are ten to twenty genetic aberrations in people with CFS/CFIDS, that we are NOT "malingerers", and also that our suffering is comparable to that of AIDS, COPD, renal failure, and a few other very not fun diseases.
I've waited nearly twenty six years to be vindicated by the medical community, and it feels GRAND. It takes a load off. And allow me to say to my fellow fibro/CFS sufferers: Hang in there, kiddies! The research is getting HOT and CURES will be coming our way before we can whip the covers off of our Celebrex bottles!
Anyway, to my praying friends, when you think of me, please offer one of those two second golden arrow prayers that I will stick to my physical therapy exercises, even though it is likely to be a two steps forward/one step back dealie. I am NOT going to let this foolish illness win! Take that! En garde! (she says as she whips her Theraband at the fibro devils!)
Now, off with me to brush my toofies. Good night, John Boy.
Tonight was the first time I made it all the way through the movie, and with the sound on as well. (I'm an aural person; it's the sound of whips and the cat of nine tails from the scourging that got to me the worst - it's even harder for me than seeing the blood).
Instead of focusing on the nice, warm-fuzzy things we Americans tend to feel and express gratitude for at Thanksgiving each year (and I'm certainly not pooh-poohing that!), may I humbly and gently suggest to anyone who's reading this that we each spend some time during/near Thanksgiving focusing on meditating on what Jesus did for each of us personally by suffering and dying for us - maybe even watch the movie. Because when it's all said and done, it's the most important, precious, wonderful gift possible. Taking time to contemplate what Jesus suffered for me and for you is a way of putting life in perspective, and also of enhancing our regular Thanksgiving practices.
Thank You, Jesus for laying your life down for me...
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Here is a Picasa web album of some basket photos I took back in August of this year. Let's see if Blogger will cooperate with the HTML. :)
Enjoy, my fellow Basketeers! :)
In just over a month, it will be four years since I acquired Kiki Thomas McFierceson, a large (neutered) male tabby cat from a friend who left for the seminary.
I love this cat. He is a dear, velvety teddy bear cuddler, and he has a very droll sense of humor. He also can always be counted on to know when I am sad, and comes running to sit by me with concerned looks at the first sounds of weeping from me. He is also an extreme Mama's Boy. I can't even go downstairs to the basement to do laundry without him following me down, looking very worried that I am leaving the house (in his mind, any door means that I am "leaving" him). He cries piteously when I go outside. This cat loves me, not only because I provide food for him, but because he thinks I give better back and tummy rubs than anyone else in the universe. Not to mention, he is smart enough to know that I will let him hog my bed at night if he's cold.
HOWEVER, recent weeks have found Kiki starting a new "behavior". Namely, if he poops in the bathroom litter box in the middle of the night, he seems to feel compelled to notify the entire household (especially ME!) of the fact that he has stunk up the joint. And Murphy's Law dictates that the more desperate I am for sleep, or especially the sweeter the dream I am dreaming and the less I want to be awakened, the more likely it is that Kiki Thomas McFierceson will yowl a smugly proud cat aria outside my door. (Imagine Pavarotti as a 23 pound tenor tomcat, singing "I have stunk up the place! And I'm darned proud of myself! Cannot you smell my stink?! It is so marvelous!!" to the tune of "Dona Immobile" (spelling), the famous aria from the opera Rigoletto.
Obviously, this cat cannot stand the smell of his own poop!
While I would rather keep the litter boxes free of... debris than I would change baby diapers, still it's a challenge sometimes! To you moms and dads out there, keep in mind that babies are only in diapers for a limited number of years. Cats, however, ALWAYS need someone to clean their litterboxes at least a couple of times daily.
And now that I'm done venting about The Cat Who Woke Me Up, I will try to go back to sleep.
At least I don't have to take a dog outside in the rain.
... let go of discouragement. I mean, actively let it go. Don't just make a feeble mental note that you will try to not give into discouragement. I mean, drop discouraging thoughts like they are hot potatoes, and back off from gloom like it is a bomb. Run. Flee! Do not take the poison of discouragement into your mind and soul and heart and spirit... and body. That's what discouragement is: POISON. It not only makes us unhappy in and of itself, it also causes us to sin by weakening our trust in God's complete and utter goodness, by tempting us to doubt that He will bring about plans for our good. Poison! Poison! Poison! Don't take it! It's literally suicide to give into discouraging thoughts.
Now is the time to...
... let go of self-imposed false guilt/wrongfully high expectations of ourselves. I mean actively let it go! Drop it! Drop it! Drop it! It's another time bomb from the enemy. Stop punishing yourself for all the things you think you're screwing up on/not measuring up to. Have you talked to God about what HE thinks of you, instead of listening to the devil's internal podcasts? Do you realize that NO ONE has anything - talents, gifts, etc. to give anyone unless God gives those talents and gifts, and do you realize that God's love doesn't depend on whether you have all those talents and gifts? Do you realize that even if you were comatose and unable to "do things", God would still love you - in fact, He would love you all the more tenderly because you were little and helpless and in need of His love? Do you realize that maybe God isn't calling you to do the gazillion and twelve things that you think you should be doing to serve Him/others and which you stress out over? Do you realize that God is not a hard taskmaster? That He delights in simplicity and childlikeness? That His love is not based on the Achievement-Meter?
I pray for all of us today that we will generously, appropriately, immediately respond to God's grace to accept His free gift of love. That we may bask in His total acceptance of us despite our sins. That we may realize and embrace more and more and MORE how much He loves us for who we are - His children. And that, as it says in the Old Testament, He holds us up to His cheek as a beloved infant.
Be gone, Satan, you hard taskmaster who lies and tells us we're never good enough for God or others. You are a liar. Get out of here.
Come, Holy Spirit of Truth, and reveal to each of us individually that You and the Father and Jesus see EVERYTHING we do - every tiny, even feeble movement towards obeying and loving You, and that Abba, like the true loving Daddy that He is - DELIGHTS in us, in our little baby steps toward holiness. That He delights in who we are. That He sees and understands and knows how hard it is sometimes to do His will, but that He recognizes that what seems like a tiny step toward holiness is really a giant step.
Abba, let us feel you holding us up to Your cheek like a beloved infant. Love on us, Lord. Help us to soak in Your love so much that there won't be a snowball's chance in Hades of our giving into discouragement.
Jesus, we know that "faith without works is about as useless as a screendoor on a submarine" (to quote Rich Mullins), but help us to remember that our works are a response to You loving us first.
(preaching to myself here, gang!)
Brother's Keeper Radio Special 1995 Copyright ?
Found at: http://kidbrothers.net/words/interviews/brothers-keeper-radio-special-oct95.html
Transcript by Mike H. Barlowe
*Please Support Dave and Robin Mullins and the Kid Brothers of St. Frank with your prayers and to see how else your support can be vital go to the website at www.kidbrothers.org
*Please support the Legacy! Also, enjoy radio with a spiritual bent and Rich Mullins exclusives at http://legacyministry.org/
I have to say that I like the Cape Light series even better than Jan Karon's Mitford series (though Ms. Karon writes with a bit more humor and wit). One of the main things I like about Cape Light is that it shows that real Christians still have real problems - none of that prosperity gospel baloney that seeps into some Christian literature falsely leading readers to believe that once the main characters pray The Sinner's Prayer, all will be suddenly be magically rosy and smooth sailing.
In the Thomas Kinkade/Katherine Spencer books, it shows the characters working through problems with God's help. Granted, it's definitely not Pulitzer Prize winning literature, but it's a good read.
Still waiting for my fellow Catholics to get off of their lazy literary behinds to start writing some decent fiction like in the days of G.K. Chesterton and J.R.R. Tolkien. There is a wealth of Catholic spirituality which could be shared with the world in a non-smarmy, non-threatening, non-boring way which would help all of us - Catholics AND non-Catholics, live better lives... and enjoy a good read while we're at it. Would that some of the writers at Catholic Exchange would dabble in a bit of fiction instead of "just" theology and politics. Can I get a witness?! LOL
If I could ever cure myself of run on sentences, I would attempt a book of my own.
Well, enough of me for tonight. Time to watch a movie. Haven't been doing much of that lately.
Isn't that the way it goes with most of us? We suffer temptations to do evil in a myriad of ways due to the suffering and testing we undergo, and then somehow, we begin to get angry at God for allowing the tests - no - we succumb to the enemy's lies that God is "out to get us" - and then we get very, very angry at Him. Which is just what the enemy wants - for us to get angry at God. And then the icing on the devil's cake is to get us to believe that God is angry at us, which only serves to make us angrier and more rebellious toward Him.
But God is not angry at me just because I have fallen into the trap of being angry at Him. He sees me as a sick and feeble little lamb who's gotten her fleece dirty and full of thorns and brambles and possibly (probably) some manure. What's more, with infinite patience, He tenderly picks the thorns and brambles out of my fleece, all the while with sweet love in His eyes, and He sings songs of deliverance over me. He loves me because He loves me. He loves me because I am His.
He is my Good Shepherd, and He comes to rescue me from the mucky pool of anger at Him. He is not angry at me. He sees things in the situation that I do not perceive or understand. Even if friends and family "judge" me for sporting an attitude against God, He knows more about the situation than all of us put together. And He has compassion. This doesn't mean that He brooks any nonsense from me - He does call me to repent - but He does so with gentleness, compassion, and mercy.
A kind word from God to encourage me that He sees and understands and knows and cares what I am going through goes a lot further toward getting me to cease sinning by my anger at Him than a multitude of people telling me to quit my bitching. It works a lot better for me than a spiritual spanking or a hard smack upside the head.
Abba, help me to remember that You love me even at my worst. Perhaps ESPECIALLY when I am at my worst. Help me to see through Satan's lies and to not entertain the thought of giving into them for even an instant.
You are great,
You are good,
You are all I need.
Listen, I've got a ton of stuff. I'm not wealthy by American standards, but in comparison to a lot of people, I have a lot of toys and clothes and knick knacks and goodies. And the stoopid thing is, I am finding myself forever trying to accumulate MORE things.
Kiddo *I say to myself* she who dies with the most toys certainly does not win. In fact, she who "lives" with the most toys is not necessarily really living.
I am making a resolution to concentrate on making God my happiness and joy, and then after that, focus on truly and deeply enjoying some of my goodies. Like my digital camera and my books and CDs.
It's no wonder this world is so ADD. I'm not saying that there isn't such a real, genuine physiological condition as ADD/ADHD, but I am thinking that most of us non-diagnosed-but-running-around-like-chickens-with-our-heads-cut-ff people would prolly feel a lot better if we simplified.
I'm probably the last person in the world to go Franciscan, but I am going to make an effort to not commit idolatry any longer by worshiping at the altar of materialism and consumerism. Please pray for me about that. I enjoy my toys and my goodies - and you know what - I think GOD enjoys that I enjoy my toys and my goodies - so long as I put HIM first and so long as I'm not attached to those things.
This will be my Advent penance - to renounce going on Retail Therapy sprees. I don't have that much money, but I do engage in Retail Therapy. Shame on me. I've got so much good stuff at home, I really don't NEED anything more. Why do I so often get greedy and think I need/want MORE STUFF?!!? More stuff means more responsibility, more having to take care of, etc. Yikes.
Okay, enough of me. I am PMSed and I need a cup of coffee, and I need to engage in some couch time with Jesus, and then to have some fun baking bread today before I get out the Christmas tree. *Makes note to greedy little self that we do NOT need any more new ornaments this year!*
For the record, I'm not preaching at any of you. I am preaching at myself. I am posting these thoughts in a protected post, knowing that I can count on my friends to pray for me even just a two second prayer that I will take seriously my (early) Advent resolution to not be greedy and covetous. Because man, in Ephesians, St. Paul lumps fornicators and coveters into the same sentence as being people who will not go to Heaven. Scary.