Thursday, November 16, 2006

Baskets Revisited!

Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens, begorrah! :) Feeling ill from the stomach flu (blek!) today, I felt the need to look at some photos of a few of my favorite things: baskets!

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! :)

!!! That Darned Cat !!!

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.

Now Is the Time...

Now is the time to...

... 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!)

Rich Mullins on Being Wounded by Love

RM: Anyone who's ever been in love's been wounded by it. My thing is, if you're going to be wounded by something, it might as well be by love. (both laugh) And if you are too scared of being wounded to love anybody, then you're worse than wounded. You're dead. And so, this is sort of a blessing you're giving to someone who's far away from you, someone you want to be with, and you say to them "Hey, there's gonna be some hurt in life. It's either gonna be inflicted on you by someone you love, or it's gonna be inflicted on you by yourself. I hope it comes to you through someone you love." The real tragedy in life would not to be wounded by love, but it would be to have never loved because you were so afraid of being wounded. The real tragedy in life would have been to have missed life because you were afraid of dying.

Brother's Keeper Radio Special 1995 Copyright ?

Found at:

Transcript by Mike H. Barlowe

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Thomas Kinkade

I'm on a Thomas Kinkade trip lately. Checked out a book of his paintings from the library recently, and just finished a couple of his novels from the Cape Light series.

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.

Just Because...

... just because I am angry at God right now (it's been an intensely difficult week plus some days with little relief) does NOT mean that God is angry at me.

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.

Worshiping at the Altar of Consumerism/Materialism, or rather, Trying Not To

It's the first of the month and I've got a little money to spend again. Why do I automatically go into full throttle GREED and COVETOUSNESS mode on the first of the month?! I get restless and agitated and go into Shopping Mode. I waste time at eBay and other online stores window-shopping. It's a waste of time!

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.

Holiness Is...

Holiness is...
Holiness consists simply in doing God's will, and being just what God wants us to be.

~St. Therese of Lisieux