Saturday, December 31, 2016

On The Cusp of a New Year.

This is truly a blank page.
It's 10:00, on New Year's Eve and there is a whole new brand-spanking-clean year ahead of us.
2016 was a good year, we put a few things behind us, moved forward in others.
There was education on all fronts, new jobs, expanding horizons, and love and laughter with family and friends.
Tomorrow will be another beginning.
The coming year will see a completely new and different Presidential administration. I am hopefully optimistic.
It will be a college year for two of my students. John and Brendan. Paul hopes to start at the college soon himself. Probably not next fall, but soon.
The need to pay college tuition brings me to a new horizon in my career. I still love my work for Sappari, but I am going to need to supplement that income.
There are opportunities on the horizon, and they are definitely answers to prayer. God has been putting people in my life and ideas in my mind, and I can see Him working in all of this.
The key is going to be keeping an open heart and following His lead.

God Bless this year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Breathing Space

A very wise person recently advised me that I may be a little too concerned with what I should do, based on my perception of what other people think. She suggested that I spend the rest of Advent letting go of thoughts about people's expectations and instead spend time in prayer and reflection about the One who gave me life and what He desires for me. The areas that seem to keep me running in circles are:

*Family responsibilities coming from my side of the family which I can really do nothing about, but which, when I think about how to approach and try to deal with them, make my head spin. I know that I am one of the people that needs to do something, but as far as I can see there are no real solutions. I don't see how I can just abandon the situation, but then again, I have no idea what to do about it. 

*A sense that I am not reaching the right people in my work. I love the company that I work for. I have been involved in the organizing industry for years now, and it seems so right for me. I love working with people and helping them solve their problems. I just don't think that the populations that I would be best at working with are aligned with the cost of the service that we are providing in this company. Not that it's wrong to seek a more affluent type of client, but the clients that I really want to serve are families, preferably large homeschooling ones, and the elderly as they transition from the family home to smaller spaces. I really just want to offer services by the job, or the hour, and work directly for the client, to cut costs for them. I am just not sure how to approach this in my current work situation. 

*The need to make money to supplement our income for the boy's education which leads me to needing to make money somehow, and wanting to do what I love! I really don't get any work through the company right now. I need to find the place that I am needed and can be the most effective. 

*Trying to stay in good graces with friends in our circle, as my own views on what is acceptable are changing. I am really not so sure that rigid black and white thinking has been healthy.

My wise friend told me to open these questions up in writing and to try to find some answers. 
This blog will be the space to do that. 
I am going to try not to dwell, but to pose questions to myself.

The first question is....

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Little Pot, A Brave New World

Sometimes revolutions sneak up on you.
You'd think that something as life-changing as a revolution would announce itself, like Donald Trump at the White House, but sometimes these things creep in on little mouse feet.

Take the Instant Pot revolution for instance.

I was only slightly aware of this way of cooking because a friend gave me an electric pressure cooker a while back, and I found out that it was pretty great for rice or potatoes. So I used it a few times, if only just to prove my culinary mettle, and that I had enough courage to stay in the same room with the spitting, puffing devil. My mom had put the fear of all things pressure cooking into us when we were kids.
 "Don't even come into the kitchen! These things can blow up and kill people! It's happened!"
I'm not sure how she knew that it had happened, because it never happened to anyone we knew and the internet was years away. Urban legends had to be handed down personally back then.

Sometime around September, some of my Facebook friends started posting questions about this new wonder; the Instant Pot.
"What is this dark magic?", I wondered.
It was one of those times when I felt like I had come late to the party and everyone there had already met the guest of honor and was on a first-name basis. One of my friends asked a question, and the replies came pouring in, and I had to google to know what was going on. So...the Instant Pot. I was intrigued. Mostly pressure cooker, partly steamer and fry pan, with a few special features that nobody needs. I already have all of those things, so I figured this was an expensive flash-in-the-pan, so to speak, and put it out of my mind. And it was expensive, very, still it kept coming up in conversations all over social media.

October arrived bringing the season of beef stew and soups, and my attention was pulled back to the great idea of something that could allow me to have the attention span of my Golden Retriever, because I never have anything thawed by 4:30, and yet enable me to get a wonderful home cooked meal on the table by 5:30.  I started paying attention. It seems everyone was paying attention. All of a sudden Amazon was putting Instant Pots everywhere I went online. A few people I know already had them, and it seemed like they were very happy. Well, anyway, I couldn't see paying 89.99 for something that was really a want, but not a need. I joined the Instant Pot community on Facebook. It couldn't hurt to watch the videos and read the recipes. It wasn't like I was actually going to become one of THEM.

Then Black Friday happened, and the revolution knocked on my door.
$59.99 on Amazon.
One per customer.
Join us, and live in a brand new Instant Pot world.

 I asked Tim. I began to repeat all the propaganda that I had been reading. I told him about saving money, electricity, saving the environment, cheesecake. I had him at cheesecake. So I clicked. It went into my cart and as I went to checkout I thought about how I could still go back. I could stop now and no one would ever know. I looked at the picture, I read the reviews, again, and I took that final step.
As soon as I did I knew that I had made the right decision.

 I wanted to share this with someone. I thought of Laura and how good this would be for her. All those kids eating wholesome food, cooked in minutes, saving the environment. So I tried to buy another one. One per customer the site said. How could we get around that? Another account? Have someone else buy it? This price wouldn't last and they would all be gone!! I looked around the internet wildly. There, on the Walmart page, I found them, at the same price. I ordered quickly and was able to purchase one for her. Nina had already told me that she didn't want one, but these things happen in families. Often times a family has to deal with the fact that one of their loved ones refuses to embrace the way of the future.

That evening I looked once more at the email from Amazon saying that my order was processing. I went over to the Instant Pot community page, and while it wasn't actually in my possession yet, I was able to announce that I had taken that crucial step and I now belonged.
When it shipped, I counted myself among the lucky ones who had a pot on the way, because several people were informed that their shipments had been delayed. I grieved with them.

When it arrived, there was no question that it was to be given prime real estate in the pantry. Other small appliances have been moved, like Woody to the toybox. I got it out, did the "water test" which everyone says is mandatory, and decided to take my first step up the learning curve with hardboiled eggs, which I was assured would be so much more perfect than anything ever boiled in a pan on the stove. They'd better be. They were pretty awesome. But they certainly aren't cheesecake.

I have now thrown myself wholeheartedly into the movement. I am learning how to use the different features, I know all about high pressure and low pressure and the timing functions. I have made a couple of amazing meals and I am well on the way to being fully integrated.
I think I may be saving electricity, I will be saving money as soon as I purchase that springform pan and a couple of accessories, and the environment is probably fine.
What's important is cheescake.

Join the revolution. You know you want to.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Lessons Learned

I guess if you have a blog you kind of have to blog about the things that happen in life that shake you.
We had one of those this past Friday, and I am still trying to process what happened and put it into the proper perspective.

The day started out great. We had been at dress rehearsal late on Thursday night for Paul's play, "Lost In Yonkers" and so Henry spent the night.

It was a beautiful day so the boys walked to co-op and I drove all the stuff down, and then when it was time to go home, the boys had a couple of friends, Will and Frank, and Henry again, that were going to come home with us and attend the play later. Since the weather was still really nice, they all decided to walk home. I took the car and came home ahead of them.

It usually takes about twenty minutes to walk from the Boys and Girls Club, so I started watching for them when I figured they should be showing up. I looked up the road and I saw them walking down the hill and into the driveway, and a small blue car pulled up and stopped at the end of the driveway. A young woman got out, yelling at the boys and came up the driveway. She was really upset, and I couldn't understand what she was saying, so I went outside to see what the problem was.

She was telling them off, and John was trying to explain while also fending off her accusations. She wasn't making any sense, and so I told everyone to just be quiet so that I could try to understand what was happening. She said that they had called her a name and that it was a racial slur. I was shocked because one thing I know about these boys is that none of them has a racist bone in his body.
She said that they had called her Anime.
I was trying to process that and asked John to explain. He said that Paul had been goofing around and had been asking the people in their cars as they drove by "Do you like anime?" I only have ever heard the word anime associated with the Japanese art form that is frequently found in graphic novels. I have never heard of any word even close to that being used as a racial slur, and I told the woman that.  I told her what anime is and that I couldn't understand how it could be offensive. I also said that maybe where she comes from it has a different meaning but how could we know that? John was trying to explain what had happened and she was just getting more and more upset.
I sent the other boys inside and John stayed out in front with me to try to help get to an understanding but it was like we were speaking a different language than she was and she just couldn't calm down.
I told her that I was sorry for her misunderstanding, but that was what it was, a misunderstanding.
She stomped back to her car. We came in the house and locked the door because she had sounded threatening as she left.
I asked John for the rest of the story after we got inside. He said that after Paul had called out to her car she had turned it around and come back up the road and yelled "Who the F*^# is anime?"
John told her what they had actually said,  she went off and started cursing, using extremely foul language and calling them names.
They tried to just keep walking, but she kept her car next to them and just kept spewing her anger.
At one point she got out of the car. John told her to go away and stop harassing them or he was going to call the police.

After we went in the house, John told me the rest of the things that she had said and how threatened they had felt. He went downstairs and immediately started writing up the story, and we had all the boys read it and sign it.
John then called the police and they told him that the woman had called and they were talking to her and would come up to our house after.
When the officer got here, we went out and introduced ourselves and John gave him the written account.
The officer said that she was visibly shaken and that she said that they had also said something about Donald Trump. The boys said nothing of the sort, and I am still stunned by that.
The officer also said that she had to file the report for work, as she was on the job when the incident occurred. I guess she figured that we were going to call the police and that she had better file her report or lose her job.

The whole thing was really unsettling and disturbing and something that I had never expected in our little town. Sure, Paul was being silly and acting like a kid, but he had been saying that to all the cars as they drove by.

John's question to me later was "Why are they so mean?"

The anger and bitterness was the thing that was the most distressing.
So much hatred that she didn't even want an explanation, she just wanted to believe that the boys were a bunch of racists and that she had been the victim.
I don't see the boys as victims, but I do wish that they hadn't had to experience that kind of anger aimed at them just because someone needs a target.

This has been a lesson to all of us. I don't feel sorry for her. I don't feel like the boys owe anyone an apology. We tried to give an explanation, and if she had stopped for a minute, she would have seen that it made sense. What I feel is still being processed. I am praying that this was a one time unfortunate incident, and I am praying that this woman can see that wallowing in bitterness only makes the bitter person unhappier.

Lessos Learned

I guess if you have a blog you kind of have to blog about the things that happen in life that shake you.
We had one of those this past Friday, and I am still trying to process what happened and put it into the proper perspective.

The day started out great. We had been at dress rehearsal late on Thursday night for Paul's play, "Lost In Yonkers" and so Henry spent the night.

It was a beautiful day so the boys walked to co-op and I drove all the stuff down, and then when it was time to go home, the boys had a couple of friends, Will and Frank, and Henry again, that were going to come home with us and attend the play later. Since the weather was still really nice, they all decided to walk home. I took the car and came home ahead of them.

It usually takes about twenty minutes to walk from the Boys and Girls Club, so I started watching for them when I figured they should be showing up. I looked up the road and I saw them walking down the hill and into the driveway, and a small blue car pulled up and stopped at the end of the driveway. A young woman got out, yelling at the boys and came up the driveway. She was really upset, and I couldn't understand what she was saying, so I went outside to see what the problem was.

She was telling them off, and John was trying to explain while also fending off her accusations. She wasn't making any sense, and so I told everyone to just be quiet so that I could try to understand what was happening. She said that they had called her a name and that it was a racial slur. I was shocked because one thing I know about these boys is that none of them has a racist bone in his body.
She said that they had called her Anime.
I was trying to process that and asked John to explain. He said that Paul had been goofing around and had been asking the people in their cars as they drove by "Do you like anime?" I only have ever heard the word anime associated with the Japanese art form that is frequently found in graphic novels. I have never heard of any word even close to that being used as a racial slur, and I told the woman that.  I told her what anime is and that I couldn't understand how it could be offensive. I also said that maybe where she comes from it has a different meaning but how could we know that? John was trying to explain what had happened and she was just getting more and more upset.
I sent the other boys inside and John stayed out in front with me to try to help get to an understanding but it was like we were speaking a different language than she was and she just couldn't calm down.
I told her that I was sorry for her misunderstanding, but that was what it was, a misunderstanding.
She stomped back to her car. We came in the house and locked the door because she had sounded threatening as she left.
I asked John for the rest of the story after we got inside. He said that after Paul had called out to her car she had turned it around and come back up the road and yelled "Who the F*^# is anime?"
John told her what they had actually said,  she went off and started cursing, using extremely foul language and calling them names.
They tried to just keep walking, but she kept her car next to them and just kept spewing her anger.
At one point she got out of the car. John told her to go away and stop harassing them or he was going to call the police.

After we went in the house, John told me the rest of the things that she had said and how threatened they had felt. He went downstairs and immediately started writing up the story, and we had all the boys read it and sign it.
John then called the police and they told him that the woman had called and they were talking to her and would come up to our house after.
When the officer got here, we went out and introduced ourselves and John gave him the written account.
The officer said that she was visibly shaken and that she said that they had also said something about Donald Trump. The boys said nothing of the sort, and I am still stunned by that.
The officer also said that she had to file the report for work, as she was on the job when the incident occurred. I guess she figured that we were going to call the police and that she had better file her report or lose her job.

The whole thing was really unsettling and disturbing and something that I had never expected in our little town. Sure, Paul was being silly and acting like a kid, but he had been saying that to all the cars as they drove by.

John's question to me later was "Why are they so mean?"

The anger and bitterness was the thing that was the most distressing.
So much hatred that she didn't even want an explanation, she just wanted to believe that the boys were a bunch of racists and that she had been the victim.
I don't see the boys as victims, but I do wish that they hadn't had to experience that kind of anger aimed at them just because someone needs a target.

This has been a lesson to all of us. I don't feel sorry for her. I don't feel like the boys owe anyone an apology. We tried to give an explanation, and if she had stopped for a minute, she would have seen that it made sense. What I feel is still being processed. I am praying that this was a one time unfortunate incident, and I am praying that this woman can see that wallowing in bitterness only makes the bitter person unhappier.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Amazing Grace



Today I am so thankful that God is a Merciful Father that loves us wherever we are. We are all prodigals. If we were "good", like the older son in the parable, we would not be able to appreciate the incredible love that our Father has for us. In His mercy, he longs for us when we leave Him and he still loves and protects us, even as we wander and squander His gifts. As we find our way back, He meets us with joy, not waiting for us to come up to the house, but running down the road and pulling us into an embrace.
He does this over and over.

The power of His Mercy, if we receive it with open hearts and allow it to work in us, begins to sculpt the rough edges and sharp corners of our hearts, as surely as an artist takes a rough stone and cuts and shapes it into something beautiful. We are changed by mercy. We become new every time we ask Him to forgive us and receive His sacramental grace. We are strengthened and lifted.

It isn't easy, and it isn't natural to see ourselves the way He sees us. Some of us are too prideful to go to Him, because it means letting go of our old way of life. Some of us are afraid of the changes that we will have to make and afraid that we will fall again (we will). Some of us feel like we are so unworthy that we can't even ask for forgiveness. Yes, we are all unworthy. There is nothing we can ever do to be good enough to be called children of God, and still He calls us. We will fall and fail, we will crawl back to the foot of the cross and beg for His forgiveness, and He will meet us and embrace us and rejoice with us every time.

We can separate ourselves from doing His will. We can refuse to live in the light. We can, through fear or stubbornness, refuse to turn back to Him. We cannot, however, keep him from loving us. He will love us and wait for us until we take our last breath.

He wants more than anything to be a part of every day and every moment. He wants to show us how beautiful life can be.

Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Happy Feast Day Papa!

Today is the feast of our dear St Pope John Paul II, or as I frequently refer to him, our dear Papa.
He is such a central figure in my life, and always has been, even when I don't recognize it.

The theme of Mercy has been resonating so constantly in my life lately, and this was something that our dear Papa taught us throughout his time with us. Being at the foot of the Cross in Confession this afternoon, and knowing that the flood of Christ's Grace and Mercy was right there for me in the Sacrament, I am strengthened and encouraged to go out and conquer those stumbling blocks. Get up again, and try to walk in the way of Christ.

The gift of Mercy should flow from Christ, through us, and to others. One of my frequent failings is in letting the Mercy stop with me. I have to learn to be Merciful. I know Jesus will help and I have the many writings of my dear Papa to go to for encouragement.

God never gives up on us. I am the least deserving, but I pray that He will keep working on the rough edges to make me a work of His loving hands.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Right Now

Right now I am supposed to be blogging for my job. I am supposed to be coming up with some content on Downsizing. I am supposed to inspire, and motivate and promote and inform. Right now I just don't have the mental discipline. Right now I want to take the dog for a walk and pray the Rosary. I think that would be much more inspiring, motivational and productive.
I just don't have any ideas and I am drawing a complete blank. If I were actually in the home of a client, and we were discussing an upcoming move that was going to require a serious attempt at downsizing, I would know just what to do. I would make lists and we would set goals and I would share resources. We would walk through the house and discuss the size of the new home and the amount of stuff in the old one. We would talk about what needs to be distributed to family, what to do with what they don't want, who to contact to sell valuable goods and how much stuff is just trash.
I would have ideas, because I would have to have ideas. I have no ideas because I have no one to look at and share them with. So, I think I am going to take the dog for a walk and say the Rosary. Maybe Mary has some ideas about downsizing. I know she had to move a few times. Maybe that's not what she will tell me at all, but it will be what I need, I know that.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Miracles and Mercy

Fr Henry said something the other day that really went to my heart. He said that when we are in the Confessional we are at the foot of the Cross and The Lord can pour His Mercy down on us. He loves that we come to Him in our sin so that He can give us the Grace of His Mercy. When we make going to Confession about us, it's a pride thing. It's a kind of vanity to think that our sins are so special that we should dread going to Him and His Love. When we make it about God and the Miracle of His Mercy, we run to the foot of the Cross, and we can't be there often enough. We are embraced by the God who made us.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Getting my House in Order



You'd think that a Professional Organizer would have this all together, right?
Well, the physical house, the rooms, the laundry and the floors are all in pretty good shape.
I have a set standard and a pretty good routine, and my follow through is great when it comes to my household. I don't like clutter, and I like to be able to find what I need when I need it.

The house that is in need of attention is the one on the inside.
There is little order there.
I am scattered and cluttered, and I don't put the gifts that I have been given to the best use.
I lose track, I misplace, and I procrastinate.
My interior house is rather a mess, but I have new hope that there is someone out there that can help even me.

I have been on a journey through the "33 Days to Merciful Love"   with St Therese of Lisieux, and, while I am still a mess, still a shambles, I have learned that, with her Little Way of hoping against hope, there is indeed still hope for me to become a saint. I have been running in circles for a lot of years, and I have filled up my interior house with a lot of junk. I think I may be a bit of a hoarder in that department. It is easy for me to simplify the physical spaces around me, but for me to simplify the interior spaces in my mind and heart is going to be a much bigger challenge.

I am not a person that embraces interior simplicity, in fact, I think that I have for a long time given far too much energy to the acquisition of knowledge, trying to become well educated, not wanting to appear, well, simple. St Therese has shown me that the way to Jesus is the inverse of the process of becoming recognized as "wise and intelligent" in the world.

Jesus Himself said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants." 

I have sought to be wise and intelligent, when I should have been seeking Jesus with the joyful hope of a child. 

Now, the process of undoing 52 years of mental and spiritual cluttering is going to be something like stepping into the home of a hoarder, whose attachment to the things that are piled on every surface and in every room, is pathologically driven. I need a spiritual guide that will help me to let go, little by little, of the useless and broken bits of detritus that inhabit the corners of my heart; those thoughts and dreams of being "something" that have kept me from making Jesus and his Merciful Love my everything. It is not going to be any easier. Hoarders frequently fall back into their bad habits, and if not attentive to therapy and psychological help, they end up right back where they were. It's especially challenging when the attempt to change flies in the face of everything that the world and my personality have told me I need.

The thing is, I can't waste any more time. My life is more than half over, and I have not been paying very good attention to the most important details. I need a way to hold myself accountable. I need reminders throughout the day, of the pitfalls of "collecting" recognition and trying to have the answers. I need to seek the childlike around me, and the joy in the most simple moments, and I really need to stay close to the Little Flower. She will be my Spiritual Organizer. She will help me root out the things that are impeding my progress. 

Thank You Jesus, for your Mercy and for giving us the precious jewel of the "Little Way".
I think I get it now. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Is There Life Here?

Wow. I think Facebook stole my blog.
I post snippets of this and that here and there, so I feel like I am kind of journaling, but there really isn't much writing to that.
I am thinking about trying to create a useful theme, to use this blog to share things that might benefit someone else.
I would really like to build a credible consulting business around organizing and homeschooling.
So maybe I will try to write a post a day to answer questions from real people about either homeschooling, organizing, or both.
It's worth a shot.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

There's no Place Like Home...

...too bad I don't get to be there much...

What. A. Day.

I don't know how anyone can drive for a living, but then again i drive pretty much constantly and I seldom get paid.

Today was an early one, with John heading off to work at 7:30, which means that we get going at 6:30. Not so bad if you didn't stay up late the night before.  I got Lilly ready for school and onto the bus, then it was time to get the boys going, and get laundry done, and get the stuff outside for donation, and get the dishes done.....

I headed out to Fr Henry's at noon, and it was a rather slow drive, so I didn't get there until 1:00.  When I got there we went down to the Bistro for lunch, so that was very nice. We went back up to his apartment and had a visit, also very nice, and then I had to get back on the road by 3:00. I had to get gas, get John dinner, and pick him up from work at 4:30, so he could eat and go to driver's ed at 5:00. Then I ran to the store for dinner stuff, ran home, cooked dinner, did the dishes, and ran back out to do a review for a homeschooling friend, which was also very nice, except for having to sit at the gate to APG for 15 minutes while they decided whether I was a serious threat, or just stupid for trying to get on post after the visitor's center is closed.
After the review I went to Wal-Mart so that the family would all die of hunger, because the only food we had in the house was stuff that had to be cooked. oh, the inconvenience.
I got home and put everything away, and now it's time for bed.
I am exhausted.
At least I should be able to stay home most of tomorrow. I hope.

On the bright side, we got news from the hospital already! The GI doctor called first thing this morning to let us know that Paul's scan showed that his stomach empties REALLY slowly. They are going to try a simple treatment with a common medication and see if that helps. Sure hope so!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hi Blog...

I've really got to get better about this. I have no excuse.
I have a new computer after all!
I am working a bit more now, but that should just add a bit more to the texture of life.

Getting back to work has been so wonderful! I have been working with so many wonderful ladies, I have been writing blog posts, which I really enjoy, I have been even giving a bit of thought to a book that I might start putting together. I guess everyone says that don't they?

I feel like I am starting to look at what life after homeschooling is going to be like, and I know that a job I enjoy, with a great company, is going to play a very large role.
I truly love homeschooling and I guess I was just born to be a teacher. Organizing has a very strong instructive element to it, and it feeds my love of communication.

I have been doing a LOT of driving, which makes all things home-based rather a challenge. There isn't a day that goes by that we don't have an appointment, job commitment, or outside activity that has to be attended. The poor van has a lot more miles than I would have thought, but I don't see a way around it.
Just today Paul and I had to drive to Wilmington for a test that he needed. He is still struggling with appetite and weight issues, and the doctors thought that it might be helpful to see how things go after he eats them. He wasn't allowed to eat anything after 7:30am and we got up there around 11:30. He was given a radioactive egg sandwich to eat, and they started taking pictures. It was a four hour test. A lot of sitting around. We won't know the results of the scan for a week or two, but if nothing else we will know what the problem is not.

John is very busy now.
He works full time at the Marriott Hotel at Ripkin Stadium, he is taking Driver Ed, and he has a new mini-bike.  He always has something going on, and a big project.
He is going to be 18 on Sunday!! My first adult boy.

Happy Birthday to Tim!!
My dear husband is a year older today!!
I am so happy that we are able to celebrate him.
Because of all the details of the day, we will celebrate this weekend. We'll go out to dinner, and I will give him his present!

Brendan is not having any medical tests, he doesn't have a job, and he is almost done with school. Life is good when you're Brendan. The job situation probably needs to change, but he should enjoy it while he can.

So on we go. I am going to REALLY try to post on here on a more regular basis.

Things are going well right now.
There's food on the table and a roof that doesn't leak.

God is good.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Movies as History-

Or What Really Happened at the Wannsee Conference.


This is the story of the original 12 Angry Men, the Nazi Regime's "best and brightest".
Of course, the Third Reich went far beyond anger and the incredible hubris that became the legacy of a nation for half a century is a most important part of the history.

The Wannsee Conference was a gathering of a dozen high ranking Nazi officials. Heads of departments and military branches. It was convened to decided what to do with the overwhelming number of Jews that had been rounded up and were being kept isolated in ghettos and camps. We are all familiar with the names of the men that led the party, or we should be, but one thing that never fails to amaze me is that, while so many of these men were narcissists and sociopaths,  as they rose to the top, they were able to cooperate and accomplish so much. The heads of the departments in the Nazi regime were a mixed bag of emotional and psychological cripples.

The movie "Conspiracy", attempts to recreate the meeting that developed the "final solution".
It is heavily cast with top actors from both Britain and the US and is a collaboration between the BBC and HBO. Most of the film is set in a gorgeous villa and the action, as in "12 Angry Men", is mainly dialogue that takes place around a table. The story is captivating from the very beginning and the men are portrayed as we have come to expect.

Heydrich is played by Kenneth Branaugh, and his delivery of the character's legendary ability to alternatively persuade and bully is excellent.
Stanley Tucci plays Adolph Eichmann, and he is a very convincing second to Heydrich.

How accurate is the movie version of this story though? We need to be careful not to use film, exclusively, to inform ourselves of historical events, and when we do supplement our understanding with a film, we need to read reviews and actual accounts to balance potential bias and agendas that may be held by the creators.
There is an excellent review of this film from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. You can read it HERE. The reviewer claims that the movie stays close to the documentation and testimony that was found after the War, and that any dramatic license taken is simply to help develop the characters beyond the limits of the conference itself, which helps us understand more of who they were and why they thought the way they did.
The story line is absolutely heinous and diabolical and even worse, as we now know, it's true. It's rated R for good reason, and it's not family-fare, but I would say important enough to show to high school history students.

We can't ever forget the evil that was done in that place at that time. We need to be sure that we don't let political or cultural mores bend the truth, or make it about something that it wasn't.
A film of this quality can be a good resource to look to.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The More Things Change....

The Christian in the World

Letter To Diognetus (160-200 A.D.)

Roman Breviary: Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs.

They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some

outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of

men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to

dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they

happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as

though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all

the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland,

wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they

do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but

they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they

are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law.

Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not

understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich

many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer

dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer

to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the

punishment of malefactors, but even then they rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life.

They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can

explain the reason for this hatred.

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to

the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so

Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As

the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their

religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any

injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures.

Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but

because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its member

despite the body's hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held

together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the

world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians

also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and

decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink,

so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christians lofty and divinely appointed

function'', from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

You're a Good Man Charlie Brown!

Brendan as Charlie Brown and Paul as Linus

Happy Watkins

The Cast

The Little Red-headed Girl



Lucy and Linus

Linus loving his blanket


Charlie Brown and Sally








Sunday, April 3, 2016

Amazing Love, Amazing Grace




So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."John 20: 21-23

We heard such a wonderful homily today on this Gospel. 

Father talked about the beautiful gift that Christ instituted when He appeared to the Apostles and it really touched me, especially on this very special feast of Divine Mercy, in the Year of Mercy.

It's hard to explain the amazing Grace of the Sacrament of Confession. When Jesus breathed on the Apostles, He wasn't just telling them to go out and share His message of Mercy. He wasn't simply telling them that now that He had come, people could ask for God's forgiveness and it would be granted.
He was instituting a special, visible sign for those He loves. He was sending the Apostles out with the ability to call down the Grace of the Holy Spirit, as He did, and to absolve people of their sins, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Sacraments are conduits of Grace, physical signs  granted to the faithful by Christ Himself. When we approach Our Lord in Confession, we pour out our penitence and He pours in so much more Grace than the measure of our sorrow. We are filled, touched and strengthened.
We don't just go to Confession to tell another person our sins and receive his blessing and counsel, we go to be touched by God Himself.

If we know we have hurt someone, and we want to show them how sorry we are, we usually try to get together, have a talk, ask forgiveness and maybe even give them a hug or a physical sign of our sincerity. Calling them on the phone or sending them an email might have to be enough if we are far away, or if we don't feel particularly close to them, but if it is someone we love and we are really sorry, we want to have a personal encounter. We want to touch them, and be touched back. The prodigal son went home. He didn't send a message saying he was sorry. He didn't say to himself, "He's my father, it's enough to be sorry. He'll forgive me." He went to his father, and he asked him to forgive him. His father hugged him, he looked at him with love, just as our Father looks at us when we ask Him for forgiveness in the Confessional. Of course He knows our heart, of course, He loves us, and of course it would be enough for Him if we just said we are sorry. But it's not enough for us. The Grace of the Sacrament is waiting there. There is the power and the joy of His presence. There is the touch from our Father that we are longing for.

I love going to Confession. There is a very tangible feeling of Joy in my heart after I have received. Yes, I have gone to Confession again and again, with the same sins on my heart and the firm resolution to amend my ways. There have been times when I was embarrassed to be confessing "that sin" again, but going regularly, and asking for the Grace to overcome it, I realize that somewhere along the line I have stopped falling in that way. I am not doing that anymore. Something else will undoubtedly rear it's ugly head, and I will battle it and by the Grace of God, I will conquer it. It's part of the universal battle that the Church Militant, here on earth, must fight everyday. I am so thankful that God gives me His armor, and His weapons against sin, in the Sacraments.

Some day we won't need the Sacraments because, having come home repentant, we will be taken in His arms, brought into the banquet and there will be great rejoicing because we were dead and are alive, we were lost, but are found.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Hello April!

Since my last post, "Hello March" featured snow, I thought I would share what April looks like at it's inception. The Weeping Cherry always blossoms before anything else in the yard and it is my symbol of "joyful Hope" that warmer weather and outdoor fun is right around the corner. The flowering Pear is getting taller and taller and is putting on a very nice show this year!




Sunday, March 6, 2016

Hello March

Wow.
March 3rd, and the lion certainly did show up!
Actually as cold as it's been, this snow was a gentle, beautiful gift on Friday morning.
It covered everything perfectly, and then was gone by afternoon.
Now we're just waiting on that lamb...




Sunday, February 28, 2016

Like The Father

This is the year of Mercy, declared by Pope Francis as a special year to embrace the Mercy of God, and express it as a gift to others.

God's Fatherhood is a mystery to all of us, but it must be inexplicable to those who have never had the selfless love of a father, and have yearned to fill that hole, however possible.
We are wired to be fathered and it's human fatherhood that gives us a tiny glimpse of what our Heavenly Father is to us. No one is perfect, but it falls to the dads to model the love, mercy and justice of God to their children. Without this earthly model, a child is left with only part of the picture of the goodness and greatness of Our Father in Heaven.

No wonder satan has an agenda against fatherhood. No wonder he seeks to tempt men away from the Sacrament of Matrimony that binds spouses to each other and provides the best place for the nurturing of children. No wonder he blinds men to the Grace and dignity of Marriage and the raising of children, and tempts them to selfishness and sexual sin. He knows that the family will defeat him, and that fathers are the most influential in building a deep and abiding faith in their children. Mom tells you to say your prayers, work hard, be mannerly and treat people well, but dad shows you. He is the one that the children watch to see if they really have to do all that mom says.

I am reading a book called "It Was Me All Along" by Andie Mitchell. It's the story of a girl who, when she was little, saw the devolution of her family, in large part because of her father's alcoholism, and how she came to use food to fill the deep need that she had for wholeness. She developed a relationship with food, in an effort to find the comfort of family. I am reading this and thinking about how many children must be going through this, and then this evening I came across this video, and it just broke my heart.


We're all the sum of the Father's love for us, but we are only children, that can only respond to what we are given. How it must break His heart to see His little ones led to despair because they have no one to hold them, teach them, and love them unconditionally.
We are called to be merciful as the Father is merciful, but someone has to show the children the Mercy of The Father.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bathroom Bliss!

Well, Merry Christmas to us.
Our upstairs bathroom redo is almost done thanks to Tim and the guys at Zancro!
Tim has worked so hard on a project that, as usual, has had to be done in an unorthodox way.
Older houses are a challenge!

Here is a picture essay of the project:

So it begins....

Before...


UGH

Zank's part of the project.

Tim's side...

Tiling by the experts.

Wiring and new fan

Toilet wrasselin'

Putting down the floor

Paint

Light fixture and fan

Out with the pink and gray

New sink


Closet overhaul

Shower


Mostly finished!

All that's left is a little more paint.

It's just so nice! This has been on the list for so long, and now it's done!!

Thanks so much to my sweet hubby!!