Monday, November 30, 2009

An Advent Reflection That Begins: When I was a NeoPagan...

...we felt the urge to create "traditions" to mark the "milestones" in our lives. There was a continual lament about how few rituals there were in modern life. Little did I know! As a practicing, believing Catholic, my daily life is so full of ritual, tradition, and milestone markers, I could complain of the exact opposite problem. My life is "too full" of such blessings!

I guess when you toss tradition to the four winds, losing tradition is a natural consequence. Silly me not to ever see something so obvious.

Meanwhile, my family and I are marking the beginning of a new Liturgical Year with the celebration of Advent. When Sunday rolled around and the kids woke to the first day of our family celebration, there seemed to be more than my five little ones running around singing "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" and saying "Advent's here! It's here!" Even our little foster daughter Sissy who has no memory of her first Advent with us, joined in with the cheers, mad dashing, and mayhem.

We dressed with special attention to "dressiness" to mark our First Sunday of Advent church going, and when the sun went down, we lit our first purple candle and read aloud the story of the Angel Gabriel visiting Mary. The children learned that the prayer, "Hail, Mary, full of Grace. The Lord is with you," is from her encounter with the angel. It was Gabriel's words to Mary that forms the first part of this Biblical prayer (Luke 1:26-38).

The children were wide-eyed in the candlelight as I retold the story of the angel's visit (using techniques of storytelling I learned in my journey as a NeoPagan). They were in awe as once again, they pondered the idea that God Himself made himself a tiny, helpless baby. More than once my 6-year-old's eyes wandered to his baby sister, as we talked about our most powerful and awesome God submitting Himself to the indignities of wet diapers, hunger, and even an itchy, runny nose, all to reconcile us to Himself. God thought that we were worth every bit of it.

And so we are. If He thinks it, it is so.

Our ritual is like this: The candle, the Bible story, then a prayer and an Advent hymn. We let each little one blow out the candle (which means relighting it four times). The ones who are able say a "Thank You" to God for something. This first night we had a thank you for candy, for love, and for candles.

And now it is my turn...

Thank You for family, for the Church and her traditions, and for the lifelong journey that has brought me home to her and to my God.

Happy Advent everyone!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thankfulness--A Mission to Africa

The third container has arrived and is on its way to Mvurwi, in the heart of Zimbabwe, where Brother Peter and his family and church will distribute it to the people in such desperate need there.

As the "Africa Box" section of my garage slowly accumulates more goods, I am so very thankful to have my portion of the wealth of this country to share. My husband and my family are of very modest means by American standards, but our wealth in material goods is that of kings in comparison to our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe. This weekend here in America sees the blessings of Thanksgiving juxtaposed by the material excess expressed in Black Friday. That seems an appropriate time for this third shipping container from America to finally rumble its way on a truck to head down the dusty roads outside of Hurare and into the bush.


Rice-----(2,200 packs)------99 boxes--------4,791.6 kg.

Beans -(1,300 packs)------216 boxes------11,198.0 kg.

Sugar --(300 packs) -------29 boxes -------2,310.0 kg.

Salt --------------------------------4 boxes.

Oats -------------------------------2 boxes.

Dry Milk -------------------------12 boxes

Lentils/Vegt.--------------------36 boxes

Noodles ---------------------------7 boxes

Can Goods ----------------------36 boxes

Dry Food -------------------------8 boxes

Peanut Butter -------------------1 box

Toothpaste/brushes/Floss---5 boxes

Toiletries ---------------------------3 boxes

Belts/Hats ------------------------8 boxes

Ties----------------------------------2 boxes

Clock -------------------------------1 box

School Supplies ----------------32 boxes

Books ------------------------------24 boxes

Toys --------------------------------45 boxes

Fabric ------------------------------35 boxes

Sewing Machine------------------3 boxes

Keyboard ---------------------------2 boxes

Tent-----------------------------------1 box

Copier -------------------------------1 box

Copier Ink --------------------------2 boxes

Beds/Cots -------------------------6 boxes

Office Supplies ------------------9 boxes

Chairs ------------------------------21boxes

Wheelchair-------------------------1 box

Walker-------------------------------1 box

Suitcase ---------------------------2 boxes

Tables ------------------------------5 boxes

Shower/sink ----------------------3 boxes

Coal ---------------------------------1 box

Hospital Clothes ---------------1 box

Linens/Sheets ------------------46 boxes

Kitchen Items ------------------12 boxes

Drum Stand -------------------- 1 box

Trumpet --------------------------1 box

DVD Player --------------------1 box

Hangers -------------------------2 boxes

Purses/bags ------------------25 boxes

Mail box ------------------------1 boxes

Sports Items ------------------3 boxes

Can Openers -----------------1 box

Shoes --------------------------126 boxes

Girl Clothes -------------------82 boxes

Boy Clothes ------------------53 boxes

Children Clothes -----------27 boxes

Men Clothes -----------------129 boxes

Ladies Clothes -------------233 boxes

Baby Items -----------------30 boxes

Trash cans ------------------2 boxes

Peter Ndamba's Ministry

This video was donated and put together shortly after the second container arrived. Before this year was out, God blessed the ministry with the ability to send out this third one. God is good. God is very good.

African Ministries International on the web

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jumping to Conclusions

By now you've probably seen and reacted to the violence in this sport's clip. The girl involved has been vilified soundly by public opinion.

What I find interesting is the lack of charity towards her. Everyone has demonized her, but even on my first viewing I could see that she was not unprovoked. If you watch the videos carefully, you will see that this girl is reacting (yes, very badly, but reacting nonetheless) to elbows to the sternum, yanks to her uniform, and other provocations. This is no demon. This is a girl who when poked, punches, when pulled on, pulls savagely back, when kicked, hits and kicks in return. It is not admirable. It's not nice. But it's not a bully going after the innocent either.

She needs to sit out a game or two, but her apology needs to be accepted. She lost her cool, but even the slowest eye can catch that this girl was not the only one behaving badly. She merely behaved the worst of the lot.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Friday Coffee Break

This is one of those internet gems that had me on the floor laughing. Come to think of it...

A guy who purchased his lovely wife a pocket Tazer for their anniversary submitted this:

Last weekend I saw something at Larry's Pistol & Pawn Shop that sparked my interest. The occasion was our 15th anniversary and I was looking for a little something extra for my wife Julie. What I came across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse- sized tazer. The effects of the tazer were supposed to be short lived, with no long-term adverse affect on your assailant, allowing her adequate time to retreat to safety....


Long story short, I bought the device and brought it home. I loaded two AAA batteries in the darn thing and pushed the button.


I was disappointed.

I learned, however, that if I pushed the button and pressed it against a metal surface at the same time; I'd get the blue arc of electricity darting back and forth between the prongs.


Unfortunately, I have yet to explain to Julie what that burn spot is on the face of her microwave.

Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that it couldn't be all that bad with only two triple-A batteries, right?

There I sat in my recliner, my cat Gracie looking on intently (trusting little soul) while I was reading the directions and thinking that I really needed to try this thing out on a flesh & blood moving target. I must admit I thought about zapping Gracie (for a fraction of a second) and thought better of it. She is such a sweet cat. But, if I was going to give this thing to my wife to protect herself against a mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as advertised. Am I wrong?

So, there I sat in a pair of shorts and a tank top with my reading glasses perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one hand, and tazer in another.

The directions said that a one-second burst would shock and disorient your assailant; a two-second burst was supposed to cause muscle spasms and a major loss of bodily control; a three-second burst would purportedly make your assailant flop on the ground like a fish out of
water. Any burst longer than three seconds would be wasting the batteries.

All the while I'm looking at this little device measuring about 5" long, less than 3/4 inch in circumference; pretty cute really and (loaded with two itsy, bitsy triple-A batteries) thinking to myself, 'no possible way!'

What happened next is almost beyond description, but I'll do my best...

I'm sitting there alone, Gracie looking on with her head cocked to one side as to say, 'don't do it dipshit,' reasoning that a one second burst from such a tiny little ole thing couldn't hurt all that bad. I decided to give myself a one second burst just for heck of it. I touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and . .


I'm pretty sure Jessie Ventura ran in through the side door, picked me up in the recliner, then body slammed us both on the carpet, over and over and over again.

I vaguely recall waking up on my side in the fetal position, with tears in my eyes, body soaking wet, both nipples on fire, testicles nowhere to be found, with my left arm tucked under my body in the oddest position, and tingling in my legs?

The cat was making meowing sounds I had never heard before, clinging to a picture frame hanging above the fireplace, obviously in an attempt to avoid getting slammed by my body flopping all over the living room.

Note: If you ever feel compelled to 'mug' yourself with a tazer, one note of caution:

there is no such thing as a one second burst when you zap yourself! You will not let go of that thing until it is dislodged from your hand by a violent thrashing about on the floor.. A three second burst would be considered conservative?


A minute or so later (I can't be sure, as time was a relative thing at that point), I collected my wits (what little I had left), sat up and surveyed the landscape.

My bent reading glasses were on the mantel of the fireplace. The recliner was upside down and about 8 feet or so from where it originally was. My triceps, right thigh and both nipples were still twitching. My face felt like it had been shot up with Novocain, and my bottom lip weighed 88 lbs. I had no control over the drooling.

Apparently I pooped on myself, but was too numb to know for sure and my sense of smell was gone. I saw a faint smoke cloud above my head which I believe came from my hair. I'm still looking for my nuts and I'm offering a significant reward for their safe return!

P.S... My wife, can't stop laughing about my experience, loved the gift, and now regularly threatens me with it!

If you think education is difficult, try being stupid!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Catholic Voice in Healthcare

When the Catholic Church takes a break from its evildoings, it takes a redemptive stab at charity. Although the Church can not compete with atheist charity greats such as this and this here, it does manage to carry its own massive weight charity wise.

That said there really is something to consider in the USCCB's rejection of all the current healthcare plans up for debate.

“So far, the health-reform bills considered in committee … have not met President Obama’s challenge of barring use of federal dollars for abortion and maintaining current conscience laws,” the USCCB wrote in its Sept. 30 letter to members of the Senate. “These deficiencies must be corrected.”

As one of the largest providers of healthcare in this country, the Church has both a moral and a financial desire to see healthcare reform passed in this country. Costs and access to care need to be placed within reach of the poor. No one is in argument of that.

What is being rejected is the perversity of giving care to some while killing others, giving access to care while denying the rights of the caregiver to be caregivers and not abortionists.

It is not healthcare to purposefully kill a patient. Fundamentally, every abortion involves two patients, and for one the procedure is always fatal. It is not charity to rid yourself of the burden of the poor by killing off the children of the poor.