Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First time on a web cam

No, this is not me but I found it too funny not to post...her laugh is infectious! Watch it all the way through...in the last minute or so she discovers clip art...and changes into several different characters!



Just a laugh for Wednesday!

12 Days of Christmas

It seems the cost of celebrating this traditional song has now passed the $100,000.00 mark!





If you've ever thought about actually purchasing all the items (though we assume you'd need to rent the lords a-leaping, maids a-milking, and all the ladies dancing to the drumming drummers and piping pipers) listed in the holiday classic "The 12 Days of Christmas," you had better have a pile of cash at the ready.

Read more here...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You don't know...

from Busted Halo!


Oh, and we Methodists celebrate Advent too!

St. Francis in the streets...

Brother Al Mascia has much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and so does his flock.

After losing the brick-and-mortar headquarters for his Detroit-based charitable operations earlier this month, the brown-robed Franciscan friar has kept serving the homeless, the elderly and others in Detroit.
Mascia anticipated the closing of the building more than a year ago and raised $4,000 to buy two specially designed tricycles with vendor carts in front and storage trailers in the back so he wouldn’t miss a beat in serving his clientele.

“St. Francis went beyond the walls of the medieval city to serve the exiled,” said Mascia, referring to St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Catholic religious order to which Mascia belongs. “Now, I have no walls between me and the people I serve.”...

But the development didn't stop Mascia. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, in sun, sleet and snow, he pedals into the outdoor waiting area of the Rosa Parks Transit Center on the tricycle — a practice he started last year.


Read more here...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Sunday of Advent...

Our congregation celebrates the first Sunday of Advent with the Hanging of the Greens...in case you don't know what Advent is...or just need a reminding...

Advent Calendar

I love Advent Calendar's. When my children were small, we always posted one on the refrigerator door...as they got older and fought over who got to open the door for that day some years we had two.

With today's technology, we now have online calendar's...I may post more, but you can find one here...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saints

If you've looked at this blog before, you may have seen a posting or two about Saints. Although United Methodists don't see Saints in quite the same light as Catholics, they're still an important part of our heritage...

Every saint realized that when you are faced with something hard — suffering, injustice, a crisis point — you can either respond in a way that makes you feel closer to God, or in way that doesn’t. And they all chose the path that, to the best of their knowledge, would align them more closely with the divine. That’s why we remember them, and that’s why we honor them.

Here is a good article about talking to children about them...

The boy...

Today is my only son's birthday. No words can express how much I love him, but recently I tried...I hope he doesn't mind, but here's part of a letter I sent to him...


Dear Son,
Nothing, nothing, in life is certain. Well, except death and taxes. You have no guarantee that you will be successful according to societies terms, you have no guarantee that the one you love will be with you for your whole life, you have no guarantee that you will never be hurt. What you do have is one life. It is your responsibility to live it fully.


If I could give you all the money you need to live comfortably, with no effort on your part, if I could smooth out all of life's problems so that you never had to worry, if I could hold your heart in my hands so that it would never be broken, if I could carry you so that your walk through life would be smooth and never rough, if I could shield you with my body so that no one could ever hurt your feelings, I would NOT do so.

It has been my fervent prayer, from the day you were born, that you would have a blessed life. But blessed does not mean easy. For what does one learn from living an easy life? How does one feel any sense of accomplishment, if you never have to work for what you have?
How does one learn to put their faith in God and trust His lead if you never worry? How do you savor the sweetness of love, if you heart has never been broken? How does your body stay strong and healthy if your path is always smooth? How does one learn strength of character if your ideas are never ridiculed or your beliefs never questioned?

Your choices won't always turn out the way you want, but live your life with no regret. Treat others as you want to be treated, even if they do not do the same. When you make a
decision, go after it with all your intelligence, all your sweat, all your heart. Always give God the praise He deserves for the blessings He has given you and never forget, "To whom much is given, much is expected." Fill your life with happiness and joy, whatever your station, for you are alive in this moment of time, it is not an accident.

There is no relationship in the world like that of a man and  a woman who share life together. May you always be best of friends, the most loyal of companions, the most passionate of lovers and be a source of solace and strength one to the other. Together you CAN  face the world! Never forget, women do want a knight in shining armor...be that for her.

May you have work that makes you happy, a task to perform that fulfills your desire. You have grown to be a man of character and strength and I am proud to call you son.


Happy Birthday, Nin Ore

Friday, November 25, 2011

Another tune...

It's the Friday after Thanksgiving...just felt a happy song was needed about now. Especially if you've been taking part in the "Black Friday" sales!

It's official!

In our home, as soon as Thanksgiving is over we start up with the Christmas carols...in the cars, in our home, everywhere! One of my absolute favorites...



I pray that over the next few weeks you find joy, happiness, peace and love. May stress be as far away as the edge of the universe and may Christ be continually in your heart.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

5 Ways to celebrate a Thankful Thanksgiving....

From Busted Halo:

“Thanksgiving Day is coming; gobble, gobble, gobble. Lets give thanks for this day!”
These words are a remnant of the only song about Thanksgiving I remember from my childhood. My family had the main Thanksgiving meal at one grandma’s house in a New Jersey city, then we would pile into my dad’s big Chevy and rumble across the swamps and oil refinery fields to my other grandma’s for dessert. Thanksgiving was a moderately fun holiday. We’d watch football games. My teenage cousin would impress me and disgust everyone else with his uncanny ability to chug creamed corn. Yet Thanksgiving is the single event where I rack up the greatest number of deadly sins: gluttony, sloth, envy (I wish I had that drumstick!) and pride (Why isn’t anyone eating the cookies I made?!) Dante would have a field day imagining the cosmic justice I’m due for my days of apple cider-fueled hedonism. Most probably, it would involve turkeys getting revenge by gobbling Creed songs. Maybe it’s time to celebrate Thanksgiving as it was intended.
The traditional notion about Thanksgiving is one of family bonding, warmth and giving to the less fortunate. Sadly, this is lost because Thanksgiving occupies an awkward position in the pantheon of national holidays — kind of a highway rest stop for us to eat and catch our collective breath before spending the next month in a hectic Jingle-Belled craze. Most American schoolchildren are taught the story of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, complete with paper plate turkey (though tempered by the fact that the European colonists would soon throw their native hosts off their land.) Thanksgiving has survived for the whole of the nation’s history. President Abraham Lincoln gave the day its familiar characteristics in the midst of the Civil War. It is sad we have gotten so far from the traditional approach to the day, so I offer these five relatively easy suggestions to make your turkey daymore spiritually fulfilling.
  1. Actually give thanks — Many of us treat the Thanksgiving meal like a sports event. We restlessly wait for the food to be placed on the table so the gorging can begin. Conversation dies down to nothing and we communicate in a series of grunts and dirty looks. A way to correct this is to actually give thanks to a higher power for another year. Take time before the meal to go around the table and think of something you are thankful for. It doesn’t have to be overtly religious — just a simple time for reflection about the things you were lucky enough to receive. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t think of some deep philosophical thing to give thanks for; this year I plan to give thanks that dogs continue to be cuter then cats.
  2. Help out — Many families celebrate Thanksgiving like the movie Groundhog Day, with the same family members doing the same things every year. If you aren’t normally one of the people who helps prepare the meal and set the table, peel yourself away from the sofa and start peeling potatoes. Even if it shakes a few branches in your family tree, stop watching football for 20 minutes and fill salt shakers. It’s good karma to help prepare the meal you are about to eat. My personal job is preparing drinks for the older people in my family. Most likely, anything you do to help will be appreciated.
  3. Look around — The greatest cause of stress and joy for many in life is family and friends. Often, Thanksgiving brings together people who haven’t been in each other’s company for months or even years. When you are all together, take time to look around and soak in everyone’s collective aura. The old cliché that life is too short is absolutely true. Anything can happen between this turkey day and the next. It may be fun to gossip about how a friend looks or lay scorn on a relative you don’t like, but in the end it isn’t worth it. This is the tip I am most passionate about and it is also the easiest to accomplish. All you have to do is simply be aware of everyone’s presence and think about your own place in the family. Last Thanksgiving, my dad sat next to me and chatted about an ancestor he had known who’d been born in 1885. On my dad’s other side was a cousin who was born in 2006. That simple fact floored me. I reflected on and prayed about how short our time here really is, and how we simply must appreciate our time in the great human experiment. Do not take your time with anyone for granted or assume it’s never-ending. Holidays are chances to forge good memories; don’t waste the opportunity.
  4. Play a game — One of the great joys in life is playing a game. I know many friends who gather around Thanksgiving to play tackle football or go out for karaoke. Maybe it is time for you to start a fun new Thanksgiving tradition. If you are blessed with some time off, couple that with the fact that friends and family are around and plan a really fun event. You could run a Turkey Trot 5K or simply invite old friends over to watch a movie. Take advantage of the time to reconnect and swap fond memories; catching a touchdown pass is an added bonus.
  5. Help – Soup kitchens and food pantries are packed to the gills on Thanksgiving with well-intentioned people looking to help their fellow man. If your local soup kitchen needs help, by all means help them out. But otherwise, while this is certainly admirable, consider other things you can do. In this economy, many charitable organizations are scrambling for donations or food supplies that can last them through times when people aren’t as well-intentioned. Why not organize a food drive or donating money with your friends and family.
Hopefully these tips will encourage you to find new ways to center yourself and gain understanding of your place with friends and family this Thanksgiving, and make it more than a rest stop between holidays. Just don’t fill up on apple cider: my grandma says you will get a tummy ache.

Thankfulness



Thanksgiving celebrations are as rich and varied from one family to the next as they are across our world cultures. But whatever the differences, one way or another they all include family -- however we define "family" in our own setting.

But with family also comes the messiness of relationships.

Granted, every year we would love to have a perfect holiday, the kind that we imagine and plan for several months before the actual day. We would like no disagreements, no divisions. We may even figure out a way to keep Aunt Edith and her estranged son from having to sit next to each other for the whole day. But even when everyone promises to be on his or her best behavior, the fact is that we end up with who we really are. At the end of the day, our relationships are revealed for what they really are: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
But this is where the really good news comes in: Only God is perfect and God knows that we are not! What's more, we know that God did not stay at arm's length from the mess of our lives. John 3:16 tells us that God's love extends all the way to getting down into our unfinished, mixed-up lives. God so loved us and all the world that God gave us Jesus Christ, the abundance of his living presence, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
So we can take heart. No matter how "perfect" we hope our Thanksgiving holidays will be, the real cause for Thanks-giving is that God shows up first and stays through the end. We can lift up the whole of our lives to God, knowing that God's grace covers it all.     ~Betsy Schwarzentraub

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A T-Rex?


Sheep & goats: Matthew 25:31-46


I don’t often post sermon drafts, but this week I am. 

Are you a sheep or a goat?

Is that a hard choice for you? When you were a child, and someone asked you what your favorite animal was did anyone ever say “sheep”? No one ever said: “Sure, you’ve got your eagles and lions and polar bears, but me, I’m a sheep guy.”

I mean, Jesus, come on. Sheep? We can’t get another choice?

Me? I’d like choice C. Are you A) a sheep, B) a goat, or C) a Tyrannosaurus Rex?

I ran across this sermon recently...it's worth a few minutes of your time...read it here...

The Maasai Creed


The Maasai Creed is a creed composed in about 1960 by Western Christian missionaries for the Maasai, an indigenous African tribe of semi-nomadic people located primarily in Kenya and northern Tanzania. The creed attempts to express the essentials of the Christian faith within the Maasai culture.

The Massai Creed
We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created man and wanted man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the earth. We have known this High God in the darkness, and now we know him in the light. God promised in the book of his word, the Bible, that he would save the world and all nations and tribes.

We believe that God made good his promise by sending his son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left his home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing that the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He was buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, he rose from that grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through him. All who have faith in him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love, and share the bread together in love, to announce the good news to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.

What a wonderful creed, in their own voice! I found it here

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

For the cooks...

Thanksgiving is centered around family and the meal! The youth of our church hold an annual fund raiser selling Thanksgiving Desserts (to take a little of the burden off the cooks) and tonight, We Bake!


The kitchen at church will be filled with the smells associated with the season...pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla...all those fragrances that seem to wrap their warm arms around us. We will end the evening lifting up a prayer for all the cooks who put their hearts into the meal because they are serving the people they love. Thanks be to God for all of them! And thanks be to God for food to eat, a room to eat in and loved ones to share it with.

My daughter has served in the Navy for 9+ years now. During her first Thanksgiving she was stationed far away from us (although still in the US) and a local family invited her over to share their meal. She called me afterwards to tell how their traditions were similar and how much she enjoyed her time with them. I don't know their names but thank you whoever you are, she still remembers after all these years.

If there is someone in your community destined to eat alone, open your doors and your hearts and set one more place at the table. Believe me, you will be the ones who feel blessed!

Happy Birthday

to Clive Staples Lewis, born in Belfast, Ireland on November 22, 1898. You may know him better as CS Lewis.

He fought in World War I, then studied at Oxford. After his graduation Lewis taught English at Oxford and Cambridge. As a youth Lewis gave up on Christianity. In 1929 he had a reconversion to the Christian faith, though he continued to wrestle with doubt in some of his published works.

He was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist who published academic works, religious books, and science fiction before trying his hand at children's literature with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and the other 6 books in The Chronicles of Narnia.  
Some of his more adult books included Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters and are are intellectual explorations into the meaning of faith. He became friends with JRR Tolkien (of Lord of the Rings fame) and once said of Tolkien, "When I began teaching for the English Faculty, I made two other friends, both Christians (these queer people seemed now to pop up on every side) who were later to give me much help in getting over the last stile. They were H.V.V. Dyson ... and J.R.R. Tolkien. Friendship with the latter marked the breakdown of two old prejudices. At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a Papist, and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both."

Lewis married Joy Gresham in 1956. When she died from cancer in 1960, Lewis wrote a book about his own grief process, A Grief Observed. C.S. Lewis died on November 22, 1963.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Missions in Action

 I've mentioned Compassion International many times...matter of fact, there's a link to their website on the side bar! They are a tremendous organization whose sole purpose is to bring life to children. They brought one such beautiful child into our lives over 8 years ago...she has been such a blessing and a welcome addition to our family! I truly cannot say enough good things about the people of Compassion.

Missions in Action is a new "arm" of the organization...take a few moments to watch the video:



If you'd like more info, check here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Steamboat Willie...

 just because it's fun!

164 years ago today...




The Gettysburg Address
by Abraham Lincoln

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

Friday, November 18, 2011

St. Rose

Born in 1769 in Grenoble, France, of a family that was among the new rich, Philippine learned political skills from her father and a love of the poor from her mother. The dominant feature of her temperament was a strong and dauntless will, which became the material—and the battlefield—of her holiness. She entered the convent at 19 and remained despite their opposition. As the French Revolution broke, the convent was closed, and she began taking care of the poor and sick, opened a school for street urchins and risked her life helping priests in the underground. When the situation cooled, she personally rented her old convent, now a shambles, and tried to revive its religious life. The spirit was gone, and soon there were only four nuns left. They joined the infant Society of the Sacred Heart, whose young superior, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, would be her lifelong friend. In a short time Philippine was a superior and supervisor of the novitiate and a school. But her ambition, since hearing tales of missionary work in Louisiana as a little girl, was to go to America and work among the Indians. At 49, she thought this would be her work. With four nuns, she spent 11 weeks at sea en route to New Orleans, and seven weeks more on the Mississippi to St. Louis. She then met one of the many disappointments of her life. The bishop had no place for them to live and work among Native Americans. Instead, he sent her to what she sadly called "the remotest village in the U.S.," St. Charles, Missouri. With characteristic drive and courage, she founded the first free school for girls west of the Mississippi.
It was a mistake. Though she was as hardy as any of the pioneer women in the wagons rolling west, cold and hunger drove them out—to Florissant, Missouri, where she founded the first Catholic Indian school, adding others in the territory. "In her first decade in America, Mother Duchesne suffered practically every hardship the frontier had to offer, except the threat of Indian massacre—poor lodging, shortages of food, drinking water, fuel and money, forest fires and blazing chimneys, the vagaries of the Missouri climate, cramped living quarters and the privation of all privacy, and the crude manners of children reared in rough surroundings and with only the slightest training in courtesy" (Louise Callan, R.S.C.J., Philippine Duchesne).
Finally, at 72, in poor health and retired, she got her lifelong wish. A mission was founded at Sugar Creek, Kansas, among the Potawatomi. She was taken along. Though she could not learn their language, they soon named her "Woman-Who-Prays-Always." While others taught, she prayed. Legend has it that Native American children sneaked behind her as she knelt and sprinkled bits of paper on her habit, and came back hours later to find them undisturbed. She died in 1852 at the age of 83.

It is a wonder!

30 years ago today, I gave birth to my eldest child. She has grown from a beautiful infant into a beautiful woman.

Take a few minutes to watch the video attached and marvel at the wonder that is a child...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In the end

St. Hilda

November 17


Almost all of our knowledge of St. Hilda (Hild) is derived from the writings of the Venerable Bede. Her correct name, Hild, means "battle." She was born in Northumbria in 614, the daughter of Hereric, the nephew of King Edwin of Northumbria, making her King Edwin's grandniece. She, like her great-uncle, was brought to Christ through the preaching of St. Paulinus, who baptized her in 627 at the age of 13 when King Edwin and his entire household became Christians.
She lived the life of a noblewoman until 20 years later when she was moved by the example of her sister Saint Hereswitha who became a nun at the Chelles Monastery in France. Hilda intended to follow her sister abroad, but St. Aidan persuaded her to return to Northumbria in 649. She was initially put in charge of a small group of women who were also aspiring to the religious life at a small house on the River Wear, but Bishop Aidan soon realized she was ready for wider responsibilities. There was a much larger and fully established religious house of women at Hartlepool whose Foundress, Bega (St. Bee), was founding a new house at Tadcaster. Hilda was called to take her place as Superior. St. Hilda ruled at Hartlepool for some years with great success before being called to found a monastery at Streaneshalch, a place to which the Danes a century or two later gave the name of Whitby.
St. Hilda governed the monastery at Whitby for the rest of her life. Under Abbess Hilda, Whitby gained a great reputation, becoming a burial place for kings, and a place of pilgrimage. The fame of St. Hilda's wisdom was so great that from far and near monks and royal personages came to consult her. Whitby was also a double monastery: a community of men and another of women, with the chapel in between, and Hilda as the governor of both. It was a great center of learning, especially the study of sacred scripture. Whitby was known as a place where clergy, monks and nuns could receive a rigorous and thorough religious education. The arts and sciences were so well established by her that it was regarded as one of the best seminaries for learning in the then known world. No less than five of her subject monks later became bishops, including Saint John of Beverly, and Saint Wilfrid of York.
St. Hilda was especially revered for her ability to recognize spiritual gifts in both men and women. Her kindheartedness can be seen from the story of Caedmon, one of her herdsmen, whose poetic gift was discovered and nurtured by Hilda. She encouraged him with the same zeal and care she would use toward a member of the nobility, urging him to use his gifts as a means of bringing the knowledge of the Gospel Truth to common folk. St. Caedmon later composed the first hymns in the English language.
St. HildaWhitby Abbey stands at the very crossroads of Celtic and Roman Christianity. Roman and Celtic traditions differed, not in basic doctrine, but on such questions as the proper way of calculating the date of Easter, and the proper style of haircut and dress for a monk. It was highly desirable that Christians in the same area should celebrate Easter at the same time; and eventually the Church had to choose between the Celtic customs it had inherited from before 300, and the customs that missionaries had brought from continental Europe and Rome. It was at Whitby Abbey in 663 when King Oswy, persuaded by the arguments of St. Wilfrid, convened a synod to decide once and for all the date of the observance of Easter, and resolve other differences between Celtic and Roman ecclesiastical practices. Saint Hilda was a strong supporter of the Celtic party, nevertheless, once the Synod of Whitby decided to observe the Roman rule and customs, Hilda used her moderating influence in favor of its peaceful acceptance. This period of conflict over the Easter observance was a time of great discord in the religious communities. Hilda's influence, persuading her followers to adhere to the decision, was one of the key factors in securing unity in the Church.
The Venerable Bede is enthusiastic in his praise of Abbess Hilda, one of the greatest women of all time: She was the adviser of rulers as well as of ordinary folk; she insisted on the study of Holy Scripture and proper preparation for the priesthood; the influence of her example of peace and charity extended well beyond the walls of her monastery; and "all who knew her called her Mother, such were her wonderful godliness and grace." Saint Hilda is often represented in art holding Whitby Abbey in her hands with a crown on her head or at her feet. Sometimes she is shown turning serpents into stone; stopping the wild birds from ravaging corn at her command; or as a soul being carried to heaven by the angels. Frequent historic place-name references to Shields are probably sites named after her, Shields being thought to be a corruption of St. Hilda.
Seven years before her death St. Hilda was stricken down with a fever which never left her till she breathed her last. In spite of this, she neglected none of her duties to God or to her subjects. She passed away most peacefully after receiving the Holy Communion and Anointing, and the tolling of the Whitby monastery bell was heard miraculously thirteen miles away, where Saint Bee saw the soul of St. Hilda borne to heaven by angels. Hilda remained a peacemaker to the very end-her greatest concern was that her monastic family should be one in the Lord, and her last recorded words were: "Have evangelical peace among yourselves." She died on November 17, 680.

                                                Whitby Abbey

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas Trees and I-Pads

No, not IPads under Christmas Trees...

Love you forever

I started reading this book to my children when they were both quite small. As they grew, I bought extra copies so they'd both have one for their children. Even today, after all these many years, I still cannot read it without crying at the end...

Listen to the story here...

I've struggled for days trying to decide what, if anything, I should say about the Penn State situation...
I pray for blessings, healing and peace for the victims (and that IS what they are)...

For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.
                                                Simon Wiesenthal

Monday, November 14, 2011

Climb Every Mountain...

I can remember the first time I saw the "Sound of Music"...in the movie theater (yes, I am that old)...I loved it from the first, as did most young girls of my generation. Julie Andrews has always been a favorite but it was the recording of "Climb Every Mountain" that brought tears to my eyes...



While this song has been sung beautifully by some of the premier sopranos of our times (Kiri Te Kanawa and Leontyne Price to name two) the one from the movie is still my favorite. Mother Superior's blessing of Maria and her choice brought home to a young girl that one doesn't have to live within convent walls to show Christ's love...it's still a powerful image.

Just because it's Monday

An old favorite...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A laundry list of Blessings

Lest we forget...

“If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world. 

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.”   

“And if you get this on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity.”   

“If you woke up this morning with more health than illness…you are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day.” 

“If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation...you are ahead of 700 million people in the  world.”   

“If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death, you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world.”   
  
“If your parents are still alive and still married...you are very rare.”   

“If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you're unique to all those in doubt and despair.......”

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crying...

Can you relate? I can...

It's gonna be a lovely day...

I know I've posted several "flash mobs" on here but this one is worth watching...toward the end, it's a little bit different!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Poem

This poem was sent to me by a dear friend. Her grandson recently lost part of both legs and the little finger on one hand. He did not give up his life for his country...but he came close. And yet, he still serves with pride and is determined to do whatever it takes to carry his load once again.


JUST A COMMON SOLDIER
(A Soldier Died Today)
by A. Lawrence Vaincourt

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho' sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won't note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician's stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It's so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
                        Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.

by A. Lawrence Vaincourt @1985
Reprinted with permission:
On behalf of the author, my late father, I'd be happy to have you reprint this poem in your blog. A mention of our web address would be appreciated. Rhymes & Reflections
My father was a WW II Air Force veteran and a newspaper columnist of many decades. He wrote this poem for his 1987 Remembrance Day column and it has since spread around the world.

-Randy Vaincourt

Veterans Day



Lyrics American Anthem
by Norah Jones

All we've been given 
 By those who came before 
The dream of a nation 
Where freedom would endure  
The work and prayers 
Of centuries 
Have brought us to this day
 
What shall be our legacy?
What will our children say?
Let them say of me
I was one who believed  
In sharing the blessings 
I received 
Let me know in my heart  
When my days are through 
America 
America
I gave my best to you
 
Each generation from the plains
To distant shore with the gifts  
What they were given 
Were determined 
To leave more  
Valiant battles fought together 
acts of conscience fought alone 
these are the seeds  
From which America has grown
 
Let them say of me 
I was one who believed 
In sharing the blessings 
I received 
Let me know in my heart  
When my days are through  
America 
America
I gave my best to you
 
For those who think  
They have nothing to share  
Who fear in their hearts  
There is no hero there
 Know each quiet act  
Of dignity is  
That which fortifies 
The soul of a nation
That never dies
 
Let them say of me 
I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings  
I received  
Let me know in my heart  
When my days are through  
America
America 
I gave my best to you

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Family Circus

Bill Keane, the creator of the cartoon series "Family Circus" has passed away. Family Circus was always a favorite of mine...growing up, I couldn't wait for Dad to finish with the paper so I could see it...


Since February of 1960, his readers have stayed true and faithful:
"It's reassuring, I think, to the American public to see the same family," he said.
Although Keane kept the strip current with references to pop culture movies and songs, the context of his comic was timeless. The ghost-like "Ida Know" and "Not Me" who deferred blame for household accidents were staples of the strip. The family's pets were dogs Barfy and Sam, and the cat, Kittycat.

"We are, in the comics, the last frontier of good, wholesome family humor and entertainment," Keane said. "On radio and television, magazines and the movies, you can't tell what you're going to get. When you look at the comic page, you can usually depend on something acceptable by the entire family."

You can read more, here.

Happy Birthday

1775: Founding of the Marine Corps

A legacy is born

During the American Revolution, many important political discussions took place in the inns and taverns of Philadelphia, including the founding of the Marine Corps.

A committee of the Continental Congress met at Tun Tavern to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore.

The resolution was approved on November 10, 1775, officially forming the Continental Marines.

As the first order of business, Samuel Nicholas became Commandant of the newly formed Marines. Tun Tavern’s owner and popular patriot, Robert Mullan, became his first captain and recruiter. They began gathering support and were ready for action by early 1776.

Each year, the Marine Corps marks November 10th with a celebration of the brave spirit which compelled these men and thousands since to defend our country as United States Marines.

More info here...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Surfer

Video of what may well be a world record...Garrett McNamara rides a 90 foot wave on a surfboard!

Saints...

As we see so many people die at a young age, through wars, starvation, AIDS, street violence, and physical and emotional neglect, we often wonder what the value of their short lives is.  It seems that their journeys have been cut off before they could reach any of their goals, realise any of their dreams, or accomplish any of their tasks.   But, short as their lives may have been, they belong to that immense communion of saints, from all times and all places, who stand around the throne of the Lamb dressed in white robes proclaiming the victory of the crucified Christ (see Revelation 7:9).

The story of the innocent children murdered by King Herod in his attempt to destroy Jesus (see Matthew 2:13-18), reminds us that saintliness is not just for those who lived long and hardworking lives.  These children, and many who died young, are as much witnesses to Jesus as those who accomplished heroic deeds.
                                                  Henri Nouwen

Monday, November 7, 2011

Do...

Do something. Draw something. Paint something. Cook something. Write something. Sing something. Say something. Dance something. Give something. Make something. Break something. Shout something. Demonstrate something. Carve something.
Kiss someone. Hug someone. Challenge someone. Help someone. Visit someone. Hear someone. Bless someone. Write someone. Call someone. Love someone.
Everyone is creative.




from: The Naked Pastor

Four part harmony....

 all sung by the same person...How cool is this!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Knots

The Light of the world...

proclaimed on late night television!



I know I mentioned this in an earlier post but thought the fact that they're getting face time on David Letterman was worth mentioning! Too bad I can't make a road trip to NYC to see it on stage!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Santa Claus 101

Just in case you've ever wondered how Santa gets his training...this article tells of Michigan's Santa Claus Bootcamp. Since they have people attending from all over the world and just graduated their 75th class, it's probably safe to say they know what they're doing...


As a side note...When I was a teenager, my family and I spent one summer working at a place called "Santa's Land". It's located on the Cherokee Indian Reservation is Western North Carolina. While Dad worked on the park rides and Mom worked in the front gift shop (the one you didn't have to pay to get in to)...I worked the park...as an Elf...in tights and the whole elf costume.

Many of the people who worked in the park lived in housing located behind the property. Imagine how hard it was for my brother (who is 11 years younger than me) to understand why we had one Santa living across the street and another next door. After watching them both for several days, he finally decided the one across the street was the "real" thing and the other just helped out because "Santa can't work all the time!" Which goes to show if you want to believe something enough, you'll figure out a way.

5th of November

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
the Gunpowder Treason and Plot,

I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent to blow up King and Parliament.

Three score barrels were laid below to prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s mercy he was catch’d with a dark lantern and lighted match.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

Hip hip hoorah!


The words of the poem "Remember Remember" refer to Guy Fawkes with origins in 17th century English history. On the 5th November 1605 Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with several dozen barrels of gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was subsequently tried as a traitor with his co-conspirators for plotting against the government. He was tried by Judge Popham who came to London specifically for the trial from his country manor Littlecote House in Hungerford, Gloucestershire. Fawkes was sentenced to death and the  form of the execution was one of the most horrendous ever practised (hung ,drawn and quartered) which reflected the serious nature of the crime of treason.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Expression in paint

We have watched painters such as this one at conference youth events and their vision and talent never ceases to amaze me!



Artist is: David Garibaldi

A music video in ASL

(American Sign Language)...Enjoy!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The King

A king who did not believe in the goodness of God, had a slave who, in all circumstances, said: "My king, do not be discouraged, because everything God does is perfect, no mistakes!"
 
One day they went hunting and along the way a wild animal attacked the king. His slave managed to kill the animal, but could not prevent his majesty losing a finger. Furious and without showing his gratitude for being saved, the nobleman said "Is God good? If He was good, I would not have been attacked and lost my finger!" The slave replied only "My king, despite all these things, I can only tell you that God is good, and He knows the "why" of all these things. What God does is perfect. He is never wrong!"Outraged by the response, the king ordered the arrest of his slave.
 
Later, the king left for another hunt and was captured by savages who made human sacrifices.  Ready to sacrifice the noble, the savages found that the victim did not have one of his fingers. He was therefore released.  According to them, he was not complete and could not be offered to the gods.
 
Upon his return to the palace, he authorized the release of his slave who he received very affectionately.  "My dear, God was really good for me! I was almost killed by the wild men, but for lack of a single finger, I was let go!  But I have a question: If God is so good, why did He allow me to put you in jail?"
 
"My King, if I had gone with you on the hunt, I would have been sacrificed for you, because I have no missing finger. Therefore, remember: everything God does is perfect. It is never wrong.Often we complain about life and things that happen to us that are apparently negative, forgetting that nothing is random and that everything has a purpose."                                            Author Unknown
 
Every morning, offer your day to God.  Ask Him to inspire your thoughts, guide your actions, to ease your feelings. And do not be afraid. God is never wrong!
 
The path of God and His word is perfect, without impurities. It is the way of all those who trust in him, as He says in 2 Samuel  22: 31
 
(Surely this message arrived at just the right moment for you.)
 
God is never wrong!

More / Less

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, honors departed souls of loved ones who are welcomed back for a few intimate hours. At burial sites or intricately built altars, photos of loved ones are centered on skeleton figurines, bright decorations, candles, candy and other offerings such as the favorite foods of the departed. Pre-Columbian in origin, many of the themes and rituals now are mixtures of indigenous practices and Roman Catholicism. The holiday is celebrated in Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil and parts of Ecuador.

In the last decade or so, this traditional Latin American holiday with indigenous roots has spread throughout the U.S. along with migration from Mexico and other countries where it is observed. Not only are U.S.-born Latinos adopting the Day of the Dead, but various underground and artistic non-Latino groups have begun to mark the Nov. 1-2 holidays through colorful celebrations, parades, exhibits and even bike rides and mixed martial arts fights.
The growing Latin American population in the U.S. and the increased influence of Hispanic culture here in everything from food to TV programming are obviously major factors in the growth of Day of the Dead celebrations. But the holiday's increased popularity may also coincide with evolving attitudes toward death, including a move away from private mourning to more public ways of honoring departed loved ones, whether through online tributes or sidewalk memorials.

But as with many spiritual holidays...when the secular world invades, things change. As Day of the Dead grows in presence, some fear that the spiritual aspects of the holiday are being lost. Already in Oaxaca, Mexico, where Day of the Dead is one of the most important holidays of the year, the area is annually overrun by U.S. and European tourists who crowd cemeteries to take photos of villagers praying at burial sites. Art dealers also buy cheap crafts, then resell them at much higher prices at chic shops in the U.S.

All Souls

Today is "All Souls Day" in the Catholic tradition. Although United Methodists do not recognize this celebration, that does not mean it is not interesting and worthy of thought:
   There is a Mexican saying that we die three deaths: the first when our bodies die, the second when our bodies are lowered into the earth out of sight, and the third when our loved ones forget us. Catholics forestall that last death by seeing the faithful dead as members of the Church, alive in Christ, and by praying for them -- and asking their prayers for us -- always. Cardinal Wiseman wrote in his Lecture XI:
Sweet is the consolation of the dying man, who, conscious of imperfection, believes that there are others to make intercession for him, when his own time for merit has expired; soothing to the afflicted survivors the thought that they possess powerful means of relieving their friend. In the first moments of grief, this sentiment will often overpower religious prejudice, cast down the unbeliever on his knees beside the remains of his friend and snatch from him an unconscious prayer for rest; it is an impulse of nature which for the moment, aided by the analogies of revealed truth, seizes at once upon this consoling belief. But it is only a flitting and melancholy light, while the Catholic feeling, cheering though with solemn dimness, resembles the unfailing lamp, which the piety of the ancients is said to have hung before the sepulchers of their dead.

Customs

It is practically universal folk belief that the souls in Purgatory are allowed to return to earth on All Souls Day. In Austria, they are said to wander the forests, praying for release. In Poland, they are said to visit their parish churches at midnight, where a light can be seen because of their presence. Afterward, they visit their families, and to make them welcome, a door or window is left open. In many places, a place is set for the dead at supper, or food is otherwise left out for them. In any case, throughout the Octave of All Saints, our beloved dead Flores para los
 muertosshould be remembered, commemorated, and prayed for.

During our visits to their graves, we spruce up their resting sites, sprinkling them with holy water, leaving votive candles, and adorning them flowers (especially chrysanthemums and marigolds) to symbolize the Eden-like paradise that man was created to enjoy, and may, if saved, enjoy after death and any needed purgation.

Today is a good day to not only remember the dead spiritually, but to tell your children about their ancestors. Bring out those old photo albums and family trees! Write down your family's stories for your children and grandchildren! Impress upon them the importance of their ancestors! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

7 Billion

Isn't she beautiful!

Beauty...

In the 1965 movie titled "The Agony and the Ecstasy" Pope Julius II asks "When will you make an end?" To which Michelangelo replies "When I am finished"!

499 years ago today, Michelangelo's masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel was opened to the public.


"Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving."   Johann Wolfgang Goethe (August 23, 1787)

All Saints Day



Just so you know...Although "All Saints Day" is technically November 1st, in the United Methodist Church it is observed  on the first Sunday in November. We are called to remember members of the local church congregation who have died in the past year. A candle is lit as each person's name is called out, followed by a prayer offered for each soul.