Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Drumroll Please!

This morning, it was David's turn to have breakfast in bed. I got up and fixed coffee and made blueberry pancakes and brought them over to him. He just laughed. But I think he enjoyed it. Wednesday is the day the RV Service comes through the campground to check if anyone needs a repair. They said they would swing by our campsite to check our trailer brakes midmorning.

After breakfast, I went for an early morning walk and took some pictures of one of the locals from across the river. :o) There is a nice little bridge that got me there. It's the bridge we came across with the trailer so we could get to our campsite. I am told it is an old railroad bridge. We are in slot #82 of 87 trailer sites. There is also tent camping close to our campsite.

There are some nice spots on the other side that are taken by people who come up here for a whole month or spend the entire summer here. A number of campers have 4-wheelers so they can take the jeep trails over the mountains. Maybe one day we will come back here and do that. David's parents used to come to this campground and stay a couple of months. They made a bunch of friends here. David's mom came up here once after George passed away, but she says it isn't the same without him. I can understand that. Anyway, here is the old railroad bridge I was talking about.

On the far side of the river from our campsite are a number of interesting things. The campers who are here all summer are on that side of the river and they really like to make their campsites feel like home. They have grass around their site and most of them have a flowerbed. They are growing everything from iris to red poppies. I took pictures of both.

The iris are blue and purple. The purple ones are so dark in some places that they are almost black. But the purple is still vibrant! I look forward to the day that we can come up here for the summer - or at least for a few weeks at a time. We will have to wait until David retires of course and figure out a way for me to get my monthly infusions.

Anyway, I had lots of fun on my outing this morning. I went and sat in the swings for a while. The little pavilion with the swings looks pretty new as the wood hasn't weathered. You can tell the newer parts of the campground. The owner makes little improvements every year. Closeby, there are several cabins that you can rent. They sleep anywhere from 3 - 6 people. Priest Gulch has a great website too.

After returning from my walk, I sat down and finished the rest of the book I started day before yesterday. I was reading Life on the Rock by Jeff Cavins. It is the story of his conversion - or reversion - to the Catholic Church. Jeff Cavins was in Austin in May when I bought the book and had him sign it. It was an easy and interesting read. I'll start reading my other book this evening - The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian.

To bide the time until the RV Service came to fix the trailer brakes, I watched other friendlies in the park - lots of birds, including hummingbirds - and chipmunks. I finally got out my telephoto lens here at the campsite and had fun taking pictures of the chipmunks' antics - eating and playing - and chasing each other.

About half an hour into my photo shoot, the RV Service drove up. Come to find out, the brake shoe popped off the drum on the one wheel that had locked. Brakes on all the other wheels look fine. He will be coming back either this evening or tomorrow morning with the new brake shoe. Hurray! And how convenient is this that the repairman comes to you! He was also quite reasonable for a come-to-the-customer service. David went ahead and paid him so we can leave for Silverton bright and early in the morning. Fix the shoe on the brake drum and we will roll! Woohoo!!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Soaking in Mother Nature

This is a relaxing day. I slept in while David drove into Cortez to buy the new tire. At 6:00 AM, it was 39 degrees outside. But I stayed under the warm blankets until 9:00 AM. After fixing and eating a bowl of hot oatmeal, David drove in. I fixed blueberry pancakes for him - and yes, I have to say that I also ate pancakes. The altitude always gives you a voracious appitite! Then we went out for a walk.

I took my camera this time and shot a few pictures of the area campsites and the river. What a beautiful morning! On the other side of the river from us are campsites of people who come here every year and stay for the summer. Also on the other bank of the river is a bridge/pavilion with swings. We sat a while relaxing in the swings, just taking in everything around us.

By the time we walked back to camp, it was already lunch time. Homemade pizza tastes ten times better in the mountains! Since then, I've been watching a chipmunk playing close to our firepit and a few people fishing on the opposite river bank. It almost looks like there is snow falling; the seeds from the cottonwoods are blowing everywhere. I keep hearing the Hummingbirds fly up to the red lanterns David has strung along the front of the awning. They are attracted to the red but we don't have a feeder. Maybe I'll get one tomorrow when we drive into Telluride for the day.

Time for some quiet meditation to just soak this all in.


We had a campfire last night and this evening, David built another one. So we sit like Ma and Pa in our chairs with a blanket each as we wait for the sun to fully set and the stars to appear in the sky.

Last night, just before David came into the trailer for the night, he was looking up into the starlit sky and noticed a collection of stars that formed a cross. He was just staring up at them when a shooting star went past. It caused him to smile and he came running into the trailer to tell me about it. He said that it was as though God was saying, "Trust me." I thought of Abraham looking at the sky trying to count the stars and God was saying, "Trust me." Maybe I should start calling David - Abraham!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Roughing It" in Style on the Dolores River

Today is Sunday and we got up early enough to have a nice breakfast of bacon, eggs and biscuits before leaving camp for Cortez. We went to 10:30 AM Mass at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church. They obviously are used to visitors as they had us all stand and tell where we were from. There were people from Arizona and Arkansas and a few others from Texas. It was a nice little church. The liturgy was o.k. overall, but they sang the Lamb of God with various names for Jesus and they stood right after the Lamb of God when everyone is supposed to kneel. David and I were the only ones kneeling. I am so thankful that I go to a church that is liturgically correct

After Mass, we made a quick stop by the local Walmart. It's amazing how many things you leave behind when you are camping. How could I ever have forgotten the hot chocolate and marshmallows?!!! David was in search for matches and lighter fluid for the campfire. (That's where I'm sitting right now.) It was nice looking at the countryside on the way there and back without the concern of the trailer behind us. I think that David has let go of his worrying. Praise be to God!

We both took a nap this afternoon. For me it was much needed as I have not been sleeping that well. Part of it may be the altitude. I always get headaches when I'm in the mountains. Small drawback for all the beautiful scenery.

After a nap, I watched David change the tire on the trailer while eating a cherry chocolate ice cream cone. How decadent is that!? David will take the damaged tire to be replaced tomorrow since the Walmart in Cortez has the right tire.

I think that I will be sleeping in tomorrow morning or maybe sitting outside the trailer in the cool morning air with a cup of coffee. It's amazing that Starbucks even makes it here via my bottled coffee latte. This must be what they call having your cake and eating it too. Not to mention being able to get on my computer and blog our travels.

It's been a long time since I "roughed it" while camping. David grew up with a trailer and my family had a pop-up. Although we cooked outdoors and didn't have toilet facilities (other than a porta-potty) and we slept in sleeping bags, the only time I remember being truly uncomfortable was one camping trip to the northern part of Michigan. We camped somewhere close to the Sault Ste. Marie in a tent on the hard ground and during the night the wind blew the tent down on top of us. The wind was so strong, you could run against it and not move forward. We were looking for Jasper along the shores of the Great Lake. It was very cold there and I only had shorts and sleeveless top. That's the extent to which I would ever want to rough it and these days I don't want to do that. Sleeping arrangements are very important to me. When I don't sleep well, I don't feel well.

David and I bought a small trailer back in the early 1990s and as the boys grew, we grew out of it. We bought our current trailer in 2002. It is a little bigger and now that the boys have all moved away from home, there is lots of room. There are hassles to having a trailer - storing it when not in use for one - but the advantages outway the disadvantages, I think. You have the best of both worlds - the conveniences of home and the beauty of Mother Nature.

(view from our trailer window)

Tonight, we ate like royalty. David had bought 2 filet mignon to grill and I fixed baked potatoes and fresh green beans to go with them. We ate at the picnic table outside the trailer. Then it was time for our ritual walk through the campground taking in the sound of the river and the birds, making a note of photos I will take when we go out next and I have my camera in hand. I figured out that my computer will take my xD card so I can let everyone enjoy what I am enjoying. It's too bad there isn't a camera that captures the smells of the trees and the campfires. You are really missing out on a lot when you can't take it ALL in. Otherwise, you can't beat the view from my window can you?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Priest Gulch or Bust

This morning, we awoke at 6:00 AM Mountain Time. After a nice long hot shower (since I never made it to the showers last night) I brought out the bottle of holy water that I forgot I had with me. I walked all around the car and trailer sprinkling the holy water and asking for God’s total protection against anything that was not of Him. Then I blessed myself and with a few extra prayers, we were on the road by 8:00.

As we listened to The Great Adventure, we enjoyed the change in the countryside from the short Juniper trees around Santa Fe to Ponderosa Pine and gained altitude – getting ever closer to the mountains of Colorado. We crossed from New Mexico into Colorado around 10:30. I saw several signs that said “Land for Sale” and wondered what it would be like to live up here during the summer months as I don’t think my joints could handle the bitter cold of winter here. But we probably couldn't afford to live here anyway. Just a nice passing thought.

David was gently reminded by the multiple climbs and descents in the highway and the strains of the car engine that he needed to use the gears to ascend and descend the steep inclines and trailer brakes going down as well. Driving in the mountains is like riding a bicycle; once you know how to ride a bicycle, how to ride when you get back on one is soon recalled. If I remember correctly, it’s the same with a musical instrument. Muscles have memory. When using the gears of the car, it’s as though your driving muscles get engaged again. It is at times like these, I am amazed at the ingenuity of man for what makes life easier. If only all such things were used for the better. A trip like this – 100 years ago would have been grueling – taking days filled with sweat, but with ingenuity the trip takes but a few hours. It is also times like these that we realize we should take nothing for granted.

We stopped in Pagosa Springs for gas. We paid $2.92/gallon at one gas station and after filling up noticed that the station across the street was 20 cents cheaper. Go figure. Take nothing for granted.

It was a good time for a bathroom break too. That’s one of the nice things about having the trailer behind us. You have a nice bathroom at every stop. I got some snacks out of the trailer too because both of us were hungry at 10:30. David had eaten nothing and I had eaten only an apple. David did some of the grocery shopping for the trip and he bought my favorite Sun Chips – French Onion – so I pulled those out. I didn’t know that they come in 100% compostable bags now. Good for the Sun Chip folks! If anybody has chips that say, “You can’t eat just one”, it would be Sun Chips. Funny thing about the composting feature of the bag is that it is LOUD!!! There will be no sneaking chips behind David’s back! Now that’s probably a GOOD thing. It is rare that I eat chips – for the very reason that I can’t eat just one. Funny how my mouth craves salt and crunch. :o)

It looks like Durango is around the next curve. We are stopping to pick up a few items we failed to pack. And there is always something left behind. I still can’t believe I left my purse at home. I have my cell phone which doesn't work up here and much needed sun glasses. I just didn’t pick up the purse. Silly me!


It’s now 4:35 and camp is set up. We are at a campground called Priest Gulch located on the Dolores River about 30 miles north of Cortez in Southwest Colorado. After signing in at the front office and “paying up” for the time we will be here, the gentleman on the golf cart lead us toward our campsite in slot #82. As we rounded a curve, he looked back and noticed that the front trailer tire was locked up. That means the brakes were locked on that wheel. By backing up a couple of feet, we were able to unlock it, but by that time the tread on that tire had already worn through the steel belting at the spot that touched the ground. I think we should call this vacation a “tiring” one. HA! David called the local RV repairman who will be here Wednesday to check on the locking break problem. We will find another tire at some point as well.

David is holding up amazingly well with all the driving and so many problems on the road. And he also is thanking God for taking care of us! Have you ever heard of the old line, “Where is my husband and what have you done with him?” That’s what I’ve been asking the Lord the last couple of days. I’m so happy that David has been taking all of this so well. I think I am witnessing a miracle here. Is he learning to "Let go. Let God"? I’ll take it! Woohoo! What a conversion this is! Praise God!

Today is the first day he has questioned His trust in God. He's beginning to worry about the brakes on the trailer. He asked me how I keep myself from worrying? How do I let go of doubts? So I talked about something Jeff Cavins said about sin in The Great Adventure DVDs. When you make the first step to sin, the second step is easier. Before you know it, you sin without thinking about it. The sin becomes a habit. The same thing goes for breaking old habits of worrying. When you have worries and you entertain them, they just stick around. But if when you have a worry, you push it away and make a conscious effort to think of something else, you will soon be able to let it go. Every time you do this the next time it will be easier to do - kind of like muscle memory and driving in the mountains.

We will be here for several days. After talking about all the tire challenges and the latest brake issues, David and I have decided that we won’t try to make it to the Grand Canyon this year. I really was looking forward to seeing it. While David went to see the Grand Canyon as a child, I did not. But I guess, it is just NOT my time to go. Although it is disappointing, I know that God will never allow anything to happen to me that is not for my benefit. So, Jesus, I trust in You! You know when I will get to see the Grand Canyon – or even IF!

Maybe this vacation is just meant to be spent here, relaxing and soaking in God’s creation on a small scale. Maybe we will meet someone He wants us to speak to here or maybe someone is here who will speak His word to us. Maybe we are just to enjoy our time together, reading, walking, relaxing by the river or whatever. I brought an afghan I need to finish crocheting and an embarrassing number of magazines I haven’t read. David brought a novel I gave him a couple of years ago and a latch hook rug of a mountain scene that he is working on. Of course, there are always the rest of the DVDs by Jeff Cavins. Whatever we do, wherever we go, we will surely find God present in this Great Adventure.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Great Adventure Continues

Today has been as much of an adventure as yesterday. Neither of us slept well last night. David said that he heard trains all night long and his head spun with the day's events. I just couldn't get comfortable in the bed. But, we arose early with my 7:00 AM phone alarm - to be greeted with the sounds of birds outside. We quickly dressed and headed back to Walmart for tires. David got in the car with a cup of coffee and I had a yogurt in hand. We made our morning prayers for safe travel, open eyes and ears, and a thank you for all the blessings of yesterday. We arrived at the Walmart around 7:30. The same young man from the night before was there and he greeted us with a smile. (His name is Andrew, by the way. 

St. Anthony is still working to find the trailer keys. I checked both the automotive area and customer service with no "luck". David checked the area around where the trailer had been parked last night - to no avail. Again, thank God for that spare set of keys David had tucked away for emergencies!

At 8:30 AM we left Walmart in search of a wheel rim and after a couple of stops at RV places, we were directed to Discount Tire. There, we bought the wheel rim and they put our spare on it for free. NICE! Finally, we were able to head out on Highway 84 at 9:30 AM. Woohoo!

As we headed toward Clovis, we said a couple more prayers for good measure and thanked God that all had gone so smoothly. This is not like David to pray anything but formal prayers so I was surprised and pleased too. We drove a few miles when David mentioned that he was feeling a cross wind. I could feel the gentle sway of the trailer as we moved on down the road. Thank goodness for the sway bar that keeps the sway under control. Then, about 10 miles out, we started hearing an unusual thumping sound. We both thought that it sounded like the car engine and the shaking of the Suburban became palpable. My stomach sank.

"I think you should pull over," I said

"What now!" David exclaimed. "It can't be the engine. The dashboard lights aren't on." There was not only frustration in his voice, but also a little panic.

As he concentrated on controlling the car and slowing down, I looked into the right side mirror and could see smoke coming from the rear wheel well. "We're blowing a tire, David!" I exclaimed. It's on my side. I can see it in the mirror."

The bumping of the car sounded and felt like a freight train screeching to a halt. We both heaved sighs of relief as the car jolted with the trailer to a stop. I looked at the clock. It was 10:50 AM.

Within seconds, we were both out of the car. The air was filled with the acrid smoke of burning rubber and heat radiated from the wheel well. I stared in disbelief at the smoking tire. The sun brightly reflected off the shiny silver insides of the wheel rim. David looked at the blown tire and then at me and exclaimed, "I don't believe this!" Then he looked at the sky and helplessly said, "Lord, I don't need this!"

But immediately after that, we went into problem-solving mode. David opened the back of the Suburban and reached for the jack, left there from yesterday. I grabbed an umbrella from the back as well - to provide a little shade as the sun was already getting hot. I opened it and turned to find David lying on the ground looking for a place to set the jack. He reached up and burned his hand on the hot muffler, but he got up and started loosening the lug nuts. I got ice for his hand, but he refused it. He was determined to get the flat changed quickly.

Soon, two elderly (but very fit) men on bicycles rolled up beside us and asked David if he needed help. My very independent husband said yes! Hurray! I offered each of them a bottle of cold water from the ice chest and provided shade the best I could with the umbrella. After helping us to change the tire, David shook their hands and I gave them each a hug. The two men headed back toward Lubbock on their bikes and we soon passed them as we headed back to the Walmart for more tires - this time for the Suburban. Again, God had provided a couple of "angels" to help us.

"We're back!" I called to the automotive employees with a grin. "I bet you didn't expect to see us again!" They looked at us in total surprise as David came toward them with the blown tire in his grasp. He was actually laughing. Since the tires all had over 40,000 miles on them, we decided to replace them all. Sounds crazy after buying 4 new trailer tires,  I know, but four car tires, burn medicine and two McDonald's burgers later, we again headed West. It was now 12:45 PM.

Needless to say, we made new arrangements for a place to stay the night as we knew we would not make it to Priest Gulch in SW Colorado. Thank God for the cell phone! We listened to Jeff Cavin's "The Great Adventure" most of the afternoon. I guess it sort of sums up this trip so far - The Great Adventure. Anyway, I am lovin' using my laptop with the power converter in the car so I can watch the DVDs. We finally arrived at the KOA just outside of Santa Fe at 5:30 PM mountain time. It is deliciously cool here following a short afternoon rain storm. A gentle breeze is blowing the Juniper trees outside the trailer window. The smell of rain and campfire smoke hangs in the air.

David ate a Michaelangelo's dinner that I heated in the microwave and he headed for the shower. He just came back smelling awfully good and he looks very relaxed after another crazy day on the road. It's my turn for the shower and then we will settle in for the night. We have much to be thankful for. We could have been in the middle of nowhere when we had that flat. And anything could have happened when that tire blew!

Let's see! This is getting to be a very expensive vacation and it's only day two. We now have a $1,000.00 credit card bill (Thank God for savings!) along with eight new tires and a huge case of "Jesus, we trust in you!" I might add that we also prayed the Prayer to St. Michael for good measure. Who knows what tomorrow will bring!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Who's Looking Out for Us?

We have had an exciting first day of our 10 day camping vacation. I'm such an airhead, I left my purse  at home, where I did a couple of surveys on some schlotzky's tickets for free sandwiches. When I couldn't find my purse in the car, we called home and had my son look for it. Sure enought it was there. I guess God doesn't want me driving this vacation!

Having said that, praise God as He is truly taking care of us.

We left home after my infusion of Orencia - at about 11:30 AM with plans to stop for the night in Lubbock at the KOA. We were making good time on the road and called ahead to Clovis, NM to make reservations at an RV park there. Not 20 minutes later, a trucker pulled up beside us and motioned to our rear. David rolled down the window. The man said we had a flat. It is hard to tell when you lose one tire on the trailer as it has 2 on each side. By the time we were able to pull off the road about 12 miles outside of Lubbock, 3 more motorists waved us down about the problem.

We pulled off the highway and assessed the situation. On the passenger side, the rear trailer tire was gone and we were riding on the rim, now cracked in several places. The front tire was bald with a large flap of rubber stuck between the tire and the axle - steel belting exposed. The blowout of the rear tire more than likely is what damaged the front one. We pulled the rear tire off and replaced it with the spare.

This is where it gets amazing. David had packed two extension cords and a portable air compressor just before we left the house. Also, I had asked about taking the portable video player to play my Jeff Cavins DVDs of The Great Adventure on the road. David said that since I was taking my computer, he would pack the AC/DC power converter that plugs into the cigarette lighter. That way, I could play the DVDs on my laptop. When it was time to air up the tires, the exact distance from the car's rear cigarette lighter to the rear tire was the lengths of all the cords - the converter, the 2 extensions, and the cord on the compressor. God is GOOD - all the time!

By the time we hit the road again, with one bald tire and the spare in place, it was 6:50. We prayed for God's continued help. I immediately got on the phone to the KOA to get info on places that sell tires - specifically trailer tires of a certain size. The Walmart had just the tire we needed, but no wheel rims and the automotive area would close at 7:00. But one young man was so nice and stayed past 7:00 to provide us with one new tire to replace the bald one.
Lubbock KOA (that's not us in the pic)
Please pray that the young man doesn't get into trouble for the overtime although David rewarded him under cover for the time. We wouldn't want him to lose his job for his kindness. As God would have it, I also had 2 free Schlotzky's sandwich tickets to give him. God gave me both of those on Monday one  when I placed my order for lunch at Schlotzky's with a friend and another when I ordered a sandwich for my husband just before leaving that same day.

Needless to say, we are tired after changing tires in the heat, so we are staying in the Lubbock KOA after all. It would have been unwise to continue on to Clovis in the dark with no spare. We have decided to return to the Walmart at 7:00 AM to purchase 3 more tires so we will have 4 NEW tires with another to put on a wheel rim when we find it. David was concerned that because the trailer has sat for 2 years without being run, the tires might all be bad. We will look for a wheel rim for the extra tire for a spare between here and Santa Fe 300 miles down the road. Tomorrow will be at least a 12 hour day with the stop to find a wheel rim and have the tire put on.

In the meantime, we have lost the keys to the trailer and are using the spare set. I'm figuring that we will find them at Walmart. St. Anthony is hard at work looking for them. So it's off to bed for a night of rest and a full day ahead of us. I have set my phone alarm for 6:00 AM. Prayers of thanksgiving have been said.  We are so thankful to God for keeping us safe and providing for all our needs. All the time - God is GOOD!

More updates tomorrow.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thirsting for God

The Gospel reading for the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time is Luke 9:18-24. It begins:  
"Now it happened that as he was praying alone..."
Mother Teresa once said,
"The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace."
There is both a history and geography of salvation. Jesus. Who is God, became a man with limitations, choosing a particular time and place to enter into history - Galilee during the reign of Herod under the Roman Empire. Like all of us, Jesus NEEDED to pray. He sought out solitude for His prayer. Peace is the goal of Jesus' prayer, yet He knew that He would have to suffer. So Jesus prayed AND He set His face toward Jerusalem. He probably prayed in a common cave that pilgrims visit in the Holy Land.

Jesus chose to have limitations - to be like us. Every time Jesus shows us that He is God in the Gospels, He first shows us that He is man. His humanity and His divinity are juxtaposed.
Jesus the Man/Jesus is God
  • Incarnation (birth in a stable)/visit from the three kings
  • Jesus lost at age 12/Jesus teaches the teachers
  • Jesus thirsty in Samaria/Jesus tells the Samaritan woman everything she ever did
  • Jesus asleep in boat during storm/Jesus calms storm
  • Jesus climbs Mt. Tabor and is breathless/Jesus' Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor
  • Jesus wept over death of friend, Lazarus/Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead
  • Jesus suffers and dies on a cross/Jesus rises from the dead

In the Gospel reading, Jesus also affirms that He is the "Messiah of God", the Christ, the "Son of Man" and warns the Apostles not to say anything but predicts His own suffering and death before He is to rise again.

The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. ~ Luke 9:22

If we wish to follow Him, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily.

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. ~ Luke 9:24

If we die with Him, we will also rise with Him on the last day.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. . . . if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. ~ Romans 6: 5, 8
This is our inheritance. The second reading from Galatians tells us that we are all children of God in Christ Jesus, for we have been baptized into Christ. Through Baptism, we are all one in Jesus.
We belong to Him, and when we belong to Him, we are heirs of Abraham according to the promise. Our inheritance is resurrection from the dead on the last day.

The promise of the first reading from the prophet Zechariah is the promise of Jesus Christ. 
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born. . . .On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. ~ Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1
The spirit of compassion and supplication is fulfilled in Christ who is pierced on the cross and Whose death we mourn.  Although we mourn, we also rejoice, for Christ is also the fountain that cleanses us from sin and uncleanness. Let us thirst for Him as the Psalm says.

O God, thou art my God, I seek thee, my soul thirsts for thee; my flesh faints for thee, as in a dry and weary land where no water is. So I have looked upon thee in the sanctuary, beholding thy power and glory. Because thy steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise thee. So I will bless thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on thy name. My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat, and my mouth praises thee with joyful lips, . . . for thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of thy wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to thee; thy right hand upholds me. ~ Psalm 63:1-5, 7-8

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Faithful Friends

Saturday night, I had dinner with friends. We celebrated the birthday of one friend by going to out to eat. We went to a place called Maggiano's. While the food was excellent, it was the company that made the evening. You just can't beat good friends!
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth. A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds; For he who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself. ~ Sirach 6: 14-17 (NAB)

I have never had such good friends as I have today. And never have I needed such good friends as I have today. They are there when I need them and they are there to tell me when I am trying to do things I am incapable of. Tonight, I was a little stiff when I got up from the dinner table and that stiffness always makes it harder to do things. As we were leaving the restaurant, I tried to get into the seat furthest back in the car so someone else could have the middle seat. I couldn't make it up the first time and reached for my husband's hand for help. My friends immediately came to my aid and said that I should sit in the middle seat since my body couldn't make it up. I have RA and the climb into that back seat was just too much for me to handle. As I backed away from the car, I could feel my left shoulder begin to throb from that first effort. By then, I was happy to let my friends take their seat behind me in the car, though I must admit that I was a little humbled that I couldn't do what seemed so simple.

But this isn't about me. It is about all of our need for faithful friends. We so often like to be independent and leaning on others doesn't come naturally in our culture. I will have to learn to be more dependent on others as time passes, so I took this as a lesson in humility. I have to admit that it was difficult, but I am also happy that I have friends who care enough about me to take good care of me when I struggle with my RA.

Did I learn my lesson? On Sunday, I picked up something heavy even as a friend offered to help me. I again felt the results in my shoulder. Why is learning humility so hard? Is it a matter of pride? Perhaps we see "humiliation" as a negative thing instead of something that builds up our worth. It wounds our selfish pride. Scripture says,
...glorify yourself with humility, and ascribe to yourself honor according to your worth. ~ Sirach 10:28
The purpose of humility is ultimately to bring us a sense of self-worth, not shame. It glorifies us by making us more like Jesus Who allowed Himself to be humiliated to the point of death on a cross.
Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2: 3-11

Only through His humiliation could He experience His glorification through the Resurrection. So, we should feel honored that we can suffer humiliation for Christ. We are made into His image through our suffering. So, I choose today to have an attitude of gratitude - both for my little lessons in humility and for my friends who support me.

Father, thank you for my friends and teach me humility so that I may be more like you. Amen!

Scientology and Forced Abortions

I saw this today and just had to pass it on.
Former Scientologists Claim Church Forced Abortions
Michelle Ruiz

Michelle Ruiz


(June 14) -- The Church of Scientology is denying allegations levied by dozens of former members of its highest order, the Sea Org, who say the church forced them to have abortions because having children would interfere with their religious mission.

An in-depth report by the St. Petersburg Times cites several women who have filed federal lawsuits against the church, claiming they were ordered to abort their children as teenagers and young women or be shunned by the church, facing hard labor or alienation from their husbands.

"The policy was if a staff member became pregnant, that they were to have an abortion," former Sea Org member Claire Headley, 35, told the newspaper.

After joining the Los Angeles branch of the Sea Org in 1991 at age 16 and marrying a fellow member the following year, Headley said Scientology leaders forced her to abort two pregnancies at age 19 and 21. She said she felt she "had no choice," adding that the only two women she saw remain pregnant in the Sea Org were ordered to hard labor, with one digging ditches while pregnant.

Though Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, wrote of his support of families in the Sea Org, a new rule banning children in the church's administrative order was enacted in 1996, under new leader David Miscavige. The church maintained that the rule protected the church mission and children as well, saying that children interfered with the productivity of Sea Org members and that the rigor of Sea Org life not is conducive to raising families.

Despite the rule, Church of Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis denied any allegations that the church pressured young women to undergo abortions, saying women who choose to become pregnant are asked to leave the Sea Org but compensated during their transition.

"There is no church policy to convince anyone to have an abortion, and the church has never engaged in such activity," Davis told the Times. "The decision to have a child or terminate a pregnancy is a personal decision made by a couple. That applies to all Scientologists.

"If any current or former Sea Org member ever 'pressured' someone to have an abortion, they did so independently, and that action was not approved, endorsed or advocated by the church," he said.

Laura Dieckman, 31, alleges otherwise in a federal lawsuit filed against the Church of Scientology. She joined the Sea Org in 1991 at age 12 and married fellow member Jesse DeCrescenzo four years later. In 1996, she said, she was pressed into aborting her pregnancy, a decision her then-husband supported.

"I was pounded for two days by the top person in my organization ... about how the baby wasn't a baby yet, it was just tissue and it wouldn't matter if I aborted the baby," Dieckman told the Times.

In emotional video on the paper's website, a tearful Dieckman, who left the church in 2004, recalls instantly regretting the abortion.

"They will do an ultrasound before the procedure so you see the heartbeat. ... I'm lying there ... and I was like, 'No,'" she said. "But it's too late. I'd already done it."

The church flatly denies Dieckman's allegations.

"Ms. Dieckman made her own choices,'' Davis told the Times, saying she aborted the pregnancy "following discussion with her husband, who told her he was not ready to have children.''

In sworn depositions obtained by the St. Petersburg Times, other Sea Org witnesses like Sunny Pereira say they too were bullied into abortions they did not want.

"They put you in this position where you're weighing the lives of all these people you're supposed to be saving against this one little tiny speck of nuisance that's growing inside of you," Pereira told the Times.

Davis said the women involved in the lawsuits are accusing the church because of decisions the women now "appear to regret."

Kathryn Reeves, a former Sea Org member who left the order in 2009 with her husband and baby daughter, said the Sea Org supported her decision to start a family.

"I received lots of care and support from the staff and at no time was I made to feel guilty for wanting to have a child,'' Reeves told the Times. "My pregnancy was very calm, very sane and completely free of upset."

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Taking the Cake

If you were wondering why I was away from blogging for over a week, I was in Dallas at my nephew's wedding and helping with the wedding cake. Weddings are a big thing in my family. We have a tradition of baking and decorating the bride's cake.

This started in the 1970s within my family of 6 girls. My dad had always allowed us to choose whether he would pay for our education or our wedding. Well, we were pretty smart cookies and chose to have him pay for our education, of course. So when it came time for our weddings, we all pitched in and helped one another celebrate the occasion by making the cakes and arranging flowers. This tradition in our family continues with the bride's cake to this day with weddings of all the nieces and nephews.
Almost 3 years ago, two of my sisters drove down to my house and decorated the cakes I had baked for my son and new daughter-in-law. The reception was at the house. I loved how this cake turned out!
When my daughter-in-law saw the cake, she was mesmerized. She had no idea the kind of work my sisters could do. The happiness in her facial expression will always be imprinted on my memory.
As the topper on the cake suggests, it was truly a "precious moment"!

But back to my reason for being away. This year's cake was unlike any other. My younger sister had learned how to make gum paste flowers this spring in preparing to make the next cake for her daughter's wedding in the fall. Evidently, gum paste flowers are all the rage. The newest member of this family asked for blue hydrangea blossoms and violet roses on her cake. Many hours went into making them and hand coloring them.
In a different way, this is the most beautifully decorated cake yet. Although not traditional in the sense of piping the flowers on with butter cream frosting, the flowers were wonderful. Set on a fountain with real hydrangeas arranged from my sister's yard, the presentation was gorgeous.
It's been a long time since that first cake in the 1970s. My wedding cake was the second one the sisters did. We've come a long way, baby!
Helping in other ways for sisterly weddings, I made my dress and two of my sisters wore it for their wedding! I copied a dress I had seen in a store by modifying a pattern I bought. The dress with train and lace with hand sewn pearls cost me $100 back in 1977. I recently took it apart and distributed the pieces of lace among the three of us girls. My pieces of lace are now in my wedding scrap album.

Who knows what my niece's wedding cake will be like this fall? I hear she likes orange calla lilies. :o)

Celebrating with Catholic Cuisine

Today, there was a reception for our associate pastor who was celebrating the first year of being a priest. It was a nice reception though more people should have come. Oh my gosh! We had lots of left-over cake and cookies!

It got me to thinking about all the foods we've served at various events up at church, especially after I was asked today if I was interested in helping with receptions this next year. I'm always helping out with friends whenever I am there.

Then, this evening, I came across this video.
I went to the blog it recommended called Catholic Cuisine. I thought it was a pretty cool blog with some nice ideas - some very classy and some just for fun. The contributors are Catholic moms who home school. Is there such a thing as being too Catholic? Some people might say that this is smothering them with religion. OUCH!

I do suppose you can take anything too far, but faith should be inherent, shouldn't it? I've often heard the question, "If you were arrested for being a Catholic, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" I truly believe that one's life should reflect one's faith both on the inside and on the outside. So why not with food? The closest I ever came to doing this with my children was the annual birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas and the candies brought to them by the Advent Angel during Advent.

I think it has great ideas, not only for families, but for catechists to use in their religious ed classes. Every kid likes to celebrate. Anyway, I'm adding it to my repertoire of blogs to check out regularly. I hope you enjoy it!

Will the Real B.S. Stand Up?

If all this is true, what is being done about it? How is it that someone can run for president without showing a birth record? I know this is old news but I keep hearing it.

It seems that we know so much about this man and yet so little. It is interesting that the video was removed from YouTube the last time it was up. Let's see how long this one lasts on YouTube!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Keeping your eyes open in this age of terrorism is a smart thing to do. Here is a good video from the Department of Homeland Security on how to recognize suspicious behavior.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Last Shall Be First and the First, Last

Received this from a friend today. With health care the way it is, this actually sounds like a pretty good deal for seniors compared to what they have now. Prison inmates on the other hand are very well taken care of. So the logic is: "Commit a crime and have great health care?" Maybe it would be a good thing for them to switch places.

What if we put the seniors in jail, and the criminals in a nursing home?
This way the seniors would have access to showers, hobbies, and walks. They’d receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc. and they'd receive money instead of paying it out. They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance. Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them. A guard would check on them every 20 minutes, and bring their meals and snacks to their cell. They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose. They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counseling,  pool, and education. Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, P.J.'s and legal aid would be free, on request. Private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens. Each senior could have a P.C. a T.V. radio, and daily phone calls. There would be a board of directors, to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct, that would be strictly adhered to.

The "criminals" would get cold food, be left all alone, and unsupervised, lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week. Live in a tiny room, and pay $5000.00 per month and have no hope of ever getting out.

Justice for all.

It makes more sense than the way it is set up now. Law abiding seniors are treated like criminals and suffer from abuse and neglect while criminals are treated like kings. Just saying!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A House for God

It is so sad that so many Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I often see a lack of reverence during the distribution of Holy Communion. As a daily Communicant, I don't witness this so much during the week. We did have a fellow at daily Mass a while back who refused to say, "Amen" when he received. Every time he took the Host in his hand, he treated it like a poker chip while he chewed the priest out for not providing Holy Communion under both species. But he is the exception during the week.
Sundays are a different matter. I regularly see people receive as though Holy Communion was a piece of chewing gum. Once I even caught a child putting the Consecrated Host in her pocket and informed the parent who took care of the matter with haste.
People come to Mass improperly dressed - with body parts peeping out or popping out that should be kept private. Unfortunately I must admit that I laughed one Sunday when our pastor talked about women bowing in improper attire before receiving Communion. He said that there were times when he thought that "the lambs would leap over the fence." I wasn't the only one laughing but I don't really think that this was his preferred response. Father often spoke about the need for modest dress in church. After all, remember the parable about the man improperly dressed for the wedding feast?

...Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.' But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.' And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. "But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen." ~ Matthew 22:1-14
I don't think that it is any different today. I am amazed at mothers who allow their daughters to wear short skirts or spaghetti strap tops with their middle showing. Do they not think about the fact that their daughters become an occasion of sin for young men with raging hormones? We need to be teaching our daughters about modesty. And don't tell me that you cannot find anything suitable for church. It's out there. We just need to let them know what happens to a young man when they see so much skin on a young lady. Why would we want our daughters to be the object of lust - and especially in church? Is it no wonder we have so many babies born out of wedlock or aborted by single women who find themselves pregnant?
But back to the topic at hand - the miracle that takes place on every altar every day. I got the info below in an email from a friend. It had been posted on FreeRepublic. If such miracles don't affect those sitting on the fence about the Real Presence, nothing will.
Sunday morning at Mass Fr. John Hedges gave a powerful talk on the Holy Eucharist.  He mentioned in St.  Faustina's Diary that  Jesus told her that many people receive him as a "dead object."    And after Holy Communion, it is as if he is invited in to someone's house and they close the door and leave.  Fr. told us to prepare well and to spend time in silent adoration thanking God for the wondrous gift of his son.
Then Fr.John told us that we had a desecration of the Eucharist last weekend and that it was not the first time.  He said that often people come from all over to an event--wedding, funeral, etc. and march up to receive the Sacrament (despite the fact that he always gives a little explanation about reception of the Eucharist when not a Catholic) or fallen away Catholics who need confession.
At any rate, a host was found with a bite out of it and stuck to a hymnal.  Fr. removed the consecrated host, placed it in a container with some water in it to dissolve it and then dispose of it correctly.  The next day he opened the tabernacle and the host was bleeding!!!  He returned the host to the tabernacle and viewed it later and the blood was now a small dot visible on the host.  The third time he checked on the host, it was again full of blood.  Fr. mentioned that this was not the first time this has happened.  He had experienced this before but took it to mean that it was meant for him.  This time he felt that he had to share it with the parish.
After Mass Fr. John held prayers for the reparation of desecration to the sacred species.  With the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament  we did the Litany to the Heart of Jesus, had Benediction and recited the Divine Praises.
I do not need to tell you how many of us were crying during the talk.   People's faces were RED.  At the end of the Mass, Fr John placed the monstrance  on the altar and told us to genuflect on TWO knees and to keep absolute silence as we left.  He himself remained kneeling in front of the altar until we had all left.
There are actually many such Eucharistic miracles all over the world. In August of 2008, my husband and I went on a pilgrimage with our church to Italy. We witnessed several Eucharistic miracles, but the one in Lanciano has to be the one the impressed me the most. We went to the little church of St. Francis right after lunch and Fr. Joel celebrated Mass with a mere curtain separating us from where the miracle was on display. After Mass we were allowed a brief time there before being told that we were going to watch a video on the history behind the miracle. I stepped into the hallway not really wanting to go and when I saw that no one was there, I said to the person next to me that I didn't want to watch a video when I was with "the real thing". The resident priest heard me and said, "Yes, you come and enjoy." He took me by the arm into a little darkened chapel behind the miracle and there in front of me at eye level was Jesus. I fell to my knees and wept. Who was I to be brought here? Nothing! For half an hour, though I had no concept of time, I contemplated the God who humbles Himself to become a prisoner of the tabernacle - Who takes the form of bread and wine to nourish our souls. How can we resist the call to be a house for God - to receive Him every day we possibly can? It was my wish before going on the pilgrimage to have the desire to be a daily communicant. He graciously granted me that wish.
I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure" --for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are true words of God." ~ Revelation 19: 6-9