My Thoughts Exactly

Quote

“G. K. Chesterton reminds us in Orthodoxy, God may indeed be “strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. This may be our most holy calling: to persist with our daily obligations and routines, and even to enjoy the ordinariness of life. As an Episcopal bishop, Frank Wade, has said: “I am certain that God must love the ordinary, because he made so much of it.”          -Kathleen Norris

shesnosaint’s Top 10 Weird eBay Nativity Sets!

This one is very mooving. Glory to the moo born king!

There are several incarnations of blessed animal sets…this one is for all the crazy cat ladies:

Bah rump pah pum pum…meow…

There are dogs, too, of course. This schnauzer set is homemade…I know, hard to believe.

Nativity cupcakes seem strange to me primarily because they aren’t edible.

Yummy Baby Jesus!

You can even take a bath with a holy family of rubber duckies. I wonder if they squeak/squirt.

Prefer showers?

Many of the sets are for both decorative and practical use. You could use the thimbles as you sew for the church all year long. Mind where you put your fingers. Several scenes are made with blonde children…it’s a creepy recurring theme and I can’t understand why.

This one is a tea set. You can drink out of a sheep’s back and put sugar in the camel’s hump under the chicken lid…

St. Joseph’s teddy bear head pops right off to accommodate creamer.

More adorable blonde children (and no baby Jesus?)…

The hands down winner of weirdness is the clown water globe nativity!

And a bonus bit of eBay holiday magic…the headless gingerbread man. Enjoy!

Resurrection Life?

First things first – my tumor marker number is exactly where it was in March, which is exactly where it should be. Hallelujah!!

The feeling of relief feels like butterscotch glowing out from my heart. It feels like the first bite of a oreo mud pie. It feels better than finding true treasure at Goodwill. You get the idea.

Last night we went to RCIA (Catholic school for adults). The presenter talked about what it means to take part in the crucifixion and to “live a resurrection life”.

Lord, I really get irritated when Christians use abstract poetic language like that. Someone writes something in a popular book and then the Dearly Beloved begin endlessly repeating phrases like “living a resurrection life” and “we want to love on you.”

Love ON me? Um….enough said.

Ms. Cranky is digressing….what was I…oh, right…resurrection and love. Okay.

Anyhoo, when one is interested in learning more practical things about what it means to live life with a focus on God day-by-day and down in the trenches, it can be frustrating with all the new language. I usually just tune out or start pointing out things I think are funny to my husband to make sure he isn’t getting anything valuable out of whatever is happening either since we’re “one flesh.”

A wall chart and diagram were used last night, as well as some visualization and “laying on of hands” which wasn’t as creepy as it sounds. The diagram was an illustration of the speakers day which showed how once something negative happened in the morning, the whole darn day continued to go south. UNTIL…something good happened.

No, that’s not the epiphany moment…bear with me, please. The teacher then explained that at the low point of the day, there was a choice available to her. The same kind of choice that is available to the depressed person who is considering suicide. It’s the choice to choose life (another catch phrase, but one I like and can understand).

I think what she was getting at is that the same impetus that affirms we can check out at any moment physically/permanently is the instinct behind the smaller decision we make when we just decide an entire day is screwed and go to bed with some food. She said when we choose to keep looking upwards and forwards, that’s resurrection life.

Seems kind of an undramatic way to participate in something considered to be the greatest blessing and miracle of the holy redeemer of all people. But sometimes practical and heroic also equals undramatic. I’m considering. What do you think? I would really love to know…

She’s No Saint: Dorothy Day

“Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed so easily.”

November 8, 1897 – November 29, 1980

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?”

“Life itself is a haphazard, untidy, messy affair.”

“Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”

““What we would like to do is change the world–make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, the poor, of the destitute–the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words–we can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as our friend.”

Click for Dorothy Day Mini Documentary “Don’t Call Me a Saint”

The Cancer Ghost of Christmas Past

This is my first Advent season as a confirmed Catholic. So what is it all about? Well, I’m not sure what it is all about yet. I’m new. There is purple involved, and a wreath.

The brief basics are that Advent is a season that happens during four weeks before Christmas. The focus is both on Christ’s historical and future “coming”. Advent means “coming”. It’s a bit like Lent Lite.

Some folks do readings each day during the season, or pray special prayers. One fun thing about Catholicism – there are endless activities and prayers and devotions one can choose to take part in, or not.

Today was my 6 month check in with my Oncologist – which was actually almost 9 mo. because I dread them and they cost beaucoup clams. I was pretty preoccupied with the appointment all day. When I go in, the lab draws blood and I get thoroughly checked out. The big focus for me is on my tumor marker results. There are several markers for cancer, and basically those are all rolled up into one number called your tumor marker. If the number keeps dropping, as has blessedly happened thus far….we’re golden. If the number begins to rise, then it could be an indication there is something malignant happening inside.

Odd thing about cancer – often you can’t feel it and have no idea that you have it. And no idea that you don’t. There is waiting involved. And sometimes the spectre of cancer comes in to haunt and oppress a survivor. What if it comes back? Can I survive it again? What will my family do if I die? It doesn’t end cleanly. No definite resolution.

As soon as I realize I’m being haunted, I can take steps to fight against this spiritual type of cancer. What I do is try to shift the focus to gratitude instead of worry. I change the questions from what if I die to what if this is my last day. What if I hadn’t lived to see this day? What if this is the last time I talk to this person? This person is alive and I’m alive. It feels good to concentrate on being alive…being inside this body, breathing this air, holding this dog on the couch next to my husband. At the very least, this distracts me from pointless fear. At the very best, it’s life-affirming and brings me into blissful moments of being present to the miracles we are surrounded by. So that’s a pretty impressive payoff.

Advent happens during a dark time of the year. We can turn our focus from the dark, short days to the coming light instead. We can look forward to Christmas, and be grateful for the ways that our life has already been blessed. Cancer happens, but it puts the focus on life in the same way that shadow emphasizes the light.

What are you thankful for?

What wonderful things keep you going when you are in a slothful slump? What grabs your attention in the midst of your regular routine and whispers “Hey! This is fairly fantastic!” I’m very curious and would really love to know a few things on your Thanksgiving list if you don’t mind sharing. And if you don’t have a list…make one. You won’t do anything else as worthwhile all weekend.

I’m a couple of days late with my list of things I’m thankful for because I’ve been busy in full-on enjoyment of said things. So without further ado…in no particular order…my list:

  • Finally feeling that God might – just a bit – actually love me as I am.
  • Not being in a lost, dark space where I’ve spent some time in the past.
  • A ridiculously fun living situation with my bff and our zoo.
  • The family of hummingbirds living in the wine-colored trees across the street who we’ll hopefully get to see feeding just outside our front window all year again. These magic mini-birds encouraged me during the last cycles of chemo and hold a hallowed place in my heart.

  • Striped socks
  • Lip gloss
  • Music – the old reliable stuff and the new gems that offer blessed hope every once in a while that the genuine good days aren’t over.
  • Bath lotions and potions for silky scented skin
  • My iPad…for so many reasons
  • The dogs. They make every day worthwhile and make unconditional love look easy.
  • Blouis, my Subaru
  • My job. I am so lucky to have a job with easy access to good coffee. And one that uses my natural abilities to allow me to work closely with amazing people I may not otherwise meet. And best of all, I work in a building with a handful of my favorite friends.
  • I’m grateful that I’m not burdened with a striving, materialistic heart and that I am easily entertained and distracted.
  • Color

  • Shiny things!
  • Pinterest, facebook, amazon.com…the seemingly infinite offerings of interesting things on the interwebs!
  • The new camera that I’m getting for Christmas
  • Our cozy cottage and my secret garden

This is just a sampling…a puny percentage of the really really long list…but now it’s your turn…

Go!

My Thoughts Exactly

Quote

“Life is this simple. We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through all the time. This is not just a fable or a nice story. It is true.

If we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes, and we see it maybe frequently.

God shows himself everywhere, in everything — in people and in things and in nature and in events.

It becomes very obvious that God is everywhere and in everything and we cannot be without him; it’s impossible.”       -Thomas Merton