Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sabbath Sunday: Simple Reminders

Happy Palm Sunday! It's been a pretty wet and rainy (and then dry and sort of sunny) day here. My Sabbath Sunday post is about my Good Friday experience last year.

It was originally posted on Blessed is the Kingdom when I "subbed" for Fr. Christian while he was away. I reposted it on my blog as part of my Leftovers series.

You can read "Simple Reminders" here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Where is the Love?

Last night the entire UT community got an email from Chancellor Jimmy Cheek. The subject line said, "Campus Civility." Great, I thought...what did someone do now?

Here is what has been happening as of late on campus:
We have had an increase in the number of reported incidents of actions and language that reflect bias on our campus. These actions include derogatory and racist language found in our dormitories. We also had an incident where someone threw a banana at visiting African American students, their parents and guidance counselors. This incident was witnessed by some of our own UT ambassadors.
Welcome to the University of Tennessee, folks! Amazing right? How can people do things like that? I can't even begin to wrap my mind around how cruel, selfish, and mean people can be. It makes me so mad that I have to stop myself from becoming just like those who do hurtful things. I'd like to throw a banana in your face, a-hole. But I won't.

I don't want to be like them, so how do I channel my hurt and my anger into something that won't hurt someone else? All I can say is BLEGH. While I am not black/African American (I have friends who refer to themselves as either/or/both), I do know what it feels like to be made fun of or even dare I say, discriminated against?

I am a short, blonde, white girl. I know that some people will automatically assume that I don't know how to add or how to read or that I don't have any knowledge/smarts. All I care about is make-up and tanning and clothes, right? It's just air up in there, right?

Wrong. I am an intelligent person who happens to be blonde. I don't even wear make-up, I am pale during the winter months, and I'll wear whatever I pull out of the dresser. I hate it that because of my hair color, people may be more inclined to think less of me, especially if they haven't taken the time to get to know me. I can't even imagine how an African American must feel when people assume things about them because of their skin color.

There are stereotypes out there, one to fit every type of person. Because you are: black, white, Latino, Asian, blonde, brunette, red-headed, short, tall, skinny, fat, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, frat boy, sorority girl, Democrat, Republican, athlete, couch potato, Honor society member, video game club member, religious, non-religious, rich, or poor you must certainly belong here and you must certainly do this and think this way.

Just because there are stereotypes out there doesn't mean we actually belong to/fit in with that stereotype. There is good in all of us, as there is evil. Unfortunately, at times, the evil tends to overshadow the good, and the good gets forgotten, buried deep down inside somewhere.

I guess at the end of the day, one of the things that comforts me is that God loves me. Jesus loves me no matter what my IQ level is, my hair color, my skin color, etc. We are all made in the image of God. Some of my friends and others on this campus are black and God loves them. I am blonde and God loves me.

I keep asking myself, where's the love? What happened to it? God still loves us, but it seems that the love we should have for one another has disappeared.

It's still here, as surprising as that fact it is to me. Jesus didn't stop loving us because we put Him on the cross. Right now it just seems that our love for one another is covered up by hate and ignorance. Hopefully this campus can clean itself up, and we can move on from this mess.

Pray for all those who are hurt and especially for those who think it's funny to throw things at someone, just because they are different.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Times Like These


This past weekend, we had some visitors from Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH) at St. Thomas. To learn more about the wonderful and awesome NPH, read my posts about it here and here, watch an interview between Fr. Christian and Fr. Ron here, or visit their website. If that isn't enough information, then I don't know what you can do to learn more!

Father Ron Hicks, Regional Director of NPH Central America, Juan Manuel, and Alex traveled from the home in El Salvador. Sherman Humphrey from Friends of the Orphans, came from Miami. On Sunday, St. Thomas had a "Friend-Raiser" to help increase awareness in our parish about NPH and also to unite all of the godparents together for the first time. It was quite fun!

Monday, however, was even better. We all played hooky from school and work to have a fun day. We went to Cracker Barrel, a first for Juan Manuel and Alex. Then we went to a big arcade in one of the 3 big tourist-drawing cities in Eastern Tennessee. After many tickets won and coins lost to faulty games, Alex walked away with quite the prize load.

We decided to drive further into the mountains so that the boys could see snow. We made our way up to Ober Gatlinburg, and outside of the entrance to the ski/snowboard area, we had a quick snowball fight.

We hung around, munching on carnival-like fare until we decided that we would all ice-skate. It was Alex's first time. I kept asking him if he wanted to skate, but he just shook his head no. Then, when we asked if he wanted to learn how to skate, he said yes! It's all about how you ask the question.

It was so much fun! Sherman and I each took Alex's hands, and we went around the rink a couple of times. Eventually, Alex was brave enough to go off on his own. It was so exciting for me to be a part of that special day for him and Juan Manuel.

Seeing those boys and Fr. Ron just made me even more excited about the possibility of going back to NPH El Salvador this summer. I realize as an "NPH veteran" that my chances aren't as high as they would've been the first time around, but boy do I want to go.

You all should too!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Confirmation & The Can Can Man

Today has been an exceptional one, to say the least. God blessed us with an absolutely perfect, beautiful day outside.

My sister April made her Confirmation today. Going to Confirmations is always fun for me, but today was even cooler because my sister was receiving the sacrament. It's always nice to see Bishop Stika, whom I don't get to see very often. It felt good when he looked at me and said, "Hey, haven't I seen you around before?" Yes Bishop Stika, many times (I'm not counting or anything, but I'd say today makes 8 or 9...just saying)! I think by next time he'll remember my name.

After the little reception was over, Fr. Christian wanted to show me the way cool St. Thomas Reality TV blog. You can check it out here. I'm glad to be a part of its debut, although the video with me in it hasn't aired yet. Stay tuned and check back in a few hours to St. Thomas Reality TV. It's a hoot. Or, it will be eventually.

Anyway, once we entered his office, he said whoaaaaaa. I looked up and saw a massive pile of cans sitting in the middle of his office. As per the "Can the Pastor" instructions, people are making a giant step towards booting FC out of his office in order to raise food for the local Good Samaritan center. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Can Can Man:

I arrived home late last night to discover that my boys, Rocky and Charlie, are finally getting along with each other. They're playing! But shhh, they might even learn to love each other. However, I am sad because Charlie is getting too big too fast. I was only gone 5 days and look at how big he is!

Check out my sister's incredibly cool yet gross finger injury. Kayla's face says it all, which is, "I'm a bad-a." I wish my reason for the ER was as cool as hers, although I'm a big baby so I'll secretly stick with just having a severe case of hives instead of ripping a chunk of my thumb open. Here's what chain link fence + a 5 year old + a game of tag =

At the end of the day, I still smell like incense (my FAVORITE smell in the entire world), burning wood, and horses. If I could make that into a perfume, I totally would. Reading that probably doesn't seem like it would smell good. But it does!

I was able to drive around with the windows open. My family had a great time.

I love God and all the marvelous things he has placed in my life. It was a great first day of Spring.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Barabbas


So my goal for this year was to post more often, instead of days at a time. Then I realized that this morning, that goal had turned into an epic fail. Why? I wondered.

Oh wait! I know...it's college. This past week I've been given loads of work in Spanish, and I had to finish the final touches on my speech that I presented last night. Man oh man was I not looking forward to giving the speech. I know the subject matter like the back of my hand, but I was just nervous and worried about not staying within time limits (I have a big problem with that). Afterward, I felt pretty good about it. Then, in order to do my self-evaluation, I had to watch myself on DVD. So I did, and while it was nowhere near a perfect speech, it was pretty darn good.

I also had to watch a movie for Spanish class, and the only one left that they would be showing at the library (for free I might add) was El Orfanato. It is a product of Guillermo del Toro, labeled as a horror film, and entirely in Spanish. I had to leave the auditorium 20 minutes into the movie because they didn't put the Spanish subtitles on the screen, so I wasn't following along as well as I could have if I was reading along. So I took advantage of the system, and subscribed to Netflix for their 2 week free trial.

In hindsight, I probably should've toughed it out and watched the movie with the others in the auditorium. I watched the first half alone in my room. Big mistake for a scaredy-cat like me! I finished it last night (this time with my roommate in the room). Boy was it one good (but scary!) movie. I highly recommend it, even if you don't like foreign films or subtitles or scary movies, you should still watch it.

After the movie, I crawled up into bed in the wee hours of this morning. I pulled out the "Little Black Book" for Lent, which is a book filled with 6 minute reflections for every day of Lent. Tuesday night and Wednesday night's Scripture verses were about Barabbas and the crowd demanding that Pilate crucify Jesus.

I kept thinking about Barabbas. He was saved by the crowd, and in his place an innocent man was put to death. Did Barabbas know who he was being exchanged for? After the fact, did he realize the gravity of what just happened? I hope that Barabbas would have come to believe in Christ, especially after His crucifixion. Did he?

Barabbas didn't make the decision to be saved, although I'm sure he really appreciated the crowd's decision. We, unlike Barabbas, can make the decision. Choices are laid out for us everyday. Choices to find Christ in others, to be the light of Christ for others, the choice to choose Christ over everything else.

So if you walk away with anything from this post, I hope it is this: college is a time-consuming monster, and you need to watch El Orfanato. We must be thankful for our second chances, like the given to Barabbas, and we need to try to make the best of all our decisions.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sabbath Sunday: Duke

I realized all too late after I pushed the 'enter' button on the laptop that I already did this as a Sabbath Sunday post over at the always awesome Blessed is the Kingdom.

However, I still want to share it again. After one month of Duke being gone from this world, this post is a celebration of life and a reminder that he is still in hearts, memories, and prayers.

You can read the post, "Duke", here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dogs, Love, and Friday

Once again, I am late for 7 Quick Takes Friday, courtesy of Conversion Diary. I have a feeling that this will be a once a month thing that I happen to remember to do if I log on to blogger.com early enough on Friday. I'm only 19...I shouldn't have memory problems!

-1-
It was Spring Break this week for the University of Tennessee. Last Friday you could almost taste the freedom in the air. I spent a nice week at home visiting with friends and "living" at home again. Now I can taste the dread and reluctance in the air about returning to small rooms and papers.

-2-
I have a better understanding of unconditional love. Not that I didn't before, but having a puppy in my life has served as a furry, chaotic reminder of how selfless love can be. I've been home all week, babysitting a dog. Yesterday when my sister didn't get off the bus, Charlie and I jumped in the car to go look for her. Boy was he excited! However, we didn't make it out of the driveway because my sister found a ride home. Next time Charlie, next time. Anyway, when his tail wags and he attempts to jump up on the couch to sit with you, you know you are loved. If nothing else in the world shows you the power of love, just go to the pound and save a dog's life.

-3-Speaking of dogs, the two boys are slowly learning how to live with each other. Little Charlie follows Rocky around, trying to play with his big brother. Rocky doesn't really want anything to do with Charlie, and in spite of his age and substantially bigger size, Rocky runs away from Charlie. I grabbed my camera and contorted myself to capture this shot of the two of them. This is the closest they've been to each other without any barking, growling, or running away.

-4-We have some new horses at the barn. The horses seem to be coming and going at rate that has never really happened before at Horse Haven. We get some in, and then you turn around and some are gone, off to good homes. That is the end goal for all of our horses, mind you, but it is just a little weird. The above picture is of Midnight and Dolly. I love them already! They're such camera hams.

-5-
My mom decided while she was taking pictures of Charlie that she would take some of my sisters and me. I already know that I can't take a picture to save my life. In my defense though, my mom never once told me when she was taking one, so I either was talking, blinking, or chewing a spaghetti noodle. I also suffer from Squinty Eye Syndrome. It's a real problem. So I just gave up and did this...

-6-
Last night I went over to my youth minister's house to have dinner with Mel's family and watch Survivor. I know I know, you're thinking...Survivor. Lame. But it's not! I have watched almost every season since it began, and I like it. I can't help it. Anyway, we had a good time yesterday. While we watched we also played a guessing game to see who did what, etc. I won a few times and made quite a profit.

-7-
Betty White is hosting Saturday Night Live on Mother's Day. I am so excited. Enough said.

Happy Friday!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Charlie!

Before I get to the Charlie part, here is a funny but stupid story from my life.

Remember a few weeks ago when Lindsay Vonn thought she might not be able to compete in the Olympics? She wasn't sure she could compete to her fullest with her "bruised right shin." I remember thinking, it is just a bruise. I have had many bruises on my legs before and was able to function. Why would skiing be a problem?

My not understanding feelings changed to slightly sympathetic feelings when I actually watched the events she was in. Holy moly did those skiers work their legs. At that point I understood why her 2010 Olympic future was hanging by a string. I guess with a bad bruise on your shin you can't twist and turn as fast as they did.

Then, last Thursday I was goofing around with a friend. He pretended that we were going to fight. I raised my right leg up to create some semblance of self defense when suddenly we both yelped and hopped away from each other, holding our own legs. As he brought his leg forward, I did too, and our shins hit really hard. Bam!

After that, my friends and I were walking back to our dorms. My other friend who was walking in front of me was walking too slow for my pace. He also presented an easy target for my favorite game...kicking a person's foot out from underneath them while they take a step. It's quite fun. Anyway, I knew after a certain point that I should have stopped, but I didn't. All of a sudden, he stopped and brought his foot back and kicked me right on the exact spot where I had the shin collision.

If you think that didn't hurt, you surely must be crazy. Because it hurt a lot. The next day in class, as I was crossing my right leg over the left, I hit the metal bar that holds the desk legs together. I managed to keep my mouth shut without so much as uttering a single swear word...out loud. The only sad part about this sordid tale is that I do not have an impressive bruise to show you. According to my best friend, that also means that I cannot whine about it. I've had near misses (siblings almost hitting me) and straight on catastrophes (putting on my barn boots without thinking that they sit on the bruised area) with my shin. Which brings me to Charlie...

Today my family brought home our new puppy, Charlie. He is 8 weeks old and has humongous paws. Charlie is a Retriever mix.

We actually picked him out on Saturday, but when we went back to the puppy room in the shelter, he was gone! A pet rescue came in while we were playing with another dog and took Charlie away. So a good portion of my mother's weekend was spent tracking down Charlie. We knew he was the dog for us, so we were all desperately hoping that we found him in time before someone else got him.

The lady who rescued him took him to a pet fair, where a lot of people were interested in him. Luckily we got in touch with her this morning before the others did. Charlie almost slipped away! She brought him to our house earlier this afternoon, and I have been in love ever since.

That goofy dog climbs all over, chews the strings from the holes in my jeans, nibbles my fingers, and chases our older dog around. He is such a ham and loves to be held and sit in your lap. We were out in the yard, and he walked all over my legs, including my triple-bruised in the same 2 inch area shin.

I can't get mad at him though with a face like this...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sabbath Sunday: 'Be merciful, just as your father is merciful'

It is a lovely Sunday today. We went outside to rake leaves and now are burning them. A cool breeze is blowing and the sun is shining. I love it! Thanks God.

Today's Sabbath Sunday post is called 'Be merciful, just as your father is merciful.' It is one of my favorites. You can read it here. Don't forget to check out the other Sabbath posts at Blessed is the Kingdom!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Happiness

Last night I crawled into bed, suddenly feeling blue and not too happy. It was weird, I thought, since I had an awesome day the entire day. I just started thinking about a lot of things, and then I realized that I just didn't feel happy. As part of my evening prayer, I opened my little green book full of daily reflections, not expecting much. I just thought I would read some words and hopefully go to sleep. Ha! God had another plan in mind. The Scripture verse was:
I consider that the sufferings of the present are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. -Romans 8:18
It was exactly what I needed to hear. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with this sense of peace and happiness, knowing that what God had just told me was true. My sufferings will pass. They are not even close to what the good that is to come. I can't even begin to tell you how much that helped!

Today has been one excellent way to start off my Spring Break. My two afternoon classes were canceled, so I was done with class at 11. All through out my English and Intro. to Stats classes this morning, people were cracking jokes left and right, asking ridiculous questions, and going off on tangents every 5 seconds. It was great fun.

I managed to get all of my stuff into the car in two trips. For the first time in a long time, I drove out of the parking garage with my sunglasses on and the windows rolled down! It was absolutely wonderful outside. We had a few days like today a couple of weeks ago, but then it snowed and got nasty and cold since then. Today was a nice reprieve, and hopefully it will be the beginning of a nice change in the weather.

When I got home, I threw all of my things into my room and just laid on the couch. It feels good having a tolerable amount of homework, but being able to put it aside in favor of the couch is an awesome thing. I didn't take the interstate all the way home, but instead took a back road. On the way, I passed my town's nice little walking trail and thought it would be a good idea to take a walk.

After a few veg hours on the couch, I looked at my dog Rocky and asked him if he wanted to go for a ride. Of course he did! What dog wouldn't want to? The two of us set off on a rather short adventure, Rocky always tugging on the leash and never just walking. We made it to the 0.9 mile marker in the hopes of making it to the 1.0 mile marker for a round trip total of 2.0 miles. Rocky however did not want to cross another street, so we ended up walking 1.8 miles. It was not quite the goal I had hoped for, but for his first walk in a long time, I'm pretty proud of him.

The only sad part of the walk was that every now and then, I kept thinking of how much Duke would have loved to come out there. I don't think we ever brought him on a walk on the trail, and it made me sad. In spite of that depressing thought, it felt like he was walking with us.

Next time we go, I hope to remember to bring my camera. I was mad when I realized that I left it at home instead of bringing it on the walk. It was so beautiful out today! God truly is wonderful. He knows just what to do to make you feel better.

Now I'm getting a nice dose of laughter watching the always funny Bernie Mac Show. Happy Friday! :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Thief


A thought occurred to me the other day. This isn't a rare occurrence, mind you, but the fact that I still remember the conversation that I had with myself (in my head, not out loud!) a couple of days ago should tell you something. Especially since I have a whole week of freedom and no class on my mind as well as lots of homework/researching/surveying/writing/scheduling to do. I digress.

Have you ever pictured yourself as the good thief on the cross? You know, the one who defended Jesus from the derision of the other condemned man?

But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." -Luke 23: 40-43

I think we could all take a page from the good thief's book. Not the page about willfully doing wrong or illegal things. Let's take the page about defending our Lord and our beliefs, about following Jesus and no one else. Let's learn to recognize our sins and that wonderful gift that they are washed away by the death of the guy on the cross next to us. They are washed away because that guy loves us and wants only the best for us.

Only, this guy isn't just any guy. He is the guy. The Son of God. Our Redeemer. Our Savior. God made flesh to walk amongst us, to teach us of the Father's love and peace, to bring healing and salvation to the world.

The thief on the cross recognized who the man next to him was. He defended Jesus from the other condemned man. Then, he asked Jesus to remember him. That's all he wanted was to be remembered by Jesus. He didn't ask to be taken off of the cross.

That's what I want too. To be remembered by Jesus so that I may enter into Paradise with Him. As painful as carrying my crosses can be, I don't want them to just disappear. I want help to carry them.

The thief and I surprisingly have a lot in common.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happy Feast Day!


It's just 40 minutes shy of midnight, but I just now found time (and remembered) to post about my Patron Saint.

Happy Feast Day St. Katharine Drexel. You rock! Pray for me. May I give all of my self the way you did for God's purpose.

Ours is the spirit of the Eucharist, the total gift of self.