Jun 28, 2015

In a Better World

In a better world, I'd be teaching middle school math. In a better world, I'd be certified to teach middle school math. In a better world, ALSDE would grant certification to teach middle school math based on my having passed the Praxis exam for middle school math, plus experience tutoring, and 9+ years in the classroom. In a better world, children would not be saying, "Mrs. Kennedy, I wish you were our real teacher, because you're good at explaining this." In a better world, I'd be their teacher.

And I would teach.

It's what I do.

It's what I do well.

And everyone knows it.

Except ALSDE. Anyone out there friends with Tommy Bice?


Jun 27, 2015

Nothing Has Changed

Each of us is called to either a Sacramental Marriage, or Celibacy.

No legislation or judicial fiat can change that.

Nothing has changed.


Jun 26, 2015

Rose Candle


"I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored," said the late Erma Bombeck, in an essay about how she might have lived her life differently. 

While growing up, my mom laughed uproariously at her columns, while I only chuckled at the jokes I got. I get all of them now.

I thought about my mom, and Erma, while wrapping the "good" koozie around my Dr. Pepper the other evening. 

The good koozie?

Yes, it's the fancy one. I keep it in the china cabinet.

You're kidding, right?

Um, no.

It's time to take the good koozie off the pedestal and put it to work! What, in heaven's name, am I saving it for? I don't have a lot of "nice" things (mother of 5 speaking) but if my drink is not worthy of the "good" koozie, than I have bigger problems than just having the wrong beverage in my hand.

Now go burn your rose candle.

Jun 25, 2015

Hate the Sin










It is incumbent upon me to hate the sin.

All sins.

Even my own.

Especially my own.


Jun 23, 2015

2016 Election

So today, Jindal throws his hat in the ring. What does that make, a million and six candidates for President?

Oh dear. How long will it be before they cannibalize each other?

I'm betting on Jeb Bush. Check back here later and see if I'm right.


Jun 22, 2015

All Things Are Permissible


St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:12

Douay-Rheims Bible
All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient. All things are lawful to me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 


If you are offended by this flag, and there is no righteous reason for me to fly it, then I will take it down out of respect for you. It's ok for me to fly it, but it's not ok to deliberately offend, in matters of little consequence. 

It's ok for me to eat beef, but not when my Hindu friend is visiting. It's ok for me to eat bacon, but not when my Muslim friend is visiting. I love my friends. All colors. All creeds. You don't win them over to your way of thinking by offending them deliberately. 

You start with your points of agreement. I love you, my Muslim friends! Like you, I also worship the God of Abraham and Isaac. 

Yes, I do. Let's start there.


Jun 21, 2015

The God Who Calms the Wind and the Waves

Today's Gospel reading takes me back to November 2006. I subbed in a first grade classroom, in a Catholic school. I love teaching in Catholic school, because I don't have to worry about offending any sneezers when I automatically say "God bless you."  In Catholic school, Religion is in the curriculum.

The lesson was Jesus asleep in the boat during the storm. After talking about it, we acted it out. I picked the first 12 boys in the line and said, “You’re apostles – go to the front of the room and be in the boat!” They went up front.

The next student was supposed to be Jesus – ooops – the next student was a girl. I skipped her and went to the next boy. I told him, “You’re Jesus – go get in the boat!” and he went up front. “Ok, apostles, start fishing. Jesus, go to sleep!” So the apostles cast out their imaginary Daiwa fishing rods & reels, and “Jesus” lay down.

The rest of the class was divided between wind and waves. The wind children blew noisily on the (imaginary) boat, and the wave children waved at it. I said “Apostles! You’re scared!” They opened their eyes wide and shivered. I said, “Now wake up Jesus!” and twelve boys dogpiled on this poor boy, saying,  “Wake up, Jesus! Wake up!”

He wakes up, raises his hand to the wind and waves, and says authoritatively, “Hush y’all!” Instantly the wind and waves are still. (At this point I’m thinking Jesus was from South Galilee, and trying not to laugh…) The actors took a bow, and we talked about the God who calms the wind and the sea: quite a relevant lesson for children who live on the Gulf Coast during hurricane season.

Jun 20, 2015

Abstinence vs Moderation

When I quit smoking, ages ago (thank you, Jesus!) I quit smoking. I came to realize that I didn't want "just one." I wanted all of them. I can't "reward" myself because I've been so good, because one leads to another and another.

So I quit. For good. Once and for all.

I am at a point now where I am struggling with my weight, and I cannot use the same strategy or hard-willed determination that worked before. I have to come up with a new plan.

You don't need cigarettes to live. You do need food. So how do you reconcile the need to eat, with moderation and satiety?

I can't just quit eating. I can't just quit thinking of food. Gluttony is a sin, and as such, eating too much is a spiritual problem.

I don't have an answer or any miracle diet to try. I'm going to commit it to confession and penance (Lord, please don't let the priest give me fasting as a penance!!!)

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for your prayers.

Jun 19, 2015

Mind = Blown

You can hardly read internet articles any more without seeing a link or a listicle about something promising to "blow your mind!" (A listicle is what substitutes for journalism. It gives us a "list" of 10 things you must do, 5 things never to eat, 6 things that should never be on your resume, and so on.)

Blow my mind? Adrenal fatigue much? How can my mind be blown again and again? Really, the reason for the extra shoelace hole in my sneakers will blow my mind?

Or the ads on Yahoo, which I've seen with many variations on the theme: "Great new [insert name of product here - weight loss product, vitamin, etc] takes [insert store name here] by storm!  Really? Takes it by storm? The weight loss product didn't just show up on the drug store shelf one day and a reasonable amount of people bought a reasonable amount of it for whatever reason? People stormed? Did they have to call in riot control?

When everything is underlined, nothing is underlined.
When everything is bold, nothing is bold.
When everything blows my mind, nothing blows my mind.


Jun 18, 2015

I Don't Get Anything Out of It

When I was a teen, I went to Mass because my parents made us go. I didn't get anything out of it. I punched my time clock, and fulfilled my duty.

My catechesis was sorely lacking. Between the post Vatican 2 church buildings that looked more like a PTA meeting than a place of worship, and the wahoo what's happening guitar music, and sorry excuses for priests (one comes to mind who swore like a sailor, and wanted to be our friend - no thanks!) I didn't really learn until adulthood what the Mass *was.*

I met RCIA candidates who knew my faith better than I did. How embarrassing. So I decided I'd better learn more.

The first thing I needed to know is that you're not supposed to get anything out of Mass. You're not there to get, you're there to give. Mary, at the foot of the cross, was not there to get something out of it. The sacrifice that Jesus made by His death is present in our hearts and minds at Mass, if you're paying attention, not counting the minutes til you leave. What do you give? How about humble thanks? The body and blood, soul and Divinity is present in the Eucharist. What I "get out of it" is the opportunity to partake in this sacrament.

Another important thing I learned (why didn't they teach us this in Catholic school, for Heaven's sake?) is that Jesus started the Catholic Church. We count our leadership (Apostolic succession) back to the Apostle Peter. For 15 centuries, if you were Christian, you were Catholic. We are the Church. Martin Luther, a disgruntled Catholic priest, started a split that has resulted in over 30,000 Protestant denominations today. They have part of the truth, some of them. The Church is still the Church. It hasn't changed. It doesn't need to.

Don't come for the building. Don't come for the music. Don't come for the priest or the people.

Don't come for the "whee!" Come for the "wow." Come to give thanks, to repent, to worship the one who paid the price so that we could spend eternity  in Heaven. What you hope to get out of it is an eternal destiny.

Jun 17, 2015

Prayer is Not















Prayer is not an excuse to dish the dirt. "God wants us to pray specifically," said the church lady who wanted all the details of what was going on. I'm not one to judge motives, but I suspected that she just wanted the gossip. God knows the details. You can say to anyone, "Look, I don't need to know what's going on, but you're on my heart today and I'm praying for you." Then leave it at that. If they share, fine. If they don't, fine.

Prayer is not rubbing the magic lamp & wishing for things that the genie must grant to you. Prayer changes everything *except* God's will. It changes you, not Him. It's supposed to bring us closer to God, not be a list of things we must have in order to be happy.

Prayer is not a get out of jail free card. Some people never pray until they're in trouble. I suspect that God will let them keep getting in trouble until it occurs to them that He wants them to pray even when they're NOT in trouble.

All of my prayers have been answered. So have yours. The answer has always been yes, no, or not yet. I trust that God doesn't want me to have good things. He wants me to have the BEST. My job is to thank Him even when I don't know what I'm thanking Him for, just yet.

Thank you for praying for me & my ministry. If there is something for which you'd like me to join you in prayer, feel free to comment below.

Jun 16, 2015

Storms on the Horizon













I'm not even going to speculate (although I do have ideas.) A bad storm is on the horizon, and if you are getting all your news from the network news, um, you do not know what's going on.

Lord, help us.


Jun 15, 2015

Perception IS Reality

Everyone in advertising knows this: perception is reality. If you think a brand is good, it's good. If you think it's bad, it's bad. Doesn't matter what the facts are or the empirical data reveal.

Advertisers spend millions to convince you that the colored cereal in the box with the toucan is better than the colored cereal in the plain box. It must be working, because they're still doing it.

Anorexics think they're fat. What's defective here, the perception or the reality? The perception, of course. But it doesn't matter to the hurting person, because her view of reality is warped.

Bruce Jenner thinks he's a woman. What's defective here, the perception or the reality? Obviously the perception. However, the empirical data doesn't change his feelings.

Don't live by your feelings. Have a reality check before you permanently mutilate yourself or otherwise cause yourself harm. There may be other factors in play that you don't know yet.

Spiritual warfare is real. Guard your thoughts.

Jun 14, 2015

The Church is Not a Cafeteria

Sorry. You don't get to pick and choose which parts of the faith you will believe and/or practice. You take it all or don't take it all. The Douay Catechism explains why:

CHAPTER II.
Faith Explained    Q. WHAT is faith?
    A. It is a gift of God or a supernatural quality, infused by God into the soul, by which we firmly believe all those things which he hath any way revealed to us.
    Q. Is faith necessary to salvation?
    A. It is; St. Paul assuring that without faith it is impossible to please God. Heb. xi. 6. and St. Mark, xvi. 16, saying, He that believeth not shall be condemned.
    Q. Why must we firmly believe matters of faith?
    A. Because God hath revealed them, who can neither deceive, nor be deceived.
    A second reason is, because not only all points of faith, but also the rule, or necessary and infallible means whereby to know them, to wit, the church's oral and universal tradition, are absolutely certain, and cannot lead us into error in faith; else we can never sufficiently be assured what is faith, or what is not.
    Q. If a man should deny, or obstinately doubt of some one point of faith, would he be thereby lose his whole faith?
    A. Yes, he would; because true faith must always be entire, and he that fails in one, is made guilty of all, by discrediting the authority of God revealing it. 
There's plenty more at the link, but you get it.

You either believe that God rules, or He does not. He can't be God of some things and not of others. As much as you (and Martin Luther) would like to kick out the parts that are hard to agree with, I'm sorry. No.

Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house....



    

Jun 12, 2015

In Hope Against Hope

Romans 4:18 (NIV) Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

Sometimes, you just have to keep on hoping for your heart's desire, even when it seems silly. Even when smart people tell you to give up.

Sarah Crewe believed she'd see her daddy again. Susan Walker believed that Santa would get her a house. Abraham believed that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky.


Ok, two of these are fiction, but still a good story. Abraham becoming the father of many nations? That's history: no one can deny it. That proves we serve a BIG God. 

A God who can bring our daddies home, and bring us houses. And whatever heart's desire He has given you.

Fear not.

Jun 11, 2015

What I Can Control

I can't change it. Right now.

I can't get away from it. Right now.

All I can do is change the way I think about it.

I control my attitude.

I will control what I can control. What else can I do?

Jun 10, 2015

If It's Not Broken...



When beloved characters are redrawn, modernized, or changed from how we remember them, always ask why. It's foolish to change just for change's sake. Improvement, yes. Always strive to be better. But different? Why? Give me a great reason.

Look at Bob & Larry's eyes in this classic drawing. Now look at the version I first saw on some paper plates for sale at Wally world. The eyes in the second set are wrong! They aren't supposed to look like that.

I assumed that the paper plate manufacturer made a horrendous mistake, until I found the same drawings on the official Veggie Tales website.

When they got invisible arms, it was because the artists got lazy. It was "too hard," they said, to draw clever cutaways such as were in the original episodes. Ugh. That's not an improvement. And the new eyes? Don't forget what I said about "Whee!" vs "Wow!" New does not always mean better. Remember "New Coke?" "New Math?" Betamax?  Enough said.

Jun 9, 2015

Generosity

In another lifetime, I worked for the post office. I was trained in the office of an affluent area (let's call it M), then went to run an office in a rural area (let's call it S.) You can tell a lot about someone by the mail they receive.

When I got to S, the first thing I noticed is that no one there got the Wall Street Journal. Instead, they got magazines about backyard poultry or taxidermy. No one at M ever got chickens in the mail. M residents had wealth, and lots of it. They had large PO boxes that received statements from banks & brokerages. (Some had small boxes because they were too cheap to get big ones, so their mail was crammed in there.) The people of S, many of them, are unbanked. They'd get their SS check, cash it somewhere, bring the cash to me to buy money orders to mail their bills. Some of them needed my help filling them out. Some needed help addressing the envelope. I'm happy to help.

Come April 15, the M's were in line with huge envelopes sent certified. The S's put one stamp on their normal envelope (one page return) & dropped it in the slot.

For all their wealth, no one at M ever gave me eggs from their chickens, flowers or sugar cane or tomatoes from their garden, a cd of their favorite Christmas music, or even a thank you note.

Money doesn't buy class, and the people with the least material wealth are rich in ways that the Ms will never know.

God bless them all.

Jun 7, 2015

Perseverance

Dr. Seuss was turned down by 27 publishers before one accepted And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.

27! He had to keep believing that what he was doing was right, after 27 experts told him he wasn't worth publishing.

If you think you can, you're right. If you think you can't, you're right. Don't let others change your mind, if you're right.

Hang in there. If you know you're doing the right thing, keep doing it and wait for God to open that door.

Don't give up.

Jun 6, 2015

Betrayal


When strangers hurt you or your loved ones, that's one thing. When those you trusted hurt you, the pain increases, I believe, exponentially.

More charges are brought against priests molesting children and the Bishops who knew but looked the other way. We trust the priests to represent Jesus! In persona Christi my friends! The one who forgives sins in the confessional ought not betray our sacred trust outside of it.

Yes, they are human. Yes, they sin like men do. And yes, it is required of me to hate my own sins as much as I hate those of another.

Let us pray for our priests. They are under such heavy spiritual attack, because the devil is trying to take out the Church, not from the periphery but from the HEAD. Not by the parishioners who stay home 50 Sundays of the year, but by the priests and church leaders, and those of us who strive to holiness.

O my Jesus, help us all.



Jun 4, 2015

We Are Being Watched


I love this photo of the Helix Nebula. It reminds me of the great cloud of witness who are cheering us on.


Hebrews 12:1(NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

 Who is in that cloud? Angels? Saints? Our ancestors who have gone on before? I would like to think that my mom is in Heaven, but like most of us, she probably went to Purgatory. She wasn't perfect when she died, so she needed to divest herself of everything unholy before she can/could join the Holy One in eternity. I still pray for her. I just can't think of anyone who would better qualify for head cheerleader of Team Connie.

I hope to meet this cloud some day, and thank them for their encouragement. We'll probably have a good laugh together in years to come. "Really? You thought THAT was hard? You had no clue, did you? Har har har." Yeah, God is faithful to provide us just enough tribulation to keep us clinging to Him, and enough encouragement to get through it, and closer to Him.

I love that about God.

Jun 3, 2015

They ARE My Monkeys

It's easy to detach from the craziness of the world. You simply deny responsibility for the situation by holding up your hand and saying "Not my circus. Not my monkeys."

My dilemma is that they ARE my monkeys.

The ones who are hurt. The ones who are hungry. The ones who are abused. The neglected ones. The addicted ones. The imperfect ones. The broken ones. The rebellious ones. The angry ones. The sad ones.

The ones whose irreversible decisions are blasted all over social media and the cover of Vanity Fair, who do not know the God that I know.

They don't know about healing, redemption, or restoration. They don't know that God can take their pain and make something beautiful of it if they will give it to Him.

All they know is their pain. And they think that hurting themselves will make the pain of emptiness go away, because they just don't know another path to take.

Oh God, send someone to reach the hurting, the ones who don't know what to do with that hurt. Send someone who can teach them about Jesus, and His sacrifice that made us reconciled. We don't have to do anything else. Jesus paid the price, took the hurt for us.

Oh God, dear Lord, send me.

Jun 2, 2015

The Evening News

Once upon a time, journalists had a sacred trust to bring us the truth about what was going on in the world, no matter how uncomfortable that truth may be.

Somewhere along the line, the financial interests took over the news, and started conditioning us with selected stories, particular slants, glaring omissions.

Even the talking heads themselves are now chosen for visual appeal, not credibility. It doesn't matter what's really going on. Look at the jewelry the talking head is wearing! She got a haircut! He got a facelift! She moderated the local spelling bee! If it bleeds, it leads! (Or is it ledes?) Who made the cut on American Idol? Is Don Draper smoking a real cigarette or cloves?

Wait, was there anything important that went on anywhere in the world today?

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain....

If the "news" is the only place where you're getting your news, you are missing out.

Big time.

Jun 1, 2015

Shiny Things


The finger said, "look at me! I have a ring! It's gold and diamonds! Don't I look grand?"

Another finger said, "Well, Honey Pie, I have a ring, too. It's platinum and has a channel cut of 9 gems."

The next finger said, "Hey, y'all! I've got yellow gold, and check out the carats on this bad boy!"

The baby finger cried when no one was looking, and wished that she were as grand as her big sisters.

The thumb was too busy being opposable and doing useful things to notice what anyone else was wearing.

Sisters, my sisters: individually, we are weak, like fingers. Together, we are strong, like a fist.

Who will be "together" with me? Who will take a stand for righteousness and appreciate things that are far more valuable than jewelry? (Jewelry's ok - just not as important as righteousness...)

I need serious friends. Spiritually mature friends. Friends who will stand with me, not judge me because your ring is bigger than mine.

I need Divine Connections.

Who's in?