Wednesday, December 26, 2007


First off, a belated Merry Christmas to one and all! I fear that family obligations have overwhelmed me the past week, and I have neglected not only my blog, but you my brothers and sisters.So please forgive me this slight.

Being that we have less than 6 days before the new year begins, I've been thinking of resolutions; I always make them, and I never quite live up to them (I'm sure there is at least one of you out there nodding your head in agreement). Anyway, i have decided that this year I will set my goals below the level of luicrous, and try to actually keep the resolutions I have sworn to make.

I havent finalized them yet, but the Wife and I agree that healthy eating habits are paramount (it also will help our kids out, as we plan on cutting out fast food altogether as part of the plan).

Anyway, I found the following article, and thought it sounded like it could be a big help in trying to keep resolutions, so I figured I'd share it with you.

Did you know that fewer than 10% of people who set New Years' Resolutions actually achieve them? How can you ensure YOUR success? Try using the Top 10 Tips below.

1. Write Them Down. It's a fact: writing down your goals gives you a higher chance of success.

2. Commit. Move beyond the land of "good ideas" to the land of true "commitment". Make the decision that you will show up for your goals. Perhaps you can do a ritual or ceremony to symbolize your commitment.

3. Tell People. Let your biggest fans in on your new commitments and goals for the year.

4. Get Accountability. Even better than just letting others in on your "secret" dreams and goals-get some accountability. Meet for lunch once a month with a group that will ask you, "So, how's it going with your goal?" Hire a Coach. Talk to your best friend or partner. Get some support!

5. Make a Plan. Ensure success with a step-by-step plan. Electric Kites Success Coaching loves to work backwards by starting with the end vision of where you want to be and working backwards to where you are today. You'll find an easy action plan to make your goals a reality.

6. Do a Goal Check-In. Before you decide on what you'll take on for the year, make certain you can answer, "YES!" to the following questions: "Am I the primary reason for setting this goal (vs. your mom, boyfriend, wife, boss, society)? Do I feel alive and energized by this goal? Is this goal in line with my life purpose or mission?"

7. Get Real! If you're contemplating putting a goal down that you always put down and never achieve, take a second look. How will this goal end DIFFERENTLY this year? Is this goal something you need to let go of? What purpose is it serving you each year? What is the good enough reason to truly commit?

8. Focus With Reminders. Once you've got your goals and plan in place, figure out ways to remind yourself. Some Electric Kites' clients post their goals in on their bathroom mirror or in their car. Others put reminders in their palm pilots or cell phones. Figure out what works for you.

9. Believe and Visualize. Do you know the story about the group of basketball players who spent one hour visualizing making baskets, while another group actually practiced? The visualizing players had better seasons! So visualize yourself on New Years Eve 2009 with all your goals achieved. What would that look like? How would it feel? Visualize once a day and see the difference it can make in your life.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

A day to remember...


I had a kind of rough day today, and I am completely worn out. I was up most of the night with my youngest who is nursing a wicked cold, so Ive only had a few hours of sleep. Earlier today found me waiting on a rental truck to become available, while I watched an angry man berate a cashier (no more than 19 or 20) in Home depot because she did not have an answer that was acceptable to him regarding a battery to a cordless drill. With a great deal of cursing, stomping around and with complete disregard to the two older women and my two sons in line he went off about her lack of intelligence and how bad the store sucked. I went from there, to moving two sofas by myself, switching one out for another. Later on, after countless attempts to clean the house, and being interrupted by both the boys whining and being mean to each other, I finally lost my temper when they tracked mud into the house all over my carpet and my kitchen. I yelled at both of them so loudly that they cried, and was so mad, I had to walk outside to collect my thoughts and reign my temper in......Then I remembered what day it was....

I don't usually like to cross post from my other blog, " Ostenfeld", but today is a day that is slowly but surely slipping away from the thoughts and minds of our fellow countrymen. Today marks the 63rd anniversary of The Ardennes Offensive, called Unternehmen: Wacht am Rhein (Operation Watch on the Rhine) by the German military, officially named the Battle of the Ardennes by the U.S. Army, and known to the general public as the Battle of the Bulge.


On this day German forces began an assault at 05:30, with a massive
artillery barrage on the Allied troops facing the Sixth SS Panzer Army. By 08:00 all three German armies attacked through the Ardennes. In the northern sector Dietrich’s Sixth SS Panzer Army assaulted the Losheim Gap and the Elsenborn Ridge in an effort to break through to Liège. In the center von Manteuffel’s Fifth Panzer Army attacked towards Bastogne and St. Vith, both road junctions of great strategic importance. In the south, Brandenberger’s Seventh Army pushed towards Luxembourg in their efforts to secure the flank from Allied attacks.

The attacks by the Sixth SS Panzer Army’s infantry units in the north fared badly because of unexpectedly fierce resistance by the U.S. 2nd and 99th Infantry Divisions at the Elsenborn Ridge, stalling their advance; this caused Dietrich to make the decision to commit his panzer forces early. Starting on 16 December, however, snowstorms engulfed parts of the Ardennes area. While having the desired effect of keeping the Allied aircraft grounded, the weather also proved troublesome for the Germans because poor road conditions hampered their advance. Poor traffic control led to massive traffic jams and fuel shortages in forward units.
(taken from Wikipedia)

My Uncle was there; he was in the Pennsylvania National guard, 28th infantry, they were sent to the Bastogne area for some R&R. At the time, it was a very quiet piece of land that did not seem to be in any danger ofbecomning a hot zone. The 28th needed a break after spending nearly 3 months in the Hurtgen Forest. They had been given the name "The Bloody Bucket" (for the red keystone on their shoulder patches) by the German troops for both their fighting abilities and the appalling losses they faced (upwards of 70% of the entire division). On the 16th of December, the 28th along with other divisions, held off the Sixth SS Panzer,for five days, allowing the 101st Airborne enough time to arrive and reinforce the town of Bastogne. Ever watched "Band of Brothers"? Sure they held of the Germans, but the 28th stopped them before the 101st ever got there. I've heard stories of the men, falling asleep in water filled foxholes, and having to smash the ice in the morning when they woke up with their rifle butts, just to get out and move around.

I think of my Uncle and his comrades, and what they went thru 63 years ago, and I am embarrassed by my attitude today. Its so sad, how we can think we are on the right path, finding our way thru all the avarice and narcissism in this world, only to realize that weve played right into it.

Lord, help me not only to be humble, but kind, patient, and appreciative of all that I have, and help me to sway away from the things in this world that make me proud, angry and indignant. Truly, I have been gifted with an abundance of things that even now, I cannot fully appreciate.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

5:49 P.M.

It is Saturday, and I am headed home, after a long day of shopping and errands. The boys are in the back seat bickering over a bionicle toy; a freebee from McDonalds (the first resolution for the year -and one I intend to keep- no more McDonalds or any other fast food for my boys or me). We are in the upscale part of Charlotte, and never in my life have I encountered such rude and obnoxious drivers. I want to be back up in my neighborhood north of this place, where the cow pastures can still be seen, where there dont seem to be so many cars, and when there are this many cars, the people dont seem so obnoxious. It's still the same town, but for some reason the people seem nicer...At least they let you into the right hand turning lane when they see your blinker on, instead of speeding up so you dont get in front of them....

I am in a foul mood, the curse words are on the tip of my tongue and would have long since fallen for my lips, save for the two innocents in the back seat. The traffic, the rude drivers, the biting cold, the rain (which I should be-and am- thankful for since were still in a drought) and my sons ready to strangle each other over a stupid .05 cent toy have pushed me to my limits, and I do not feel the Christmas spirit
AT ALL.

But then I see Christmas lights on a house, and I recall days long ago, waxing nostalgic of a sun slung way down low on the horizon, a cold sliver of its former self, muted by mottled gray clouds promising snow flurries and endless strands of Christmas lights for as far as the eye can see. I'm 10 or 11 years old, and Christmas has me in it's thrall. I marvel at every light display with wonder and awe, so happy to be in the middle of all this Holiday fare. Many of these very houses we pass in the here and now I can recall from my childhood; this house had the Plastic Rudoplh with all the other reindeer pulling santas sleigh on the roof, that house had a life sized plastic nativity set ( I think it's the same one in their front yard still to this day), and i remember the joy i had, and realize that while I dont always have that joy in me, my children do (they really dont fight all that often), and one day, they'll be where I am, driving their children around, so I guess all is right in the world, so long as I have my childrens memories to live vicariously through.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

the times, they are-a-changin...

When I was a small boy, I can recall my Father taking my sister and I downtown to see the window dressings at Belks Dept. Store and Iveys (not unlike the picture above), in downtown Charlotte. It was one of the highlights of Christmas for us,and is one of my fondest memories of childhood. It's quite reminiscent of Jean Shepherds own memoirs.Anyway, iIt meant alot to me, and, I'm sorry to say, neither one of those buildings is really around anymore, and, for the life of me, I cannot find a window display to take my boys to see. I want to make Christmas special for them, and as I attempt to complete this mission, I am reminded of my own Christmas memories.So now I am thinking ( in retrospect), what happened? Christmas used to have such a huge impact on us, you very rarely even heard someone say "Happy holidays", it was ALWAYS "Merry Christmas".I just dont understand why we have to be so careful to tread lightly when it comes to the Lords birthday. I understand that other people are not Christian, dont celebrate Christmas and all that, but why should we compromise a moment in our year that is only rivaled by the joy of Easter? It's not right, its just not right.

Anyway, we try to do things for the boys that will make Christmas special, and this past Sunday we went downtown to Imax to see "Polar Express". They enjoyed it thoroughly, and we all had a really good time, but walking thru downtown on our way back to the car, I could almost hear the ghosts of our laughter and delight from 33 years ago, and it made me a little sad. We have a bunch of things we do, alot of them Church oriented, but not all of them. I'm interested though; What are your family traditions? What do you do to herald in the Joy of our Lords Birth, AND to usher in the Holiday season?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dusk, In recline



Descending Hues,

Long shadows fall

Coffee and frost

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Oh, to be in Germany.......


To say I love Christmas is an understatement.....To say I have an unhealthy fixation with all things German? Well, that might be a little too overdramatic, but I do love most everything German (except for that nasty period in the 1930's and 40's they went thru). So when the Christmas season comes around, I always find myself staring at my computer screen, wishing I could spend just one day at the Nürnberger Christkindelesmarket . Never heard of the Christkindelmarkets? Allow me (with Wikipedia's help) to enlighten you...

A
Christkindlesmarkt, also known as a Christmas market,is a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the advent, mainly the four weeks preceding Christmas Day. Some of the most popular items at the Market are the Nativity Scene (also known as a crèche or crib); Zwetschgamännla (figures made of decorated dried plums); Nussknacker (carved Nutcrackers); Gebrannte Mandeln or candied, toasted almonds; assorted cookies like Lebkuchen and Magenbrot (both forms of soft gingerbread); Christstollen or Stollen, a sort of egg bread with candied fruit; and not least, Glühwein, hot mulled wine (with or without a shot of brandy), or Eierpunsch (an egg based warm alcoholic drink), to keep the body going in the cold winter air. Many other homemade crafts and toys, books, and (in recent years) more or less useful gadgets can be found at a Christkindlmarkt.

A list of markets aroubnd the world can be found here. The
Nürnberger Christkindelesmarket has a live webcam, so you can check out all the festivities from the comfort of your own home, but it wont help stymie the desire to be there, especially when you consider the market is situated in front of a 530 year old German Cathedral.I dont know about y'all, but this sounds like a wonderful place to visit! If you are in the Chicago area, there is always the Chicago Christkindelsmarket
or if you are closer to Pennsylvania, there is the Christkindelsmarket Bethlehem, in Bethlehem Pa.



Thursday, December 6, 2007

I am trying very hard to be humble....

I really, really am...... But I have this problem, and it is really bothering me... Got a minute?

See, were supposed to be having this dinner for my parents tomorrow; it's their 50th anniversary. Its supposed to be me, my wife, my folks, my sister, and her husband. It was supposed to be a small, family get together because my Mom has been sick, nothing fancy, just a nice night with family. But my sister took it upon herself to invite this guy we've known all our lives, and he and his wife. they are driving all the way up from Florida.It is a surprise for my Mom. See, this guy, his mother was my Moms best friend for years, and when she died, my Mom "adopted" him, and since then has pretty much acted as if he was their second son (the one they're proud of). It wouldnt be fair to say I dislike this guy... I have a great, swirling mass of antipathy for him. I know, I know, I shouldnt feel this way, what would St. Francis say, right?

But this guy isn't my brother, and frankly I resent it that my parents treat him like family (sometimes even moreso than they treat me)! I'm mad at my sister for inviting him, even after I told her I did not want him invited. It goes way deeper than what I've given you here thus far; it has to do with me trying (seemingly in vain) to make ammends for my past slights, bungles and screw-ups as a son, I was not a very good kid, I did alot to make my parents angry, and try as I might, I dont think theyve forgiven me yet.

Anyone got any good advice for me??

UPDATE: Last night went off without a hitch, it was fantastic. My parents had a grand time(which was the whole point of the entire night), the guy my sister invited was actually alot nicer than I remember, and was genuinely glad to see me. I think my anitpathy towards him was based on how much my parents talked about him. I flet slighted, and it mad me angry. I see that now, and I want to thank you guys for writing to me about this! I am lucky to have found friends like you I can depend on!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


I am humbled that Little Scribe nominated me for The Mathetes Award for excellence in discipleship. I was very surprised and appreciative. A thousand thank you's!.

Here's the quote from the original blog post explaining the award:

"Mathetes is the Greek word for disciple, and the role of the disciple (per the Great Commission) it to make more disciples. I'd like to take the opportunity to award five other bloggers with this award and badge for acting in the role of a disciple of Christ. These five all share the message in their own creative ways, and I admire them all for what they do.


"In the spirit of this award, the rules are simple. Winners of this award must pick five other "disciples" to pass it on to. As you pass it on, I just ask that you mention and provide links for (1)this post as the originator of the award (Dan King of management by God), (2) the person that awarded it to you, and then (3) name and sites of the five that you believe are fulfilling the role of a disciple of Christ. If you know of other deserving recipients of this award, and would like to start a new string, then please post a link to where you've started in in the comments to this post. I would love for many deserving bloggers to be blessed with this recognition."
The rules of participating:

1. Copy this post.
2. Reflect on five bloggers.
3. Make sure you link this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Go leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they’ve been given the award.
5. Put the award icon on your site.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Generation X-mas....



I should point out before I go any further, that I loathe the use of the term "X-mas"; I only entitled my entry as such, because it is the title of the article I just read in TIME by James Poniewozik. The article was a debate between which Christmas movie is the best, "It's a wonderful life", or "A Christmas story". I've read the article a few times now, and don't understand why we need this article at all, but he wrote it, and here I am to write about it.He says that while he likes "Wonderful Life", don't we think its just a little bit oppressive? That Bedford Falls was better off with the more interesting nightlife presented when George had never been born, and so on and so forth. Click on the link if you want to read the whole article. In the article Poniewozik contends that : "Christmas Story lampoons holiday greed but delights in it too--there's no platitudinous ending about how Christmas isn't really about presents.".....Really?? I beg to differ

I think Poniewozik missed is the importance, the underlying message of both "Wonderful Life" and "Christmas story", that in all reality, isn't all that underlying to begin with. It isn't about the material, it's about the love, the family, the cohesiveness that the two can bring together when we work at them. Am I reaching here? I don't think so. They both have a certain amount of tragedy interwoven, albeit Capra's is certainly more painfully obvious than Clarks. But in the end, both Families find that whatever happens, no matter if it's Potter trying to destroy you, or the Bumpus hounds eating your turkey, that as long as you have family to rely on, everything is all right. So perhaps I've taken Poniewozik's article a little bit too seriously, but it's gotten me to thinking about how lucky I am to have the family that I do.

In the end, it really is only one mans opinion about two different, yet equally entertaining movies -my two very favorite Christmas movies in fact- but what it tells me is that sometimes even when the truth is staring at you point blank, you don't see the good that lies just beneath the surface.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Frustration



30 minutes standing

22 people deep

Front of the line

Daddy, I dont want to sit on Santas lap.


My newest haiku on Winter haiku 2007, inspired by the massive lines to see st. Nick at concord Mills Mall yesterday afternoon.




Saturday, December 1, 2007

December 1st, it finally feels like the Christmas season! I suppose this statement is a bit on the untrue side; it has felt like Christmas for a week or so now, but the real season, the true reason, was made evident last night at the Advent wreath making class. Then after we got home, I (being the manly man that I am) had to bake cookies for the Parish cookie walk, since the Cajun Princess had to be at work at 6:00 A.M. this morning. It is officially on the books now, I am the ugliest member of the St. Thomas Aquinas womens group. So anyway, today all the wonderful things that signify the Christmas season have hit home, and I feel a little bit happier, a little bit more thankful.

Lk 21:34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Friday, November 30, 2007

Tonight was our Parish' first annual advent wreath making workshop. We went -we were kind of obligated, since the Cajun Princess put it all together in the first place-and had a great time! Loads of fun, got to talk to people I haven't seen much lately, promised to play poker soon, help cook turkey for the KofC Christmas party, and for the first time so far this year, the Christmas feeling was alive. Not that its been dead in me mind you, but until tonight , it's felt a little hollow, know what I mean? It's the crass commercialism that did it, nothing more. But the togetherness in Aquinas hall tonight was fantastic, and went a long way in instilling a very positive vibe into my Christmas experience this year! I swear, our Womens group has done more to revitalize our parish than any other group, and they deserve a great deal of the applause for all thier efforts.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Fog

Blanketed Silence

Thousands of tiny kisses

cold on my face

Winter Haiku 2007

So I found this waaaaaaay nifty site, called "Winter Haiku 2007;A community of Haiku poets recording and sharing their experiences of Winter 2007 in Haiku, Tanka, Haiga, Haibun and Senyru." You sign up, post your poems and pictures (if you have any) and they get posted to the site. Its pretty nifty and has some excellent work in it. I wholeheartedly endorse this project and would urge you to check it out! Im going to cross post things I write for them over here as well.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happy Anniversary!!!


7 wonderful years for the Cajun Princess and I!

Saturday, November 24, 2007



Oradour-Sur-Glane

We slumber now,
lying in spidered embrace,
cradled in leafy shadow,
ash and oak.

Broken lovers,
blanketed in rust
and fields
gone feral sweet
with the heady scent of
lavender,
anise,
cordite,
and petrol.

We are pinioned here
by memories of cold pitted stone,
our hollow waiting eyes
as empty now as our names.

~Steve.M~
© 10/17/2007



An Interesting Idea........

So as I am muddling my way thru the 23 pounds of ads that seem to come with the weekend paper once Thanksgiving comes around, I found an article about a Canadian website called "Buy Nothing For Christmas". I will admit, I have not read all of the information on their website, but it seems to me that their intention is of a noble nature. Who among us hasn't rolled their eyes at the ads on TV? "OPEN FRIDAY MORNING, THE 23RD AT FIVE A.M FOR YOUR SHOPPING CONVENIENCE!!" Come on!! Five A.M.?!? FIVE A.M.?!? Who in their right mind is going shopping at five am? It's gotten to the point where I loathe Christmas shopping altogether, and cant even abide going to the grocery store during the season. Is it just me, or does it all seem to have gone terribly, terribly awry? We cant say "Merry Christmas!" anymore, it has to be "Happy Holidays". Have we forgotten what the true nature of the holiday is? Or are we that complacent as a society that we'll bow our heads in submission to a few people who jump up and down and complain about the Christ in Christmas?

So there I am, with this whole circus of thoughts in my head this morning, drinking coffee, eating a breakfast bar, and wondering if my turkey stock is going to taste as good as it smells (I found a butt kicking recipe for Asian turkey soup with rice noodles off of Recipe Zaar if anyone wants it).
and lo and behold, this article presented itself to me. I already feel the burden of the commecial purchasing season, it hangs over our heads like a raincloud, doesnt it? I absolutely love the Christmas season, but I hate the commercial purchasing season (I think its important to make that disticntion between the celebration and the corruption that has leeched onto it).

I'm still going to buy presents for my family, theres no escaping that, but I am going to make a concious effort to make this season a little bit better, to do more good, to help more, to try and live the message, the true message. Anyway, I wasnt wanting to lecture or preach, just thought I'd send this y'alls way.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Helping others....


So I'm at work the other day, and we are printing one of a myriad of forms for behavioral health, and my eyes keep going to the same part on the form. It says:

"CHECK THE PROBLEM AREAS THE PATIENT FREQUENTLY EXPERIENCES"
.

I read down the lines of listed problems; heavy drinking, suicidal thoughts, self destructive behavior, etc, etc.Standard, run-of-the-mill questions for Behavioral healthcare forms. But the very last line, the very last part of the question posed, is:

"
HELPING OTHERS, BUT FORGETTING OWN NEEDS"

Now, I've been thinking about this line for a few days, and I'm sure there is a logical explanation for this, that it is simply a failure in my
own semantics, but it struck me as funny, because it is the truth. It is a problem area for a lot of us, but only because we -as a society- dont forget our own needs, and we dont help others as much as we know we ought to. How many of us made plans to get up this morning and go shopping at 5:00 AM? Probably noone who reads this, thats for sure, but how many of us know people at work that, come Monday, will tell us how much shopping they did over the weekend? How many of us will in turn, be able to say "I didnt go shoping, I helped feed the homeless", or something along those lines? Not me, thats for sure, but I want to change that, I want to be able to do those things that need to be done. At the risk of offending you dear reader, to hell with holiday shopping and early morning sales, and gimmicks to get me to buy! I want nothing to do with it! Nothing at all! It's not so much a withdrawal from society as it is an immersion into society that I desire. It's too late for me to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving, but it's not too late for me to start caring, and acting like the person I should be, the person i know I am, deep down inside.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


A Thanksgiving Prayer

Samuel F. Pugh


"O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.
Amen."

It was a particularly good day for my family; Me and my wife, (home together at the same time for once) my two sons, my Mom & Dad, Mother-in-law,Father-in-law, and two good family friends sat down for Thanksgiving, and we simply enjoyed life. I think it was by far the best thanksgiving I can remember in quite a while. the only drama today was my 6yo stepping in a fire ant colony in the front yard and geting his foot chewed up a bit (nothern friends, thats yet another thing you should give thanks for, no fire ants!). But seriously, the day was wonderful.


Its amazing how trivial we can make life, how we will take things for granted, and yet here we are, on one day out of the year, acknowledging the things were glad for. I have been at ends with my parents for quite some time now, the better part of 20 years or so in fact. But today was so warm and loving of a day, we adults sat around the dining room table drinking our coffee and wine, nibbling at just one more piece of pecan pie, just talking, acting like a family should. No arguements, no "one upping" no nasty or snide remarks, just.......love.

How easily we forget them the other 364 (or so) days of the year, how quickly our opinions change. Why do we do it? why can we not feel this loving, this charitable every day of the year? If we did, what wonders we could accomplish! How benevolent and grand our lives, our country could be!?!

"Were we only to correspond to God's graces continually being showered down on every one of us, we would be able to pass from being great sinners one day tobeing great saint the next"
~Ven. Solanus Casey~

Monday, November 19, 2007

AUTUMN DAYBREAK
Cold wind of autumn, blowing loud
At dawn, a fortnight overdue,
Jostling the doors, and tearing through
My bedroom to rejoin the cloud,
I know -- for I can hear the hiss
And scrape of leaves along the floor --
How may boughs, lashed bare by this,
Will rake the cluttered sky once more.
Tardy, and somewhat south of east,
The sun will rise at length, made known
More by the meagre light increased
Than by a disk in splendour shown;
When, having but to turn my head,
Through the stripped maple I shall see,
Bleak and remembered, patched with red,
The hill all summer hid from me.
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Answer to my prayers....


With all my problems weighing me down, I walked out of my office today, and they fell away like leaves falling from the trees. When I went into work this morning, it was warm and raining. But this evenings setting sun finds me in the presence of a strong, cold wind and silver lined clouds mottling the sun into long rays. It was the perfect Autumn afternoon, and I soon forgot about my worries as I stood in the midst of a perfect afternoon...........Thank you Lord.

Ode to Autumn

by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

1,2,3,4,5..........


I hold my breath and count to ten. I slip the earbuds to my MP3 player on and press play. It seems like 30 seconds is an eternity while I wait for Lisa Gerard starts singing, so I can drown out the drama that unfolds before me. Almost mercifully, her voice booms out and for the next three hours I will listen to my personal selections over and over again.....


This is how my mornings at work start on an almost daily basis; with a woman with a Napoleon complex screaming at the rest of the staff about how stupid they are. she berates everyone for being inept, continually tells us how we know absolutely nothing about our jobs (depsite the fact that she never worked in a print shop before October of last year), and tells us on an almost daily basis about how horrible and loud her upstairs neighbors are.....For the past year-YEAR- this has been my work enviroment...... Is she my Boss you may ask? Is she in charge? No, but she seems to think she is. The only reasons she doesn't yell at me are because I keep my MP3 player on and because she yelled at me once, and I let her know -in no uncertain terms- that I wasn't afraid of her. But, I felt guilty and apologized later in the day to her. Nevertheless, she leaves me alone, but the other five guys I work with endure her insults and rants over and over (including our supervisor and our manager), without the aid of audio deterrents. It's really disheartening, and she makes a relatively laid back and easy job a grueling task. I loathe-actually loathe- the days when I get there before my colleagues and it is just she and I in the office. I have endured her complaints and insults for over a year now, and my only escape is my MP3 player.

So my question is this; how can I continue to show charity to a person like this? I mean, she very obviously has some sort of problem to be so mad all the time, but when does it become necessary for you to draw a line? I am trying to live my life by the rules of St. Francis; I want nothing more in this world to become a Secular Franciscan, but this woman! This woman brings out the worst in me, I find myself muttering curses under my breath, talking with co-workers when she leaves the room about whatever it is that has ired her on that particular day, I find myself not being particularly charitable, and it pains me......
I am reminded (actually, I just read it) of something Solanus casey once said: " If our love of God is genuine, then we would quite naturally love our neighbors as ourselves". So with this in mind, I slip my headset back on and wait for the calms in my day when I can breath easy. but still, what am I to do?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Little bit more about me.......
It occurs to me (thank you Warren and Lisa, sometimes I am oblivious to the obvious!) that perhaps I haven't been extremely forthcoming with information about where I am in my journey of faith. Got a minute or two? This is kind of a long story!
I was raised Methodist, but it wasn't something that my family did on a weekly basis. Once confirmation was over, we all kind of fell out of it as a family, and I wandered away from God and church. As I grew up and became painfully aware of my surroundings, society, etc, I became aware of a preacher and his wife that had a pretty big ministry about 15 minutes away from where I lived. their names were Jim and Tammy Baker......Yep, I lived about 20 minutes from the gates of PTL. I saw their extravagances firsthand, and it made me mad. Everyone in Charlotte knew that they were crooked, and it was kind of an accepted thing, they became a sort of tourist landmark. But for me, it was unacceptable, they stole from people that were oblivious to their deceit. I saw it, my friends saw it, and it made all of us madder than you-know-what. I should point out at this time that I was also a punk rocker, so a general antipathy towards society was already in place. But PTL drove a wedge between me and the Lord, and deepened a gap that had started when my family and I stopped going to church.


Jump ahead 15 years to the Autumn of 2000; as Lisa and I started our journey towards marriage, we started going to church with her Mom and Dad. Her family is Catholic, and she wanted to be married in the Church her family attended. She told me I didn't have to become Catholic, but she definitely wanted us to have some sort of faith base in our blossoming family. All it took was one time at Mass, and I knew, I knew that this, this was where I had belonged all along. I felt it in my heart. I had already decided
-unbeknownst to Lisa- that I wanted to go thru RCIA, and so I signed up. During my journey thru RCIA, I made it a point to attend Mass at every Catholic church in our area, just to make sure I was where I should be. the church I came back to time and time again, was her parents, St. Thomas Aquinas, a Franciscan run parish.


Now, while I went thru RCIA, it came clear to me that I actually had been given "signs", so to speak. Maybe they were of my own making, perhaps they were divine direction, but I all of a sudden started putting together moments in my life that had gently guided me to where I was at that point. I could recall teaching myself the Hail Mary 16 years earlier. I had no reason to know it, but there I was, reciting it whenever I felt scared, anxious or concerned about something. I recited it when I drove past wrecks, or when ambulances raced by, hoping that it helped whoever was in need. I had no Faith basis for doing this, it just seemed ........"right". I even started to go to Mass a few times, but at the last minute left, thinking I was not fit to be in the church. I was ashamed of how I looked, that I was essentially homeless, and that surely I would be chased out. Even when getting my dog tags, when asked what religion I was, I for some reason said I was Catholic, despite the fact that I had been raised Methodist.


All this came rushing back to me as I stood before my RCIA class, trying to explain why I thought I wanted to be Catholic. It all came back (this & a few facts that I've left out for the sake of brevity), and I realized at that precise moment, I was still the good kid I had deep down always been, that all the rotten things that had happened to me, all this......."peripheral" stuff, was of my own making, because I had lost faith in God,not the other way around. It was a very profound moment, and it hit me with the weight and ferocity of a runaway freight train.



So, my journey as a Roman Catholic had started. I knew that from my jou
rneys to other local churches that I liked the Capuchin friars best. Their down to earth simplicity appealed to me; I remember Fr. Martins teachings from RCIA, and one instance in particular. He asked us what we would do if approached by a man asking for money. Quite a few people said they would walk the other way, and one guy said he'd tell the guy to get a job. Fr. Martin said that we should give him money without question. the one fellow asked why we should give money to a bum who was probably just scamming us, and Fr. Martin replied that what the man did with the money was not important, but what was really important was the act of charity. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful, and I have never forgotten that moment.

So I started to read up on St. Francis. I perused thru a few websites, and then tackled "The Little Flowers", and that did it for me. During this time, I came across a flier for my local Fraternity and made contact with them. I went to a few meetings, and at the time, it was very hard for me to commit to the meetings. My wife's work schedule means that I have to take care of my children when our meetings occur, so I have not been able to fully commit as of yet, but I read the books they work from, and have tried to keep some sort regimen towards becoming a Secular Franciscan.

Tired of me talking yet?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Well, soccer season is finally over, and the temperature has finally gotten down to an acceptable level, so I think it's safe to say Fall is finally here! I'll take the boys downtown this Saturday for the Veterans day parade, and then I hope to go out on saturdays with them for little hikes in local parks. Our recent trip to Pisgah National forest has me in mind of camping, being more outdoorsy, more physical as it were. I dont know why I feel like I havent done anything, I've been coaching 5-6 year old soccer for the past 3 months, but I want to feel more removed from the typical situation, you know? I dont want to sit at home and watch TV, I want to get out and do stuff outside. I dont want my boys to grow up any faster than they already are, but I cant wait until they want to go camping, stuff like that.

With all that in mind, I think I'm going to plant a fall herb garden this weekend or next. I found some information from the University of Florida website on Fall herbs (because veryone knows how notoriously cold those Fall can be in Florida), and it just sounds like the kind of thing I need to do.

Actually, this is a much better link, in case your interested.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Reading; is there anything I enjoy more? Well, maybe a few things, but reading is definately in my top five things. I am trying to keep a balance in what I read these days. I am woefully addicted to WWII history, but my dear sweet Cajun princess thinks this is getting to the core of my depression, that all that gore and suffering cant be good for me to read all the time. So, I'm also reading two religious themed books, and I'm also reading "The Kite Runner"...What was that about depression again? Anyway, I took the test below, thought I'd post it.
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Book Snob
Dedicated Reader
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Fad Reader
Non-Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Back to my roots.....


Hello all, I'm back.....At least, I think I am. Just in case anyone was wondering, I had so much going on in my life, so many things that, actually, I was trying to ignore, that my old Blog became a chore. So I abandoned it and became not only disenchanted with my paltry excuse for a blog, but also with my faith -albeit only for a short time- as my families problems got worse.See, my mother has cancer, and is going thru chemotherapy, and instead of dealing with it, I found things to be mad at, and unfortunately, my faith suffered because of my denial.



There were a myriad of minor problems as well; work wasn't going well at all. On top of working with a Bi-polar woman whose favorite sport is to berate and nag our production supervisor constantly (I mean from 7:00 AM until 4:00 PM nonstop) it seemed like no matter what I did, I always messed things up. Despite 18 hour work days, production fell behind, I was demoted, and I really didnt feel as if I belonged.I had to stop my EMT training (something I had really wanted to do) for the sake of my job, and then all the thing I had enjoyed more than anything as a 3rd degree member of Knights of Columbus -Christmas card sales- was taken from me without any notice or thanks for the effort I'd put into it for the past few years. The only thing that wasn't going bad was my relationship with my wife and kids, though it was strained from time to time, mostly due to money.

Anyway, all these things simply added to my disgruntled attitude, and unfortunately, my faith suffered. I stopped reciting the rosary daily, stopped going to Mass if it looked like I was going to be even 3 minutes late, stopped tithing, I just................................................stopped.

But here I am, a year later, and things are looking up again. Money isnt any different, I still have to deal with the psychotic secretary, and I actually coach soccer now (how nuts am I?), so I have even less time than I did then, but things got soooo depressing, that I pleaded with God. I gave myself up again, and I feel like I did 7 years ago when I went thru the final stages of RCIA.


So, I figured that as long as I'm trying to come back, I might as well get back in the practice of writing a blog. It always did seem to help.