Friday, April 29, 2011


I was thinking about Jennifer @ Conversion Diary’s resolve to put up a post about the meaning of every single word of the Our Father, and I was picking out in my mind the difficult ones - “in”, “thy”, “as”, “it”. That was just how it seemed to me - as if, flowing along the words of that phrase, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, this one word, “as”, was written in bold. What did it mean? Why did that word suddenly strike me as profound, in a nonspecific sort of way?

So I started thinking about what that word, “as”, meant. It reminded me of another “as”, the one where Jesus says “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”(Matt 5:48). That phrase has provided a dilemma for me, a riddle. The saints and theologians all seem to say that we cannot actually attain perfection in this life, only in the next. But if so, why would Jesus say it?

And pondering it, I suddenly saw something.

Life is an asymptote.

For those of you less familiar with mathematical terms, an asymptote is one of those funny things that you get with certain equations, (most often when you get close to dividing by zero). If you have an asymptote, the graph of your equation will never quite touch some line that it is getting close to - but it will literally never stop getting closer and closer to it, either.

Let’s say that God’s will as it is done in heaven is 42*. Praying that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven means that you’re not satisfied with 40 on earth. It means that if the earth reached 41.9, you wouldn’t stop and say “This is good enough for me. I’m staying here.” You don’t let things just level off, remaining a permanently fixed distance from perfection. Even at 41.99999999999, you’re still striving, still fighting the good fight to inch us that much closer to God’s will as it is in heaven.

It’s important that we remember that God always loves us, whether we’re at 40 or a negative billion. We don’t say “as”, as if our eternal lives depended on reaching that “as” on earth. Our peace, our joy in God comes long before we approach perfection. But we keep striving for it, yearning for it, and praying for it, because we know that every little bit closer that we get, is totally worth it.

* If you’re on the internet and don’t know why I picked 42, I’d be a little shocked. But if so, go see 42.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Kid's Easter Proclamation?

Elijah: "Now that Jesus is still alive again, maybe he can fix the flooding."
Me: "What flooding?"
Elijah: "Remember the place with all the water, because the thing broke? And the earthquake?"
Me: "You mean Japan?"
Elijah: "Yeah."

So I explained that I didn't think the land was still flooded, and that the Japanese were trying to rebuild everything. But I thought his connection of Easter with Japan was very interesting.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

PicVids: April 2011

There's no videos in this edition of PicVids, on account of how I still have to upload all the videos from my laptop to Youtube. But enjoy the pics.

Gabe's been having this love-hate thing going on with baths. He wants to splash in it when someone else is in it, but he won't get in himself.

When we homeschool, he has to be involved, too. When I made the other kids copy a sentence in their notebooks, he got his little one and filled it with little swirlies about the size of letters. Here's he's scribbling on the notebook that I use to write out whatever they're supposed to copy.

Elijah's under the helmet, in case you can't tell.

I'm homeschooling, too, Mama, really I am!

Brother-sister love.

Going through my photos made me decide I need more photos of Ken.

Sisterly love. Or just Kyrie trying to get in on a shot. I forget which. :)

Do they look alike?

"Mom, why is she hugging me?"

Jules just sort of decided to join Gabe in the kitchen. Because that's what happens when babies learn to crawl.

Monday, April 25, 2011


The kids are playing in the bedroom; well, they're sitting on the top bunk eating candy while Kyrie is talking. She's pretending to be someone or other, but I hear her talking about Santa and Mom and some others.

Then I hear: "By the way, I'm not really real."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My God-Driven Makeover

UPDATE: If you are looking at this post from my main blog site, it is probably appearing with a bunch of sentences underlined. I have no idea why. They do not show up on the individual post page, for some reason.

So after much mulling over and much discussion (mostly on Facebook) of the question of beauty that I wrote about before - where I think that God wants me to take some measures to make myself look more attractive - here is my own, personal "makeover". This is what I've decided to do.

1.Start wearing skirts at least some of the time.

I've been thinking about this one for a long time, actually. Some time ago, the idea of wearing skirts all the time captured my imagination. I haven't acted on it, but it was quick to come to mind when I started to think that God wanted me to put a little effort into looking more attractive. Right after that, I came across this post about wearing skirts, which seemed like a confirmation that that would be a good direction for me to go.

The reasons I haven't worn skirts much before this is (a) I only own one, and didn't want to spend money on more; and (b) it's hard to find ones that will hold up to use around small kids. I plan to deal with the cost by buying a few skirts over time, as I can afford them. I've bought this skirt off Etsy; it was Ken's favorite of the ones I looked at. (For a picture of me wearing it, scroll to the bottom of the post.) There's a black skirt at Lane Bryant that might satisfy (b), which I hope to buy in the future. And I will keep my eye out for other practical skirts. 

2. Wear other cuter clothes.

Some time ago Gabe, my two-year-old, was "helping" me sort laundry. He would grab each carefully-folded item out of the basket (thus un-folding it), hand it to me, and tell me whose it was so I could (after re-folding it), put it on the right person's pile. Whenever he pulled out one of my jeans, he insisted they were "dada"s. (It was actually quite cute; I would tell him, "no, that's mama's", and he would look at me, look back at the jeans, and say, "no, dada".)

So I've been thinking that maybe I would feel a lot girlier if, you know, I didn't have to look at the tag to tell the difference between my jeans and Ken's. I do own one pair of jeans with pretty decorations down the side, and they're my favorite jeans. When I buy jeans in the future, I will definitely try to find ones with distinctly feminine decorations on them.

Since I also needed some cute tops, Ken and I went shopping at Lane Bryant a couple weeks ago, and I came home with several cute tops. He has good taste in clothes.

This is the cutest top Ken picked out. I put this photo up on Facebook and asked if it was too low-cut. A couple people said to wear a cammy* if going to work or church, but most people said it was fine.

*I could not find a camisole at Kmart that both fit me and was more modest than the low-cut shirts. What's up with that? I did pick up some cute sandals, though.

3.Get my hair done.

Of all the responses that I got to my earlier post, doing something with my hair was the most common suggestion. And, frankly, it’s something I was leaning towards doing even before this all started. My sister got enthusiastic about this, picked out a salon for me (made possible by the internet, considering she lives half a continent away), and even transferred money into my account to help pay for it. Go Cathy! :)

Keep in mind that I never wore it down like this. It was *always* in a braid. And usually a frizzy, falling apart one at that.
The stylist figured she cut off about 8 inches of split ends, although she said the top was surprisingly healthy.


Getting Kyrie to take a close-up and focused photo was difficult.

Ken wouldn't take a photo b/c he was sulking about how short it was. :)

I didn't know what I wanted, so the stylist suggested I have my hair blown out. I don't think I really care for how big that makes my hair look, but it was worth trying it to see. She showed me how wavy my hair was when wet, and said that I could try putting gel in it to keep it wavy, which idea I like. This is how it looks when I tried that. (I like it much better than the straight look).

Why does my laptop camera turn everything blue? I love the curls, though.

 And I do really like the length. (Ken doesn't). It came out a couple inches shorter than I was picturing it, but I don't mind that. It is SO much easier to brush and take care of. It's a lot lighter, too. And It's more flexible; I can leave it down for ordinary days, put it in a ponytail when I need it away from my face, and do a half-braid for special occasions. Instead of just braid, braid, braid all the time.

4. Try to clear up my skin.

A friend had previously recommended a 2% BHA Liquid that cleared up the tiny red bumps on her own face. Since I have the same thing, I went ahead and bought some. It seems to be helping a little, albeit slowly. 


See, this is what my hair usually looked like from the front.


Can you even see any difference? My laptop camera isn't quite clear enough, and my digital camera doesn't focus when I'm holding it and pointing it at myself, so neither one really captured my complexion. This will take time to improve, anyhow.

5. Wear make-up (maybe).

I had actually decided not to do this, on account of the hassle, when I came across this post, a sort of beginner's guide to make-up. I will go ahead and try her suggestion for beginners - concealer, mascara, and lip gloss. (I don't have the concealer yet). Allergies make my eyes itch a lot, and there's a patch under my right eye that looks bruised from rubbing it so hard. Maybe if I wear concealer and mascara sometimes, it will help remind me not to touch my eyes, even when they itch really really bad. This is sort of a work in progress, so I'll have to try it out and see if I'm motivated to keep doing it or not.

I also am keeping some lip balm or chapstick with me at all times and using it often. I am blessed with fairly bright lips, as long as they aren't chapped and dry, so I think this will make a big difference all by itself. 

Putting it all together

It doesn't help that it's a crappy picture, but all the alternatives were muy fuzzy. Emphasizes the difference, though.


All dressed up for the Easter Vigil. He is risen! Alleluia Alleluia!

The God Part

I will say, too, that I really believe that this is something God wanted me to do. I know it can seem superficial and wasteful to put time and effort and money into making myself look more attractive, but God has given me peace in my heart at every step. There was once or twice when I felt He was telling me to take a step back and not go too far with the whole thing, but for the most part, he has reassured me that, since this is what He told me to do, I will not be depriving anyone else of something they need by obeying Him. That is something that is harder for me to believe than it may sound. But, as I've allowed myself to look girlier and more attractive, it has been like a weight has lifted off my heart. (A weight I did not clearly realize was there.) I've found, as I have found every time I've obeyed God, a new sense of freedom and life. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Would You Have Picked Up the Rosary?

As I was getting ready to leave for Holy Thursday Mass tonight, I saw my rosary and had an impulse to bring it with. 

At this point, a lot of thoughts are going through my head. Is this an impulse from God? Am I going to need the rosary for some reason tonight? I can't think of any possible reason why I would want a rosary at Mass. I'm definitely not going to use it *during* Mass. So why would God want me to bring my rosary? Could this instead be an impulse from the devil? Could it be a distraction to slow me down and make me late? I'm already later than I'd like to be. Could the rosary end up being stolen or lost if I brought it? That seems extremely unlikely. And so on.

I was like the proverbial cow, placed exactly between two bales of hay, unable to pick which side to move towards. Fortunately, I've been there enough times that I've learned to just pick a choice and go with it. Getting it wrong in such cases is usually a lot less painful than dithering over it indefinitely, imagining worse and worse potential consequences for each choice as time goes by.

I picked up the rosary and stuck it in my pocket.

Holy Thursday Mass is the one time of year when my parish brings together its very large Spanish-speaking community and its relatively small English-speaking community into one bilingual Mass. Kyrie had been picked to be one of the people getting their feet washed (they had been looking for volunteers at her First Communion class), so it was an especially exciting time. (The more so for me, because I had left the other kids at home with Ken, taking only Kyrie and the baby, so that we weren't taking up extra space in the very crowded church). Listening to the priest speak in Spanish and seeing all the Hispanics around me, I was renewed in my desire to learn Spanish. And, as I often have, I wondered if I could be an effective force for renewal among the Hispanics, helping them to see Jesus more personally, if only I learned their language. I have no idea if God wants me in a role like that or not. (And, to be sure, the ones who are coming to Mass may be the least likely to need it). 

At the end of Mass, the priest put the Eucharist in the monstrance and we had a little procession with it across the courtyard to the parish center, where it would be on display for Adoration until midnight. This happens every single year on Holy Thursday, and yet, somehow, every single year I forget that it's going to happen.

Kyrie wanted to go see what Adoration was about, so we went. Once there, I suddenly remembered the rosary in my pocket. I wanted to pray the rosary myself, but I doubted Kyrie could last that long without getting bored. After another brief interlude of mental dithering, I pulled the rosary out and handed it to Kyrie, telling her she could use it to pray the rosary if she wanted. I prayed the rosary myself, keeping track on my fingers.*

This worked out phenomenally well. Kyrie and I actually finished our rosaries at about the same time; having something to handle kept her focused and going the whole time, even when most of the room started up a Spanish group prayer out loud. In the meantime, I prayed my rosary for all the people around me, that each and every one of them would have a phenomenal relationship with Jesus. After all my concern for my fellow parishioners, it gave me some peace to pray a rosary for them.

*Apparently my counting skills need some work. I prayed the Glory Be at the end of the first decade, only to realize that I had forgotten my other hand, and had only prayed 5 Hail Mary's instead of 10.  :) (I ended up adding another decade on the end to compensate.) 

God Wants Me To Make My Own Food

I'd been thinking a lot about food in recent months - rereading the book Real Food, reading blogs and articles, and so on. I'm pretty sure that at least once, I took a moment to ask God to guide me towards what I should be doing. And apparently, He has some suggestions to make.

1. Make Your Own Yogurt

It started when I was attempting to make homemade yogurt. (I blogged before about this.) When I came across this recipe for home-cultured yogurt, it really caught my eye, because my kids eat a ton of yogurt, and it seems like the kind of thing that could be healthy but probably isn't when you buy it from a store with tons of sugar and other random ingredients added in. So a-yogurt-making I went.

How it went:
My first few attempts failed because I couldn't insulate the yogurt well enough to keep it warm to "grow". So I experimented with my oven's dial and a digital meat thermometer, to find where on the dial is about 106 °F. 

Yes, I marked the spot on the dial with tape so I could find it again. And you have no idea how hard it was to get this picture. Either the shot came out blurry or the light reflected off that black surface, making everything invisible.

The author of the recipe said using the cheap yogurt as a starter worked best. To test this for myself, I tried three different brands of yogurt.

YoBaby Peach (organic, not cheap); Strawberry (cheap); Plain

She was right. 

YoBaby = watery/separated. Strawberry = best of the lot. Plain = most watery/separated.

It didn't work so well when I tried to use some of the middle yogurt to grow another batch, though. It might not have been "strong" enough. I made five jars worth the next time around, and we'll see if we can get any of those to grow its own batch. Kyrie, who eats the most yogurt, tried some today and said, "I'm eating it, but I don't know if I like it or not." (That was after adding some pure maple syrup, since they're used to it sweet.) I love it, though, and I think I will let the kids get used to it.

2. Make Your Own Applesauce

Somewhere in the process of writing about yogurt, the idea had popped into my head of making homemade applesauce. I was moderately charmed by the idea, but did not think a whole lot about it. Then out of the blue one day, Kyrie told me I should make homemade applesauce. When I asked her where the idea came from, she said someone on one of the cartoons she had watched had done that. Since the idea had independently come up twice, I took it as God telling me something.

How it went: 
Peel 15 apples of mixed varieties; use the corer to core and slice them; put them in a pot with 3/4 c. water and simmer on med-low until soft. Mash with a potato masher. Fill 8 mason jars to put in fridge, and enjoy a heaping bowlful leftover to eat warm. Simple, and delicious.

I didn't bother canning it "properly", since I wasn't planning on having them sit in the fridge for more than a week.

Kyrie loved it. I loved it. Elijah and Savi said they didn't like "what you put in it, Mom". I found that hilarious, since I hadn't even added sugar or cinnamon. They just meant they didn't like the chunks of apples that hadn't got as liquified as the rest. Next time I will stir it every ten minutes or so to make sure the apples spend equal time in the water along the bottom, to make them softer and reduce chunkiness. (Although I like the chunkiness myself.)

3. Make Your Own Cheese

Right after I made the decision to try to make my own applesauce and yogurt because I felt God was leading me to it, I woke up to discover this article in my feed reader about a local class that teaches how to make your own cheese at home. (Which led me to this book about making your own cheese, yogurt, butter, and more, which I'm considering buying).

I laughed and said to God, "Really?! You want me to make my own cheese too?"

I plan to try some mozarella at some point, although I'm highly attached to cheddar, and I don't know if it's even possible to make cheddar at home. But mozarella is good too.

4. Make Your Own Cereal

I have this recipe called "Koinonia Granola" that my mom taught me to make growing up. I love the stuff; it's oodles and oodles better than any storebought granola that I have ever tasted. It's not overly complicated, but it takes a variety of ingredients that I don't usually keep on hand. And it has to be done in batches, so it can take a bit of time. (It lasts a long time, though.) I've only made it once since I moved to Oregon almost five years ago.

I wasn't planning to include this as one of my homemade foods. Then this morning, my son was staring at a box of Apple Jacks and said, out of the blue, "Mom, I wish we could make homemade cereal some time."

Okie doke, God. Homemade granola it is.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


What do you think of the palm branch as a symbol of? The kingship of Jesus? Worship? Peace? Bananas? California and Florida and other sunny places? 

I bet you don't think of it as a machine gun.

Which apparently my son does.

Ken now gets to chalk up "Stop shooting people during church" as yet another one of those "things you never thought you'd have to say to your kids" things. :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Are you Magnetized?

Elijah, coming crying out of the bedroom: "Savi keeps lying on me and saying I'm magnetized when I'm not."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mary of Bethany

The gospel this past Sunday was the story of Lazarus coming back from the dead. I didn't hear most of the homily that the seminarian at our parish gave (a combination of distracting kids and just plain wandering thoughts). But I tuned in for about ten seconds when he said something about Mary of Bethany being the same sinful woman who had washed Jesus' feet with her tears, and then (I think) something comparing the two incidents in Mary's life.

Now, frankly, I'm not a big fan of the theory that says that the woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears was Mary of Bethany or Mary of Magdalene or both. It's ok, I guess, as speculation, but claiming it as fact is really stretching things.

However, I suddenly saw that making the two woman into the same person does something.

It makes Mary a two-story person.*

So many of the figures in the Bible, whether Old Testament or New, have only one story told about them. Jonah's story begins and ends with Ninevah. The blind man is healed. The lepers are healed. What happens to them ten years later? We don't know. Did God do anything significant in Naomi's life after she married Boaz and had a son? We don't know. The centurion whose had such great faith that his servant was healed - was that the limit of his encounter with God? We aren't told.

(Pictures In Church)

There's a few exceptions - Abraham, Moses, Jesus himself come to mind. Peter and Paul. But these are, generally, the "greats". It's easy to think of them as somehow being on a totally different plane than us mere mortals.

(Woman Weaving)

But Mary is different. This isn't even Mary the mother of God; this is just Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus. She might be special, but she's not out of reach.

And if she can have repeated significant encounters with God, then so can we.

Because sometimes it's easy to forget that. Sometimes it's easy to think of ourselves as one-story people. And if we do, if we think our encounter with God has come and gone, then we won't be looking out for all the new encounters with him that He has planned.

*Yes, I know that Mary already has two stories: the Lazarus story and the "Make her help me with the dishes" story. But I never had this insight before when thinking about those two stories, so this the way I'm writing it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

God's Anniversary Gift

Last Saturday, after taking the minivan to Nissan to have the O2 sensor replaced for the third time in 6 weeks, I drove the kids out to Multnomah Falls (17 miles away) to get in a "drive cycle", so that I could try to take it through DEQ (the emissions testers) and get the registration renewed.

The check engine light didn't come on.

And it continued not coming on.

And then it still hadn't come on.

And I tried not to get my hopes up. Because I had done this before, one of the previous times... I had made it to Multnomah Falls and back only to have DEQ tell me that I still needed a drive cycle, and then, when I went back *again*, the engine light came on again. Surely this time would be like that last time. I didn't want to feel let down by God again. I wanted to be prepared when the engine light came on and the knowledge sunk in that there would be no avoiding the $1400 and up repair of the van's computer, which Nissan had told me would have to come next if this didn't work.

But somehow I felt different than I had that last time. That previous time, I was hopeful, almost confident that God would come through. But it had been as if some part of me knew that I was deluding myself, that it wasn't going to work. This time, there was a feeling ... it's hard to describe. "Healing the brokenhearted" is what comes to mind. This time I was broken inside, expecting more disappointment, and God was telling me, "I'm here for you." Not in the "Trust me, you can survive this with my help" way that he sometimes does, but in the "I'm going to give you what you want" way.

I kept thinking of that time when Elijah had a positive test for celiac, and we had the test re-done, and the doctor called back to tell us the results. I'd felt like God had been giving me messages of healing, but in the moment I picked up the phone and heard the doctor's voice, I just couldn't bring myself to believe it. When the doctor said the test showed Elijah was fine, my heart did little cartwheels of joy, and my eyes probably sprung a few leaks. Driving the van that Saturday, I felt almost exactly the way I had in those moments on the phone before I heard the news.

By the time I got back, DEQ was closed and did not open again until Tuesday. So Tuesday morning the kids and I piled in the van and drove down to the testing station. In my previous trips, after getting the computer readings, the DEQ people had always led with the question, "Have you seen a mechanic recently?".

When this time the tester said, "That'll be twenty-one dollars, please", I wanted to leap for joy. We sang "Thank you, Thank you, Jesus" on the way home.

It got me thinking, though. Why didn't God have the van be fixed the first time around? Did he really *want* me to be broken, just so he could fix me? Isn't that a little... evil?

But then I got to thinking what would have happened if God *had* fixed my van the first time. If I am honest with myself, I can see that I would have started to think that faith was the *only* thing I needed to achieve results. If God had fixed the van the first time, I'd have started to see God as my own personal genie, performing wishes on demand, as long as I "believe". My relationship with Him would have gotten more screwed up. Allowing my heart to break sometimes keeps me humble.

After getting home and calling Ken with the good news (and then calling the Nissan lady with the good news), I felt like we ought to go out after dinner and celebrate with some ice cream. Only later did I notice that it was my wedding anniversary. It's no fun celebrating an anniversary during Lent, so I've been planning for us to celebrate it the Friday after Easter (since we got married on a Friday after Easter). Getting the van finally fixed, though, seemed a fitting anniversary present from God, and we got a little celebration in after all, at Baskin Robbins.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Communion Class

Kyrie has been taking First Communion classes on Wednesday nights at our parish this year. I started off by sitting in on all the classes with her.  Several weeks into the program, one of the two teachers, who I will call A, fell and broke her shoulder.

After she had been seen off to the hospital by the emergency responders, I began wondering who would teach the class the next couple weeks. The other teacher, who I will call E, had not been there that night and was going to be out of town on business trips for the next two Wednesdays. Somewhere in the back of my head I knew that I could probably substitute, but I was hesitant to volunteer myself. Out in the parking lot as we were leaving that night, I ended up talking with Fr. D for a bit, and one or the other of us brought up the possibility of me substituting, although I can't remember now quite what was said.

The next Sunday, at coffee-and-doughnuts after Mass, I ran into E. I told her what had happened to A. When the question of who would teach the next two classes came up, E immediately asked me to do it.

So that's how I ended up teaching the class for two weeks. (Fr. D later laughed, promising me that he had kept his mouth closed and not volunteered me to do it.) And it went well. It was a bit stressful to be trying to plan things, but it was also surprisingly satisfying to talk to a bunch of kids about God and the sacraments and morality and such.

Somehow this whole sequence of events seemed very significant to me.

It was as if God was pulling all these strings to put me, in particular, into the position of teaching this class. I had been going to every class; I knew what the kids had been doing and how they went about their classes. E just happened to be out of town for those particular two weeks. Both E and Fr. D thought of me as someone in a position to do the job.

It felt, in the end, as if it was more significant than just those two weeks. It felt like God was giving me a taste of something he has planned for me in the future. So now I keep thinking... will I be teaching this class full-time some upcoming year?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rosary & Kids

My take on the Rosary has usually been that it's not for me. Any sort of rote prayer causes an issue for me, mostly because I get into a mire of trying to "mean" what I say and wondering what constitutes "meaning" something.

One day a couple months ago someone I care about seemed particularly in need of prayer, and I decided to pray the Rosary for them. While I did, for the first time it occurred to me that all of these doubts about "meaning" what I say might be a spiritual attack rather than something coming out of who I am. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed that that was the case.

At the same time, I was bothered by the fact that I wasn't praying in any sort of regular way for the various people in my life whose salvation I'm concerned about. So I started praying the Rosary every day. I do a decade for each person, and I have enough people to last me through a week's worth of rosaries.

One of those days I pray for each of my kids.

A couple days ago, in addition to their regular morning chore of cleaning their bedroom, Elijah and Kyrie spontaneously cleaned the whole living room for me, even clearing off the table. And did a good job of it, to boot.

I'm not saying it will ever happen again, but I thought to myself, "Maybe there's a connection here. Maybe my prayers are bearing fruit."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

PicVids: Gpa & Gma & Sweetness

Grandpa and Grandma came for a visit.

There has also been random moments of sweetness by the kids.

Elijah is buttoning up Savi's dress for her.

They agreed to wave at the camera.

Well, ok, this wasn't deliberate sweetness. Gabe was asleep and I rested Julie against him. Then he woke up and tried to shrug her off. But not before I got a couple shots off.

Julie's Crawling!

She's been getting up on hands and knees and rocking a little:

 but today she made her first real crawling movements:


So, it's like midnight, well after my bedtime, as I write this. I'm late going to bed, but I still wanted to get in some Bible reading, since that was my Lenten resolution, and God has been pushing me on that lately. As I went to pick up my Bible, though, I felt a slight urge to pick up the booklet with today's Mass readings instead - a booklet I sometimes use for Scriptural readings. It felt like a prompting from God, so I went with it.

The first line I see is "it is he who has rent". I thought that sounded funny. God pays rent? I reread it and realized they were talking about rent as in rendering, as in tearing apart. But then suddenly I remembered that it was the 2nd of the month and I hadn't paid our rent yet. So I got online to pay rent (and type this up).

God just sometimes takes care of even the little things, you know?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nissan, Safe Routes, and Barberry

So this post is about several hours of my life last Thursday (3/31/11). Last spring, back when my kids were still going to the local elementary school, I went to a meeting with various city representatives to discuss what could be done to make it easier for kids to walk to the elementary school (a program called "Safe Routes"). I was the only parent to show up. There was a follow-up meeting scheduled for this past Thursday at 3:30. When I asked if they still wanted me to show up even though I was homeschooling my kids this year, they said yes, since I was the only parent representative, I probably should.

In my never-ending pursuit of getting the van dealt with, I had scheduled to bring it in to Nissan at 1:30 on Thursday to get the rear o2 sensor replaced (which would be the fourth time it was replaced since I bought the van 7 months ago). The kids and I were going to hang out in Nissan's waiting room while they did it. We showed up, and ten or fifteen minutes later the very nice lady came and told us she was very sorry, but the part hadn't arrived yet. It should be on their parts truck, which would come in later that day, and would we mind coming back between four and five? I said ok. We went home.

I had warned the Safe Routes people that I might not be able to make the meeting because I was having van issues. I was tempted to skip the meeting entirely, but I turned to God to ask him if I should go, and I got the sense that I should. So I packed up the kids, and we went. I got there about 15 minutes late, I think, although it seemed like they were just starting. I was there for maybe twenty minutes before Nissan called back to say the part was in. I had to leave right away. I gave them a couple of quick thoughts, rounded up the kids, and left again.

But in that time, I learned one thing. They were cutting the bus service to 188th.

It so happens that I know something about 188th. The kids that get bussed from that street live in a couple apartment complexes, one of which is Barberry. Barberry is an apartment complex that has a reputation for being... well, for being a particularly bad complex in a neighborhood with lots of crummy complexes, a neighborhood reeking of crime and poverty. There's a group of young Christians who made a choice to live at Barberry as a sort of mission work - putting on dinners, building community, getting to know and help the residents however they can.

So I'm planning - if I don't put it off too long - to get in touch with them and see if they can help the residents adjust to having to get their kids to and from school without being bussed. Maybe organize a few of the parents to walk the kids in a group or something. Because when you're crazy poor, not having buses can actually be a really big issue to you.

And I'm thinking.... I barely spent any time at all at this meeting. Is this why God wanted me to go? Did he want me to go, so that I could connect with Barberry people and try to smooth things over?

(And just so you get a feel for what a hassle this van is, when I got to Nissan after the Safe Routes meeting, they discovered that the part that had come in was the wrong part. This wasn't their fault; the Gresham Ford dealership had had the same thing happen, apparently because of an error in the Ford catalogue, or something like that. The very nice Nissan lady offered to have my van cleaned, as a way of paying me back for bringing me out twice without accomplishing anything. They speed-ordered the right part and installed it this morning.)

The Van & The Flu Shot

Last August when we were van-shopping, we were looking at this green 2001 Mercury Villager. I was tired and cranky and just wanted to be done with it all. The van looked great; it needed the power windows fixed and some new tires, but the AC worked, it ran like a dream, and it was a good price. It had none of the "quirks" that our previous minivan had. I took a quick moment to try to pray and ask God, "Should we buy this van?" but could get no sense of peace about it. I brushed it off, figuring I probably wasn't going to get any peace about anything while I was tired. I went ahead and bought the van.


This van has been a huge hassle since then. In the first two months or so of owning it, we put as much money into fixing it as we had paid for it in the first place. It leaked gas; the AC broke; something was wrong with the steering, it needed a new o2 sensor, and so on. Fitting the car seats in also turned out to be an issue. The latest issue came up when I found out that my registration needed to be renewed in February. To make an excessively long story short, let me say that I have made something like 3 trips to our regular mechanics, 3 or 4 trips to DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), 5 trips to DEQ (the ones that do the emissions test that is required for registration), and so many trips to three different dealerships that I lost count (let's say, about 3 per week for half of February and all of March) in an attempt to resolve all this. Oh, and 5 attempts to drive to Multnomah Falls (17 miles away) to get in something called a "drive cycle"; the perfect activity in this time of gas price hikes. Today alone I was at Nissan, drove out to Multnomah Falls, and then drove down to see if DEQ was still open. (It wasn't. I'll go back on Tuesday morning when they open.)

So you can see why I say I learned my lesson. 

This last week, Savi had her five-year doctor's checkup. When the nurse asked if I wanted to give her a flu shot, I automatically said "no", like I usually do. And then the thought that I ought to give her the flu shot kept coming to me. The issue of flu shots had been on my mind for some time. I took a moment to pray about it and definitely could not get any peace about *not* giving her the shot, but could get a sense of peace about asking her for the flu shot. Only, I really didn't want to ask for the flu shot. Aside from my normal reasons for saying 'no' to it (my kids don't seem to get the flu, I've heard of the flu shot giving people flu symptoms, it's unnecessary medical intervention with potentially unknown long-term effects), I also just felt really, really embarrassed about the idea of asking the doctor for the flu shot after already saying no. How I could explain my change of mind? "God said so" sounds kinda crazy in a doctor's office, yes? 

But I remembered the van. And I really, really didn't want to have to deal with a hassle like that again. So I screwed up my courage and told the doctor I wanted her to have the flu shot after all. (I said I just had a feeling in my gut that I should, which she told me I should go with.) And you know what? Savi did not get sick any way from the flu shot. I don't know why God would push me to give Savi specifically the flu shot, without pushing me to give flu shots to the other kids. 

I will be very happy to avoid finding out the hard way.

Blog Title Change

You may have noticed that I changed the title of my blog from "Annalogue" to "Anna's Life". I'm not entirely sure why I did. It felt like a prompting from God, so I went with it.

A Moment of Fiction

Alice was tied down and strapped to a chair. Mark Higgins had hooked up a strange device to her head that he said would control the chemistry in her brain.

"Do you still believe in God?" He asked.

"Of course," said Alice. "He's right here with me." And indeed, she felt a deep sense within her of the overwhelming love of God for her. It was as if she were caught in a big bear hug.

Mark hit some buttons on the computer that the head device was connected to. Abruptly, the sense of love within Alice was gone, replaced by a dark feeling of desolation and abandonment.

"What about now?" he asked. "God has left. He's not with you anymore."

"Silly Mark", Alice replied, although she felt like crying. "Daddy's still with me. It's only the sense of him that's gone." She paused to try to think of an analogy.

"It's like..." she started.  "It's like before he was standing right in front of me, and I could see him with my eyes. And now he's walked around behind my back. I can't see him anymore, and I might be tempted to think he's not there. But the truth is that he's still with me and never left."

Friday, April 1, 2011

War And Innocent Life

So this past Monday, during the social time after my prayer meeting, I got into a discussion with three of the guys about the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and about war in general. 

It was as if something had come over me. I was making these bold, passionate statements instead of my usual calm, carefully nuanced ones. I was making simple, elegant points instead of tripping over my own complicated logic, which is more the norm for me (especially in verbal conversations). Talking afterward with one of the ladies who had been listening, she told me, "Stay on your soapbox". I think it was the Spirit moving in me, so I'm going to put a spiel about this up on my blog, too.


So here's the thing. It really, really matters when innocent civilians get killed. Killing one innocent civilian is, yes, just as evil as aborting one innocent baby. Because it's the same thing. It doesn't matter if you come from a family with a long military tradition and you've always been taught that you do whatever you need to do in war, that there's no way to wage a war without killing civilians, and we should just accept that and get over it. There are families out there, too, who think that abortion is just fine. That doesn't make it right.

You think there's no way to wage a war justly anyhow, so it doesn't matter? I tell you, yes there is a right way to do it. And one of the requirements for doing it right is this. That you have to do every. possible. thing. to make sure that no innocent civilians get killed. I feel that I cannot emphasize this enough. Everything in your power. EVERYTHING.

War is like self-defense. When someone attacks you, you're allowed to fight back. All those soldiers out there - they're attacking you. It's ok if you fight back. It's NOT ok if you start killing someone who wasn't attacking you. Civilians are not soldiers. It doesn't matter if they support the regime that is attacking you. It doesn't matter if they voted for Hitler. It doesn't matter if they donated money to Stalin. If they're "spiritually attacking" you, fine. Attack them back spiritually. With prayer. You don't get to use physical force or kill someone unless they are attacking you - physically attacking you - first. If Ralph points a gun at you, you don't get to shoot his friend Tom who's standing by cheering him on, because Tom isn't attacking you.

Yes, the Vietnam war offered an exception to the idea that civilians are not soldiers. Knowing that even kids might have bombs strapped to them is horrible and I'm not going to judge anyone who shot a kid to defend themselves. But that's an exception. That's not how most of our wars have been fought, and we can't act as if that were the norm where it's not

The atom bomb - that was unjustifiable. We dropped an atom bomb on cities. Cities! Cities full of women and children and elderly, normal folks going about their business as best they could. And we killed them. And not in a quick and simple way, either, but in a way that left many of them in painful, lingering deaths over the course of a couple months. Imagine for a second that, after we invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein had dropped a nuclear bomb on Savannah, Georgia. Let's even say that there was a military base stationed in or around the city. We would all be pretty horrified, wouldn't we? We wouldn't say, "Oh, this is awful, but it's war, and he was justified. He was probably even trying to save lives by ending the war sooner by showing us how powerful and dedicated he is so we wouldn't keep fighting. And there was a military base there, so it was a valid military target, even though hundreds of thousands of civilians died." Yet that's the way people talk about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It's lunacy. Don't think this way, people!

Do you think this is just about the atom bomb? It's not. It's not even mostly about the atom bomb. That's done. It already happened and there isn't anything we can do to change it. But guess what? This problem is still going on. 

What, you say? You don't believe that America has a problem with killing innocent civilians? Let me refer you to the article that I had looked at the morning before I got into a debate about all this: The Kill Team Photos. I think I got through two photos before they were too graphic for me. Or maybe you should go read some of those Wikileaks documents about what our soldiers do. Yes, Assange appears to be an arrogant jerk, and yes, national security should be respected. But you know what? It's a lot like the Catholic Church and the sex abuse scandal. The reporters may be biased jerks out to paint you in the worst light possible. But when they show up this nasty thing that's going on, you shouldn't dither around accusing them and insisting they shouldn't have made it public. The most important thing is to, as my brother put it after seeing some of the Wikileaks publications, "stop being evil". Stop letting the soldiers get away with killing civilians. Stop dropping bombs on areas where civilians are likely to be. Pay attention to the civilians. Don't dismiss them as beneath your notice.

Need more convincing? Try these estimates of Iraqi deaths. The Wikileaks estimates are the smallest ones there, and the civilian deaths are over half of the total death count. That means that for every soldier or terrorist we kill, we've killed at least one civilian, too, if not three. Picture if you were living in enemy-occupied territory, and your brother Paul was part of the resistance movement. So a soldier breaks in, kills Paul, and then shoots your brother Mack, too, even though Mack wasn't part of the resistance or doing anything other than trying to go to work and live his life. No wonder they hate us. We treat them like crap.

And Iraq and Afghanistan isn't the only recent issue. Americans want to rejoice over our intervention in Libya. We're the good guys coming to the side of the oppressed people who are just trying to get rid of their evil dictator, right? Err... perhaps it's not so simple. Aside from the possibility that the fighting is more of a civil war between two tribes that don't like each other instead of a fight against an oppressive regime, there is the fact that our intervention is putting civilians at risk. Here's a quote from the article I read today:
Even so, the Vatican has to consider what it’s hearing from [the Catholics in Libya] -- including a warning from the Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, that the NATO bombing is endangering civilians. For instance, he reported on Wednesday that two hospitals have been damaged and their patients sent into shock. [Source]

Hear that, you Americans? This isn't "that barbaric Ghadafi is bombing a hospital, see how uncivilized he is."... this is NATO bombing a hospital. Us. We're doing it. We're the bad guys. That wasn't a target? So what. We still damaged it.

Read that whole article yet? It says the Pope is concerned about civilian deaths. Hear that, my Catholic friends?  The Pope is worried about civilians dying in Libya. Don't you think, oh, maybe, that it's our job to follow his lead and do anything we can to prevent civilian deaths?

I'm not being a pacifist here. I'm not saying we shouldn't be intervening in Libya. I'm saying that we need to do every single thing that we possibly can to avoid civilian deaths. And we aren't doing that right now.