Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ GK Chesterton

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Congenial Runners

Paula Radcliffe Bows Out Among Marathon Masses
Paula Radcliffe has brought down the curtain on her glittering athletics career by completing the London Marathon alongside a record number of amateurs and fundraisers.

The 41-year-old, who has run the marathon three minutes faster than any other woman and holds the fastest three times in history, chose not to compete with the elite athletes.

But she still managed a respectable unofficial time of 2:36:55 after running the last part of the race hand-in-hand with a club runner.

Such a nice story! For the moment, I don't care to dwell on runners who have cheated with drugs (or cheated without drugs).  And, yes, I know there is serious competition in the big races that are out of my league.

However, I choose to look at this story as the perfect example of my personal experience with runners.  Whether they train for the long races, or whether they just jog every few days for the health of it, the runners I know are some of the most encouraging, supportive athletes around.  If I am triumphantly breaking personal records, or if I am  struggling with a difficulty, no one who is a stronger runner than I am has ever belittled my efforts. 

Paula Radcliffe could have run the race differently.  I think the way she chose was a good one.

Well done, Paula!

I will say that this is never how I want to watch a marathon.  Or, honestly, watch anything.  I'd really rather not be suspended above life like that.  Click on that link to the source of the photo, as there's an entire series of photos from the glass walkway.  Vertigo inducing!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

St John of the Cross

Conquering the tongue is better than fasting on bread and water.
~ St. John of the Cross

The quote is from "The Sayings of Light and Love."  And, oh my, fasting on bread and water is infinitely easier than conquering the tongue!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Faith and Feelings

“I Didn’t Feel Anything”: Searching For Christ After Confirmation

Interesting article. The author shares how teens have expressed disappointment that they don't feel anything after receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.  His remedies include: keeping up with praying, going on retreats, trying out Daily Mass, and to keep plugging away at it.

All good suggestions.  Especially "talk to God like a friend."  As St. Teresa of Avila is famous for saying, "prayer is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends."

I'd like to humbly suggest that this conversation needs to happen before Confirmation. Less of trying to make things "exciting" and "relevant" to the younger generations.  More admitting that faith is hard, like the rest of life, and it's a good idea to bank that time with God while the going is good, so you have something on which to draw when life isn't going well.

Oh my gosh, I sound like a grumpy old man!  Maybe I should think this through a bit longer before hitting "publish."  But, no.  There is hope in my realism.  The article finishes:
While my faith is something I can’t fully explain, I stand in awe of God’s goodness every day and all I can do is share the ways I have been deeply loved in the midst of my darkest hours. I hope and pray that you discover this same love that so many have found from the love of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Look at Legumes

Blogging about food was on the agenda, when I began this online endeavor.  The burgeoning spring weather brings about a desire to shake up our menu routine.  Think of this post as laying the foundation for any food-related blogging that is coming down the pike.

Eating a variety of foods in as close to their natural state as possible is a good rule of thumb.  Anyone recognize the origins of that phrase?  However, there are problems with getting a variety, when there is (or are) a major food group (or groups) that need to be avoided, due to allergies.

And we have sensitivities in this house, let me tell you.

My problem is with legumes.  It took a while to discover this, since different legumes have a different effect on me.  Coming into contact with peanut oil is enough to cause hives, whereas eating guar gum-containing cottage cheese plugs up my sinuses, and anything soy disturbs my digestive tract.  Any sort of legume that I unintentionally ingest over a period of time causes joint pain.  (There are many people who experience unexplained joint pain.  Something to consider.)  I spent quite a while thinking I was going crazy, until I discovered that legume was the common denominator in any ill health I experienced.

When I am legume-free, my body is happy.  Trouble arises because I do eat legume, both accidentally and intentionally.  Legumes are everywhere, the FDA doesn't require companies to specify the ingredients in their 'natural flavors' label list, so that leads to accidental ingestion.  And I have been known to cheat on my diet, especially when it comes to a certain local Mexican food restaurant.

I happened upon the paleo diet when I was searching for a soybean-free mayonnaise.  There is a wealth of information supporting the paleo lifestyle choice.  This is a good thing for people who suffer food sensitivities.  Typically, we're written off as nutters who are endangering ourselves with fad diets.  I've even heard that food allergy sufferers are the modern-day consumptive-wannabes.  Ouch. 

I am not a nutter.  At least, not about this.  There could be physiological reasons behind my body's inability to tolerate The Pod.  Without further ado, the science behind the practice of abstaining from legumes to get you started:

Spilling the Beans – 10 Reasons to Avoid Eating Legumes

How Do Grains, Legumes and Dairy Cause a Leaky Gut? Part 1: Lectins

How Do Grains, Legumes and Dairy Cause a Leaky Gut? Part 2: Saponins and Protease Inhibitors

Avoiding legumes is easy, if you are willing to cook from scratch and to spend a bit more on less processed foods.  Having done this for almost a decade now, I can confirm that this way of life tastes a lot better!

Triple the cost of peanut butter, but no hives.

Homemade pizza dough tonight!

Most bacon contains soy derivatives. Not mine!

Be sure to read Paleo Mom's impressive credentials and background story.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Exciting news!!!

I feel that I can fold up the blog and go home.  Because the information I've long desired to see about children and prayer is about to be published!  I'm very excited!

Connie Rossini's new book will be titled A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child.  Here is a snippet of the Amazon description:
Learn how to work with your child, building on his God-given strengths and minimizing his weaknesses. Teach him to pray mental prayer from a young age. Use the book list to encourage him to imitate the virtues of characters he will love. Create a spiritual growth plan for the calendar year or school year. Whether your child attends school outside the home or is homeschooled, this book will support you in being his primary teacher on living the Christian life.

Emphasis mine.  Yes.  Children can be taught mental prayer from a young age.  With every fiber in me, I believe that prayer, even for children, is the foundation upon which we must build a Christian life.  It's my opinion that this foundation, this cornerstone, gets glossed over even as we are asking children to consider everything from the talents they have to lend to home, church, or community, to their life's vocation.

I've been meaning to post this news for a while now. 

I've placed my pre-order.  It is ready to be sent to my Kindle on the date of release, so I can have instant gratification.  Exciting!!!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Divine Mercy

Divine Mercy Sunday approaches.

Those who know me, know that I am one for catching on late to things that most people already know.  The concept of God's mercy is no exception to those things Others know that I don't.  Sadly, this isn't a post about reaching understanding; I'm still confused.

I've read the Church documents and I've read St. Faustina's diary.  I'm still missing something.  In short, I don't see justice as a bad thing.  It doesn't make me fear or dislike a vengeful God.  Rather, my understanding of God's justice is very much wrapped up with the idea of a loving father, because I've always seen justice as more consequence-of-my-actions than retribution-from-an-angry-God.  If I dent the car, break a plate, hurt someone's feelings, I can be forgiven, but I'm still left with the consequence of a dented car, broken plate, hurt friend.

I can identify with the Elder Son of the Prodigal Son story.  It's not that I will whine about the unfairness of life (although I am capable of that), it's more that I have a complacent acceptance that we reap what we sow.  Toss in a bit of the fact that I'd dearly love nothing more than to undo any of the hurtful things I've done or said to people, that I'd wish to be able to make up for what I've done, and you'll see why I don't think justice is all that bad.  I know that God can take into account my human failings that led me to do wrong to other people; I don't see how it makes it better for the people I've hurt.

I've been reading The Context of Holiness by Fr. Marc Foley.  Fr. Foley has come to my help, shedding new light on the topic:
For many of us, there is a conflict between God's mercy and justice.  This was not true for Therese.  In fact, she believed that God is Merciful because God is Just.  God is so just, that when he judges us, he takes into consideration everything about us, and as a result, is merciful.
This is the best description I've found, thus far, that comes close to satisfying my lingering misunderstanding about God's Mercy.  Does this mean that, if we ask for Mercy, and have been merciful ourselves, God sees the whole picture and is able to make so that (anecdotally) the car becomes undented, the plate unbroken, the feelings unhurt?  I don't know!

Fr. Foley goes on to quote St. Therese.  A quote I've read many times, but never quite appreciated outside the context of this book.

"To me He has granted His infinite Mercy and through it I contemplate and adore the other divine perfections!  All of these perfections appear to be resplendent with love; even His Justice (and perhaps this even more so than the others) seems to me clothed in love.  What a sweet joy it is to think that God is Just, i.e., that He takes into account our weakness, that He is perfectly aware of our fragile nature." Therese was a sacrament of God's loving mercy for [others], who communicated . . . the infinite mercy of God who takes into account the weaknesses of our frail human nature.

So, friends who are more clever than me, please say a quick prayer for me, for understanding.  This section of Fr. Foley's book is what I'll be chewing over on Divine Mercy Sunday.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Early Spring

These photos were taken last week, on the first warm day we'd had after an unseasonable cold spell.

Baby Sheep Face

Look at the black sheep in the bunch!

I love chickens.  Pure and simple.

A crawfish!  Egad, I wouldn't touch it.

Deer Print

Frolic in the Stream

New Growth


More New Growth

The children play, run, and splash.  I watch them, but I also have a mini-retreat.  I breathe in the springtime smells and bask in the sunlight.  I take delight in the greenery that is emerging.  I am grateful for feeling neither too cold nor too warm.

I believe, firmly, in taking the time to notice the beauty of each season.  Spring doesn't take much effort.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Opening Day


I wish nothing but the best to everyone's favorite teams.  My baseball-loving friends and I seem to have a friendly rivalry, which is all part of the fun.  In the interest of Christian Charity, I will refrain on Opening Day from naming names of teams whose rivalry is not as fun as it could be because their players are so grumpy.  Ahem. 

But, extra special Opening Day wishes to my favorites!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Holy Thursday

The Last Supper, but really a beginning!

Thank you, God, for the gift of Holy Communion!