Wednesday, December 31

Proving You Are Not Mad

...would generally mean that you avoid behavior that makes you appear as such.

Gambia Sentences Missionary Couple to Year of Hard Labor

A missionary couple from Britain have been sentenced to a year’s hard labour in an African prison for calling the Gambian President a madman.

May God bless and keep them while they labor, and may they be able to go home safely, and soon.

That Might Explain a Few Things...

Report: Jets' Favre has torn biceps tendon (AP)

Tuesday, December 30

Stupid Crook Files

Not the brightest bulb on the string, eh?

Man Arrested After Using Pay Stub as Bank Robbery Note


The robber's threatening note made a Chicago bank job easy to solve: The FBI says the suspect wrote it on his pay stub.

Bumper Sticker Seen

Our family encountered a bumper-sticker laden car before Christmas.  Most of them were earth-loving, tree-hugging, pagan ones.  (Specifically, one did say she was a pagan and that she voted.)

One particular sticker caught my eye because it was true, true, true!

"If sitting in  church on Sunday makes you a Christian,
does sitting in a garage make you a car?"

What a great bumper sticker!  Naturally, the answer to both parts of the question is NO.

Going to church on Sundays does not make someone a Christian.  What makes you a Christian is the belief in Christ AND the following of His teachings.  I tell my girls that assenting to the Holy Mother Church is vital if we are to be a part of it.  I can go to Mass daily, pray a Rosary daily, and live a life that, to all appearances, is a Catholic one.  But if I do not follow the teachings of the Church - no matter how difficult they might be - I am not Catholic.  If I have sinned and don't repent of it, I am not Catholic.  If I go about saying things like, "I am personally opposed to abortion, but I'm going to support expanding abortion rights and striking down existing restrictions," then I am not Catholic.

There are some sins I've committed that are grave.  Some that can't even be un-done.  But I've repented, confessed them, and received absolution.  I have sought out ways to do penance for them.  The biggest struggle I have is to forgive myself.  

Now, before this repentance, I went to Mass on a regular basis and appeared to everyone as a "good Catholic."  But I was not.  I was sinning, big time, and even receiving Communion at Mass!  

I. Was. Not. Catholic.

I called myself one, and for a while believed that I was.  But I was living outside of the Church, and offending God by my actions, especially in receiving Holy Eucharist in such a state!

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of Confession!!

It's unfortunate that we Christians do not act like Christians.  It's unfortunate that we call ourselves such, but that declaration is the only way some people know we are Christians.  

There should not be a doubt as to whether or not we are Christians without us ever saying a word about it.  The best evangelization we can have is to LIVE the life, WALK the walk, and truly follow Christ.  Carry our crosses gladly and without complaint.  Forgive one another.  Live in humility, knowing that we do nothing to deserve the gifts of grace that God bestows upon us.  If we live as such, no one will have to ask this kind of question.  And we will change hearts (and the world in the process) by our love.  

Until we do this, though, we'll still have non-believers asking:

"If sitting in  church on Sunday makes you a Christian,
does sitting in a garage make you a car?"

One More

Made here.

I've Been Playing This Morning

These Wordles are fun!  I've made a few to tell the Christmas story, beginning with the Annunciation.  (Actually, I have two versions, one in Latin and one in English.)

Ave Maria:

Hail Mary:

Unto You is Born a Savior:

Behold, From the East Wise Men Came:

An Angel Appeared to Joseph in a Dream:

Monday, December 29

Cloud of Words

I saw this at the Anchoress site and thought it was interesting.

Create your own here.

Update: 12-30-2008:  It might help if I actually uploaded the picture, eh?  Here's another, which might be easier to read:

Christmas Pictures

Santa brought a game called "Skittles" for the girls, in which you spin a top and try knocking down pins placed  on the board, which has compartments the top needs to move in and out of to get to the pins.

It is as big a hit as the light sabers that make noise and light up (and pop out at the touch of a button) and the Mario Kart for Wii.

We had a lovely Christmas ham (spiral, honey, delicious!) with mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, and rolls.  Simple, but delicious.  

I hope your Christmas Season (which has only just begun, remember!) is a blessed one.

Baptism and Confirmation

I had the extreme pleasure of attending the Baptism and Confirmation of my friends' son, for whom they travelled all the way to Guatemala a week before Christmas.  He is a beautiful child, and the Maronite Rite's ceremony for Baptism and Confirmation is absolutely wonderful, complete with a procession around the church with incense and chanting and a really neat exorcism!  The beautiful boy did not understand much (his English is still coming along), but he smiled broadly when Father chanted and sang.  He also liked riding on his father's shoulders during the procession, which made up for the unpleasant sensation of being held horizontal over the Baptismal and having water poured on his head.  (No tears, but he was clearly unhappy with the situation.)

I might post a picture that does not include the family's faces (to protect their privacy), but I'll have to see what I came up with when I upload those pictures.

Thursday, December 25

Tidings of Great Joy

Merry Christmas!  Above is our last Jesse Tree Ornament, which we'll hang this morning.

1 And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. 2 This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David, 5 To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.

6 And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock. 9 And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear. 10 And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:

11 For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: 14 Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will. 15 And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed to us.

16 And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. 17 And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. 18 And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Gospel according to Saint Luke, Chapter 2, Verses 1-19

Wednesday, December 24

Jesse Tree: December 24 (Christmas Eve)

Theme: Jesus is the Light of the World

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Read the rest:

Tuesday, December 23

Disappointed in Obama - Post 1

First of all, let me be perfectly clear in saying that the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States is a monumental event in the history of our country.  In the words of Dennis Miller, "I hope that I am salivating to vote for him in 2012".  I want him to do well - what citizen would actively wish for their President to fail?

That being said, there are already some Obama supporters that are disappointed, and he hasn't even taken the Oath of Office yet.  This is what happens when you promise to be all things to all people - Change We Can Believe In!

Here are the groups disappointed to date (that I know of - please let me know if you come across any others!)

  1. LiberalsLiberals are growing increasingly nervous – and some just flat-out angry – that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on Cabinet jobs and policy choices.
  2. Black Leaders - not enough black people in the Cabinet.
  3. Homosexuals - Gay leaders furious with Obama's choice of a prominent evangelical minister to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.
  4. Environmentalists:  Choice of EPA Administrator - Lisa Jackson, Secretary of Agriculture - Tom Vilsack, National Security Advisor James L. Jones.
  5. Netroots Activists (or people who are against looking for terrorists)

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

And This is How I Bowl

Okay, I haven't tried golf on the Wii yet, but I am certain I'll slice just as badly as I do on a real course.

Matt Bors Tells the Consumeristic Christmas Story

What?  That's not how it went down?

O Antiphon: Emmanuel

Politcally Correct Seasonal Greetings

Thanks, Esther!

And don't forget!!!

Meet Jordyn-Grace

I love this family.  What utter joy they have!

How Bad a Performer Do You Have to Be...

... to lip sync RAP MUSIC??!!??

Jesse Tree: December 23

Theme: Jesus is Emmanuel

22 For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king: he will save us.

Read the rest:

Monday, December 22

Wouldn't It Be Fun to Do This?

Anonymous Donor Drops $50G in Salvation Army Kettles


An anonymous donor has come through again for the Salvation Army, dropping five cashier's checks for $10,000 each into kettles at Wal-Mart stores in Joplin, Mo.

I hope I can do something so cool someday.

Art of Manliness Gives Props to Ol' Mossback George!

Imagine my delight to see that I'm not the only one out here who sees George Bailey as a manly man!

Pictures from the New Camera

I was playing around, and took all of these without a flash.  Also, that ornament below was taken this morning, with flash.  So I'm already happy about this camera.  It's SOO much better than our old digital, it's not even in the same league.

These last two are in low light, with a high ISO setting.  But they aren't blurry!  A little grainy, but definitely not blurry or streaky.  I've even got foliage and firework settings!

O Antiphon: King of the Gentiles

Special Ornament

Carolina Cannonball asked about ornaments with sentimental value.  I've got one for sure.

When I was somewhere in the neighborhood of five years old, my grandmother made an ornament for me.  It's a little angel, and I've kept it all these years.  Most of the time, if anyone else hung it, I'd freak out.  It's my ornament, dang it!  

I let Travel Man hang it up this year, though, so she'd be nice and high.

I commented last night that I wondered if my grandmother would have known or even guessed that I would have kept that little angel all these years.  She's now more than 30 years old!

I've got a lot of other ornaments on the tree from my childhood, but that one is my favorite.  Nanny made it for me, you see.

Jesse Tree: December 22

Theme: Jesus is King of the Gentiles

8 Ask of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession. 

Read the rest:

Sunday, December 21

Say Cheese!!! *Click!*

We braved the mall crowds and went to Circuit City yesterday.  We had decided that the budget allowed for purchasing that camera I've been eyeing for a few months now.  I'd done my research on various brands and have been watching Canon models because I like the stabilization (very useful, especially when the girls snap a pictures) and face detection (excellent for making sure that ALL of the family is in focus!) technologies.  

I found the camera I wanted (Canon's SX110) on sale at Circuit City, which let me go to Sam's and get an SDHC card to have 8 GB at my disposal.  When I was looking at the camera on display, a sales girl walked past us and commented (almost off-handedly), "That's a great camera.  We've sold a ton of them.  In fact, I only have one left."

"One?  Really?"


I smiled and said, "Make it zero.  I want it."

So I've been playing with this camera, all 9 MP and 10x zoom of it, and having a blast!  It's so beautiful!  Well, the pictures are, anyway.  

The camera is going to pay for itself.  I'm tired of Sears' poor customer service, only so-so quality of pictures, and extraordinarily high prices.  And did I mention slow turnaround time?  I'm taking portraits of the kids myself from now on.  And I'll even do Little Girl's First Communion portraits this Spring.  (I will, though, bring the card to Sam's and let them print a 10x13 of that one for the living room wall.)  And by next Christmas, this camera will pay for itself.

So watch for better quality pictures on the blog in the future!

What if a Terminator came on Christmas Day?

O Antiphon: Eastern Star

Jesse Tree: December 21

Theme: Jesus is the Radiant Dawn

6 He hath set his tabernacle in the sun: and he, as a bridegroom coming out of his bride chamber, Hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way: 7 His going out is from the end of heaven, And his circuit even to the end thereof: and there is no one that can hide himself from his heat. 

Read the rest:

Saturday, December 20

O Antiphon: Key of David

Jesse Tree: December 20

Theme: Jesus is the Key of David

22 And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder: and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open. 

Read the rest:

Friday, December 19

Random Chart of the Week

song chart memes
more music charts

Travel Man Joins Domestic Vocation Full Time

Hi all!
I fell behind on my Travel Man blog, and then I stopped traveling for a few months, so I couldn't think of enough travel related stuff to maintain the blog.

We decided that I would become a regular on this blog and make some Travel Man posts here as my travel schedule picks back up (Orlando in January, baby!)

I have some ideas for fun posts, so stay tuned!

Glad I'm Catholic

...because my Confessions are private and bound as such by Canon Law.

(And my Church is so Biblical that it gave everyone the Bible.)

Anti-Family Types Spew Hatred at the Duggars (Again)

It's unfortunate that these people get so bent out of shape over the Duggar family (who has just welcomed their 18th child into the family).  I'm sure they are the same ones complaining that they want more freedom, but then turn around and suggest forced sterilization and make disgusting jokes about Michelle Duggar.

Stay classy, folks!

As for me, I congratulate the Duggar family on the addition of their new baby girl, Jordyn-Grace.


O Antiphon: Root of Jesse

Jesse Tree: December 19

Theme: Jesus is the Flower of Jesse

1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. 2 And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. 

Read the rest: 

Thursday, December 18

Christmas Decorations

I thought I'd post a few pictures of our Christmas decorations in the living room.  :)  Enjoy!

Choir Goodbye (Still Public School)

Our choir had a tradition of ending all our concerts with this song, and much like this video clip, all alumni were invited to join the choir onstage to sing with us.  I can still sing the alto along with this to this day, so I'm ready in case I ever go back and attend a choir concert.  ;)

Christmas in Public Schools

I am always a bit miffed, and even somewhat surprised, at the animosity shown in some public schools towards Christmas.  No religious songs, some schools don't even want Rudolph or Santa ... it's so foreign to me.  When I was in high school, I sang in choir for two years and we did Christmas shows.  We did sing some Jewish songs (I remember singing a beautiful piece called "Adonai" one year), but mostly, it was Christmas.  A Christmas show.  With Christmas songs.  And a lot of them were (gasp!) religious.

I also know that there are some areas where this is still the case.  It's most likely in the more rural areas of the country, but it's not something Fox News will bring up with their "War on Christmas" specials.  Even Fox has no idea what life in fly-over country is like.  Out here in my town, we have a Christmas parade, a Christmas tree, and a day of Christmas celebration downtown with a craft fair.  One year, the mayor of town wished everyone a merry Christmas and finished up with, "And may God bless us all," as he lit the tree.

Anyway, here are a few of the songs I sang with my choir for the Christmas shows:

(I like this "Silent Night" in part because of the ASL.)

I'm pretty sure we also did this song, and the particular arrangement below is just heavenly!

We did some secular, wintery type songs, too, but these are just some of the flat-out hymns we sang. We had a particularly nice arrangement of "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen" and "Good Christian Men, Rejoice" combined. I wish I could find THAT!

Re-Centering Society's Christmas Focus

I've had these same thoughts about Christmas this year, myself.  Last year, when our finances were so messy, we made the commitment that we'd get small gifts for each other, and Santa would only bring 3 gifts for the girls.  After all, if Jesus only got three gifts, how can we be upset with that amount?

Christmas Speaks of Gift of Life.

(17 Dec 08 - RV) In his last general audience before Christmas, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the current economic crises as an opportunity for people to rediscover the real meaning of Christ’s Birth.  

The Christmas trees are in place, the final touches are being put to the nativity scenes, traditional hymns of practising choirs fill the halls of the Vatican, everything is ready for Christmas.

In his last audience of the year, Pope Benedict focused on the nine days leading up to the feast of Christ’s birth and how we can prepare ourselves to enter into the Christmas spirit, even in times of economic crises.

“Christmas speaks to everyone; it celebrates the gift of life – often fragile or endangered – and the fulfilment of our deepest hopes for a world renewed. The present economic crisis, causing so much suffering, can however help us to focus on the spiritual meaning of Christmas, and to welcome into our hearts the hope brought by God’s coming among us as man”. 

Pope Benedict added that the difficulties of an economic crises that have hit so many families “can become an opportunity and a stimulus” to free Christmas from the “accumulations of consumerism” which reduce it to an occasion for the sole purpose of buying and exchanging gifts” and help us to “rediscover the warmth of solidarity, of friendship” the “warmth of Christmas”, the “message if Christ’s birth”.  ...

Read the rest of our Holy Father's wisdom here.

O Antiphon: Adonai

Jesse Tree: December 18

Theme: Jesus is Lord

2 And the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he saw that the bush was on fire and was not burnt.

Read the rest:

Wednesday, December 17

Why Not?!?

I saw this at Maureen Wittmann's blog, and it just brings tears to my eyes. God bless these men for their love of Christ! Thank You, Lord, for always calling workers for the vineyard.

O Antiphon: Wisdom

Below, I mentioned the O Antiphons.  I saw this at Jean's place, and wanted to post it here.  It's beautiful to listen to.  :)

O Antiphons

Beginning today (December 17), we sing the O Antiphons to celebrate how very near we are to Christmas.  You can read about the O Antiphons here, and find a set of them to recite as a family here.

Only one week left!  Have you been preparing for Christ's coming?

[image sources: "O" -- illuminated music -- The Nativity of Christ]

Morning Prayer

This morning, as I got up, Travel Man looked out the window and said, "What are those trucks in the neighbor's driveway?"

Across the street, there were lights on two large vehicles.  Pulling the curtains aside revealed that one is a fire truck and one, an ambulance.  We said a prayer for our across-the-street neighbor, but about ten minutes ago, they brought out someone on a stretcher and put him (her?) into the ambulance.  The ambulance has not moved, and Travel Man said that he was pretty sure it was someone covered head-to-toe.

Still no sign of the ambulance going anywhere, and there is also no activity near the fire truck.  

So, say a prayer for whoever that was.  I only met the older couple in that house once, though they were nice enough.  Mostly, they just keep to themselves.  

OH!  As I typed the last sentence, the ambulance turned on its lights and drove away.  Maybe - just maybe - that someone on the stretcher was just bundled very well against the cold morning.  The fire truck also just pulled away.

Dark and quiet out there again.

Jesse Tree: December 17

Theme: Jesus is Wisdom

6 I made that in the heavens there should rise light that never faileth, and as a cloud I covered all the earth: 7 I dwelt in the highest places, and my throne is in a pillar of a cloud. 8 I alone have compassed the circuit of heaven, and have penetrated into the bottom of the deep, and have walked in the waves of the sea...

Read the rest:

Tuesday, December 16

Jesse Tree: December 16

Theme: John the Baptist

6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying: There cometh after me one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. 9 And it came to pass, in those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And forthwith coming up out of he water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit as a dove descending, and remaining on him.

11 And there came a voice from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. 

Read the rest:

Monday, December 15

A Special Intention

A friend of mine is going through a very tough divorce, and needs special prayers at this time.  Please also pray for her husband, as well.  She's a homeschooling mother of seven, and things are not going very well for her and the kids right now.

No other details, but please, please, please, remember a special intention for her husband.  It's very important to pray for his intention.


What Jesse Tree? Oops!

It's been a heck of a day, and I only realized this afternoon that I haven't gotten up this week's Jesse Tree posts in advance. My apologies, and I hope to remedy that tomorrow.  Today was the last dance class before Christmas, and though I'm working 30 hours this week before Friday's bedtime, I'll have big blocks of time in the afternoons when I can bake cookies and catch up on pictures, the Christmas letter, and those Jesse Tree posts.  

Tune in tomorrow!

Hymns and Chant

I'm fascinated with the hymns I find on YouTube from our Catholic brethren in the Middle East.  Here are a couple for your listening pleasure:

Then there's also this. Beautiful!

Jesse Tree: December 15

Theme: Mary

28And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.

31 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. 33And of his kingdom there shall be no end. 

Read the rest:
Who are your heros?


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