Two in One: A small update & more musings on C.S. Lewis

First: Near the end of February, our friend Wade lost his battle with cancer. Wade was, and continues to be, an inspiration for his courageous battle. Wade’s battle lasted eight years. Some people might say that’s a long time, others that it wasn’t enough time. I’m a bit with the latter, but grateful that their children are all eight years older than they were at the beginning of this. They’ve had the opportunity to make some amazing memories together with their father. This won’t make the loss less painful and in all probability, the loss is now felt all the more. But the gratitude for the time they shared is there. Please pray for his wife and their young family.

Second: I’ve recently finished reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. Personally, I think his books should be required reading for Roman Catholics. Even though Lewis himself did not convert to Catholicism, his books on faith and religion are very strong and they contain an amazing insight about why we need faith and how our faith must include reason and intellect (that is, if I can state “reason and intellect” and not be accused of an oxymoron. Perhaps discernment and intellect might have been better.).

The book talks about heaven and hell and purgatory. It delivers an interesting perspective on our lives that we fail to see for ourselves unless we first read about it somewhere else. Amazing that we should need to read about it elsewhere really. One would think that we would know ourselves better than anyone else possibly could, yet we deceive ourselves easier than we deceive others. The book involves what it takes for each person encountered in the story to move into heaven from purgatory. And Lewis touches on many human behaviors in a relatively short book.

And now that it has taken me a little better than a week to get this post finished, you get a bonus. A third muse absolutely free! Okay fine, I didn’t charge for the others and never do but everybody loves a freebie anyway.

Third: After looking in The Catholic Home by Meredith Gould to see if there was some info I could pass on to the twelve teen boys I teach faith formation to, I decided to reread the acknowledgements. I know, no one ever reads those. But I do and I did. In those expressions of gratitude to the various people who have helped the author with her book, life while writing, etc., I came across a thank you to “the Reverend Martha Blacklock”. The Reverend Martha Blacklock! Now, being a Roman Catholic reading a book by a convert to the Roman Catholic church, I was a bit unnerved to see that title used to address a woman. So I looked her up on the internet. Then I went to the author’s website and then over to the author’s blog. Then I had to make a decision.

When one finds information that makes one question whether or not a person is faithfully following the Catholic church, what is one supposed to do? Most of what this particular author wrote in The Catholic Home is correct and seems faithful to church teachings. The bit about celebrating pagan holidays was over the top and off the mark. How does one reconcile how a person lives their life outside of Mass with what they state about their faith and how the faith they profess expects them to live their life?

I’m not sure about this one. I’ll need to keep thinking on it a bit longer. Why? Because we all fail somewhere, sometime, somehow and I just don’t know if it’s really up to me to judge who is a faithful Catholic and who isn’t.

Please pray for . . .

Carol and Teri and Evelyn.

Carol has been diagnosed with cancer.  The doctors believe they got all of it, but she may not be returning to work the rest of this school year.  Carol is a much loved science teacher for the middle school grades at the catholic school my children attend.  The middle schoolers enjoy all the “fun” stuff they get to do in her class.  She enjoys teaching them to explore using the scientific method.

Teri has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  She is in the midst of round 2 of her chemotherapy.  The doctors also believe they removed all of the cancer.  Teri is a family friend and a very outgoing person.  If there is a family in our school who does not know her, it’s only because she hasn’t seen them at a school event.

Evelyn was born last Friday with Down’s Syndrome.  Her parents fought bravely against a doctor who kept pushing her mother to abort her.  24 hours after Evelyn’s birth, she was diagnosed with a condition that mimics leukemia and requires much of the same treatment.  Evelyn has received 3 sessions of chemotherapy in her first week of life.  This condition is only present in some Down’s babies.  I’ve been keeping up with Evelyn’s CaringBridge site and can honestly say that she is a beautiful baby.  Her parents have their other children in our school and are active members of our parish.

Please keep these people in your prayers.

Thank you.

C.S. Lewis & Me

I see that I’ve been silent on here for a month.  And what a month it has been.

I took quite a beating on FB with my status update stating my reason for my vote in support of the marriage amendment.  I expected to get some heat.  I was not prepared for a relative’s desire to pick a fight with me, publicly on FB or that person’s desire to thoroughly demean & degrade anyone who held a view different from their own.  That hurt.  What hurt even more though was the total silence from people that I knew who agreed with my view.  I was attempting to help the relative understand my reason for my view while not engaging in the argument this person so desperately seemed to want and no one responded in support.  No supportive comment, not even a “like” on my original post or my follow-up defensive comments.  Nothing.

Complete and utter silence.

And pain.

The pain of being abandoned by everyone I knew.

I don’t “friend” people lightly on FB.  I only send and accept requests from people I actually know and interact with in the real world.  I assume, or did in the past, that these people actually wanted to know me better.  Now I question that assumption.  I’m not sure how I want to proceed from here.  I suppose I’ll figure that out in time.  Just not now.

After that post and election night, I went to our little, local bookstore.  As I was browsing the shelves, I came across The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  Chapter 8 near the end paints a very vivid picture of exactly how I felt about my FB experience.

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood.  Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”  C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

I’ve been curled up in pain, brought to tears over and over by this earthly abandonment.  I still believe in God.  I still believe in Jesus Christ, His Son.  I still believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

I still believe. 

And I will still obey.

Thank you Mr. Lewis.  For having the words I would need, even before I was born and would need them.  May your soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

I’ve reset the marker in my Sunday missal as well.  This coming Sunday marks the First Sunday of Advent, Year C.  The caption under the picture in my missal reads; “Pray that you have the strength to escape . . . and to stand before the Son of Man.”  The theme for this Sunday is stated as: “By your perseverance (patient endurance) you will secure your lives. Luke 21:19”.  It’s like balm on my soul.

Heading to Mass today and adoration.

May your day be one of blessed peace.

Prayers needed!

Please pray for Sam of Thy Will Be Done and her unborn baby, Steven Thomas.  Her water broke too soon and she is now on complete bed rest.  Pray that she and the baby can make it to term and have a safe delivery & a healthy baby boy.

Snow Days or Leaping for Joy

Oh how I love a good snow day!  We had one here in the great, white, frozen north yesterday.  I really needed it too.

Between Tuesday night and yesterday evening (before BooBoo’s bedtime), I was able to complete the remaining 8 fairy skirts and make 3 additional villager skirts for Beauty & the Beast Jr.  Considering that prior to this I was seriously hoping that I would just be able to get all of that done by Monday afternoon’s practice, this is absolutely fantastic.  I can now concentrate on household stuff and maybe getting a few more shawls crocheted for the villagers before the play opens.

Yes, I’m thinking the play has me a little touched in the head too.  But it’s for my kids, their friends and the other little kids that attend our school.  So I’m cutting myself some slack on this one.  And I’ll be one of the proudest costumers in the room when we finally get to see all this work pay off onstage and in audience reactions to the play.

It’s amazing too that when I heard there might be a snow day that:  a) I didn’t believe it would happen.  We haven’t had a snow day all winter and they were predicting that it would melt overnight around here.  Why even hope, right?, b) didn’t pray that God would give us a snow day.  I honestly felt that it wouldn’t drastically change my ability to get enough accomplished that I would be more than 1 or 2 days earlier in meeting my goals at best., and c) really only prayed that God would help me get all the sewing done by Saturday.

Well, He sure helped!  I got all that sewing done and a load of dishes put through the dishwasher.  (My back needed a break from all that bending to cut fabric.)  Ditty didn’t even roll her eyes when I asked her to sort my & DH’s clothes, do the laundry and make sure it kept moving.  That had to be God’s intervention.  A teen always rolls their eyes when a parent asks them to do a mundane, boring task.  She cheerfully said yes to it.  Adoration was even cancelled due to the difficult driving conditions.

I’m going to the adoration chapel today though.  I really need to thank Him in person for lifting this burden off my shoulders.

Have a great day.  And remember, God loves you too!

Recycled fashion

Yes, I know the stores in the U.S. are now going through an 80’s craze but that’s not what I mean.

In costuming 107 actors on zero budget, we sometimes have to get a bit creative.  Like combing thrift stores and using valances and pillowcases to make skirts for our wee performers. 

I have to say, I may have a special calling in this area.  My “skirts du pillowcase” look pretty good.  In the dark, from 20 feet away, I really don’t think anyone will know that those skirts are from the fashion house of Westpoint Pepperell.  Especially if my little actors are short enough that I can hem up the entire white border that now makes up the bottom of the skirt.  I’ll have to take a picture of them and post it.

I’m currently working on “skirt du valance”.  I found a pair of lovely yellow & blue striped valances with a pink & green floral print on them.  I ripped all the seams out of one so far and I think with an elastic waist and maybe some lace to lengthen the bottom, it will look quite nice on stage.  And I have a second valance that I can either use as a ruffle with the skirt (if more length is needed) or to make another skirt.  Yes, that is also the bane of being an actor in our productions-someone else is always wearing the same outfit.

Who knows, I may be able to open my own little Etsy shop if I get good enough at this.  But what to call it?  French Chick Recycled Fashion or Fashion on a Budget? 

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On the diet front, today is the last day of my first 17 day cycle.  I’ll weigh in tomorrow and share my progress.

I thought I’d be able to add bread back into my diet on the next 17 day cycle, but unfortunately for me I read that incorrectly.  Bread does not get added back until after the first 34 days.  Oh well.  I’ve gotten used to ogling bread.

I do get to add “simple starches” back.  Two servings every other day.  Things like:  a medium baked potato, a medium baked sweet potato, navy beans, red beans, kidney beans, corn, peas & split peas, pearled barley, brown rice, oatmeal and cream of wheat.  There are other simple starches too, but these are the ones I would be most likely to add back.  Well, not really on the cream of wheat.  Too many bad memories of having to eat plain cream of wheat for breakfast during pregnancy because it was the only cereal that didn’t spike my blood sugar.

Keep praying for my success with this diet.  My health depends on it.  My sanity will be fine once we’re done with the costuming.  And I was just kidding about the Etsy shop.  I don’t have time for an Etsy shop.

Breaking the rules

I’m breaking our house rule of no computers on Sunday to bring you an important update.

DH’s cousin spoke!  Yesterday morning, for the first time since the accident 9 days ago, she spoke.  She said “My neck doesn’t hurt” in response to a question.

I’m smiling and crying and want to leap for joy!  This is such fantastic news.  She still has a long way to go in her recovery, but for now at least, we can rejoice in this victory.

Please keep her in your prayers.  And thank you for praying with us.

Even Less Good News

Recovery, your’s or someone else’s, is fraught with ups and downs.  I know this.  We’ve been through this with DH’s mother.  Somehow, that still doesn’t make it any easier to get news like this:

This is Michael and I just had dinner with John in Boulder.  Unfortunately, the latest is not good news.  It seems as though Mary is not recovering at the pace the doctors expected her to recover.  They did some further tests and found that Mary has further damage to her brain John referred to as ‘brain shear’.  While there is still a reasonable prognosis for full recovery, the timetable has been moved from 3-6 months to 12-18-24 months.  Needless to say this is a real setback for Mary and John & Julie are taking it very hard.  If at any time they needed our prayers this is the time.  John asked me to share this information and I am sure he will update the family as he is able to do so.”

I asked a nurse friend what “brain shear” is and she explained that the brain is attached to the inside of the skull.  During extreme trauma, for example the violent snapping motion of a car crash, some of the connections can be severed or sheared away.  The brain/body will try to regrow these connections and that it can take up to 2 years for the connections to completely regrow.

Please continue to pray for Mary and her family.

Thank you

Crashes, comas and such . . .

We received an update on the condition of DH’s cousin.  The update was sent out on Jan 5th:

There is good and less good news on Mary. Her pelvic fracture is not too serious; the doctors believe it will heal by itself, and don’t plan surgery. Her ankle fracture is also not too bad. But since it is on the same side as her pelvic facture, she will need a very strong ankle, so they will probably put a pin in her ankle.

The less good news relates to her head injuries. She suffered a concussion and brain bleed, and was briefly (a few hours) in a coma. The brain bleed stopped fairly quickly after the accident, and the brain swelling has begun to subside. But she still sleeps most of the time. She seems to recognize Julie, me, Joe and Marguerite (Joe and Marguerite came as soon as they heard–they were the first ones to hear, and the ones who told us–and have been taking great care of her). But she is not very responsive, and hasn’t really spoken in the last two days.

The doctors are cautiously optimistic about the proespects for a full recovery. The CAT scans and MRI show no worrisome signs. They expect her to be in ICU for 1-2 weeks, then a month in a rehab ward, followed by several months of continued rehab.They say it will probably be 3-6 months, maybe longer before she is fully recovered.

I will stay here until Mary is clearly on the way to recovery–hopefully out of ICU–but then will have to go back to Tanzania. Julie will stay here as long as Mary needs her.

As for what happened, Mary was crossing in a crosswalk. Several cars had stopped for her–the law in Colorado–when one car, driven by a yong girl, swerved around the parked cars, hit Mary, and kept going. The other drivers called 911, and covered Mary with their coats until the ambulance and police arrived. Given the number of witnesses, and the fact that debris from the car was at the scene, the police believe they know who the driver was, and are about to arrest her.

Please keep Mary in your prayers. Thanks.

Love, John

Please keep praying for Mary as she continues to try and move forward with her recovery.

Thank you.

Say a prayer please

My husband’s cousin was the victim of a hit & run at the University of Colorado, Boulder on Wednesday night.  She was a pedestrian and using the crosswalk when she was hit.  She has serious head & internal injuries.

Please say a prayer for her recovery.

Thank you.

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Perfectly Preserved In Perpetuity

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Quotes:

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"Among those around you, apostolic soul, you are the stone fallen into the lake. With your word and your example, you produce a first circle, and it another, and another, and another, wider each time. Now do you understand the greatness of your mission?" St. Josemarie Escriva: The Way