Archive for December, 2015

Balls of wrapping paper…

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

Good morning! Christmas was wonderful! Christmas started with Mass in the early morning where I read as a lector (Christmas Mass was 8am, better than normal 7am Sunday Mass! THAT is an eye opener and the only day I set an alarm is Sunday for 7am Mass!) It seems like we opened presents from Santa all day yesterday. And I had a few Hallmark movies to watch! and we went to a wonderful family dinner with friends Patty and Andy in the evening. Today I hope to get back to diet and exercise… It is unrelentingly hot in Miami and wintertime seems far off… I would like to turn off Air Conditioning and get fresh lake air as it IS wintertime, but it is over 80 degrees… so air stays on. Chuck and I walk daily; I try to walk for an hour… Chuck likes to have a destination so sometimes it is only to the Home Depot, Winn Dixie, or post office and back… If we need food, Chuck often has to haul bags of groceries home. So he gets weight lifting along with his walk back home from Winn Dixie! Santa Claus got me a You Fit gym membership that allows me one free guest when I visit. Chuck pledged to go daily with me as guest! It is a medium sizsed YouFit with no floor exercises, but one with Yoga and other classes is near by. I am going 3 times a week to rehab for my aching elbow that started aching last April… and still hasn’t stopped despite the ministrations of a very handsome physical therapist named Carlos…. My elbow and arm loves his massages, but still the aching. Might need to go back for an MRI… We lead a very quiet life of walking, dieting, prayer time (or Suduku/solitaire for Chuck) generally to bed by 9:30! Celebrating Christmas can be a let down on the day after when we have to clean up the clutter of ripped paper, wash the dishes used at the sumptuous banquets of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day… and put away the gifts… Don’t let that get to you! Instead I continue going to daily Mass, but today we celebrated the first martyr for Christ, St Stephen which reminds us… we aren’t loved for our faith. In our world as in St Stephen’s world, there is great gnashing of teeth against Christianity and against Love and Mercy (see Acts chapter 6 for St Stephen’s story) … Keep on keeping on dear friends. God bless you in this Christmas season and into the New Year.

Daily Christmas Peace

Friday, December 25th, 2015

I send to you today’s blessing in a book I received from my beloved Chuck:
“Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. That is enough.” John Adams….
May the peace of the Risen and Present Christ be with you in your heart, in your spirit, every day. God bless you.

Blessings

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

A friend titled her Christmas letter simply “Blessings”… We say we will pray for others and we pray for blessings on others. Some say “positive vibrations” and “light and love.” What would Jesus say and do? I think he started teaching us at creation: be kind to one another, look at creation and see the good that God loves, and praise God, grasp your neighbor’s right hand, “I am the Lord who grasp your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13) What can I do today to help another? Be kind. Be silent. Listen. How am I preparing for that quiet midnight hour when we celebrate and remember when heaven touched earth? May the God who has been with us since our birth, bless us abundantly and keep our hearts in peace. (Genesis 48:15-16). God bless you.

Christmas lights

Monday, December 14th, 2015

We went out on the lake last evening in the dark to see Christmas lights! Dark comes early now with the time change, and it was dark by 620 pm. By then about 6 houses on our lake were lighted. Now when you live on the lake you have a double obligation. Light the street side for the walking and driving public and light the lake for boaters! Sunrise also paints the lake with color. This morning it is pink and blue, sometimes it is gold. This season is special because despite the outright obvious commercialism that begins with Halloween, to encourage us to buy buy buy, many people still put up lights and angels and little Nativity scenes, and reindeer, and my neighbor George drags out the candy canes even though only half of them still light. Grumbling, the guys work to fix broken strands, and snow men, candy canes and little drummer boys come to light. Our little drummer boy is missing. Perhaps he’s on a shelf downstairs in the keys house… Walk around your neighborhood after dark and make new friends by hanging on the fence and looking at the reindeer filled mangers (I saw two of these on a walk yesterday!) It’s hard to find lighted donkeys and cows! Let’s get the lights up for it is getting to look a little bit like Christmas! God bless you.

Decorating!

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

I’m thinking of my northern friends and relatives as we finish up the decorating! Chuck’s barroom is festive with lots of Santas. The entry way has the Nativity and angels galore! The kitchen is full of plates to fill - maybe I’ll make cookies… and cups to drink yuletide cider and coffee. The dining room table is beautiful with red and white and gold!!! We are using Aunt Trudy’s and Loretta’s decorations too! Ahhhhhhh! Christmas is coming! December is our planting time and I planted an herb garden yesterday mostly in pots and it has rained ever since…. I hear the little plants sputtering sppptt spppppttt…. I can hear them treading water from here! I look out the art room window at my garden and I am inspired to Thank God because despite the rain, my plants are doing OK although they might need wringing out. Chuck had to loosen the tie on the boat as the lake is rising. We are thinking of Noah… I keep watch for a giant iguana called Grandfather by my neighbor Kathie. He ate 1 1/2 of my giant beautiful hibiscus flowers the other day so I keep watch for him! “Get out old man!!!!” I shout hopelessly as he munches! I hope Christmas decorating is going nicely for you dear friends and family. We can’t put up outside lights yet… we might get electrocuted with all this rain! Weather is absolutely soggy and the weather map on the TV news shows a cloud with lots of rain all week!!!! More soup? probably. rain rain go away!!! God bless you.

Making winter vegetable soup

Friday, December 4th, 2015

I just put a pot of vegetables on to simmer. I’m playing winter, for if I step outside I’ll sweat to death in the heat and absolute humidity. It has been raining for two days and I am sure the wet atmosphere has contributed to our 100% humidity. Rain, rain go away. And then I think of Minnesota and Michigan…. and I imagine the brrrrrry snowy atmosphere so I am not complaining about our heat. In silence, listening to the rain drop, and the occasional sodden palm frond or coconut fall from the trees outside the kitchen window, while I chopped onions and garlic, carrots, celery and some veggies with winter squash that I roasted a few days ago, I thought about my northern friends doing the same thing. Put the chopped things into a soup pot with some left over turkey broth from Thanksgiving, a dollop of red wine, some black beans in juice, some water. Bring to a boil… While chopping those pesky onions (and weeping) and those carrots and garlic and celery and looking out at the rain, I realized this is the best way to celebrate Advent. This is the season when we must stop and just gather our harvest, and meditate. As we chop the vegetables, don’t DO anything else. Think about… the veggies and Thank God for his blessings. I go to daily Mass so I am “forced” to thank God, for I often forget to thank God and ask for help. I told my sister Sarah about a mistake I made that made me bounce the mortgage check! I got that 6:30 am message “insufficient funds” on my cell phone and freaked. OOPS! Wonder how much that will cost. So I said to Sarah, “Guess what I did at 6:30 in the morning when I saw that the bank tried to pay my mortgage, but got insufficient funds?” She said, “Well Susie I imagine that you prayed, for that is what you do.” OOPS again. Nope, I didn’t. Instead I went to the safe, took some cash to the bank. I had to wait until 9am as I didn’t have a debit card at that bank (I do now) to make an ATM deposit… and I solved the problem myself. OOPS, I guess I forgot who I am. I’ve counceled others, “Pray first.” and here I am solving my own problems thank you very much. It’s the old, independent “I can take care of myself” routine that we girls learned at our working mother’s knee… “Be able to take care of yourself,” mother counceled as she stirred the oatmeal with the wooden spoon just before she went off to work. That’s another story. So what is this all about? This morning in Mass we read from Isaiah who quotes a lot of promises saying, “thus says the Lord God:”… this morning’s reading was especially to the point (pointing right at me), “Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard regarded as a forest…And out of the gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see… For the tyrant will be no more and the arrogant will have gone; All who are alert to do evil will be cut off, those whose mere word condemns a man… (those evil ones will be cut off)… Now Jacob (that’s us who believe in the Lord as God) shall have nothing to be ashamed of, nor shall his face grow pale… they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob… Those who err in spirit shall aquire understanding, and those who find fault shall receive instruction.” (Isaiah 29:17-24)… I’ll talk about that and what it means to me in a second. Then we read the Gospel according to Matthew 9:27:31. Two blind men followed Jesus and cried out, “‘Son of David, have pity on us!’… Jesus said, ‘Do you believe that I can do this?’ ‘Yes, Lord.’” “Do you believe that I can do this?” When I “fixed” my money problem I did it on my own. I didn’t thank God for my astute wisdom in realizing I had cash in the safe that I could quickly deposit in the bank. I did not thank God that there is cash in the safe. I didn’t even think of God. And here is Isaiah saying, all those evil people, don’t you worry about them, in fact, Jesus asks us to pray for them… don’t worry about those who can’t see God or Jesus, don’t worry about those who “err in spirit” or “those who find fault” for “Says the Lord God” they shall aquire understanding and they will receive instruction! YEA! How liberating that is! Isaiah very carefully lays it out for us all over his very long book… but here, read chapters 7 and 9: First, in chapter 7:14 Isaiah describes the Virgin birth when he promises a the child named Emmanuel, and in chapter 9, Isaiah names the child for us… He is “the great light”, he is “Wonderful Counselor”, “God Hero”, “Father Forever”, “Prince of Peace.” Today, I thanked God for reminding me that I believe, and I prayed, “Lord help my unbelief” that he can take care of things. The Lord can take care of the unbelievers that I worry about. He can take care of the blind who can’t see him. He can take care of me. So go, read the wonderful amazing promises. Then go make some vegetable soup and take a lot of time chopping those vegetables! Happy Advent. God bless you.

Being Thankful

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

I’m trying to write three things a day that I am thankful for. I got the idea from a book written by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts. A friend challenged her to write 1000 things she loved and she ended up writing what she calls 1000 gifts, a thousand graces, what she was thankful for and it led to a book. The effort also changed her life. It’s hard to sit and read and write when many of us have TV on from waking to sleeping. I was getting into the habit of looking at the news upon rising but I realized, as I watched bombing and shooting, that I’m not able to change anything much except my own heart… So I try every morning to grab my Magnificat (daily prayer book) and get out to the lake and find 3 amazing gifts. Often chirping birds and turtles are my companions during sunrise , and I sit and experience the great outpouring of God’s Grace as light turns from pink to sunlight and the day does whatever the weather for the day is supposed to do. During the half hour of sunrise to day, I thank God for clouds that keep us south Floridians cool and bring rain that our parched winter grass needs, I thank God for the animals and birds that treat our yard as their dinner table. I even thank God, begrudgingly it’s true, for the giant iguana my neighbor Kathie calls grandpa who eats my beautiful hibiscus flowers. If I get lucky, I see the flowers in full bloom before he crawls in to nosh. I continue the daily list for the half hour of daily Mass when I pray for those I’ve promised to pray for and always for my Mom who gave me great forward thinking and generous genes! The list could be long, but write the best three every day! Begin a 1000 Gratitudes journal and write 3 thank yous to God every day! You might have a tough time at the start. You can only write “chirping white birds” so many times before you have to go deeper! I intend to read Voskamp’s book in 2016. Might be a life changer. God bless you.