Sunday, March 27, 2011

On Becoming Holy(er)

I was researching a paper on "holiness" today and came across this quote from one of my favorite authors, C.S.Lewis.

“On the one hand we must never imagine that our own unaided efforts can be relied on to carry us even through the next twenty-four hours as ‘decent’ people. If He does not support us, not one of us is safe from some gross sin. On the other hand, no possible degree of holiness or heroism which has ever been recorded on the greatest saints is beyond what He is determined to produce in every one of us in the end. The job will not be completed in this life: but He means to get us as far as possible before death.

That is why we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected), he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along – illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation – he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days, but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him in situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us.

I find I must borrow yet another parable from George MacDonald. Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Monday, March 21, 2011

St. Cuthbert

Yesterday, at Mass, the men's choir was singing. They were singing very well but Shorty and I both made mention of the fact that we missed Duffy. Actually, we DO miss Duffy but at the time we were missing Duffy's lovely baritone.

We got home and I checked my facebook page, which has the saint of the day from the Catholic Church. Yesterday's saint? Why, Saint Cuthbert, of course, the saint's name that Duffy had chosen for his confirmation name 6 years ago this Easter.

Rest well, my friend, and know that you are still loved...and missed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pretty Ponies

Wednesday evening, my family (Shorty, Julie, CJ, Rusty, and I) went to see the World Famous Lipizzaner Stallions while they were in Amarillo. I took a LOT of pictures, some good, some not so good and a few that just make me smile. This is my favorite.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fun Monday - 5 of each

We headed down south for today's assignment. The lovely Georgia peaches would like to know this: List 5 things you are willing to spend your hard-earned cash on and 5 things you would rather steal (hypothetically of course) than waste your money on. (we already know doctors, insurance, and taxes are down right painful.)

The 5 things that I would, and do, willingly spend money are:
1. high thread count sheets
2. furniture
3. mayonnaise
4. education
5. shortbread cookies

My oldest sister bought my first set of good sheets when I was in high school. The longer I owned them and the more they were washed, the softer they got. It wasn't until I was in my forties that I started buying good sheets for myself. My husband was very happy.

My dad was a carpenter and I grew up with a love of wood (and a fear of the wrath that ensued from hammering a nail into the wall). I learned that wood lasts and that good furniture will serve not only you, but your kids. I am still using the bedroom furniture I bought back in the 70s. I am tired of looking at it but it is still in good shape.

My mom used Best Foods mayonnaise. We only bought Best Foods and if it was over .39 cents a jar, we did without. She was right.

My parents sent me to Catholic schools, for which I mentally thank them often. There is no price too large to pay for the love of learning that the nuns instilled in me. My daughter is continuing this tradition with her little man.

The last is just pure butter-laden selfishness. Walker shortbread cookies are a gift from the Scottish gods. I liked Lorna Doones when I was a child. I liked, and still like, Girl Scout Cookies shortbread cookies. I love Walker shortbread cookies. I cannot explain it. You just have to try them yourself.

Five things that I consider a total and absolute waste of money are:
1. expensive shampoos, etc.
2. tabloid papers
3. too many charities
4. lotteries
5. organic foods

When I was growing up, I used to use Joy dishwashing liquid on my hair. It always amused me when my mom's hairdressers would comment over and over again about what great shape my hair was in. I still believe that soap is pretty much just soap.

There is really no explanation needed for #2. I suppose you could count them as entertainment but I really think that mean-spirited entertainment is not.

I have a real problem with those charities who are so administration-heavy that very little of the donations go where they are supposed to go. I also have a problem with all of the high dollar advertising that is done supposedly for charity. I have charities that I have researched and believe in and donate cheerfully to. I just consider the rest a waste.

I play the lottery. I pretend to convince myself that for the price of $1.00, I get to be rich until I check the numbers and find out that I am, once again, a loser.

I just don't believe, or buy, the hype surrounding organic anything. I am a firm hater of bugs and a believer in better living through chemicals. Please do not inundate me with facts trying to change my mind. I will just have to publish my own facts repudiating yours.

Now, go check out the Georgia gals at In Good Company and have a spectacular week.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Life in the Real World

I recently took a 3 week class which included numerous classroom tests. One of these tests required an 80% score in able to be afforded the chance to take the final state-certified test. The state test required a 70% score.

There were 11 of us in the class ranging in age from 57 years old to 20 years of age. 10 of us took the test last Friday. 9 of us passed. The student who failed retook the test on Monday and passed. The rest of this post is about the 11th student.

This was, by far, the most difficult test that I have taken in years. The following post is my observation and, since this is my blog, my opinion.

When I was a child, ADD, ADHD, and dyslexia were not yet recognized as learning disabilities. I will say right now that I am blessed. I have never had any difficulty learning or testing or reading. I do know people that have. I am fairly sure that my brother probably had dyslexia. I am fairly sure that my daughter probably has dyslexia and maybe one or more of the alphabet syndromes. I am fairly sure that quite a few of the kids who were discipline problems in my class had dyslexia and/or one of the alphabet syndromes.

We were expected to learn. We were expected, to put it bluntly, to sit down, shut up and let the teacher talk. With differing degrees of difficulty, we did.

Today's schools, in the interest of inclusion, accommodation, and non-discrimination make unbelievable allowances for these kids. There was, in my class, a student who had been "helped" for the 12 years that she was in school. For 12 years, the schools had tested her separately, read her tests to her and allowed her to answer orally, changed colors and fonts and settings on computers to make it easier for her.

The job for which she was taking the class exists in the real world. The State does not allow the test to be given orally. The school actually did arrange for her to take the test separately and to change the settings on the computer. She took the test on Monday with the 10th student. He passed. She failed and blamed it partially on the fact that he was in the room with her.

She takes the test again this afternoon and I hope, for her sake, that she passes. For the sake of those whose safety will depend on her ability to do the job in a noise-filled environment, I am not so sure.
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