Friday, December 23, 2005

The Christmas 2005 Friday Five

I'm a poet and I didn't even know it!

Greetings J-Land! My apologies from being AWOL this week. The rundown is:

- my father and mother refused to acknowledge the past

- my brother does not understand what I am dealing with, and lashed out at me

- the process of dissociating myself from my family began

Wooo! Now if that doesn't get your goat and provide a grand reason for a little silence, i don't know what would!

Before we begin this week's Five, the bonus points from last week were left on the table. The movie I quoted was: Notting Hill

Right, so, onto the Five:

For those who haven't played, or if you're just a stalker and feeling motivated this week, you answer the five following questions in the comments below, or provide a link back to your journal (or wherever you've put your answers). In return, I'll profile the first respondent each week.

Oh, what a marvelous segue! Last week's winner was Amanda of HEY, I'M COUNTRY! I'm not sure why she has to yell her title at us, but it does give you an indication of what you're going to find when you visit her. She's a gifted artist, she has a serious fetish for shoes, and she somehow managed to pull off a family photo without everybody going nuts. She's a loyal Courage reader, and you should become a loyal reader of hers!

Today's questions are from the LiveJournal folks - as always, feel free to submit questions or themes for the Five, and thoughts, quotes, passages, or topics for the Wednesday Reflection (which did not appear this week due to temporary insanity):

1) What word irks you every time you hear someone say it?

I am going to go with "supposed." Anytime that word is used the person saying it is snide, crass, and doubting the legitimacy of something or someone, and frankly, there are nicer ways to go about that sort of thing.

2) What is your favorite word?

My favorite word is voluptuous. I love how it sounds coming off the tongue; there's no doubting what THAT word means when it falls on your ears!

3) What does it mean?

Courtesy of

vo·lup·tu·ous   Audio pronunciation of "voluptuous" ( P )  Pronunciation Key  (v-lpch-s)

  1. Giving, characterized by, or suggesting ample, unrestrained pleasure to the senses: voluptuous sculptural forms; a voluptuous ripe fruit; a full, voluptuous figure.
    1. Devoted to or indulging in sensual pleasures.
    2. Directed toward or anticipating sensual pleasure: voluptuous thoughts.
    3. Arising from or contributing to the satisfaction of sensuous or sensual desires. See Synonyms at sensuous.

4) What word do you say far too often?


5) Name three words you think other people overuse:

love, war, fear


The One Minute Meditation and word of the day are courtesy of

If time were mere gold you could perhaps afford to squander it. But time is life, and you don't know how much you have left.

– St. Josemaria Escriva, Furrow, #963   Auspicious (adjective)
promising good fortune; propitious

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Friday Five

Happy Friday, everyone! Let me tell you, even though I've been deprived of my usual morning green tea, I am as chipper as can be - why? Because it's FRIDAY. It's a day of fun, freedom and relaxation.

I am having a boys only weekend this weekend - how cool is that? You know you love the way this Courage rolls!

Actually, to be honest, Jillian is visiting a good friend of ours to do some Christmas shopping and other girlie things so basically I'll be sitting home alone with the cats. Still, there are worse things, like starvation in the Sudan and testicular cancer (bonus points if you can name the movie!).

Anyway, the Friday Five this week are courtesy of the folks at LiveJournal, as I have had no contributions from readers (again). You're beginning to make me feel unloved, and un-appreciated.

Well, not really, but I'm Catholic, so guilt is required in all posts.

Right. The Friday Five - oh! Sorry, I have to profile last week's first poster! The ever gregarious Tina of BlahBlahBlah. Tina is super. A frequent visitor of Courage, she gives us a quirky and fun insight into her world in a style that makes us all feel happy and valued. I'm serious. Check her out! She's an uncanny ability to put you at ease and make you feel welcome. She also just had a birthday!

Whew, ok, here we go - the Friday Five. For first time players, you can answer these questions in the comments below or in your own journal, then posting a link to them  on Courage. The more people that play, the more journals you see! So, if you're a stalker, come on in, the water's fine!


1. What is the oldest object in the room with you?

Easy! Lou Gehrig's bat-case. That's right. You heard correctly! My uncle gifted me the container used to transport Lou Gehrig's bats while they were on away games. It's a fabulous piece and as I live, breathe, eat, sleep, and die pinstripes, I'm thrilled to showcase it in my office.

2. What is the newest?

Hrm. I think my newest has to be these Christmas cards that we send to volunteers and donors. And, I have to be honest - they are horribly ugly.

3. What is your favorite object in the room with you?

While I might go with Lou again, I think it's a three-way tie. I have statues of the Blessed Mother and St. Michael the Archangel that hold particular places of affection in my heart, but I also have my tried and trusty paper journal as well. I have to go with all three, though, if I had to save only one from the abyss, it would be the journal. If you're interested, you can see pics of my office in a former post - granted, I've rearranged since then, but its mostly the same.

4. What is the most valuable object?

Sentimentally, my journal, then you have Lou's bat case, but to me it is this fabulous black and white reprint of a 1908 panoramic photograph of my College (and current employer). I love looking at it - it connects me to a place nearly 175 years old and I see that its character is the amalgam of everyone that has ever walked its beautiful grounds.

5. What is the ugliest object?

I would say my zip drive. I hate that thing. I really do - I have no idea, but I just can't stand its presence. I can't get rid of it either as its inventory is with my cpu!



Thursday, December 15, 2005

Forgiveness is the ultimate victory

When I look back at all the nonsense surrounding my parents and this disastrous falling out, the end of our "family" as we have known it to be, I want to be seen as one who forgave.

Scratch that; I want to forgive, regardless of whether my family admits or ignores my attempts.

I have more than enough anger for them, more than enough bitterness to despise them long after they sleep in dirt and mud. I have rage enough to shred the memory of them from my tattered mind and fury enough to burn them out of my ravaged soul.

There are days I would rather boil myself alive and scream in pain then admit or give them any credence or credit.

The truth is, they are my parents, and I must forgive them out of love. All people deserve basic respect and love, and through that love recognition of the mighty crosses they bear.

Everyone carries crosses they feel too much to bear. Our job is to look past our faults and love and forgive anyway.

Ezekiel, 17: 61-63 emphasizes the importance of this:

For thus speaks the Lord God: I will deal with you according to what you have done, you who despised your oath, breaking a covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl, and I will set up an everlasting covenant with you. Then you shall remember your conduct and be ashamed when I take your sisters, those older and younger than you, and give them to you as daughters, even though I am not bound by my covenant with you. For I will re-establish my covenant with you, that you may know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be covered with confusion, and that you may be utterly silenced for shame when I pardon you for all you have done, says the Lord God.

I believe the real meaning of forgiveness is in that passage, and we can grasp that essence and make it our own when we look past all that someone has done to us and forgive them anyway. That takes true strength. That takes true mercy. That is true love. And those forgiven may look at us in a stupor of bewilderment and confusion, but they will know that we had grace enough to forgive, and that is a grand reward indeed!


Today's One Minute Meditation and word of the day are from

"I am still a poor creature", you tell me.

But once, when you realised it, you felt very bad about it! Now, without getting used to it or giving in to it, you are starting to make a habit of smiling, and of beginning your fight again with growing joy.


Mimicry (noun)
imitation, aping  


Please note that Courage has a map for you to sign! You can also read this journal at its home, if you prefer. That site features a feedblitz subscription field, if you prefer to read via that medium.   Also, if you have a quote, or a favorite saying or passage from a book or scholarly text that you wish to share for the Wednesday Reflection, please feel free to email me.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Tuesday Two - a bit late

For those unfamiliar, visit Patrick's Weekender for the Tuesday Two. It's a great way to participate in the larger J-Land community!

- Name a song that somehow connects you and another person: a loved one, an ex, or a friend or family member...and describe how it became "your song."

A tough question, Patrick, but I think a good version for me is Iris, by the Goo Goo Dolls. It describes how I feel when I share my abuse in a public forum - both difficult to do out of fear and a desperate need to be understood.

The Wednesday Reflection

As our J-Land community has been a little tattered of late, I have decided to start a new Wednesday meme, the Wednesday Reflection. I'll post a text, from some source - a quote, a scripture passage, a passage from a novel, anything that might provoke thought, and you reflect on it in the comments or link back here in your own journal. Sound good?

If you're the first person to respond, I'll highlight your journal the following week.


Today's reflection is from St. John of the Cross:

If you do not learn to deny yourself, you can make no progress in perfection.
– St. John of the Cross


The purity of this statement is found in its clear argument for selfless love. Only when we are fully purged of all selfish thoughts are we able to move toward perfection. As long as we harness our pride and our fears to the wagon of daily life we will be beasts of burden, but if we can lay all that down, deny ourselves, we can find a new light, one of perfection and peace.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Calling out in the darkness

I am sitting in the dark tonight, typing this entry, and wavering back and forth between two very different realities. Anger boils in my heart and vengeance simmers in my veins. The cracking and popping of scalding oil teeters on the edge of my consciousness, ready to burn alive those who approach my walls.

I am fierce and driven, tired and resolved. I have drawn my line and it is not flexible. There is no more compromise. No more sacrifice for those with unquentionable thirst.

I feel as if I am in Psalm, 77: My eyes cannot close in sleep; I am troubled and cannot speak. I consider the days of old, the years long past I remember. In the night I meditate in my heart; I ponder and my spirit broods: Will the Lord reject us forever, never again show favor? Has God's love ceased forever? Has the promise failed for all ages? Has God forgotten mercy, in anger withheld compassion?

And then, the red mist fades from my eyes and for a second I see clearly what must be done, in all its difficulty. I see that I am not alone, but carried, vindicated, and the recipient of a great promise. I see salvation and new life and the love of so many others, unconditional. I see the words of Psalm, 75: I will break off allt he horns of the wicked, but the horns of the just shall be lifted up.

My case has been made and my argument laid bare. I stand now in truth and light and await my trial, confident in love and faith that what I have done is right. I have begun the process of losing my family.

Slowly they fall away, one by one, unable to confront and accept the truth. And I will stand firm, fast in the love and support of others to live a life of decency and righteousness. Amen for faith in the love of those around you and in God.


Today's one minute meditation and word of the day is from

Identify yourself with the Will of God. Then no trouble will be any trouble.

– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #812


Word of the Day

Digress (verb)
to wander from the main path or the main topic


Monday, December 12, 2005

Stand Fast

There are days when you know that anything is possible and days when you wonder if you'll be able to bend over and tie your shoes.

As many of you know, I have been having more of the latter than the former but something clicked this weekend. I am not alone - I am surrounded by your love and prayers and outstretched arms.

Amazing and moving and proof that with unconditional love any and all things are possible. I am reminded of a passage from 1 Kings, 22: 4b

You and I are as one, and your people and my people, your horses and my horses as well.

It's such a simple statement but I have found that this community is a place where people give themselves fully to those in need. All things that we are, we are together. Every person that reads this journal, leaves a comment, or simply passes through carries a cross. Heavy. Bloody. Familiar. Maybe even grasped tightly out of fear.

But I know that with your love, I can carry my cross because even when I fall, you will help me back to my feet.

St. Boniface says, "Let us stand fast in what is right, and prepare our souls for trial. Let us wait upon God's strengthening aid and say to him: "O Lord, you have been our refuge in all generations."

I know that as a community of faith and strength and belief in one another, as well as in God, that we can stand and wait together, as refuge for one another.


Today's one minute reflection, courtesy of

I often feel like crying out to so many men and women in offices and shops, in the world of the media and in the law courts, in schools, on the factory floor, in mines and on farms and telling them that, with the backing of an interior life and by means of the Communion of Saints, they ought to be bringing God into all these different environments, according to that teaching of the Apostle: "Glorify God by making your bodies the shrines of his presence."

– St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #945  


From Blogthings:    
You Have a Sanguine Temperament

You are an optimistic person who is easily content.
You enjoy casual, light tasks - never wanting to delve too deep into anything.
A bit fickle, it's easy for you to change plans or paths when presented with something better.

You enjoy all of the great things life has to offer - food, friends, and fun.
A great talker, you can keep the conversation going for hours.
You are optimistic and sure of your success. If you fail, you don't worry about it too much.

At your worst, you are vain. You are obsessed with your own attractiveness.
A horrible flirt, you tend to jump into love affairs and relationship drama easily.
You're very jealous - which just magnifies the craziness around you.
What Temperment Are You?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Time for...or is it even time?

Going through my daily reads I discovered that I am not the only person feeling a bit lost at the end of the year.

It seems we all feel time slipping away, harried to make something from nothing. I don't believe in time. The future is only anticipation and the past is only memory.

Time is the label we put on the moment to comfort ourselves and drive away the fear of failing now. It is the weapon we use to combat the pains and horrors of the past by hoping on the future. It is the promise of something sweeter, newer, better than now.

Those illusions drive us to forget that the only time worth living is this moment. We are defined not by our past and future but by the decisions we make in this moment. Who are you right now? What are you doing, thinking, this instant?

Are you where you need to be? Time does not pass, we merely move through space and change with it; we are nothing more than the byproducts of our decisons.

We must be prepared for every choice we face. We must align ourselves with what we know to be right and holy. Inspiration came for me this morning in Ephesians, 6: 11-17:

Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothe4d with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Whatever your truth may be, gird yourself with it and live now, be now, and do not lament the past or worry on the future.


One minute meditation, courtesy of MyCatholic.Com

You don't feel like doing anything and there is nothing you look forward to. It is like a dark cloud. Showers of sadness fell, and you experienced a strong sensation of being hemmed in. And, to crown it all, a despondency set in, which grew out of a more or less objective fact: you have been struggling for so manyyears... , and you are still so far behind, so far.

All this is necessary, and God has things in hand. In order to attain gaudium cum pace – true peace and joy, we have to add to the conviction of our divine filiation, which fills us with optimism, the acknowledgment of our own personal weakness.

– St. Josemaria Escriva, Furrow, #78  


The Sunday Seven can be found at Patrick's Weekender. My answers are in the comments! I encourage you to go over there and keep our community alive!


From Blogthings:  

 Your Band Name is:


The Fearless Pope
Band Name Generator    

Your 2005 Song Is

Since You've Been Gone
by Kelly Clarkson

"But since you've been gone
I can breathe for the first time
I'm so moving on"

In 2005, you moved on.
What Hit Song of 2005 Are You?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Right in front of us & the Saturday Six

Jillian and I spent the day in our pajamas, relaxing. We felt we needed a 'get away' after a week of travel, family drama and snow.

Sometimes, when we plan these Sabbath days we arrange everything ahead of time: activities, books to read, meals to make and Saturday morning always comes with great anticipation and happiness.

There are stumbling blocks in our lives right now, however, and I cannot shake the feeling that in all our rushing this past week, we missed an opportunity. I don't know what it is, and I don't know if it actually happened, but I feel that it did.

Now, I value rest as much as the next person, always trying to find quiet time for regenerating and recuperating, but today we ignored lurking shadows. If only they had names and faces.

Today's Gospel, from Matthew 17: 9-13 reads:

As they were coming down from the mountain, the disciples asked Jesus, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased.  So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

This passage speaks to me because the "Holiday Season", with all its bustle, constantly driving us forward, whipping at our heels to shop, buy, party, laugh, sing, dance, go, go, go, go, race toward new years, hides what we really should see. It creates shadows where we should find light. 

Now is a time of preparation, reflection, and quiet, not noise and distraction. Just a few weeks ago, we gave thanks for another year and readied ourselves for winter, a time of ending and beginning. Yet, here we are still blind to the gift we really have in front of us, a chance to stop and recognize that this season is an expression of our appreciation and love for others.

I feel the shadows creeping in have compelled me to ignore truth and take stock in the glitter and glamour of oversight. When I am in the thick of holiday traffic, long lines and crying children am I feeling love and thanksgiving, or frustration, irritation and anxiety?

Do those I love suffer because I shut out what should be done and instead replaced it with whatever I pleased?

I think, perhaps, it is time to stop, think, and ask those around me what has already rushed by and what needs to be prepared for a peaceful end and beginning to a new year.

I am not sure.


In other news, if you haven't already, sign the Courage Map! Also, you can use the links to the left to get yourself on over to blog explosion, register your blog and up the traffic on your site!

Also, thanks to all that participated in the Friday Five yesterday.

Don't forget that Courage also has a home over on, which can be found by following this link.


The Saturday Six - From Patrick, now located at Patrick's Weekender (he's a great guy - check out his journal!):

1. You're producing a school program for the holidays and you learn that there will be major objections if you include in your musical selections the traditional Christmas hymns that reference the "true meaning of Christmas." Assuming that there are secular tunes (like "Frosty the Snowman") already included in the program, what do you do with the hymns? Do you allow them to go as is, do you use the melody and rewrite the words, do you include as many pieces of music from other religions as possible, or do you remove all but the secular songs?

This is a dangerous topic, Patrick. I'll remove Christmas from a Christmas pageant when Jews remove Menorah from Hanukkah. If they change the Festival of Lights to a Holiday Festival of Illumination, and they make the Menorah a Holiday Candelabra, then I'll pull the songs and put up the Holiday Tree. Why is it that in our desire to not offend others, we have to offend Christians?

2. What percentage of your Christmas shopping is done at this point? When do you expect to have it finished if you haven't already finished?

NONE :) Tomorrow - all online, baby!

3. What was your favorite board game to play as a kid? Is it still your favorite now?

Good question! I'm going with the Game of Life...and it's been replaced by Trivial Pursuit/Cranium

4. Take this quiz (if you haven't already!): What famous artist should paint your portrait?

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali should paint your portrait. You love to think about the world in a different way then everyone else. You are very ambitious, and you like strange things. You are curious about everything and love to learn.

Take this quiz at

5. How accurate is this quiz's description of you?

Somewhat, though I don't feel I'm quite THAT strange. Others may disagree ;)

6. If you could go back in time and have one more picture taken with a deceased loved one, who would you select and why?

My father's father...because I never met him.

Friday, December 9, 2005


A fun snowflake for a snowy day!

I found this snowflake maker over at floralilia here...: It's a fabulously fun little tool!

The Friday Five

Greetings folks! I am back from my travel and thankfully all went well and successful. To sate the ravenous hunger of my readers I have the Friday Five. I will begin regular posts this weekend (as I finally have mostly caught up at work).

To play the Friday Five you need only answer the following questions in your blog and post the link back here, OR you can answer them right below!!

Our first player from last week is the always lovely, always funny and nearly always a pain in my tush, Amanda, from HEY, I'M COUNTRY. She has created quite the cult following over at her place, and I love to read her journal because she reminds me of what it means to be real to yourself and others. She's definitely worth the read! Check her out!

If you answer first this week, I'll pimp your journal next week! Spread the word!

p.s. Tags for the Friday Five are always welcome!

1. What did you want to be when you grew up?

A tough question. I still don't feel really that I've finished growing up, but as 30 is approaching I guess I'm technically there! I wanted to be a high school history teacher. My folks wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer. My grandfather wanted me to join the Army.

2. Did you follow through? If not, what happened?

Surprisingly, I did follow through. I received my bachelor's and certification to teach secondary social studies to high school students and taught for three years. Followed that up with a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction. And then I quit :). It's a very very very long and sad story. Definitely not one for here!

3. Is your life turning out the way you thought it would when you were a kid?If not, is it better or worse?

I think my life IS turning out the way I wanted it to, because I'm finding out what it means to be happy and to be a person living my own life, not the life others wanted me to live - and that has been a very difficult step for me to take.

4. Paradoxes aside, if you could time-travel back to when you were 10 years old, what would you tell your 10-year-old self?

It's not right, what they do, and you don't have to take it - come with me, and I'll take you to the police.

5. Do you think the child you were, would like the adult you've become?

Yes, thankfully. And that makes me very happy.



Thursday, December 1, 2005

CarnivAOL is up!

Good morning J-Landers!

It is time for another.....

The November 30 edition has been released and it has all to do with the Ad Banners and the thoughts/opinions of those in J-Land on the topic. If you haven't seen or heard of CarnivAOL, it is a gathering of posts from around J-Land, conveniently hosted in one journal. PLittle of Aurora's Walking Vacation, is the brains and glue behind the operation.

All submissions are accepted (barring TOS violations), so head over to the CarnivAOL!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thank You

As I can't sleep tonight (yay insomnia!), my mind turned to all the wonderful prayers and support of this terrific J-Land community.

Thank you. If you feel undervalued, know that I love and return the prayers you send to me. You are a valued person, truly appreciated and you make a difference in my life every day.

I am in your debt!

With love and peace,


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Just life

We're going to spice up this entry a bit today - no reflection, but instead some information:

1. I am now posting in syndicate to a journal for those of you who have moved off site. The link is to the right.

2. Courage has a map! Sign it! The link is in my 'About Me' section. Do it! :) Please?

3. You can see in my about me section that I have affiliated my blog with blogexplosion, blogstreet and others. If you want more traffic, click those banners and sign up. It'll take a bit, but you'll start to see more folks at your site.

4. I am thankful for you all. You are wonderful people.

5. My blogging over the next five or six days is might be sporadic. I am traveling tomorrow to Delaware for work, then Friday to New York and Philadelphia, Saturday and Sunday in Philadelphia and/or Washington, D.C., and then Monday in Washington, D.C.. I will return home late Monday night. If I don't see you until then, be well, and I hope all is well!


Monday, November 28, 2005

Am I a mule?

I wonder if I am a mule.

I yearn to live justly and I hope to live rightly, but I am stunned by just how many times I do exactly the opposite.

I think I really am a mule.

Hee-Haw. This weekend, a good friend and I talked about choices and I said, "The road less traveled is so because it's likely the harder path." You know what I am referring to - the Frost poem and the bit about two roads diverging in the wood.

I believe in taking the harder path, when I know it to be right, but the mule in me has a senseless attraction to the well-worn grooves of the bright and 'easy' path.

What good mule would choose the hard path anyway? I know that taking the harder road means a potential lack of carrots, let alone a good time walking, so the comfort of familiar territory is a welcome relief. That's what the easy path is, after all; a way to avoid the difficulties of complicated choices.

I was reading 2 Kings, 17 today and found this (13-15a):

And though the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and seer, "Give up your evil ways and keep my commandments and statues, in accordance with the entire law which I enjoined on your fathers and which I sent you by my servants and prophets," they did not listen, but were as stiff necked as their fathers, who had not believed in the Lord, their God. The rejected his statutes, the covenant which he had made with their fathers, and the warnings which he had given them. The vanity they pursued, they themselves became.

Not so much has changed, I think - for me at least. Is it the same for you?

Christian or not, believer or not, do we know right and choose to hee-haw instead of living up to our own expectations? Sometimes, to that questions, maybe the answer is yes.

However, I think if we look hard enough, we will find all the courage needed to make the right choice and walk the road less traveled, doing what we know to be right and true.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Fighting Fear

The past months have been ones of confusion, fear, distress and sometimes panic. This weekend, insight and clarity unveiled my persistent sadness and my continued weakness. I am not capable of quiet content.

While I may have to work for contentment now and perhaps forever in the future I found a little comfort in a passage this weekend regarding the fear that paralyzes our hearts and turns our blood to ice. The passage is from Luke, 12: 6-9:

Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God.

Do not be afraid. There is inspiring confidence in those four words. While the theme of Christ's teaching, regardless of what we believe that simple phrase can lead us all to hope and strength. If we are true to ourselves and true to what we know to be right, we have no need to be afraid. We will be vindicated. We will be justified. We will start our hearts beating again in the warmth of love and wisdom. And, we will not be afraid.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

How much is this blog worth - an update :)

Hi gang! We did this a month ago, if you can believe it (October 26, 2005), and at that point this ole blog of mine was worth $34,436.94. Thankfully, she's shown a little appreciation since then, though I'm not sure how much is due to the lovely ad traffic above in my banners. How is your worth? Going up, or coming down? For me, the net gain was $12,984.42

My blog is worth $47,421.36.
How much is your blog worth?

Oh Angelina!

Renee, from AcrylicStains gifted me this fabulous image. I think it's going to become my background very soon :):


What kind of animal eyes are you?

Got this from over at BlahBlahBlah:

You have the eyes of a hawk. You're very much aware
about your surroundings and the situations that
you're in. People can't touch your things
because you would immediately notice what's
been touched or what's missing. You can analyze
people's thoughts and actions quite well.
That's good for you. Don't lose that sharp
vision of yours.

What Animal Eyes Do You Have?
brought to you by Quizilla

The Friday Five! (On Saturday)

Yes, yes, I know it is a day late, but forgive me - I spent yesterday brooding over this whole Thanksgiving holiday.

To play, answer the questions below in your journal and link back, OR just answer in the comments. Next week we'll start a little tradition of listing all the players from the previous week.

Today's Friday (Saturday) Five are courtesy of the folks over at LiveJournal:

p.s. - any artists out there are welcome to donate a tag for the Friday Five ;)

1. On what day do you celebrate Thanksgiving?

Jillian and I celebrate it on the actual day. In the past, we used to split our time between both sets of parents. What a nightmare. We did our own Thanksgiving this year, and it worked out great!

2. How do you traditionally celebrate this food filled holiday?

Well, we do it with all the traditional fixin's, and the one absolute of the holiday is we MUST watch Home Alone. That cannot change.

3. How do you like your stuffing cooked (in the bird, separately in a dish, store bought, etc.)?

Well, Jillian made a fantastic cornbread stuffing this year that tastes GREAT mixed in with your potatoes and gravey. YUMMY!

4. What is your favorite dessert to eat on Thanksgiving and who makes it?

My mom does make a wicked apple pie.

5. Can you name five things you are thankful for?

I cheated - did this entry last night - see below

Friday, November 25, 2005

Truly Thankful


I had the luxury these days past to read many journals and I saw so many wonderful entries about countless blessings and gifts, all of which written by truly appreciative people.


But that's not me. I'm not thankful. Really. As I ate Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, I thought about all the things I should be thankful for, and I am, but I'm not thankful. I'm  not someone who lives his life with that awareness.


I am not someone that can make a Thanksgiving entry. I don't live out my thankfulness like these other authors do, and I barely find time to even reflect on all that I've been given. These others, thought, they live out their thankfulness and they are the real reason we have Thanksgiving. For them, Thanksgiving is a chance to scream from a mountaintop what they sing softly in sincere words everyday. They have hearts of thanksgiving, and they are blessings.


And so, in a spirit of thanksgiving and appreciation for them, I list them below:


Gem: One of the first people who I met in J-Land, she is my original inspiration for starting Courage

Laura: Is the mother I wish I had when growing up

Nancy: Teaches me what it means to be something special, everyday

Bethany: Has shown me what a well-lived life is like, even when facing many difficulties

Dawn: Is pure inspiration. She is the true spirit of Thanksgiving

Courtenay: helps me find my voice when I have none

Deb: Her steadfast determination and belief are a lodestone for me

Amanda: Shows me what it is to be a real person

Rebecca: Is a muse whose passion for writing teaches me to think

Jessica: A soul whose life has taught me to reach out

Kate: One of my first readers, she lives life the way I wish I did

Lelly: My courage is nothing to hers

Rach: Her faith journey is a roadmap in the wilderness

Patrick: Is the kind of man I hope to become

Betty: Is a traveler of life whose knowledge is irreplaceable

Michelle: Speaks and lives the truth as she believes it to be, a rare gift in a cynical world.


These are just a few of the people who live Thanksgiving. There are many others out there whose writing inspired me to put up this post. Thank you to all of you and please forgive me for not making a full list - it is 2:41 a.m., after all!


To them, and everyone listed above, thank you for making this holiday not one day but an integral part your souls. If you don't already, get to know them.


As for myself, I hope that I learn what it means to be thankful this coming year, so I can express myself every day in a way that reflects appreciation for all that I have, whether good or bad.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Weekend Assignment - Oh that Maria

Weekend Assignment #87: Answer one or more of the following musical conundrums:

1. Who let the dogs out?
2. Why do fools fall in love?
3. If birds can fly over the rainbow, why then, oh why, can't I?
4. Do you hear what I hear?
5. How do you solve a problem like Maria?
6. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?
7. Listen, do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?
8. How long has this been going on?
9. I want to know, have you ever seen the rain? (Alternately: Why does it always rain on me?)
10. Does anybody really know what time it is?

(Yes, you can have silly answers. In fact, I encourage them!)

Extra Credit: Pose your own musical question


I choose number 5:

After a quick search on Maria, I discovered that in fact, we are all being called to travel to Brazil. Shocking, I know, but it appears that Maria has every desire to inculcate us and sabotage our minds with Brazilian pop culture. She even has a monkey on her back - literally! The scandal of it!

Upon further investigation, it seems that Maria has been at this deadly game for over a decade, starting her page in early 1995. This woman is vengeful indeed. She is clearly determined and will not rest until we all visit Fernando do Noronha. The shame.

To bring and end to Maria and her dastardly plan, I of course searched for solve. I discovered that the only remedy to Maria is an automated crystallographic structure solution for MIR, SAD, and MAD. I have no idea what that is, so I quickly resolved myself to search for problem.

It quickly became clear to me that Maria's sole weakness, her Achilles heel, is mathematics. If you can solve the Math Forum geometry problem of the week, Maria's vicious leech like culture-kililng will come to naught. I urge you: find that other angle.</P

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I have become portent to many


So much has been happening lately in all our lives, that this passage spoke to me tonight:

Psalms, 71: 4-8

My God, rescuse me from the powre of the wicked, from teh clutches of the violent. Youare my hope, Lord; my trust, God, from my youth. On you I depend since birth; from my mother's womb you are my strength; my hope in you never wavers. I have become a portent to many, but  you are my strong refuge! My mouth shall be filled with your praise, shall sing your glory every day.

With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner I owe all of my readers such a tremendous show of gratitude. This has been a difficult time for me, and you have all been nothing but supportive. So many emails, comments, and messages showing support and faith in me, and even calling out to me to continue sharing my thoughts.

I see my God and my faith in you, and regardless of your faith or belief in God, I hope you see your strength and hope in me - for what you do for me I hope to do for you. My hope in you has never wavered, and I ask for the chance to be hope for you. You are all gifts, and each of  you has brought something different, but sorely needed, to the table of my life; let us sit in fellowship and love and enjoy the bouthy of our hard work, love and support.

You are a gift, and I am in your debt. Thank you for all you've done and for who you are - lights in the darkness and a path pointing to righteousness.

Prudence the Pilgrim

Your Thanksgiving Costume Is

Prudence the Pilgrim
Who Should You Be For Thanksgiving?

How can you not love me as Prudence? :)


Your Eyes Should Be Gray

Your eyes reflect: Intensity and drive

What's hidden behind your eyes: A sensitive soul

What Color Should Your Eyes Be?

You Are Mashed Potatoes

Oridnary, comforting, and more than a little predictable
You're the glue that holds everyone together.
What Part of Thanksgiving Are You?

Monday, November 21, 2005

True Wisdom is Loving Unconditionally

1 Kings, 10: 7-9

Though I did not believe the report until I came and saw with my own eyes, I have discovered that they were not telling me the half. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report I heard. Happy are your men, happy these servants of yours, who stand before you always and listen to your wisdom. Blessed be the Lord, your God, whom it has pleased to place you on the throne of Israel. In his enduring love for Israel, the Lord ahs made you king to carry out judgment and justice.

Of the many themes in this small passage, I latched onto God's love for Israel. Our little journaling community has received a beating this past week, and I am unsure if it will bounce back. I feel like the queen of Sheba, not believing the reports I have heard. What strikes me though is that regardless of what we have seen this past week, there is still so much love among readers and writers. There is still community, and that is inspiring.

The Queen of Sheba saw clearly that Israel benefited from Solomon's reign, but she saw, in wisdom of her own, that God's love for Israel gave Solomon his strength. Whatever our faith or creed, whether we belive in God or not, it is impossible to conquer true unconditional love, and we can be blessed and rewarded if we carry that love to others.

It is a challegen, as selfishness is always beckoning, but unconditional lvoe is so sweet, so fulfilling, that I like to think we have a chance at making a normal day something special - a day where the reports people hear aren't even half accurate - that our love and satisfaction is so great we touch the hearts of everyone we meet.


As for my civil disobedience against AOL, I am contemplating several steps to help affect change - stay posted. Ideas are forthcoming!


P.S. - Don't forget to sign my J-Land map! Link in my profile to the left!

Pressured Morning

Pressured morning
and I retreat

From the honking
horns of brain traffic;

To the quiet solitude
of white porcelain;

For the chance
at a fresh, calm start;

Hoping to review
renew, re-start my day;

In harmony.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The salt of our inner purification

Good morning J-Landers!

Though it's technically still Sunday, I'm trying to get a head-start on the week. Today's reflection comes from Leviticus:

Leviticus, 2: 13

However, every cereal offering that you present to the Lord shall be seasoned with salt. Do not let the salt of the covenant of your God be lacking from your cereal offering. On every offering you shall offer salt.

It seems simple, doesn't it, this basic requirement for a cereal offering to God? After a good bit of reflection, this passage appears much more complex than I originally thought. Some context:

Salt was a precious and valuable commodity in the ancient world, not just for its ability as a seasoning, but because you could cure and preserve food with it if applied properly. Roman soldiers received salt as a form of payment at one time, hence the common phrase of whether or not you're worth your salt. More importantly, to share your salt with someone while at table was a sign of friendship, sincerity, and a bond of fellowship.

The Jews in this passage are being called to always renew that bond, to honor that friendship and live out their relationship with God every time they make a bread offering. Their external behavior is to be a reflection of the purity in their hearts and souls.

That message bears repeating - our external behavior is a reflection of our hearts and souls.

It has been a rough few months for many of us, not just in J-Land, but in the 'real' world as well, and I've discovered that my life is most disordered, most complex, most troublesome when my insides are jumbled and I stray from what I know to be right and true.

Is it the same for you?

I do not believe we need be Jewish, or Christian, or Muslim, or of any faith to take time and examine our moral compass - is it pointing north? Is it pointing toward truth, light, and justice? Is it pointing to selfishness, lies, and deceit? Where are you gonig on the inside? If you are pure, if you have salted yourself for the long journey of life, than there is no doubt that your exterior will reflect the grace within.

And that, I think, is a good way to start a Monday.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Your Life Movie, Complaints, my take on The Exodus, and the Friday Five

First - a fun quiz :)

The Movie Of Your Life Is A Black Comedy

In your life, things are so twisted that you just have to laugh.
You may end up insane, but you'll have fun on the way to the asylum.

Your best movie matches: Being John Malkovich, The Royal Tenenbaums, American Psycho
If Your Life Was a Movie, What Genre Would It Be?


Lamentations, 3: 39

Why should any living man complain, any mortal, in the face of his sins?

The power in this statement is undeniable. In all of our complaints, our struggles, our traumatic experiences, truly, what right have we to complain? Are we perfect? Are we flawless? Do we live by Natural Law, extending to ourselves and others all that is moral, just, righteous and good?

I am not that person and I know of noone that is blessed with such gifts. I have done others wrong, and I continue to hurt them, and in that vein, by having courage to look at myself from the outside I see someone who has no right to lay down his cross in complaint. It is my duty, my obligation, to pick up the crosses I have and carry them as best I can, with no complain, and calling for help when it is needed. That's love. To embrace my faults and failures, and to do so without complaint - that is humility.


The Friday Five:
To play, just post your answers in the comments below or in your own journal then provide us with a direct link in the comments. Submjit questions and themes and we'll spotlight your journal!

1. If you choose to leave AOL over the ads in our journals, what will you miss most? If you choose to stay, what is your motivation to do so?

I choose to stay. I write for inspiration. I write for courage. I write for hope. I write to share those values with others who may need them or might find something else in my words. I write because I need those things myself. And while so many of you may leave AOL because of this scandal, others remain here. I do not look on myself as a preacher, but I am a part of this community, and I will not leave because a bad neighbor moved in down the street. I will stay. I will lead the life I've built here, and I will not support those ads or click on any of them - but I will not be driven away by their presence. Those that leave are but a fraction of those who will stay and I cannot make my community a better place by leaving. I choose to stay and fight.

2. Given the great exodus of people over the ads in their journal space, do you think the AOL community in J-Land will suffer?

Absolutely. But, if there are others like me, who choose to stay and fight, and work hard to fix the system, instead of leaving the system because it is not to our liking, then at its core, J-Land will become even more supportive of one another.

3. Do you believe that AOL will respond to the many complaints? Why or why not?

I do believe they will respond, because we know that blogging and scandals in the media are something AOL wants to avoid. Will they remove the ads? No. AOL is a business, folks, and they are in it to make money. I subscribe because it is a community, because I like the content they offer. I do believe they will either move the ads, allow us selection in the ads, or give us a portion of the click through profit.

4. Why did you start to journal in the first place, and will you miss it if you leave?

See number one. And I'm not leaving.

5. Will you miss those who stop reading your journal, if you leave, or if they've left, and will you take steps to continue reading their words?

Yes, I will miss those that no longer read my journal, and I will try and keep up with those that have left - but let us all be honest. AOL was a convenient way for us to all stay in touch. And like so many relationships in our lives and so many friends from high school, college, or past jobs....many will fade - some will stay.


Now - my thoughts on the Ads.

I support AOL's right to advertise in its space.

I support the right of people to leave AOL if they do not like where AOL advertises

I do not support AOL using space promised to me as my own to advertise its clients.

I would support AOL advertising if I had a choice in selecting the advertisements - why? Because advertising does pay the bills, and frankly, I love my J-Land community and if we need the ads to keep it, then let me choose the ads I show. Give me a percentage of the click-through property.Let me choose to have more features if I show ads and less if I choose to not show ads.

Most importantly - talk to me. J-Land folks are some of your most ardent and long-time subscribers. I have been on AOL (in one form or another) since 1991. We're talking a soon to be fifteen years (yeah, my Dad paid for it up until May, but sue me) and I know there are others of you that are the same way. We have brand loyalty, regardless of how much we pick on AOL. As subscribers to this service, we are AOL's clientele. We deserve to be a part of  a discussion that intrudes upon space that was promsied to us as a part of our fee.

Moreover, I will not leave because I am more effective here, than I am fighting from somewhere else. Why? Because civil strife is far more destructive than external war. Don't believe me? Ask Gandhi or Martin Luther King. Civil Disobediance while still a member of J-Land is the best method of fighting this mistake and affrotn. Leaving J-Land gives you no clout. The kitchen got hot - and you left.

Don't be insulted by that statement, please - it is simply a viewpoint; one way of looking at the glass. And, so, my civil disobediance begins. I will start every post by discouraging readers of my journal from clicking ads, and I will discourage outsiders who stumble upon my journal from joining AOL until they can be assured their private space is their own. I will find other ways to provoke AOL from within AOL as time passes.

Gandhi was once asked when he was participating in his Great Salt March what he would do if his march failed to create change; he said he would provoke them again, and again, and again, and again, until silence could no longer be the answer receieved. Everybody has buttons, and you just have to keep pushing them to effect change, and I will do so in a civil way. Again, and again, and again, until the ads are removed. But doing so as an AOL member gives me far more clout than someone that left. Your dollars are already gone. You're a lost cause. By staying and fighting - I'm revenue that is a pain in the rear - and that is far more dangerous over the long term.

So to those that leave, I hope you will continue to read my entries. To those who stay, I encourage you to join with me in civil disobedience.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sudden Terror and Ruin of the Wicked

Proverbs, 3: 25-31

Be not afraid of sudden terror, of the ruin of the wicked when it comes; For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from the snare. Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim when it is in you power to do it for him. Say not to your neighbor, "Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give," when you can give at once. Plot no evil against your neighbor, against him who lives at peace with you. Quarrel not with a man without cause, with one who has done you no harm. Envy not the lawless man and choose none of his ways.

Sincerity is hard to find in a callous world of sarcasm and constantly shifting opinions. Polls tell us what we think by the second on any topic that can be measured, and the latest retail numbers are a matrix for our happiness or sadness.

This small passage from proverbs is a great reminder for us that what is most important is to be sincere and take heart and courage in righteous and just behavior. In doing for others what is right we will uncover true happiness, but in envy and quarrel we find only selfish disdain.

Sincerity is something worth holding onto, something worth cultivating, caring for, and when we have it, we will not fear, but we will strike out on the path of justice and truth - and that is noble.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Thin Fingers

The thin fingers of wraiths dangle from the sky.

Their nails scrape my face with tiny wet pinpricks.

Theirs is a gray day rife with clammy hands and cold noses.

Today is a day to roam free, with cloud and earth as one.

Death may come on Fall's sharp breeze,
and wraiths sting us with their soaking hands,
but yellow sun and red fire
makes present the promise of newborn life.

Test and Tried

Today's reflection is from Psalms, 66: 9-12

Who has kept us alive and not allowed our feet to slip. You tested us, O God, tried us as silver tried by fire. You led us into a snare; you bound us at the waist as captives. You let captors set foot on our neck; we went through fire and water; then you led us out to freedom.

I am fond of saying, and have heard from others that we are never given more than we can handle. This is a simple lesson, a simple sayinig, but so hard to believe. Our particular faiths, beliefs, and life situations aside, everyone of us will face spiritual fires, snares, bonds and maybe even situations that strike our souls.

Whether disease of the body or soul, every illness exacts its spiritual toll. The choices we make and the afflictions we suffer, for whatever reason - folly, helplessness, or sheer happenstance - temper our souls and minds to make us stronger, more faithful, and better people.

There are times, however, when we choose to let our afflictions become our life, instead of a situation affecting who we are, because suffering is comfortable, famliar, and eaiser than facing the intense heat of fire and forge.

Faith in those outside ourselves is the only saving grace that can lead us to freedom when we are too weak to find it ourselves. And it is no shame to find strength in others, when no one person has solutions for every problem.

When our spirits are crushed, overwhelmed, downtrodden and held prisoner the best recourse is trust in others. To look your fear in the face and turn it over to someone else we conquer what is otherwise an unbeatable army.

Monday, November 14, 2005


This, That, and
Everything Else
all demand my attention.

'Let's go!,' they yell,
over and over,
waiting, waiting, waiting.

They are a line
of Shoving Schoolboys
stamping their feet
and pushing, pushing, pushing.

'My time!,' I call,
'My time!'

But the line doesn't care,
doesn't feel
doesn't ever go away.

It is a monster
all its own
and must be fed
or I will find myself
the juicy morsel of
its late afternoon snack.

A Centurion

Today's reflection is from Luke, 7: 1-10

When he had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, "He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us." And Jesus went with them, but hwne he was only a short distance form the hosue, the centurion sent friends to tell him, "Lord do not trouble yoruself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come here,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

All are subject to authority - even our own if we owe fealty to no other. Do you have courage enough to accept the laws, guidance, teachings, rules, and direction of your authority? Do you have wisdom enough to lay aside your own will, limited knowledge and experience to say 'yes' and obey?

This point is the crux of faith; it is hard to lay down one's ego and pride and humbly follow another. I argue that true faith is not presence and awareness of one's self amidst a greater being or power, but its absence in favor of selfless devotion to the same authority. This sacrificial love is so strong that it makes all things possible - even in word alone.

For our word is our action, and what we say is the manifestation of our beliefs and our intentions. Wicked, black hearts will spin deceit and fraud; sacrificial hearts ask seek worthiness, and give all to those they love with complete faith.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I Got Me Some Edubacation!

The University of Blogging

Presents to

An Honorary
Bachelor of
Quiz Addiction

Majoring in
Dr. ®

Blogging Degree

You Sellout!

On Average, You Would Sell Out For


At What Price Would You Sell Out?

Writer's Weekly Question #6 Be creative!

Writer's Weekly Question #6: (From CIW: The Other Invisible)

Should a writer blatantly use another writer’s text (text can include stories, movies, tv shows, songs, etc.) to support or give weight to their own work? Is there a time orplace where that shouldn’t be done and if so, why?

No. They should not do so, no there is no reason to do so, and it is self-defeating. True cleverness lies in being original, not in stealing someone elses' hard-wrought writing and using it to keep yourself from thinking. Imagine if Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice had just been a ripped off characterization? We would have lost one of the best written characters in all of the English language!


Have you ever had occasion to use another writer’s text in your writing? If so, how did you use it and do you feel that you were plagiarizing the original text.

Nope, never did it!

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Friday Five

Lest you all think I forgot!


This week's Friday Five are ready for you! To play, simply answer the questions in the comments below or in your journal, posting a link back to it in the comments. We want to see your answers! It's a great way to find our way to new journals! Be a part of the fun!

As always, you are encouraged to send in a question, questions, etc. If your question/theme/questions is/are selected, I will profile your journal IF you send me the link :). And, so, without any more gilding the lilly and further ado, I give you:

1) What is your favorite noise to hear?

Toughy - but nothing beats the sound of a well hit double to left-center...except on the rare chance that I might actually hit a golf ball in the fairway.

2) If you could live in any era of time, what would you choose and why?

Another toughy - the thought of dying of one of the many diseases that we have 'under control' now is a bit scary...but I think I'd give my left foot to be Mr. Darcy.

3) You just found $50 while cleaning your house. Where do you decide to spend it?

OUT TO DINNER - and you know I'm getting the double oreo madness. Bring it.

4) What magazines to you subscribe to/read on a normal basis?

I can't remember if we've had this one already, or if Patrick's featured it over for the Saturday Six, but:

- Men's Health
- PC Gamer (it's the dork in me  - be nice)
- National Geographic
- The Farmer's Almanac
- Men's Vogue
- Gentleman's Quarterly
-The Chronicle of Higher Education

5) If you could witness any event in history, but not change anything about it, what would you choose and why?

This is an interesting spin on a question we've all seen before. I think I'd like to go b ack and withness the surrender between Grant and Lee during the Civil War - or Hendrix onstage at Woodstock. Those are moments that defined generations.


A Favor Shown to Us

In Jeremiah, I read the following:

Jeremiah, 52: 31-34

In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, Evilmerodach, king of Babylon, in the inaugural year of his reign, took up the case of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, and released him from prison. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a throne higher than that of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. Johoiachin took off his prison garb and ate at the king's table as long as he lived. The allowance given him by the king of Babylon was a perpetual allowance, in fixed daily amounts, all the days of his life until the day of his death.


We create our own prisons. They may not reek of sweat, filth, grime and the desparate frenzy of hopeless men, but they are rat-infested pits of despair that enclose our hearts and spirits.

They need not hold such absolute power over our concsiousness and our souls, if we choose to open our cells and step out into a greater, wider world.

Our prisons are of our own creation - we make them when we overwork, succumb to addiction, choose the comfort of guilt, fear, and pain over the difficulties of truth and change. We build up prisons of habit, sarcasm, insincerity, lies and deceit because those walls are familiar - they are our walls - we built them. In a way, we need those walls because they are our creation. To destroy our prisons and live in a better world we must tear down what we built up. There is a sense of loss in making new what is old and well-worn.

Still, as Jehoiachim received his freedom from the king of Babylon, we too can find freedom from our prisons, if we only turn to others. Sometimes, the walls of our island fortresses are so tall, so thick, that we need help to burst through and tear up their foundations. We cannot rely on our own strength to escape the darker places of our spirit - after all, our self-reliance was not enough to keep us from the depths we inhabit.

We must have courage enough to reach out and hold the hands of those around us, and together we will find a way to escape the hellish prisons that keep us huddled alone in the shadows.</P

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

When I turn to you, will you be there?

Our reflection today is from Proverbs 1: 20-33 (a bit long, but worth it!)

Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the open squares she raises her voice; Down the crowded ways she calls out, at the city gates she utters her words: "How long, you simple ones, will you love inanity, how long will you turn away at my reproof? Lo! I will pour out to you my spirit, I will acquaint you with my words.

Because I called and you refused, I extended my hand and no one took notice; Because you disdained all my counsel, and my reproof you ignored - I, in turn, will laugh at your doom; I will mock when terror overtakes you; When terror comes upon you like a storm, and your doom approaches like a whirlwind; when distress and anguish befall you. Then they call me, but I answer not; they seek me, but find me not; Because they hated knowledge and chose not the fear of the Lord; They ignored my counsel, they spurned all my reproof; And in their arrogance they preferred arrogance, and like fools they hated knowledge:

Now they must eat the fruit of their own way, and with their own devices be glutted. For the self-will of the simple kills them, the smugness of fools destroys them. But he who obeys me dwells in security, in peace, without fear of harm."


I chose this passage today beecause I identify with the arrogant preferring arrogance. Wisdom teaches us to go beyond the conventional, beyond the accepted, beyond the simply ordinary and see with clarity the invisible, the intangible, and the impossible. Wisdom is our key to taking our ordinary everyday feelings and problems and making them disappear. It is the key to greater potential, to kinder actions, warmer hearts. With wisdom we can pray for our assailants, turn fear into courage, and find the good in any bad. With wisdom we become strong in our weakness, and in dying to ourselves we become more than we ever thought possible.

How frequently though, are we challenged to take arrogance over wisdom; I know that arrogance is the easier path. I know that believing I have the answers, that I know better, that I have a solution, that I can handle my problems on my own - I know that arrogance well. I know that arrogance intimately. It is my bedfellow.

Wisdom says to me: "Oh, you arrogant fool - you choose arrogance, not because of great strength or skill, but because you fear the more difficult path of the unkown, the dangerous, and a dependency on others."

Wisdom is recognizing that no cross can be carried by one person. I hope we all find ourselves wise enough to say yes to help and arrogant enough look arrogance in the face and choose humility instead!

I Stretch Out My Hand

I read this last night - it is from Psalm 143:

I remember the days that are past:
I ponder all your workds.
I muse on what your hand has wrought
and to you I stretch out my hands.
Like a parched land my soul thirsts for you.


In all things we thirst, whether happy or sad; there is always a hope for something - more joy, less pain, more passion, less sacrifice.

As people, of whatever faith or belief, we aspire and reflect on what we currently feel, do and think, and we ruminate on the past.

How have the events of our past molded us, shaped us, made us into what we are at this moment in time and space. Whether you believe the Potter molds you, or that our experiences shape our clay, there is no doubt that we are all changed, squezzed, touched.

What I am certain of, regardless of who or what you believe in, or how you believe we are shaped, we are all beautiful. Our unique experiences and our reactions to them have given us a look all our own. In all my reflections, I realize that even those most tortured by inner demons are beautiful wonderful creations. That is a gift! </P

Tuesday, November 8, 2005


What confusion
surrounds the
endless cries
of wild animals

In the darkness
lost to hope
and shaking.

There is no end
or way out
of this maze
that taunts my dreams

Of peaceful rest
steady sleep
and wisdom.

For What Credit is that to You?

In brief,  over the last week

- my brother betrayed my trust

- my mother drove me to overwhelming heights of anxiety

- she ambushed me on the phone yesterday, talking to me for the first time in nearly eleven months.

- I've typed, but cannot seem to write, the missive to my grandparents, brother, and parents about my struggles this past year.


I am not happy. I am not sure if I am sad. I feel more alone than I have in a long time. I know you are all praying for me, and I am so wonderfully grateful to have so many beautiful people care so much for my being, but sometimes battling our irrational emotions yields irrational thoughts.

In the middle of this, in feeling so alone and so hurt, in my daily reading I keep going back to Luke. In that particular passage, he tells us that Jesus demands more from us than simply doing good to those that treat us well, but that we must do good by those that treat us poorly.

In talking with my spiritual director, he simply said, "pray for them, not yourself. Make your conversations and petitions for the person who hurts you; they need more help than you." He reminded me that the only way to live out true goodness, humility and justice is to die to ourselves in all circumstances to serve others.

That is true power, and as Paul says in second Corinthians, when I am weak, I am strong.

I can believe in that.

Monday, November 7, 2005

She called me at work.

I am crying and so very afraid.

My hands are shaking


I call out to you, O Lord,

Shelter, me Oh God,

For through you all is possible.

Good morning, J-landers.

It's been quite some time since I've posted, really felt any inspiration, and things have been going from bad to worse.

My family situation clearly has not resolved itself as I thought it had, and on the contrary, spiraled downward this weekend.

For those with access to my private journal, I will attempt a posting there later today.

I apologize for my continued absence from J-Land, I appreciate all your prayers, thoughts, concerns, and emails.


Friday, October 28, 2005

The Friday Five!

Well folks, it's time for another Friday Five. I apologize for not having them up last week. That broadcast was postponed until today due to depression :).

For first time players, the Friday Five is something you can answer in the comments below, or in your own journals - just post the link to your answers in the comments. The more people that play, the better!

Also, feel free to send in questions for the Friday Five! If you do, I'll spotlight your journal and we can send some readers there! Enjoy!

1. If you had all the money in the world and could choose to own anything, what you would get and why?

Well, if it were anything...I think I'd like to own a golf-course. That would be a ton of fun, and if I had that much money, I'd let people play for free :).

2. If you were to do something that scares you, what would it be?

Oh man, it would have to be skydiving. I HATE heights, and I do not trust my life to some stupid silk chute that is 'supposed' to work. Who in their right mind jumps out of a plane moving hundreds of miles and hour thousands of feet above the ground. Doesn't anyone else see this as insane?

3. What was your first pet?

He was a yellow lab - Mr. D was his name and he ate everything...except olives. Give him a garden salad with dressing - he'd eat the whole thing...but he'd spit the olives out :)

4. What's the farthest you've traveled?

Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, though I've also driven to California.

5. If you were a season, which one would you be and why?

Spring. There is nothing like renewal and rebirth! Life in all its forms being revealed again.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

It takes Two

I picked this up from Dawn, over at Carpe Diem:

Two Names You Go By:

1. Charley

2.  Char

Two Parts of Your Heritage

1. French Canadian (50%)

2. German (47%) 

Two Things That Scare You

1. Spiders

2. My mother

Two of Your Everyday Essentials

1. Tea - green if I can get it. 

2.  Prayer

Two Things You Are Wearing Right Now

1.  CK's - other than 2xist, the only acceptable brand of men's underwear

2. flat-front twill khaks.

Two of Your Favorite Bands or Musical Artists (at
the moment)

 1. She's my guilty pleasure...Mariah Carey

2. Dave Matthews Band

Two of Your Favorite Songs (at the moment)

1.   Gravedigger - Dave Matthews

2.   American Woman - Dave Matthews

Two Things You Want in a Relationship (other than
Real Love)

1. patience

2. true dedication to helping each other grow as a couple and as individuals

Two Truths (confessions)

1.  I'm adopted.

2.  There are days when I write to inspire others and keep no inspiration for myself.

Two Physical Things that Appeal to You

1.  Lips

2.  Hair

Two of Your Favorite Hobbies

1.  Golf

2.  Gaming

Two Things You Want Really Badly  (assuming this means material things...)

1.  A new suit

2.  all the personal care items I want!

Two Places You Want to go on Vacation

1.  Russia

2.  Italy

Two Things You Want to Do Before You Die

1.  Make a pilgrimage to Rome/Jerusalem

2.  Start my own company

Two ways that you are stereotypically a Chick/Guy

1.  I have selective hearing when it comes to women (co-workers included!)

2.  Yeah, I pick my nose now and then!

Two thingsyou wouldn't normally admit

1.  That I am an ego hound - I love to have my ego stroked. I'm a sucker for it, and then my pride takes over.

2.  I am against gun ownership, but I wouldn't mind owning a rifle - I used to target shoot as a child.

If you do this, be sure to post the link in the comments!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

We Find Love in One Another

There were some great comments to my previous entry, and I wanted to add a bit more, as your great thoughts prompted me to think!

I agree, that for Christians salvation lies only through Christ. I also believe that we can find the love of Christ in one another and our actions. Ultimately, I know that I must accept Christ to attain heavenly rewards, but I cannot deny that God works through other people for our benifit. In the same way, I must trust to their love and sincerity as I trust to God's. Will they fail? Sure, they are human, but so am I! That does not give me an excuse to not place my faith in them to love me and treat me sincerely, even if I'm selfish.

In the end, once I'm dead, God will deal with me according to my actions and His mercy, but while I'm on earth, I have to love my neighbor as I love myself, and they hopefully will do the same, regardless of my failings. That was the message I hoped to convey in this piece.

Maryanne, you didn't go off on me at all - this journal is for people of all faiths, not just Christians. The reflections I write, I try to make applicable for all people of any faith, and even for those that do not believe in God. That's one of the reasons I focused on our relationships with other people in this entry as compared to our own selfishness.

I do not believe in judging others, but I do believe in loving others and their loving me, and that is the basis for the accountability I am referring to in this post - not judgement, but love. We can deal with any selfish person in a loving and kind way and we will do them right, and not be judging them. I also agree that God is in charge and that he wants us to use our gifts to help one another to the best of our ability. I see nothing wrong with living in comfort, but living in excess while others suffer is a social injustice. A simple life is a good one.

I hope that clears up that entry a bit for my readers. You guys are AWESOME! Thanks for commentingt!

Mortals are a Mere Breath

Today's reflection is from Psalm 62: 10-13

Mortals are a mere breath,
the powerful but an illusion;
On a balance they rise;
together they are lighter than air.
Do not trust in extortion;
in plunder put no empty hope.
Though wealth increase,
do not set your heart upon it.
One thiing God has said;
two thiings I have heard:
Power belongs to God;
so too, Lord, does kindness,
And you render to each of us
according to our deeds.

In my simple life of middle class homogeneity, I yearn for wealth and peace. They are no panacea, they provide no substantial relief. My heart beats black in hope of transforming my selfish wants into true rewards.

My faith does not matter, here, in this way. What I sow is what I shall reap. The people in my life will hold me accountable for my misdeeds, as they should, for injustice and wrong are only tolerated so long. The human spirit is made of love and peace, and censure can be so accomplished. According to my deeds, by way of love and sincerity, I will answer for my selfish wants.

Salvation is to let go of myself and rely on the love and goodwill of those around me, for their love is the only salve that heals every wound. In so doing, I will be held accountable for allowing myself to be loved, and that reckoning is one I welcome.