Snowball’s Chance

In case anyone was wondering, I did in fact apply for that Island Reef Job. I do not know if my application was received in good order. I did have to re-submit once, but then I never heard from them again. It was in those last few days before the application deadline, so I’m sure things were a bit crazy there in Australia.

The good news is that there were ONLY 34,000 people interested in the job. That makes the odds much better than a lottery win. They announce the 50 short-listed people on March 2nd, so if you hear any squealing on the East Coast on Monday, perhaps I made it to Round Two.

I couldn’t get the video to load via Blogger, and I couldn’t get it to load on Facebook. Photobucket took it, though, so I posted it to Blogger through that site.

Shrove Tuesday

My church had a Mardi Gras party in the basement and confession going on in the church. It’s a great way to start off Lent.

Billy’s birthday is tomorrow. This is the first time I can recall it has fallen on Ash Wednesday. Fortunately, he is old enough to understand and accept relocating his celebration to a non-fasting day. We had some friends over today for pancakes with toppings like strawberries, blueberries, chocolate chips and whipped cream.

I’m not much of a cake decorator, but every birthday I give it another shot. For Billy, I made a cake to look like a Cincinnati Bengals jersey. I do not approve of his fondness for this team (hello, Cleveland Browns? GB Packers?), but because I love him, I will decorate a cake the way he likes. I think it came out ok.

Carson Palmer is the quarterback for the Bengals, and Billy wrote him a letter inviting him to his party. We never heard back. Carson, you missed a lot of fun, especially once the boys started playing with Billy’s new double barrel Nerf shotgun.
For Lent, I’m limiting my time online to an hour a day, so I probably won’t blog every day…not that I currently blog every day. I’m also turning comments off, but my email address is up top.
Have a blessed Lent.

Get Ready, Get Set…

And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. And the people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. Jonah 3:4-5

This Wednesday begins Lent where all Christians, from the greatest to the least, are called to proclaim a fast. It is a time of atonement. A period where we stop, admit our sins, and beg for God’s mercy, a mercy which has been promised to us, but which we may not take for granted.

Should not we be mindful of our sins at all times? Yes, but. Knowing our human failings, the Church does not demand a constant hyper-awareness of our sinfulness, nor expect ongoing exceptional sacrifices. Such deeds are noble, but not required. The Church merely asks that we remember Our Lord’s suffering on all Fridays, and during this special time of year.

Why is Lent so long? 40 days is a special time period, recurring in the Bible. It rained for 40 days. Jonah gave Ninevah 40 days notice of impending doom. Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert. To sacrifice for one day is easy. To sacrifice for a week, maybe two, is not too difficult. But to sacrifice for 6 1/2 weeks is hard. In fact, after 6 weeks of dedicated sacrificing (no cheating), humans will tend to have developed new habits. If, for example, you opt to take very short showers as a sacrifice, by Easter you will have to remind yourself that a long shower is now permitted. If you give up snacking between meals, you will forget to be hungry at 3 pm. And if you give up cream and sugar in your coffee, after 6 weeks, your taste buds will think coffee is meant to be drunk black.

In other words, you will have successfully detached yourself from those earthly things, which is, after all, the main point of Lent. “Growing closer to God” is merely another way of phrasing “Putting things of the earth behind you.”

You can not do too much, nor pray too much, nor sacrifice too much during Lent. Our prayers and sacrifices are to be united with the prayers and sacrifices of Christ. Imagine yourself keeping Jesus company in the desert. Could you eat a bountiful meal while he fasted right next to you? Could you watch Oprah while he prayed?

Obviously, we are limited in what we are capable of doing. But at the same time, we should not behave as though Lent were barely different from any other time of year. Does the 4 year old need to attend the birthday party that the entire preschool class was invited to? Is a drive-through run on that busy night necessary or could everyone make do with PB&J sandwiches eaten en route?

Life does go on and the Church does not expect everyone to become hermits during Lent. But at this time of year, we are called to keep Christ’s suffering in the very forefront of our minds. Just as when a loved one goes unexpectedly into the hospital – chest pains, a possible stroke – and the day progresses but the mind turns repeatedly to prayers for his health, hope for his longevity, and a desire for an update of his condition, so, too, should our Lenten thoughts be ever “distracted” by Christ, His Passion, and our unworthiness.

If the only time of day you think about suffering is after dinner when you wish you could have some dessert, you are missing out on the great Lenten opportunity. The chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin are: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving, all spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and the patient suffering of the ills of life. (Baltimore Catechism Q.221) This is the time of year when we focus on our souls, on eternity, and on what really matters in this life. Our small penances, such petty gifts when compared to the magnanimity of God, are the least we can do in humble gratitude.

A series of misfortunes

I saw this at Charlotte’s blog and thought it was too funny to pass up. You type in “Unfortunately (your name)” – don’t forget the quotation marks – and see what comes up. Here is a short selection of what I found for me:

Unfortunately Michelle couldn’t make a four foot putt when she was fourteen and still can’t at (thirty-seven).

Unfortunately, Michelle thought she didn’t need any help. (Humility is a virtue with which I struggle.)

Unfortunately Michelle had now begun to associate with known-gang members. (Oh, my.)

Unfortunately Michelle has nearly ZERO power over the rest of the operations and less than zero power over NAVL’s sub-contractors. (Wow. Less than zero? Does that mean if I use reverse psychology, I do have an influence?)

Unfortunately, Michelle is unable to blog from her location in Guatemala. (If you don’t see me posting for a few days, this explains it.)

Unfortunately Michelle showed all the style savvy of Queen Elizabeth — not good. (Hey! If you can’t say something nice…)

Unfortunately, Michelle also began using drugs and alcohol and did not limit her use until late in her pregnancy. (That’s what happens when you hang out with gang members.)

Unfortunately, Michelle’s father, Ruben, was often blamed by her mother, Juanita, for their daughter’s aversion to the Church. (Water under the bridge, Dad.)

Unfortunately, Michelle is getting a bit fussy, and starting to whimper. (I’ll be better after my morning coffee.)

Unfortunately, Michelle’s commitment to her family, friends and career ties her to Manchester and would not be able to move to Australia. (Island Reef People, don’t you believe this for a minute.)

Unfortunately, Michelle’s prediction proved quite prophetic when disaster struck during the party. (Gang members + drugs = disaster. Prophecy or just common sense?)

This is the best one of all:

Unfortunately Michelle was made redundant in July 2007. (Now that hurts.)

Belly Belly Button, You’re Oh So Fine

I think Sandra Boynton is a genius, and this extends past her clever books to her music. These CDs make great gifts for the 99 and under crowd. My post title refers to the Belly Button (Round) which you can hear here (6th one down).

If you notice, Mary’s hair is slowly filling in. In 10 1/2 years of going to pediatricians, both civilian and military, I’ve mostly felt like just another anonymous face. Except for times of crisis (starving baby), I rarely feel there is the slightest flicker of recognition from doctors, nurses and staffers who have seen hundreds of other families in the intervening months from one well baby check up to the next.

When I took Mary in last week for her ear infection, the nurse exclaimed, “Oh! I barely recognized her! She has so much more hair now!” I wanted to hug her. Mary is such a cutie, it’s easy to see why someone would remember her. Or possibly, the trail of siblings following behind served to jog her memory…