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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Reclaim The World

Lent is ending soon and we can make the best of it by exiting out of our spiritual comfort zone and perhaps the physical one as well and do something that makes us uncomfortable-against our usual split-second reactions. Perhaps we are apt to be unkind to a particular someone or even towards certain members of our family. Resist that urge to be unkind by monitoring what and how we say words. That phrase, 'sticks and bones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me' is somewhat false, because mean words can and do hurt. If you feel like saying something mean just out of spite, say a quick prayer and say something nice about them to their face. Being kind to people we don't like is part of Christian virtue as well as just common courtesy! It is hard to put in practice, but practice makes perfect.  

Maybe we need to start treating our friends and family as if they are strangers? Shock! Why would I suggest that? It is very easy to take for granted those around us and we subsequently become complacent in our behaviour towards our parents, sisters, brothers, friends, etc.. When we are always around certain people like our family or friends, we become comfortable, lax and expect others to put up with our attitudes and behaviours because we think they will always be there for us, no matter how we treat them and frequently, our behaviour isn't charitable, polite, kind, accepting, etc. towards those we love, the opposite of when we are with complete strangers.
More often than not, we tend treat strangers better than we treat our own family! Strangers briefly
enter and exit our lives, we tolerate and show them an interlude of kindness, graciousness and courtesy. Families and friends stay with us as we age (hopefully if we didn't burn bridges or vice versa), we get busy and enthralled with our day-to-day lives and tend to casually cast aside those we love and care about, hence not taking the time to be loving and nurturing towards them. We see them everyday. We talk to them often and therefore take them for granted for them being here. Do we really listen and care about what our parents are telling us? The wisdom dispensed by them is sometimes hard to take. It's hard for most young people to be patient with the advice our parents are telling us. Us 20-somethings don't like to be reminded about things, corrected on our socially accepted behaviour, etc.. because it makes us feel hampered and childish. Perhaps we need to have that humiliation once in a while, to feel foolish for acting as a child. Also, we, the young people, also seem to think and believe we know everything about everything at our age, and when in fact we probably don't! We also tend to forget that our parents were young once and who also felt the same way as we all do now.

If Catholics weren't so self-righteous and arrogant about the Faith and were more kind to those who do not accept it, we could be converting them through Christian example.
So many Saints converted people by their example.
Why can't we do the same?
We all have friends and enjoy their company and companionship. What if our friends or parents died suddenly and you had a particular issue with them and now you can't remedy it because they are gone forever! Suppose you wanted to tell them something important or do something for them, but now you can't because they aren't around anymore to receive it. Then we live a life of regret for not having said or done something when we should've- when we had time and the opportunity to! Many love relationships fail and also families and friendships become stressed because we take for granted for their existence. It's an endless cycle of subtle neglect.
It is a shame, really. Think of it. What if God came down to the world and became a stranger or more fitting, a family member of ours. If we knew that, say, our brother is God, would we treat Him with contempt, anger, unkindness, lacking in charity, unfaithfulness, rudeness, grudges, meanness, frivolous promises, half-hearted compliments and lacking Christian virtues? I think not, or at least hope that people, do not allow themselves to be corrupted with such terrible attitudes!
On a side note, those who are terminally ill and the disabled, are usually very loving, kind, and gracious, etc.. to their family members and friends. Why? Why is that someone who knows they will die from a disease, or those who cannot run around and are confined to a chair or bed, so happy and full of love? That is a question for you, the reader, to ponder.
So, for this last part of Lent, let us all try to be more loving and kind towards our parents, siblings and friends because we will never know when they will leave this earth. If you love someone tell them, don't wait until it's too late. If you have a grudge, or are in needing forgiveness or even need to forgive someone, remedy it while you still can. If you haven't spoken to a friend for a very long time, call them up.
Let us set aside our egos, our self-pride and self-respect and be more giving of ourselves, not only in our good works but in how we love and treat those we care about. Jesus always loves us no matter how we treat Him! 
Let us change the world, by starting with the little things of kindness- to 'pay it forward', so to speak. After all, we may unknowingly be making someone's day better with just a little kindness and also "entertaining angels without knowing it"- Heb. 13:2.
heighten awareness of Lenten fasting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Road Travels

During last several days, my family and I traveled to Clearfield, Utah to visit my brother who is going to school there, and this post will attempt to summarize the highlights of the trip.
Clearfield is one of many towns, cities and suburbs surrounding the Salt Lake City area. SLC lies in a massive basin nestled between towering mountain ranges on the east, Great Salt Lake on the west and smaller mountains/hills scattered all about.
 The adventure began in the wee morning hours on Friday. By the time it reached daylight we were in Northern Nevada and traveling through numerous Basins and Ranges. Between the desolate flat lands, sage brush, tumbleweeds, scattered ranch lands and out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere towns and homesteads, snow-capped peaks, mineral mines and finally the antelope, Northern Nevada is certainly picturesque in an usual sort of way. We were making good time, thanks to the interstate speed limit- of course. Hours later, we reached the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah which are stark white in color and are incredibly flat for miles and miles and miles. Sometimes you would see mirages of floating islands in the noonday sun.

Salt Flats
After another hour or so of driving through this endless landscape and going around yet another basin and range we came upon Salt Lake City. If any of my readers have ever been in SO Cal. or Portland, they would remember the type of driving which arises around those areas. When the Mormons built SLC, they had ease in mind as well as functionality, the complete opposite of SO Cal and Portland...

After we all got situated in our hotel rooms, it was nighty-night. :) I have never been in such a fancy Best Western before, but they sure have come a long ways to make you feel like royalty. Just sayin'.

Traveling at warp speed through a tunnel.
 Next morning (Saturday), we all headed off to a theme park in Farmington, called Lagoon and it was the first one I have ever been to, and hopefully it will not be the last. They had so many rides and things to see that it was, simply put, an awesome day! On one of the rides, Greg and I rode the Catapult which is basically a ginormous slingshot that shoots a tiny basket to well over 200 feet in the air- tethered of course. Now I know what it's like to be an astronaut sitting in a space shuttle after takeoff!

This exciting day eventually came to a close after we drove out to Utah's State Park, Antelope Island. AI is the largest of the Great Salt Lake's islands and is accessible by a causeway which is flanked by GSL on both sides.
Salt Lake City architecture.
Sunday was marked by going to church, obviously. Then we all headed to the Natural History Museum of Utah which is located just south of the downtown Salt Lake City. The drive to the museum was an experience in and of itself.
We ended up driving by the Mormon Temple (which was what I wanted to do in the first place), but there was so many Mormons walking about that for a moment it felt as if we were in Times Square. Crazy, huh!? Seriously, I have never seen so many people in one place before! They were all well dressed and stylish, in spite of the congestion they created. We didn't find out until later that they were having one of their annual general conferences. Ah well.. After all that, the drive was easy!
The museum is located on a hill, with panoramic views of the basin and lake. The tour was pretty cool. There was lots of things to see and do. There was even a chocolate exhibition! Yum! 
All in all, the trip was fun and refreshing. It was the first road trip my family had taken in years.
Sometimes, you just got to leave home and see and do new things and is somewhat reminiscent of Willie Nelson's rendition, On The Road Again.  So get out there, explore and above all, make memories with people you love and have fun!  

Fountains at Lagoon.
Hunters chasing down a sauropod (sp?).
Antelope Island highest point.

The Catapult at Lagoon amusement park. My brother and I being flung upwards. 
Lagoon rollercoaster. 
Bonneville Salt Flats 

Salt Lake City architecture.

 Antelope Island looking north east.

Kennecott Smokestack (about 1,215 feet high) of Kennecott Copper Mine.
"The Kennecott Smokestack is the tallest free-standing structure west of the Mississippi River, the fourth tallest smokestack in the world and the
forty-third tallest free-standing structure on earth." -via Wikipedia.

Clearfield, Utah.


Colorful clouds over GSL.

             Sunset over the Great Salt Lake. Looking west. 

Looking across Great Salt Lake towards the NE. 

Natural History Museum of Utah-Salt Lake City. Bug display

Random Salt Lake City architecture.

The grey building with the spires is THE Mormon Temple.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

*New Art Feature*

*Drum roll*.....are rugs. Below are actual rugs featured on my Society 6 page as well as other great products. 
Mustang  Area & Throw RugCar Show Area & Throw Rug
Golden wheat Area & Throw RugCrater Lake NP Area & Throw Rug
Crater Lake NP Area & Throw RugMountains Area & Throw Rug

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tales From The Hive

Can anyone find the queen in this picture?
Not too long ago, Mom and I decided to take a peak into our beehive. The last time we checked the hive, it was last fall and at that time, it was the hive from hell-literally! Between the bees acting as if they were suicidal serial killers who had no mercy, the smoker that kept on dying and my bee-net which seemed to invite the little buggers inside, made the experience extremely unpleasant.
So needless to say this time around, we were skittish, especially me! Our hive had split last June, one queen departing off into the sunset with half the hive and the remaining queen with the other half. When we were checking the hive last fall, we couldn't find the queen and so we hoped that the hive would survive the winter.
Since the nice weather has sparked an increase of activity in the hive, it would behoove the beekeepers to check it. This time around, the hive was actually pretty calm. After a short while investigating inside, we found the queen! She was busy laying eggs. Our bees are just not one breed, they are mix of Italians and Carniolans. There is actually quite a lot of brood, and the bees have been bringing in pollen already.
This little bee eating its way out of the comb,  is being "born", so to speak.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Interesting Links

Please peruse these articles attached to the links below for advice and comfort during this Lenten season.
A SURPRISING MEDITATION FROM SAINT ON THE COMMANDMENT FROM JESUS TO DETACH FROM THINGS, CREATURES OF WORLD -"...But peculiar it has always been to discern what Jesus meant when He said we are not to be attached to the things or creatures of this world..."
Detox Your Soul This Lent -This post talks about how to rid your soul of distractions.
The Secret of Forgiving Yourself - ..."Beyond this, though, forgiving oneself for one’s failings and struggles is a constant struggle.  It can be hard to know what forgiving yourself means much less how to do it...."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Part 2

In Part I of What Does It Mean to Have a Good Lent? I talked about the consequences of asking people how their Lent was going and also the recklessness of answering these questions as well.

My readers may wonder how they can escape these awkward situations with composure? I have no answer, except that they may try to steer the question away by a tactful approach of which I have no examples. Do any of my readers have such advice?

 I must speak of the possible insinuations of the commonly used answer-“I'm having a good Lent” - in response to someone questioning of another’s Lenten progress. Are they actually having a fruitful Lent? Or do they mean that they actually are having a great Lent in the way that there are hardly any struggles in their sacrifices? Maybe they are just being polite to the questioner? Perhaps they are being a tad bit prideful when they boast of having “a good Lent”?
As I mentioned in my previous post, the person who heard this phrase will most likely become upset and depressed since they perceive someone-else-is-having-a-better-Lent and they automatically think why-can't-I? The downward spiral of anxiety, doubts and fear has begun and it only took just enough time to reach to this point. Again, this is why Lent should not be a time to compare sacrifices or penances. In fact, there is no good reason to.

What is a good Lent?

To start off this piece, I will briefly go over what is Lent. Lent is a season in the Church liturgical year that preludes Easter. Lent lasts for 40 days and is the only time in the Church calendar that is marked by sacrifice, penance, denial, prayer, fasting or abstinence, etc. in order to prepare for the coming of Jesus at Eastertime. Catholics from all over the world will give up various leisurely pursuits or pleasures, for instance: chocolate, social media, TV, video games, gambling, alcohol, meat, etc. to remind themselves of Jesus’ suffering and death and to focus on their Faith and relationship with God. My readers may wonder how this all ties in with, what is a good Lent? Some people judge the success of Lent by how smoothly it went. If their sacrifices were easy and did not cause much suffering then it must’ve gone well or ‘smooth sailing’ so to speak. On the other hand, some would say the “success” of Lent, is “measured” by disturbance in sacrifice, struggle of maintaining penitential acts, troubling thoughts or failure in achieving Lenten goals.
As our parish priest said in his sermon today, that if we experience barely any suffering in our spiritual life then it is a bad sign and we should reconsider to what it means to BE Catholic.
To me, this is why the Church has this solemn time, so the person can refresh themselves spiritually and start again fresh with determination to continue on in the year, much like how a New Year’s Resolution is gauged….
I don't pretend to know much or anything about what is a good Lent or not, but from some experiences in the past I can honestly tell you that a good Lent is only measured by God and most likely the opposite of what we think a productive Lenten season should be. 
The observance of Lent is the very badge of Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.
-Pope Benedict XVI