Thursday, April 21, 2011

Zeal for God

                As I was ready a fictional book called “Maccabee”, I came across an interesting quote that hasn’t left me since I read it.  “The others, the ones that left, will only fight when they fear they might suffer some personal loss.  Just like the pagans, their god is really themselves.  It’s always been that way.  It’s always the minority who have a true zeal for God.”  The last sentence really hit a chord in me.
                In the Catholic Bible, there are extra books.  I have heard the reasons for this many times, but I would have to look it up again to explain.  Someday I may go into that.  Until then, two of the books are titled I Maccabees and II Maccabees.  My Lenten goal was to study these books and read the fictional account.  I made it through I Maccabees, but not II Maccabees.  I have to say that it was a little dry.  It is a history of the Jewish people and how they battled to take Judea back from the pagans.  The Maccabees are a family, a father and five sons, who led the Jewish people.  Maccabee means hammer.  They crushed their foe.
                The quote comes from a fictional account.  I like the book a lot more then the Biblical account because there is wonderful character development, loss, and of course love.  After their father’s death, he left Simon as the people’s spiritual leader and Judas as their military leader.  Judas was discouraged by many of the men leaving their army to return home even though the pagans still held Jerusalem.  The quote comes from words Simon spoke to his brother Judas. 
                “It’s always the minority who have a true zeal for God.”  I can’t help but put other words into this sentence.  “It’s always the minority who have a true zeal for” country, writing, running, music, prolife….  Really any idea could be put in here.  The interesting thing is when I switch the words great people come to mind.  Those with a zeal for God are the saints, Gondi, Mother Teresa.  Soldiers come to mind when I think of zeal for country.  Writing would have to go to Stephen King, Terry Goodkind, and Danielle Steele.  I got to thinking about my zeal, if I have any.
                In one of our conversations, my son and I talked about faith.  I think I mentioned the quote.  He surprised me when he said I was the most “faith-filled” person he knew.  I laughed and said he needed to find someone better them me for that title.  I will admit that I was happy to see he appreciated my attempt at being a good follower of Christ.  Yet, do I have a true zeal for God?  These past couple of weeks it hasn’t felt like it.  I have completely botched all my Lenten commitments and writing this blog hasn’t been inspirational to me.
                I also think about my “zeal” for writing or the lack there of at the moment.  The truth of the matter is right now I have no zeal for anything.  My body keeps telling me to rest, but I want to accomplish something of meaning.  Instead of feeling like I am on a journey to holiness, I feel like I am on a journey to nowhere.  
                At my Bible study today, I mentioned my failure at my commitments and lack of zeal.  All I can really think about is all of my spring gardening that needs to be done; plus, all the prep work that needs to take place for my daughter’s first communion and my son’s high school graduation.  Oh, and I shouldn’t forget Easter and my middle child’s sixteenth birthday.  My dear sisters in Christ, reminded me of a couple of things.  First is it is okay to fail.  We can grow in failure.  The important part is we try.  I was also reminded it isn’t too late to work some more on my commitments.  Nothing says I can’t continue one of these commitments for the Easter Season or longer.  As for lack of zeal, I can’t remember how it was put, but so what?  The zeal will come back later when spring is over, the gardens are growing, and all of our family celebrations are over.
                Thank you ladies for helping me through and being such awesome mentors!  On my way home, I was inspired by a story idea.  The writing hasn’t left nor has the zeal.  I am just taking a rest.
                Blessing to you all.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Catholic Excursions

                The Catholic faith contains many beautiful practices and beliefs.  One of the things I love so much about the church is the ability to go most anywhere in the world and participate in my faith by immersing myself with the culture’s faith as well. 
A couple of weeks ago, my family and I traveled through parts of Mexico.  In Puerto Vallarta, we took a jeep excursion through the city and the surrounding countryside.  At a stop in a little village, the villagers set up a few tables to sell their creations.  My son bought a few Rosaries for himself and friends.  This seems such a simple transaction, but to look at it a little deeper fills my heart with love.  These women made the Rosaries by hand.  I don’t know if they actually prayed with these Rosary beads; however, I know they pray the Rosary as does my family.  In this, we have a commonality.  In the same village, my husband and other son walked up to the church.  They didn’t get to go inside, but again, they were able to find a common link with the people of the village.  All of us would have loved to attend Mass with them. 
Our next stop was at Hacienda Dona Engracia outside of another village.  I was fascinated by this area.  The first section we looked at was the tequila factory.  The drink here is made of blue agave pictured to the side of this post is the plant and the section of the plant they use for the liquor.  I have never been a fan of tequila until we tasted small samples of the drink.  I was amazed by the smoothness.  It is a recipe that has been handed down the family since at least 1917.
                After the talk and tasting, we were encouraged to look around the hacienda.  I could have spent a couple of days in the area.  My family ate at the little restaurant and had the best tacos, they claim, while I looked around.  There is an area behind the buildings with trails for hiking and biking.  For those who love to shop, a market sat next to the restaurant. 
TheEngracia family has not forgotten where their success lies.  They built an area to give thanks.  I was fascinated by the tiny chapel.  Love radiated from the room.  A familiarity pulled me.  The Bible sat on the alter with the same portrait of Mary that is in my church as well.  The crucifix of our Lord dying for our sins reminded me of Lent even while celebrating my family on vacation.  I went to a kneeler and said some prayers.  I was able to join my prayers with the Engracia’s prayers.
Of all my travels, my favorite activities are when I am able to spend time in a church whether it is enjoying God’s children at Mass or quietly spending time with Him alone.  I have been blessed to enjoy the Cathedral of Saint Paul in Saint Paul, Minnesota; the Basilica in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Mass in Atlanta, Georgia; Everett, Washington, Dublin, California; quiet time in a small church on Catalina Island, and now quiet time in the countryside by Puerto Vallarta. 
Blessings to you all.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Time Struggles

           About two weeks ago, I wrote about my writing dilemma and how I was going to take a week off with family and pray about my situation.  Our week away was wonderful.  I loved not checking in on the computer, researching, and hitting deadlines.  I enjoyed it so much that for this last week with a mushy vacation brain, I have been avoiding the situation all together.  I started painting the living room instead of working on writing.  Now granted, the living room needed painting very badly and I have relatives coming for a 1st Communion celebration at the beginning of May.  They will return for the graduation celebration; plus, more people coming, so the painting is a necessity.  I think of all that has to be done to prepare for both events and my oldest leaving the day after graduation for military training and then he goes straight on to college.  I am overwhelmed.  Writing is the furthest thing from my thoughts.
While praying about my writing, I found an answer.  It is the same answer I hear when I put myself in this panic mode, but it is one I don’t like.  While I was in college the third time, I worked three jobs, carried 16 credits, and carved time out for my husband and son which entailed going home for weekends or them coming to me.  I was attending a college four hours from the town we lived in at the time.  Hum, if I could do all that, why do I question how to do my writing?  Yes I am older with more volunteer time for my kids’ activities, but I still have quite a few hours in the day to work with.
I need to start scheduling my days as if I am in college.  Basically I have five classes.  They are Editing Short Stories, Editing Pursuing Destiny, Writing Hypnotize the Moon, Publishing Communications, and Researching a Saint.  Oh, I probably need to add a short weekly seminar to write my blog.  Geez, writing this just scares me especially with all the celebrations coming up.  It sounds so doable in my head, but writing it seems so overwhelming.  I need to keep praying.
There is a saying I ran across in my studies of writing.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  They applied this to writing a novel.  How do you write a novel?  One word at a time.  I have to say though, writing the novel wasn’t that bad.  The tough part is to sell it while trying to get other work sold and still writing.  I really wonder if any of it is worth it.  Maybe I should just bag the whole thing and concentrate on the hobbies I love to do around the house.  Is writing part of my journey to holiness?  My heart keeps crying, “yes, yes it is.”
Yesterday I wrote up a schedule with all my writing activities scheduled.  I successfully worked on Pursuing Destiny and Hypnotize the Moon, but I didn’t touch any of the other things.  I am not feeling so bad about that because these first two things are what need to be done for the conference in August.  Today I am off my schedule.  I should be doing some housework and exercising, but I thought I would work on the blog seminar first.  I can get that other done later on in the afternoon.
Are you struggling with time management?  How do you overcome all the obstacles?
Blessings to you all.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

God's Start

                I sit here looking at a blank sheet of computer paper.  Yesterday, I kept thinking I need an idea for an after vacation post.  Unfortunately, my brain hasn’t stopped being on vacation.  I feel like goo is coming out of my ears.  The potential topics I have for the day are vacation memories sprinkled in faith or discussing my lack of answers in my soul searching quest to see what to do with my beans and rice (see past blog).  The later seems a bit depressing, so I think it will be memories.
                Our vacation started out beautifully.  My middle child drove the two hours to the airport.  While crossing over the mountain pass, I prayed.  The night before an inch or two of snow fell making the road less then desirable.  My husband guided our young driver over the roads safely with God protecting us all.  Once in town, we took the opportunity to have breakfast with my wonderful brother-in-law and his beautiful wife.  The much needed family time chartered us to the airport in fine spirits.
                The airport threw a kink in our smooth travel plans.  All computers went down in Oregon and California, so our flight from Seattle to Los Angeles was canceled.  The agents in Missoula took wonderful care of us.  They set us up with a new flight first thing in the morning to Burbank and hotel accommodations in Seattle for the night.  We didn’t get to hang out in Downtown Disney, but we came up with great Seattle plans.
                Once in Seattle we were directed to a mile long line due to the canceled flights.  I will admit I am being a bit dramatic about the line, but not by much.  Agents were going up and down the line talking with people trying to make a bad situation better.  One came up to us to see what our situation happened to be.  Within a few short minutes, he had us out of the line and to an agent in another area to get our hotel.  She not only gave us our voucher but she also checked us in for our morning flight.  Hours in a very long line turned into about thirty minutes with another thirty to get bags and driven to the hotel.  What a wonderful blessing all these people were for us.
                We spent the evening relaxing and spending time with family.  My other brother-in-law brought his wonderful family to the hotel.  He also brought dinner.  The kids played games and the adults chatted.  We couldn’t have planned a better start to our vacation if we tried. 
                Blessing to you all.