Computer crash, ads lurking, returning soon…I hope!

computerkittysUpdate:  Hello everyone, I just wanted you to know that I have been having computer problems…my laptop has been in the shop all week.  So please forgive me for not visiting or commenting on your posts.

Also, I was very surprised to learn today that there are ads running on my blog!!!  This was totally unknown to me.

Apparently, a few months ago, WordPress decided to insert ads to assist in paying for expenses incurred by them in maintaining their blogging network.  However, these ads are not visible to the WordPress blogger who is signed into their own blog.

Today, using someone else’s computer and viewing my blog as everyone else sees it, I was quite shocked to see a video ad inserted beneath the most popular post for today.  I am very sorry that my readers are having to deal with ads on my blog.

I learned that, for a fee, WordPress will make the ads go away.  I will be looking into this alternative.

Meanwhile, I wanted to apologize, as I have no idea what kind of ads you have been subjected to.  I am so sorry.

I hope to have my computer back early next week.  Until then, I will continue to miss being able to easily access your blogs….and dropping by to say hello.

Have a blessed weekend!

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Update…Statue of Mary in Louisiana

[youtube.com/watch?v=qH6EtS1fkPI]

(the video above is somewhat outdated, as it does not show the extension of the tarp/ rain shielding installed by the owners, or the additional lighting and chairs. There are many more bouquets of flowers as well.  Also, there are now gatherings of 50 or more people at times during the evening.)

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I recently wrote about a statue of Our Lady which has drawn considerable interest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and surrounding areas. I promised to post updates for those who are following the story.

First I would like to put to rest rumors that the statue has “cried blood” or had blood coming from its mouth, nose, etc.  This is not true.  I have summarized below the facts of what has transpired thus far.

The statue of Our Lady of La Vang has graced the front lawn of the owners for about seven years. On Thursday, July 5, one of the owners noticed that blood was seeping from the left side of the statue’s head and dripping down past her eye onto her cheek. Friends and neighbors quickly gathered to pray, and stayed throughout the night. Since that time, the statue does not appear to have continued to bleed, but has wept on two or more occasions. My sister was present during one of these, and observed the flow of water down Mary’s face. (This can be observed in one of the pictures below.)

What have been of great interest are the pictures snapped by visitors with iPhones which have produced some unexpected views of the statue.

There are photos in which what appears to be a tiny fetus can be seen on Mary’s left cheek. In another picture (see below) the tiny arm and hand of a child can be seen near the origin of the flow of blood. This particular statue happens to be located about a half mile from the only abortion clinic in Baton Rouge.

A pair of very interesting photos (below) exhibit the appearance of the statue when bleeding/crying in contrast to its normal appearance. I have personally visited the statue on four different days. The first time was July 8, when the flow of blood was still very visible. There were only a handful of other people present, and I was able to observe the statue up close for several minutes. I recall the sweetness of Mary’s face and that of the Christ Child. But, I do not remember that either of them were truly smiling.

On subsequent visits, I have found the faces of Mary and little Jesus to each possess the most lovely smiles. The eyes of Mary in this statue are particularly arresting, so full of tenderness and sweetness.

People have been visiting almost non-stop throughout the day until late in the evening. The owners, who live in a modest home on a side street, welcome everyone, and have put out chairs and added extra lighting as well as some protection from the frequent rain for those who stay to pray. The rosary is prayed several times daily both in English, and in Vietnamese.

The owners have also given out hundreds of bottles of blessed water, which are placed at the base of the statue. Visitors are free to take a bottle with them. The statue itself is now surrounded with dozens of bouquets of flowers brought by those who come to pray.

People are eager to share their interesting photos, and the owners copy the most significant ones and tape them up near the garage for viewing.

Meanwhile, the front lawn has been trampled by the hundreds of people who have come over the past 11 days. The owners brought in some sand to cover the now muddy grass. They refuse offers of money to help with these and other expenses such as the bottled water and lights etc.

There is always an atmosphere of respect, peace, prayerfulness and sharing on the premises. People quietly exchange iPhone pictures and tell stories about how they came to know of the statue. They browse through the larger photos that are posted near the garage.
Directly in front of the statue, people sit quietly, or pray the rosary.

There has been no public report yet on the results of the blood test taken last week. The pastor of the local parish is out-of-town on vacation this month, and so far, there has been no word from the local bishop. People continue to come…..

Tuesday Adoration: When the story ends…

Adoration was a struggle today.  I kept fighting sleep.  But I know Jesus understood.  We had a refrigerator incident at my house last night.

I was up alone about 11pm when I heard a “noise of concern” coming from the kitchen.  Upon checking, I discovered that the refrigerator ice-maker was spewing water like a fountain, and it was running down into the fridge and bottom freezer compartment and onto the floor.

No way could I handle this myself.  I woke up my husband, and he worked on getting the water turned off while I gathered towels to sop up the lake that was rapidly forming on the kitchen floor.

Eventually we got matters under control, and the fridge and freezer both got a good cleaning.  But in the midst of this, I heard myself complaining to my husband, (whose alarm was set for 5 am) about how he was arranging the food, and how insane he was to suggest that I just throw the wet towels into the dryer, without first washing them.  (They were “rag” towels from the garage.)

“What?”  I gasped.  And then came behind him to make sure he had dried the interior of the fridge properly.  Then I complained because he wanted to leave the dismantled ice maker on the kitchen island.

While at adoration today, I thought about these things.  They are little things to be sure, but that’s just the point.  I could have washed the towels anyway, without making my husband sound like an idiot.  And so what if the ice maker spent the day on the kitchen counter?

So, I got out my little notebook and I wrote down these things, and next to them I jotted:  “Life is too short.”

I think of that a lot lately.  Life is too short to hold a grudge, to add to anyone’s burden, to not forgive immediately, to dwell on past hurts, to complain, to grab the spotlight from another, to not express gratitude, to not say a kind word, to not smile often at everyone…, and the list is endless.

I used to love to read bedtime stories to my son.  I did it for years, even after he could read well himself.  But one night, I read the last story.  I don’t remember what night it was, or the name of the story, but there was a final story.  It wasn’t planned.  It just happened, without my even knowing it.

And someday, I’ll give someone my last smile, my last compliment, my last word of encouragement.  I probably won’t even know it at the time.  But God will.

Oh Jesus, life is too short to be anything but kind and generous and forgiving.  Help me to be all those things and more, for I do not know when my story will end, and You will close the book forever.

What would Jesus do?

“If there is a divine judgment on unrighteousness, we may take God’s word for it that there is also, perhaps more severe, judgment on self-righteousness.

For those of us not tormented by the appetite for promiscuous sex, a more sinister temptation gleams — the desire to toss and gore public offenders until the last rag of their humanity has been shredded

 The need to be…comforted by the sins of others puts us at final risk with God as surely as if we traveled the fast track on the streets of San Francisco. In fact, our risk is likely to be greater…

The misery that comes from human fallenness typically evoked not Jesus’ condemnation but his compassion. He asked the chance to eat with sinners. Nobody else did. He touched lepers. Nobody else did.

It is a grave mistake to underestimate sin and strive for no-fault moralities…But it is an even greater mistake to underestimate..the reach of divine compassion. Sin is not acceptable to God; repentant sinners are.”

Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
Christianity Today (circa 1980’s)

I came across the above comments when Jimmy Swaggart was enduring his “fall from grace.” These words struck me deeply as this man, of whom I was no fan, was constant fodder on television, in the newspapers and on late night talk shows.

Encountering everywhere, the current media obsession of the past few days, I felt a need to take out the clipping and read it again.

I do agree that public figures need to be answerable for their actions, and that most of them should probably resign, certainly in the current case.

But, I am haunted by the almost gleeful ranting over these individuals. The scene of Jesus with the woman taken in adultery comes to mind. The stones of today are words, which cut just as deeply and can wound a person’s self-worth, dignity and humanity to such an extent that he may never recover.

There but for the Grace of God go I.   May God have mercy on us all!

Let us pray…..

Memo to Stephen Hawking

Dr. Hawking:

I have seen your face all over the Internet in recent days, as your comment declaring that “there is no heaven,” has made the rounds.  You further elaborated by dismissing belief in an afterlife as “a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

As I recall, a few months ago, you also authored a book in which you confidently asserted that there is no God.

I am aware that you are a brilliant physicist and mathematician and student of the cosmos, but I am not aware of your credentials regarding theology and/or observance and study of the mystical life of prayer, or countless unexplained miracles, or perhaps most fascinating of all:  the seemingly instinctive desire rooted in human hearts to believe in a god or afterlife.   This yearning for God has been found in virtually all cultures and civilizations since history was recorded.

I was touched by the words of Helen Keller, whom as you may know could neither see, hear or speak.  When she was asked if she believed in God, she said:  I did not know His Name, but I knew HIM.  In her silent and dark world, she knew God.

What do YOU know?  You know a lot about science, and that’s laudable.  But how much do you NOT know?  We live in an age when we have progressed from planes to rockets and space stations.  Some of us were born before there were antibiotics, and now we have treatments even for diseases like cancer and AIDS.  But, we still have a long, long way to go.

And you have a long way to go too.  Brilliant though you may be, you have only begun to scratch the surface of the secrets of the universe.  If you could live a billion years, you would still be re-evaluating and re-writing your discoveries.  Remember when Pluto was a planet?

Here is a clue for you.  Although God can be found in nature, and in all His wondrous creation, you will not really know Him until you seek Him in prayer, until you invite Him into your heart and your life.  Until you fall on your knees before Him in gratitude for the little that you have been privileged to learn about His amazing universe.  Until you adore Him as Lord and King and the Almighty Creator of all that is and was and is to come.

One comment you made sarcastically was actually the only thing you really got right:

“Belief in an afterlife is for those who are afraid of the dark.”  Yes, we are afraid of the dark, for we long to live in the One Who is LIGHT.  We seek Jesus Who said, “I am the Light of the world…”

May you too grow afraid of the dark, and seek His Light while there is still time.

Lesson from a closet

I have a migraine today, and so while I have been hanging around not doing much of anything, my husband got out his tools and went to work in my closet.  He lowered the clothes bar from 75 inches to 65 inches.  The contractor had installed it too high when we built the house a few years ago.  It was usable, but not convenient.  (My arms did get a nice workout though.)

My sweet husband even took out all my clothes to do this chore, and then re-hung them again after he was finished.  He insisted that I rest with my headache.

After he was done, I was genuinely surprised at how much of a difference those ten inches made, and I gratefully exclaimed, “Oh, this is SO MUCH BETTER!  Thank you!”  And I gave him a big hug.

I could tell by the way he hugged me back, and the proud little grin on his face, that he was happy I was so pleased.

I found myself thinking about all the times I take for granted the really nice things he does for me.  I try to thank him, but we all know the difference between a routine thank-you, and a really heartfelt expression of genuine gratitude.

And, I’m ashamed of some of the things I complain about, especially that he doesn’t follow some of my fanatical protocols in the kitchen:  Did you soak the tomatoes in bleach solution?  I don’t think you washed your hands long enough.  Blah, blah!

Hmm, I wouldn’t blame him if he threw a tomato at me.  Often the people we live with are the ones we forget to appreciate the most.  It’s so easy to notice what they do to annoy us, because they are always around, but we grow used to their kindnesses, as though we deserve them.

I’m going to make a real effort to truly give thanks to my husband, for all his little expressions of love to me.  I really am grateful.  I just need to express it more.

Oh, he just came in from the supermarket with bags of groceries.  He’s fixing dinner tonight so I can rest my head.

Thank you, Lord, for this good man you have given to me.  Help me to see my own faults and failings, but give me the grace to overlook his.  And most of all, grant that I may not permit even one act of love and kindness he shows me to go unappreciated.

P.S.  And Lord, remind me to make him his beloved cheesecake tomorrow.  : )

Make a Difference FOREVER: Have kids – lots!

Remember the Waltons?   I first encountered this show while stuck in a laundromat waiting for my clothes to dry.  I remember how engrossed I was with this large, interesting family and its well-defined characters.  I became an instant fan.

By today’s standards, they would have been considered poor, but the dining table was always heaping with delicious home-made goodies:  biscuits, fried chicken, huge bowls of mashed potatoes, and freshly baked pies.  Yum!

The seven kids were an eclectic bunch, as is usually the case in large families.  It was fun to watch them grow up and develop unique personalities and interests. 

Yeah, it was just a TV show, but there was a lot of truth in it. 

The happiest families I know today are those with lots of kids.  Some of my friends have five or more children.  Their homes teem with life and joy and energy.  These are the houses where everyone else wants to hang out.  It seems there is always room for more.  A close friend loves to cook, and when she has extra mouths for dinner, she just tosses a few more drumsticks into the steaming pot of homemade chicken soup, and whips up another batch of garlic bread.

But these families are the rare ones.  Most people don’t value children anymore — at least lots of children.  We are into the quality over quantity mentality these days.   One or two offspring are usually given the best that money can buy in the way of material things.  They are also enrolled in a slew of activities that make one’s head spin.  Afterschool and weekends are scheduled away with sports, lessons in dance or music, various clubs and community activities.  Parents often live vicariously through their children, and hence the drive for their kids to succeed,  (And crazed parents on little league sports arenas, baseball diamonds, etc.)

But the bottom line that everyone seems to miss these days is that children are FOREVER.  Yes, forever, in the eternal sense.  Immortal souls!  How amazing that God allows mere humans to cooperate with Him in the creation of a person who will live forever; a child who has the capacity to one day see God’s Face and share in His Divine Life.   This is AWESOME! 

The worth of a child from God’s point of view is inestimable.  But people say “two are enough.”  We want to take nice vacations.  We like new cars. We want a bigger house.  We can’t handle more than two.  Some couples deliberately choose to have no children at all.  These folks are usually heavily invested in careers and traveling and pursuing expensive hobbies.

How foolish we are!  When we are old, who will be around to brighten our days?  Who will have our grandchildren?  Who will help to care for us?  Who will bury us?  Most important, who will follow us to heaven?

What is the greatest gift we can give to God?  Aside from our hearts (love) and our wills (obedience), how about MORE PEOPLE?  We can cooperate with Him in filling up heaven with souls who will love Him forever! 

He entrusted this privilege to us:  Be fruitful and multiply.   He could create new people without us, but He chooses not to do it that way.

Imagine how many millions of people will never exist because we said “No!” to God.   

How profound that is:   I was given life, but I refuse to give life to you.  

“Behold, sons are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward,

 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth.

Happy the man whose quiver is filled with them; ………. ”  Psalm 127: 3-5