Archive for January, 2012

Dick Van Dyke, now 86, and Mary Tyler Moore

I’m going to show my age (and sound really old) with this post.

I just read a little news story about a Life Achievement Award given to Mary Tyler Moore by the Screen Actors Guild last night. Dick Van Dyke was the presenter of the award.

They were stars of The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1960s. I was a little young to really watch it and understand at the time, but I remember my parents watching it and I have seen most of the episodes in reruns. It is still a very funny show.

Think about that – a show that’s nearly 50 years old is still funny without coarse language, raunchy jokes, or sexual innuendo. It was clever and thoughtful. What a concept, huh?

Today it’s hard to find shows that I would watch with younger children. Even when my kids were younger it was a challenge but there were some shows we watched as a family, such as Star Trek the New Generation. The Cosby Show and Home Improvement also come to mind as shows that were funny and family-friendly.

Where are those shows today? Do I sound “old”? That’s ok … I guess I am. I just hope that I use my gifts to increase rather than to decrease others, society, dignity.

Thank you, Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore, for elevating us all with your humor and talent. It is a gift I appreciate and I pray God’s blessings for each of you.

Note: the news story and photo came from this page.


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I laughed out loud when I took this quiz – it describes me to a “t.”  Only two don’t really apply to me. I know there are ongoing debates about whether being an introvert = being shy. I don’t think I’m shy at all, but I am definitely an introvert.

Take this quiz to find out where you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Answer each question True or False, choosing the answer that applies to you more often than not.

1. I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.

2. I often prefer to express myself in writing.

3. I enjoy solitude.

4. I seem to care about wealth, fame, and status less than my peers.

5. I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in-depth about topics that matter to me.

6. People tell me that I’m a good listener.

7. I’m not a big risk-taker.

8. I enjoy work that allows me to “dive in” with few interruptions.

9. I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members.

10. People describe me as “soft-spoken” or “mellow.”

11. I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it’s finished.

12. I dislike conflict.

13. I do my best work on my own.

14. I tend to think before I speak.

15. I feel drained after being out and about, even if I’ve enjoyed myself.

16. I often let calls go through to voice-mail.

17. If I had to choose, I’d prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.

18. I don’t enjoy multi-tasking.

19. I can concentrate easily.

20. In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars.

The more often you answered True, the more introverted you probably are. Lots of Falses suggests you’re an extrovert. If you had a roughly equal number of Trues and Falses, then you may be an “ambivert” – yes, there really is such a word.

from Psychologytoday.com

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My friend has spent hours discussing his belief in universal salvation with me. He has patiently answered every question with complete honesty. Sometimes his reply is, “I don’t know” and I respect that greatly.

In my years of questioning and study, I have come to believe that not all are saved. I truly believe “most” are … but it’s my belief that a few hate God so much – hate the Light (John 3:19-20) – that they will stand before Him and deliberately choose eternal separation from Him.

My friend believes that nobody can experience God’s love and resist it. Yet we know that angels in His very presence did just that (Jude 1:6). I also think of the similar experiences of Paul in the New Testament, and Balaam in the Old Testament. Each was journeying and encountered God; Paul was transformed but Balaam would not be swayed. God accomplished what He willed in each case, but allowed each man the free will to choose. Paul said “yes,” while Balaam became an example of error and wickedness.*

For me, it comes down to a simple truth of the very nature of love:Love cannot be forced.

One cannot force another to give love,
nor can one force another to receive love. For love to be genuine,
it must be freely given, freely received.

I pray that all people will open their hearts and minds to Love.

*Balaam’s story is found in Numbers 22-24. He is also mentioned in the New Testament in 2 Peter 2:15, Jude 1:11 and Revelation 2:14.

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I am able to listen to music on my computer sometimes at work. This week K-Love has a challenge on its web page: “Listen to Christian music for 30 days and see how it changes your life.”

I’m not one to think that the devil lurks in rock music or books or movies.

But I do know that even if it’s in the background and is not the focus of my attention, uplifting art, stories, and music all improve my mood.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

Contemporary stations I listen to most often are www.klove.com and www.desmoines.fm  If you like harder rock and/or rap, you might like www.air1.com

30 days is a big challenge … maybe a week is more manageable. I encourage you to give it a try; feed your spirit!



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By nature, I am an easy-going person. Of course I may find other people to be irritating or stressful to be around and I may not have warm fuzzy feelings toward every person. But I very rarely would say I “dislike” any person; I am usually able to see their human-ness and view them with a genuine tenderness.


But then there’s Bill Maher.

I have a massively unreasonable dislike for that man, and I do know it’s unreasonable. He pushes my buttons, brings out my worst, and can send me into a black hole for an entire day, arguing in my mind with his bigoted, judgmental hypocrisy – the very things with which he slanders all Christians in general and Catholics in particular.

Honestly, it bothers me that I have such a strong reaction to him. What do I care what he thinks? What do I care if others find him funny? I’ve been pondering this since last week when my brother sent me a video with a note, “Ha ha, so true!”  I took it personally though I know it wasn’t intended that way, and it sent me into a dark day of discouragement.

I hate the way discouragement and anger separate me from God; they feed on each other and grow and threaten to consume me. I prayed to God to show me what He wanted from me … surely there was a lesson for me, a way He could use it to teach me or draw me closer.

Of course there was.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matt 5:44)

I hold that passage very dear – it is the basis for my opposition to war and my belief in non-violence. Why did it take so long to apply it to the war within myself?

What a simple and profound answer. When I pray for someone – honestly pray for someone – I cannot hold onto hatred and anger.

I have been praying for Mr. Maher, and I’m thankful for the way God used him to teach me, to bless me, to bring me peace.

LORD, I ask you to especially bless today those who do not know you; those who have turned against you; those who are so lost. Each deserves compassion and prayer. I ask you protect them body, mind and spirit; fill them with your love, with yourself … for their sake and for your glory. And forgive me, God, for the anger and hatred I nursed. In Jesus’ name I pray. amen.

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Others are watching.

I feel a certain tension with non-Christians in my life. Several people who are very dear to me gently poke fun at me, sending me Bill Maher videos, links to atheist blogs, and pointing out the hypocrisy they see.

I know that they are watching how I will respond and sometimes I think I do ok, other times I fall flat on my face. Sometimes I understand that they are expressing their perceptions and seeking answers … other times I feel defensive and take it personally, allowing discouragement to seep in.

What is the source of those negative feelings and reactions on my part? Pride, I imagine. Today I am reminded that I don’t need to be discouraged, nor defensive, nor resentful or hurt. It isn’t about me, after all.

I love praying this … it brings me back to focus, back into balance.

The Litany of Humility

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.  
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.  
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.  
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

 That others may be esteemed more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That in the opinion of the world, others may increase, and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.  

That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.  

That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.  

Written by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val

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Thinking of graves …

… and centuries of individuals who lie in them.

A few generations of people can still be remembered as unique individuals: someone living remembers the sound of their laughter, the color of their eyes, their spirit and style and personality.

Most have no one to remember what made them unique; what made them loved.

How startling would this have been to witness?

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:51-53)

Who were these saints? Prophets of old? Were they in body, or spirit, or in the “resurrected body” we will all have? Did they talk to people? Were they aware, or confused? Were people frightened, or fascinated?

I love that little nugget of information tucked into the bigger story. It raises more questions than it answers, but it’s both a promise and a glimpse.

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