Friday, January 17, 2014

The Danger of Shampoo

Just had to re-post this from the Internet for those who have not seen it. It seems to be making the rounds.

DO NOT wash your hair in the shower!!

It's so good to finally get a health warning that is useful!!!

IT INVOLVES THE SHAMPOO WHEN IT RUNS DOWN YOUR BODY WHEN YOU SHOWER WITH IT. WARNING TO US ALL!!!

Shampoo Warning! I don't know WHY I didn't figure this out sooner! I use shampoo in the shower! When I wash my hair, the shampoo runs down my whole body, and printed very clearly on the shampoo label is this warning, "FOR EXTRA BODY AND VOLUME."

No wonder I have been gaining weight! Well! I got rid of that shampoo and I am going to start showering with Dawn Dishwashing Soap. It's label reads, "DISSOLVES FAT THAT IS OTHERWISE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE."

Problem solved! If I don't answer the phone, I'll be in the shower!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

God's Second Christmas Gift to Me in 2013

I know that that 2013 is over, and we are now a few days into 2014. Epiphany, after all, marks the end of Christmas. However, Christmas this year is likely to stay with me for quite some time, yeah, maybe even forever. In addition to the Unsecret Santa gift that God gave to me this year, in a typically generous manner, He gave me a second Christmas gift--and he gave it to me at a special time--Christmas eve--and in a special place--our old mission church, which is my favorite church in all the world. Midnight Mass this year began at 10:30. (We cheat a little because there are lots of children and lots of elderly folks in this small comunity, so we end Midnight Mass at midnight, rather than beginning it at midnight, and we begin with a half hour of caroling, a tradition that seems to have fallen by the wayside.)
All of this is merely preliminary to share that while Christmas eve is always special in our community and church, Midnight Mass this Christmas eve was unexpectedly even more special. It was special because of the unexpected expected. Expected was a full house; we had it. Expected was a feeling of sharing Chistmas eve with centuries of parishioners gathered into our old mission on Christmas eve after Christmas eve; that sense was there, as always. Expected, too, was the presence and participation of Sula, our parish cat (a feral cat who adopted the church and whom the church adopted). Not unexpectedly, Sula, who never misses a Mass (clearly Catholic, as you can see here by her walking over to join the communion line), was sleeping in the creche while carols were sung. She woke up when the retinue of priest, deacon, and altar servers stopped at the creche at the beginning of Mass to lay baby Jesus in the manger. Knowing her place, she yielded to the Greater Authority, stepped out of the creche, followed the procession to the altar, and then promptly lay down in one of "her" places.

For a brief moment, I was sitting in an empty pew near the back of the church. It quickly filled from the right, though, and then the small space to the left was taken by a stranger, someone, I learned, who had recently moved to town. He noticed Sula and, in surprise, whispered to me that there was a cat at the altar. Yep, we are used to that. This is her church, and there is even a cat door that she uses, which is left over from the really old days when cats were needed to chase rats out of the church.Not to worry, I told him. She is Catholic and a member of our parish. She also sits in pews and expects parishioners to move over and give her space; they do.

After the opening prayers, we all sat down for the first reading. Sula stood up and walked in a straight line under the pews from front to back, appearing near my feet. I reached down and picked her up. She knows me, and after all, I am a cat lady; all cats know that. She did not want to sit beside me, however, as she sometimes does. Instead, she crawled over me and into the lap of the stranger beside me. He did not reject her but sat quietly while she slid her head under his arm and went to sleep, sprawled across his lap.

"I think this is a sign that God has forgiven me," he whispered to me, with emotion causing a catch in his voice. He went on to explain, "I was an abused child, and I used to torment cats. I know it is not a justification. It was just my way of dealing with things. I have been so repentant for so many years, and I give money to the SPCA to help them counteract people like I was. Still, I have never been able to forgive myself or feel that God has forgiven me for what I did to those cats."

He stopped for a minute, then whispered almost in wonderment, "I have never told anyone this before."

Why did he tell me? I will never know for sure, but I think it was God's second Christmas gift to me this year, letting me share in a moment of His grace. (He spoils me that way.)

As for the stranger, a great peace exuded from him--and from Sula. She slept on his lap all through Mass. He did not go up for Communion, not wanting to disturb her. The rest of us in the pew scrambled past him, but Sula did not move, just breathed slowly in the satisfaction that accompanies deep sleep. She was still sleeping on his lap when Mass ended and everyone scattered to their various homes. I said good-bye. My last image as I walked out of the church was the stranger, stilling sitting in the pew, alone, except for a little white angel on his lap.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Unsecret Santa

A couple of years ago, we heard about the Secret Santa movement--a movement that seems to be secret in itself. Secret Santas go to department stores around Christmas time and pay off the layaways that are still there. Dozens of people find themselves pleasantly surprised for Christmas when they receive a special call from the layaway department. No one ever knows who these Secret Santas are because, well, they are secret Santas. They work out a deal with the clerks at the layaway counters or with the store managers, pay off whatever number of packages, and then leave. I suppose the clerks may know their names unless they are paying for all those packages in cash. If the clerks know, though, they never say.

Donnie and I became intrigued with the Secret Santa movement a couple of years ago although we cannot be considered well off. In fact, we have to scrape dollars and sometimes even change together to get our last few meals of the month before our next paychecks arrive. (It is not that my job does not pay a decent salary; it does. The problem is that all of Shane's money and much of ours goes to keeping our $3M [so far] granddaughter, Nikolina [see sidebar], alive and smiling. One of only three OEIS Complex survivors in the world, she is now a plucky, happy four-year-old but requires close medical monitoring and special supplies. I will write an update soon.)

While we do not have the finances to be Secret Santas, lack of money has never stopped us. So, a couple of days before Christmas we go to our local Kmart, where we can use our Sears card, ask the layaway clerk to find a package with toys in it, and pay it off. (We figure that if there are toys, there are children, and, who knows, without those toys, Christmas might be rather barren. We also figure that if they have not been picked up by December 23, the parents are probably struggling financially and may not be able to come up with the remaining amount. After the store calls the recipient, we sneak out. It is crazy fun!

This year, though, a lady walked into the layaway department as we waiting for the one clerk to find a package for us. The second clerk waited on the newly arrived lady, who had paid about 2/3 of the cost of the layaway but was short of cash for Christmas food. She wanted to turn in the layaway and get what she had paid into it back so that she could feed her kids.

While the second clerk looked for her package, we talked to the lady. She told us she had five boys (well, there's a challenge), was a single mother, and had just been a little lavish in her desires for the kids for Christmas. Lavish? When the clerk brought out the package there were 1-2 gifts (a t-shirt and a toy or pajamas and a toy) for each boy, and there was a cookware set, obviously for everyone. All together it was more than what we had planned to spend, but it was Christmas, after all, and God is pretty good at refilling our coffers. So, we told the first clerk not to look anymore and explained to the lady what a Secret (un, Unsecret) Santa is.

The layaway clerks excitedly walked with us to the customer service desk, where all the items in the layaway package were turned back in, the lady reimbursed for what she had paid into the layaway, and then all the times were purchased on our Sears card. The customer service desks clerks got into the spirit of things, too, and it seemed like Christmas had arrived a couple of days early.

The lady, whose name we never learned (nor does she know ours), kept iterating her grateful surprise. It clearly seemed a bit unreal to her until it came time for her to leave the store with all her layaway items and more than enough cash in her pocket for holiday food. She gave both Donnie and me a big hug, then revealed that she had not planned to come by the store the evening of the 23d but was planning to come in on the morning of the 24th. She had been returning from work, really tired, really hoping to go home, when she felt so impelled to come to the store that she knew she had to make the extra stop but did not know why. I guess we can all figure out why!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Is Better Than Money? Merry Christmas!

We cannot put up a Christmas tree (real or artificial) because one of our cats, Intrepid, eats all kinds of plants and nearly died once from ingesting a lot of plastic branches. (Thanks to a concerned vet who rushed to our house, he is a wonderfully fine herbivore today.) We can, though, note Christmas in many other ways with decorations outdoors, Christmas cookery, finding fun gifts for colleagues, and shopping for the kids and the grandkids.

Ah, shopping for the kids! That is a relatively new and wonderfully pleasant experience. When they were growing up, we never had money for shopping for them. Medical expenses for Doah and Noelle always robbed us of that particular pleasure, and visiting them in the hospital -- Noelle was there Christmas day for a number of years in a row -- meant little time for shopping of any kind had we had any money to engage in that popular activity.

Nonetheless, we have many pleasant memories from Christmases past. For example, one year we had moved into a new place with a fireplace. Donnie had built a warm fire on a cold Virginia night, and we sat together, enjoying the evening while the kids were sleeping. Five-year-old Doah, however, woke up and crept downstairs. Seeing the fire, he began crying loudly.

"What's the matter, Doah?" we asked.

"Ho-ho burn butt!" he sobbed.

For the sake of Santa Claus's posterior, we put out the fire. Doah went off to bed quite happily, satisfied that he had finished his task of ensuring a safe entrance for the deliverer of gifts.

Then there was the year that we had no money at all. Christmas celebrations of the traditional variety were seriously out of the question, especially since we were moving at the end of December. The day after Christmas, as we were taking our first load of household goods to our new residence, we happened to drive past a Christmas tree lot and noticed that the lot had been abandoned. In the back of the lot was a lone, sickly-looking, leftover Christmas tree. Lizzie and Shane jumped out of the car and delightedly dragged it over to Donnie, who lashed it to the roof. Off we went, pleased with our acquisition, although we got strange stares from passing cars. We later decorated our puny little tree with our traditional ornaments, turning it into a festively proud fir. Homemade gifts in the form of food items were the theme of that year. We decorated the tree with cookies, fudge, and other favorite items of the kids that they removed and ate New Year's morning, the day we had decided would be "Christmas" that year.

Other examples of special Christmas events abound. I will share some of them:
(1) Our introduction to Christmas with kids came when Lizzie, our oldest and at barely two years old too young to know anything about Christmas yet -- or so we assumed -- stood in her pajamas at the window as dark settled around our apartment on Christmas eve and suddenly announced, "Santa Claus is coming tonight!" Oh, no! There were no plans for Santa to come that night! Donnie dashed to the car. It was nearly 9:00. The only store still open was a Five-and-Dime, and all Donnie could find in it were little socks for Lizzie's doll. It was enough to make her happy, and from that day we began the practice of one present per child for Christmas.

(2) We tried to make the one gift something very special, but we could never predict our children's strange requests. For example, Lizzie at the age of eight, a precocious fourth grader (she had skipped second grade), asked for a college textbook on genetics. Her interest came from attending the university Russian courses I taught on those days when she had no school and spending the hour in my intermediate Russian course solving problems passed along to her by one of my students who was majoring in genetics. (He also proudly dragged her to the honors program director, who invited her to attend some lecture-form university courses, where she promptly fell asleep. Nonetheless, the director offered to "enroll" her in the honors program as an aspiring college student, but doing so became too complicated. She had to wait another four years before taking her first college course for credit.) When Lizzie, who did become a genetics major for about three years before changing her major to cognitive neuroscience, received her Santa-delivered genetics textbook, she ecstatically raced from house to house in our small neighborhood to display her treasure, then returned home, plopped down beside me on the sofa, and mourned, "None of my friends like my gift! They think it's dumb."

"Well," I asked her, "What do you think? Are you happy with the book?"

"Yes. It's exactly what I wanted, and I really like all the problems at the end of the chapters."

"What did your friends get?"

"They got dolls. That's dumb!" I don't remember Lizzie ever playing with dolls other than the one that needed socks when she was little, a soft pink lamb that my grandmother gave her as a toddler and that she has to this day, and a monkey that my grandmother made for her out of a sock that she eventually wore out.

(3) One year, no one had been in the hospital all year, and we had money for Christmas! It was enough to buy bikes for Shane and Lizzie, pre-teen and teen at the time. Donnie and I were as excited as children to be able to get those bikes for our kids. (Noelle, who is paraplegic, and Doah, who is mentally retarded, never were able to ride a bike, but they got gifts that they had asked for.) That year, Shane and Lizzie had made no particular gift request, and we played a very cruel trick on them. We hung only the bike-lock keys on the tree and hid the bikes behind the house. The keys blended into the ornaments, and after the other gifts had been given out, Shane and Lizzie had nothing. In true Shane and Lizzie fashion, they looked around the tree one more time and said nothing.

"Did all the gifts get passed out?" I asked innocently.

"It seems so," said Lizzie. "Shane and I don't have anything, but that's okay. We don't really need anything. We didn't ask for anything this year."

"Really?" I asked. "Are you sure there is nothing else?" Donnie pulled one of the keys off the tree and handed it to them.

"Oh, oh, oh!" Shane exclaimed, "We have a bike!" Clearly, he assumed that Lizzie and he would be sharing.

"Go look out behind the house," Donnie suggested, and they took off running. We regretted not taking a camera with us when we saw the look on their faces when they caught sight of TWO bikes! They were extraordinarily understanding kids. They knew what it had taken for us to gather the money for two bikes, and they were grateful to us every time they rode them. That was a special Christmas. Donnie got a bike the following Christmas, and for years the three of them would ride together on Saturdays while I spent the day with Noelle and Doah.

The most special Christmas, though, was not one when we had money for gifts but one when we did not. It came two years after the bike Christmas. That year, multiple surgeries drained our coffers dry. Fortunately, we had an artificial Christmas tree with which a relative had gifted us a few years earlier, so we put up the tree and decorated it. Christmas eve ultimately came, and we knew we had nothing for the children. Donnie and I contemplated another year of cookies and fudge, but before Donnie got down to cooking (something he had to do alone -- I am such a bad cook, I would have wasted the ingredients in preparing inedible foodstuffs), one of us -- I don't remember which -- had a scathingly brilliant idea, to quote Hayley Mills' character in The Trouble with Angels. Donnie had by then begun working as a computer graphist, and we conceived of making coupons for each of the kids for one-on-one activities with Mom or Dad: a snack at McDonald's, a special lesson in one of our specialties, private walks, an activity that the child would choose, and so on. Each child received a book of twelve coupons that could be redeemed at will during the year. They loved them, and they used every one of those coupons! That year remains our favorite. In spite of our annually increasingly brighter financial status, no year matched that one for that year Christmas lasted not one day but twelve months.

The end
: As I was writing this post, nostalgia made me turn to Donnie and start reminiscing about that very special Christmas. We want to repeat it. So, we have just decided to give our children and grandkids coupons for future joint activities this year. As for the money we had set aside for gifts, we are now excitedly planning how to get rid of it and have scads of ideas about where to distribute it. I will add a PS later, once we have decided where it will go.

Oh, this year is going to be such a great Christmas!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday Morning Meditation #32: Multiplication, God's Way

This week I moved from I Kings to II Kings and wandered into the story of Elisha coming to Gilgal when there was a famine in the land. To a gathering of 100 men with Elisha, a man from Baal-shalishah brought Elisha 20 loaves of barley and fresh ears of corn, who told his servant to give them to the 100 men. The servant asked how on earth these few loaves would feed 100 people, and Elisha responded, "Give the people, that they may eat; for thus saith the LORD: They shall eat, and shall leave thereof." And that is exactly what happened. In a foreshadowing of the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes with five fishes and two loaves and having baskets left over, not only were the people fed, but also there was leftover.

Reading: II Kings 4: 38-44
Meditation: Whenever I hear these stories of God multiplying resources, whether it be loaves of bread or, as earlier in Kings, vessels of oil, I am reminded of so many times when God has has multiplied resources in order to help me and my family, for which I feel immense gratitude. We may live in an imperfect world, in which free will, running rampant, can result in some very bad things happening -- and then watching God bring good out of the bad is highly reassuring. Experiencing the multiplication of resources is about as awe-inspiring as it gets. Since the morning is very early and I do need to get some sleep before heading out to work, I will give only one example, but it is, for me, a powerful one and a bit complex.

After returning to California from Jordan a few years ago, we received an e-note from our tax accountant, informing us that the IRS determined that we had underpaid our taxes by $11,000, based on income from Jordan that we had not thought was taxable but was. The very next day a bill from the IRS stood proudly in our mailbox. "Due immediately" was stamped across it.

Ha! Fat chance in ___! We had just finished moving, and while the majority of our moving expenses had been covered by my new employer, many unanticipated expenses had not been covered. To complicate matters, we had moved all our savings from our bank in Jordan to Shane’s account in the United States to facilitate our return. Our safety valve of $14,000 had us resting easy until the greedy hand of a hospital accountant, unbeknownst to all of us, requested court permission to search Shane’s bank accounts for additional money in order to increase the rate at which he was paying off the costs of the five kidney surgeries of Nathaniel, our grandson. Lo and behold, during the exact two-month period that we were using Shane’s account to hold the money until I was back in the United States and could transfer the money to my own account, the additional $14,000 was found in Shane’s account and without any notice to him, our entire savings at that time was withdrawn by the hospital. All our income had dissipated or been used to cover moving expenses. Now, Uncle Sam wanted $11,000!

Our tax accountant was able to get us a six-week delay, no more. Six weeks to find a spare $11,000 while finishing moving from overseas back to the United States and trying to set up housekeeping, a major one-time expense in itself, turned out to be too great a task for my overwhelmed brain. So, I did what I always do now. I left it up to God. My trust was so complete that I asked only once. Then I put the problem out of my mind, continuing on happily with my daily life, confident that some unique response would come before the end of the six-week period as it always had. It did.

A few days after asking God for help, I received a letter in the mail from Indiana University, where I had worked five years earlier in an interim position. The letter in my hand concerned my retirement fund. I had such a small retirement fund with the university that I had actually forgotten about it. Fortunately, the university had not. According to the letter, all individuals no longer on payroll needed either to take out the retirement funds or roll them over into a retirement fund external to the university immediately. I called the fund, and the amount available for take-out, minus (of course) taxes, gave me 50% of what I needed for the IRS. God had rescued me yet one more time.

The other 50% owed, I was certain, would show up before the end of the six-week period. God had never before left me hanging at half-mast. Sure enough, a week later, a quarterly summary from another retirement fund at another institution, where I worked years earlier, arrived in the mail. I had put that particular fund out of mind because it had taken a big loss years ago. According to the recent statement, though, it still had most of the dollars that had been invested from my pay checks tucked away in it, earning a penny here and there in interest. Those dollars would cover another 40% of what was owed. I called the fund. A very kind gentleman agreed to close my account and send me those much-needed dollars. He could not give me a precise amount but thought it would be close to the amount in the current quarterly summary that I had received in the mail. He explained that I would have to wait for the stock market results at the end of the day, which would determine the precise amount to be disbursed. I would receive whatever the fund was worth at that time, most likely the amount he had just cited to me.

We were close! Clearly, we would not be trapped in IRS hell or married to the IRS for eternity. The remaining 10% would show up somehow. If necessary, I could eke it out of my salary or borrow it from someone.

As it turned out, there was no need to worry about the remaining 10%. The stock market leaped upward over the next few hours. Donnie said he thought it might have been due to the release of iPods on that day —- some of our stock was in technology.

On January 11, we received considerably more than we expected. The amount allowed us to pay off the IRS debt in full on the 12th, the last day of our extension. It also paid our tax accountant’s bill in full. Moreover, after paying all those with their hand held out, we found an additional $400 in our basket. What to do with that? The answer was obvious. That was God’s money. He had over-multiplied our resources, so I compelled to return it to God. (I gave it to Fr. Barry, the director of our local Franciscan retreat center; he was probably amused when I explained that the source of the money was a mathematical miscalculation by God. Actually, I don't think there was any miscalculation; the retreat center really needed that money because their main building had burned down and needed to be re-built.)

And that is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I retire to prayer, to thank God for the ongoing ways in which He keeps my bread basket full just when they are beginning to look empty, to ask Him to help all others who have empty or emptying bread baskets, and to praise Him for that fact that He really can do this, while still allowing free will to reign. After that, I will spend as much time as I can in contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.

I will now leave you to your prayer and contemplation, but first, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:

Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I hope you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts.

For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs that follow the enumeration of Monday Morning Meditations on the sidebar of this blog and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.

Monday Morning Meditation #31: Do Not Cause My People to Sin

This Monday is beginning a bit ineptly. I wanted to get up early; I overslept a little -- not enough to miss out on my prater time but enough perhaps to run out of time to share it with you. I had two loads of laundry to run through before going to work; only one load will make it. (So, do I wear clean underwear and inappropriate clothes, or the other unthinkable combination? I chose the clean underwear -- even though no one sees it!) Fortunately, no need to think about breakfast; my current diet allows only cereal and milk, quick enough to gulp down in five minutes. Donnie casually asked what time I am leaving for Hawaii tomorrow; dunno. I also don't know yet which airline or airport. Will figure that out today. And, the thought is nagging at the back of my mind that my friend, whom my boss forced me to take as a junior manager and who failed as such, never got fully fired on Friday because she ran off on sick leave, then appeared at my boss's office on another issue. I have not been able to reach him to find out if he told her she is being fired by her current supervisor, a senior manager who works for me and with whose decision I concur, from her current position in my organization (he has to help find another position for her -- I looked for something as well).

In any event, I did not have to read far to find something that really struck me today. In the very next chapter, in the very next verse, actually, I came across the story of Baasa, who caused Israel to sin and ignited the ire of God, who smote him, wiping out him, his whole family, any progeny, and all his potential glory as a ruler. Goodness gracious, these Old Testament stories hit home for me!

Reading: I Kings 16: 1-20

Meditation: The story of Baasa opened old sorrows for me. When I first came to faith (at a very late date, I might add), one of the things that I realized with a good deal of sadness was the number of people I had led away from God. Had it been only my family that would have been sad enough, but I had always held leadership positions and had always been outspoken in my atheism. Never pushy, but open about my opinions on just about anything, including what I considered to be an accurate understanding of the non-existence of God. This really confused Americans I had brought to Jordan to teach at a university there. Overwhelmed by the great differences between American and Jordanian life styles, the bridge between which I tried to be for them, they would turn to me for all kinds of physical and emotional help. I earned the title, "God's agent in Jordan." When they found out I was an atheist, they were lost as to what was going on. Only one persevered in not accepting my atheism. He called me "a believer in waiting." Still, as a senior leader in several different positions, working literally on a global scale, I had the opportunity to influence the thinking of many people. Especially younger ones took me on as a role model in far too many cases, a role model that included giving up their faith and accepting my atheist ways. (I was not immoral or unethical -- Donnie says I was "brutally ethical" -- but all decisions were made based on secular ethical systems, not on any thought of God or God's will.)

After coming to faith, I was immensely remorseful for "stealing" people's faith from them. I know God has forgiven me. I know that strong faith won't bend to atheism. I know that God will make right what I put wrong. Still, the remorse is there. Most days now I don't think about it because it is in the past, and it is in God's hands. However, when I read stories like these from the Old Testament, I cannot feel good about who I was. I can only feel grateful for God's grace in the matter.

And that is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I must run to work, already having finished my prayers for this morning, which I did before retiring, instead of after, today because of the limited time available (and look h ow good God is -- I did finish writing before having to leave for work!). A brief description of the non-private contents of those prayers: I asked, no begged, God to let me help Him put right what I put wrong, something I often do; repented -- oh, how often and sincerely I do! -- for those times in the past that I cannot go back and re-live and did so much harm to so many people; thanked God for those times in which I have been allowed to meet individuals who have re-found their faith after my devastating earlier negative influences on them; and gave praise for the wonderful grace that forgives and forgives and loves and loves. After that, I spent an all-too-brief time in contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.

I will now leave you to your prayer and contemplation, but first, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:

Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I hope you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts.

For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs that follow the enumeration of Monday Morning Meditations on the sidebar of this blog and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.