Houston, we have a problem…

As I awaited the live coverage of the moon crash this morning, I heard the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize winner. What?? In the same breath as Mother Teresa? Yeah, no, I don’t think so. On a list with the likes of Elie Wiesel, Martin Luther King, and Georges Henri Pires? The rocket crashed on my head instead of on the moon.

It seems out of sorts to me that a commander-in-chief of a military that is engaged so deeply in war, as ours is, and whose inconsistent decision-making about it prompts a lot of head-shaking, can be awarded a peace prize. I just don’t get it. I don’t see here what warrants winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Too soon, too fast. Shouldn’t they have waited? After all, actions speak louder than words. What was the Norwegian Nobel Committee thinking?


Favorite Things

It’s Friday…wooohooo! And my baby girl flies back home today….double wooohooo! So, let’s do something meaningful, and fun (or potentially fun – LOL).

Every year during one of my classes, I ask my students to make a list of some of their favorite material and non-material things. I think the list gives them an opportunity to reflect about what it is, or isn’t, they are focusing their time on. I got the idea from one of my writing courses. Anyway, since sharing thoughts, ideas, finds and inspiration is what blogs are all about, I share with you here some of my favorite things, and invite you to reflect on yours. Now, won’t you please share them too?

Some of my favorite things, in no particular order:

– the warmth of the sun on my skin

– watches, especially those that tic-toc loud

– spending time with my family

– rainy days

– dark chocolate

– traveling, everywhere and anytime – hiking in our National Parks – talking out loud w/God

– writing

– birthdays, mine and other people’s

– teaching ccd

– silence

– long hugs w/Danny and Lauren

– sitting downstairs in my building in the morning to read or whatever

– sunsets

– flying with my brother

– baseball

– crossword puzzles

– giving greeting cards (especially for no reason in particular)

– mom’s torrejas (Spanish style french toast)…yum

– reading

– daisies – photography, totally

– helping someone

– long bike rides on Sunday mornings with my hubby

– the beach, and the hypnotic sound of the waves crashing

– the holidays, especially Thanksgiving

– blogging

– spending time with friends

– the feel of a freshly cleaned house

– cats – baby scent

– café Cubano

Your turn.  C’mon, at least some.   : )

Turning Tables

Did anyone watch Hannity on Tuesday night? After the show, I had to e-mail him, I couldn’t resist. He played his interview of Michael Moore, wherein they debated from capitalism to war to religion. Interesting points were raised, and while on the subject of religion and terrorism, Moore commented that he likes to live his life as Jesus taught us, i.e. that we should love our neighbor, including our enemies, and he proceeded to ask Hannity, “How do you think Jesus would handle this?” I was disappointed, to say the least, when Hannity seemed to have gone tongue-tied, especially in light of the fact that minutes before he had claimed to be a practicing Catholic. He went with, “Jesus would have the ability to change people’s hearts,” when what I really wanted him to say was, “Well, Michael, Jesus would be turning tables.”

I’m referring to the scripture passages in the Gospels, for example John 2:13-25, which tell of Jesus’ reaction upon entering the Temple in Jerusalem and seeing the injustices being committed there by the Pharisees and scribes who were making a fortune off the poor in the name of God each year during Passover. He starts turning over the tables of the money changers, gets rid of the animals and calls for an end to that system in an act of nonviolent action, as He is upset at the injustice of it all.

I think for some reason Moore is mistaking Jesus for Buddha, or maybe a Peace Love & Happiness t-shirt-wearing hippie. But Jesus is definitely not quiet, unbiased, or passive in the face of injustice, governmental or any other kind. Love your neighbor? Yes, absolutely, but even Jesus raised a little hell now and then, teaching us that seeking justice and resisting injustice through nonviolent action, is part of loving your neighbor. After all, am I not my brother’s keeper?

Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice.
~ Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
~ Margaret Mead

Guest Post: Polanski – Above the Law? Enough Already!

The following is a Guest Post commentary:

Is it just me or are other people out there flabbergasted by all the support out there for Roman Polanski?Saying so much time has passed, they should just let it be.He has contributed so much to the world of film.He has a new life with a new family. Even his rape victim has spoken out in his defense, saying the courts have done more harm than the actual rape.Now, as anyone who has known me for any length of time knows, I have major trouble with the “turn the other cheek” concept.It is one of my most difficult struggles, as I tend to be more of the “eye for an eye” mentality.All that aside, he committed a heinous act (drugged and raped a minor).He fled the country before being sentenced.What are we saying as a society if we allow this to “be.”Make like it never happened.What’s next?I know society has pretty well much gone down the drain.But, really, have we sunk this low?So much time has passed, it doesn’t matter any more?What does that say to other rape victims out there?

He also paid a settlement amount to his victim.Being that she was a minor, I am guessing the money went to her parents.I have a question, where were they when the rape was occurring?In a report I read, it stated the mother supposedly pushed her child into the photography session.Where was the father?Why are parents not held liable for the safety of their own children?And what is up with all these settlement deals?Are we now putting a price on our children’s innocence?When did this become acceptable?I understand the need to shield victims, particularly abuse victims.Rape trials usually are as hideous as the rape itself.This has a lot do with the fact that society tends to hold the victim partially, if not completely, responsible when someone is abused, raped, violated in any manner.We think, well, she must have done something to provoke it.Or, if she was being abused why didn’t she leave?Ever been raped or abused and then gone on the witness stand and been cross-examined?It is hell.But you come through it, you stand your ground and you come out at the other end of this particular hell a stronger person.It does take a lot to stand your ground though and look at the cross-examining attorney in the eye and tell them, yes, this did happen and it was wrong.Sometimes it is so much easier to just turn away and try to forget it all ever happened. In the Polanski matter, a lot of his supporters are saying it was consensual.Really?A minor consenting to sex with an adult?So, if she said yes, if he convinced her, talked her into it, that makes it right?Am I missing something here?

There are others out there who have gone through this particular hell, or are going through it, and they need a voice.You have to face your demons, if you run away from them, they will haunt you forever.And if we continue to just slap the perpetrators on the wrist, if we say well, so much time has passed, let’s just let it be, then we are saying to the rapists, it’s okay to do this.And these hideous acts will continue, because there are no serious consequences for committing them.Polanski should be extradited to the U.S., sent to prison and serve his sentence.This would at least send the message that yes, you may be into sex with minors, you may talk them into agreeing to have sex with you, you may have money and influence, but it is still wrong and you will be caught, you will be held liable and you will serve your sentence.No matter how much time passes. In closing, I have a question for Mr. Polanski. He is the father of two children.What would his reaction be if this were to happen to one of his children?Would he want the perpetrator prosecuted?Or would he help the rapist flee the country and start a whole new life?

~ by Barbie Rodriguez


Guest Post: A Lesson My Son Taught Me

        I share with you the following Guest Post from a friend who was so gracious to let me, because I think it’s a great message to all. 

 ~    I’ve been meaning to share this but keep getting sidelined.  A few days ago I learned a lesson from my son and hope you don’t mind my sharing it with you guys. 

        Recently I had a day off along with my kids.  I complimented my oldest on being able to pick out his clothes and being able to get dressed all by himself.  I’ve push myself to remember that he is six and although I love to dress him and care for him, it is my responsibility to teach him independence.  My compliments were sincere, but more with the purpose of encouraging this new acquired independence from mommy. 

        A few minutes later I was in the kitchen preparing their breakfast when my youngest son stood in the doorway with his arms close to his body standing tall and straight.  He had gotten some help getting dressed, and asked me how he looked. I looked at him and said, “great Gabriel, you look great son”.  I thought nothing on it and continued to work on the scrambled eggs.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw he was still standing there, straight and looking up at me.  For a moment he reminded me of the toy soldiers in the Nutcracker, hands close to his body and feet together.  It was obvious he was doing his best to stand as perfect as he could as he repeated the question, “How do I look Mami?”. This time he followed with “I just want to look like Te(that’s how he calls his older brother)”.  I made myself stop from my busyness and repeated while walking closer to him, “great son you look great”.  His response was, “no, I just want like Te”.  I wish I could describe the look on his face, he was anxiously seeking something from me.  Those of you that know Gabriel, aka Tata, know that he does not stand still often and even less for a long time.  I then asked, “what do you mean son, how like Te”.  His reply along with his eyes piercing me, seeking a reply so earnestly have stuck with me,  “You said he was beautiful”.  Now I understood.  I of course quickly replied, ask me again.  This time my response to “how do I look” was “beautiful son, you look beautiful too”.  He kissed me and skipped away to play.

        I was touched by this because Gabriel is not an insecure little boy, and I know he is certain of my love for him.  That morning however he felt he was doing his best and looking up with those eyes, that look I can’t accurately describe, seeking approval, love and trying to figure out what to do to obtain the same words of compliment I had so easily given his brother. I’m glad I didn’t brush him off, wasn’t on a call or generally dismiss that moment with “you’re fine gordito, go play”. It made me think of our relationship with God.  How many times we try to polish ourselves, stand as straight as we can seeking the approval we may have seen him bestow on others, or simply that approval that will confirm his love for us.  We go through circumstances where we feel we’ve done less than others, failed somehow or simply have been so beaten by this world that we long for “you’re beautiful too my daughter”.  I know how I feel for my son and the indescribable love I have for him.  How I wanted to make sure I got that across to him at that moment where his eyes doubted it so.  If you only knew how much I love you. If you could only see my heart, and not because of what you did, but because of who you are to me. His efforts to look as good as he could were unnecessary, in my eyes he is my gift from God.  I wonder how many times God looks down and thinks the same. 

        So if today you are one of those struggling to stand straight, with piercing eyes looking up desperately yearning to hear from Him, I can assure He is looking at you and loving you just as you are. This is so not because of what we do, but because of who HE is.   There is no need to busy ourselves with “doing” in order to win His love and approval, we have it by grace.  So receive it, embrace his love and then skip along and go play. ~

~ by a Friend

Prayer Request

As some of you know, Lauren leaves to New York tomorrow morning to attend the week-long October Leadership Retreat in Stony Point, New York. Please keep Lauren and all the teens attending this event in your prayers. That our loving Virgin Mary sees to their health and safety. And that the grace of God instills in them enough spiritual energy during this retreat to soak it up and breathe it in, so they can later live it out. Many thanks to all. : )
header_1                                                     OLR Oct. 2-9, 2009

Travel for the Soul: National Parks List

 After this morning’s post about the National Parks program showing now on PBS, I received an email from a friend curious as to which National Parks we have visited. A short while ago we finished watching episode 4 of this series, and the four of us got inspired to put together a list of the National Parks and State Parks we’ve been blessed to visit.

– Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
– Shenandoah National Park, VA

– Grand Canyon National Park, AZ (South Rim)
– Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, AZ
– Monument Valley, UT

– Badlands National Park, SD
– Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
– Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
– Yellowstone National Park, WY
– Grand Teton National Park, WY

– Yosemite National Park, CA
– Kings Canyon National Park, CA
– Sequoia National Park, CA

– Zion National Park, UT
– Arches National Park, UT
– Canyonlands National Park, UT
– Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

– Acadia National Park, ME

– Glacier National Park, MT
– Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, WA
– Mount Ranier National Park, WA
– Olympic National Park, WA
– Banff National Park, Canada
– Jasper National Park, Canada

– Grand Canyon National Park, AZ (West, South, and North Rims)
– Rainbow Bridge National Monument, AZ
– Monument Valley, UT
– Natural Bridges National Monument, UT
– Capitol Reef National Park, UT
– Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
– Zion National Park, UT
– Death Valley National Park, CA

– Rocky Mountains National Park, CO
– Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO
– Mesa Verde National Park, CO
– Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO

– Zion National Park, UT (in Winter)

– Sequoia National Park, CA
– Kings Canyon National Park, CA
– Yosemite National Park, CA
– Lassen Volcano National Park, CA
– Crater Lake National Park, OR
– Redwoods National Park, CA

– Grand Canyon National Park, AZ (West Rim)

– Yellowstone National Park, WY (in Winter)
– Grand Tetons National Park, WY (in Winter)

In our backyard and visited often
– Everglades National Park, FL

This list will continue to be updated, no doubt. As I sit here and look over this list, I am humbled by its significance to me – the God-given opportunities we’ve had.

Happy travels my friends!


Travel for the Soul: Our National Parks

        Over the past 12 years my family and I have had the pleasure of visiting a number of this nation’s incredibly amazing national parks. Those of you who know us well, have heard our stories and seen our pictures, and know how dear to our hearts we hold those experiences.  

        I wanted to bring to your attention a program currently showing on PBS about the national parks.  The National Parks: America’s Best Idea is a six-episode series directed by Ken Burns, filmed over the course of more than six years at some of nature’s most awe inspiring places – from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska.  The episodes recount the history of some of these parks and tell of the people who devoted themselves to saving them for all of us to enjoy.  

        If you have a chance try to catch the episodes during the next few days.  Check your local cable listing for the schedule.  I hope they spark in you a desire to visit one or more of these God made wonders, and that you get to experience absolute travel for the soul.    :  )

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Photo by CCPerez. Copyright © July  2008  Connie Perez. All rights reserved. 

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you…
while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
~ John Muir

Good Monday morning…and a good week to all.

        During my class on Saturday, one of my students asked me if I ever hear God’s voice.  I said, “No, not literally.”  My student then asked how I can know what God wants from me then.  One thing about teaching religion to a bunch of contemporary teenagers eager to share their incredulity and common sense objections – – it’s challenging.  Above all, it forces an awakening in me like no other; an awareness of that faith that lies within me, as I ask myself their same questions.

        Do I really believe I’m good enough to hear God’s voice everyday?  No.  Do I believe the Lord is big enough to get through to me, to get past my blind spots, to overcome my doubts, and show me His way?  Yes.  That is what I bank on every second of my life.  

        Have a good week everybody.  +

A good read…

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a book signing by one of my favorite authors – – Sue Monk Kidd – – better known for her widely successful novel “The Secret Life of Bees.” She was in town with her daughter to promote their latest book, a collaborative writing called “Traveling with Pomegranates.” They gave an enlightening presentation of this book, wherein they share their perspectives, each on a quest to redefine and rediscover each other.

I highly recommend this book, especially, if you’ve had, or have, the fortune of enjoying a mother / daughter relationship where love burns mutually at the same degrees. If so, I can say we are blessed beyond measure.                              41rvQc6389LSX106   Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story