Tuesday, November 27, 2012

He is Found!

The little guy is back! Praise the Lord!!!!! This morning, we found some food near his cage (we had moved it to the floor and left it open for the past three days) and when we checked his food bowl, all the tasty bits were gone. Just the pellets remained. My daughter reached her hand into the cage and there was quite a bit of scrabbling. Our idea worked! He loves his cage -- it is his safe haven. He's been drinking fresh water and food all morning, and exercising on his wheel. Oh, it's good to have him back. Here he is, taking a teensy break from running to pose for me.

My first reaction was to think of the fifth joyful mystery: the child Jesus is found in the temple! My daughter said, "Oh, praying the rosary really does help!" Indeed. Thank God. I can't stop smiling. I have a little Christmas story to write up!!!

Have a great week. And take joy!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Home Writing Retreat

It started out badly. Migraines. Need I say more? I spent half of both Mon and Tue in bed with my pets beside me for comfort. I took the dog for a short walk during the day and then let her run around in the evening … I was grateful for the quiet. 

I made a decent outline, looked through old pages, cringing at the thought that five years ago I believed the first half was in “pretty good shape.” NOT. Oh, there were good parts (scenes). But lots had to go (summary). I also spread out all my research papers, books, and notes to immerse myself in the period and the story. That was probably the most fun part, just reading and soaking it all up.

Wed. morning I woke up to my normal self. Praise God! By evening, I hit a writing stride. It was fabulous to be able to revise old pages and write new scenes. I had three big writing sessions per day. In between, walks for the dog and me, prayers, goof-off time, reading time. Books are like good friends, always there. Stein on Writing kept me company, as well as encouragement from writing friends.

I had tasty leftovers for the whole week, some frozen food (I can highly recommend Udupi Masala dosa), cups and cups of minty tea, and you bet I helped myself to the kids’ Halloween candy! They don’t realize what a favor I’m doing for them, trying to save them from rotting teeth.

So, did I finish the book? Nope. My grand total – 80 pages revised. I already had 60 done over the past six weeks. I’m nearly at the end of Act II and I’m confident I will reach the finish line before Christmas. It's great having my family home again ... 

The writing retreat ended badly. Very badly. I decided to clean house, including the hamster cage. And I lost this little guy …

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 23, 2012

My Mother, Curry, Purgatory, Thanksgiving and Revision Update: Do I have a bit much on my mind?

This is my mother as a young woman. She died over twenty-five years ago and her birthday always falls around Thanksgiving. Funny story: my mother loved curried vegetables and so the first time she fixed turkey, it was curried. I don't think any of us cared for it (but we ate it). She did the same to broccoli, and for a long time I detested broccoli. At the time, I did not appreciate her willingness to experiment with new foods. We ended up having chicken curry on Thanksgiving in later years. And I prefer my broccoli stir-fried with minimal spices or with cheese or raw. Never curried. And we like our turkey roasted! With cranberry sauce, squash, stuffing, the works. We typically host Thanksgiving and I've always wished she could partake. I ask that you remember her in your prayers. I used to always think she was up in heaven, but I realize I don't actually know this.

The people in heaven do not need our prayers, the people in hell have rejected God and don't want our prayers, so why in the world should we pray for the dead? For the people who are being purified and refined into perfection. It took me a long time to understand why we ought to pray for our dead. I figured that Jesus has already paid the price, and I could never do anything that would even compare. So why? Because our prayers do make a difference. I will appreciate your prayers for my mother. And another thing ... prayers stand outside of time and space, so your prayers for your parents and grandparents might be the very thing that helped them not to despair or make the wrong decision before you were born. I'm thinking how to use this in a book ...  
Back to purgatory. The word never appears in the Bible, but the concept is there.
Mt. 5:48 -- be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect
Heb. 12:14 -- strive for that holiness without which cannot see God
2 Macc 12:44-46 -- atoned for dead to free them from sin
and there are many more references.

Here is a wonderful article that explains the biblical roots of purgatory.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I kept thinking of the first Thanksgiving -- the Passover meal where Jesus instituted the Eucharist (which means Thanksgiving in Greek). And since we'd just made a trip to St. Augustine, I realized that the first Thanksgiving on US soil happened not at Plymouth Rock in 1621, but here, in St. Augustine on Sept. 8, 1565.

Anybody want to write a picture book about this? I have a novel to finish revising. And this itch to work on another book is typical when I get to the middle of a novel, no matter whether it's a first draft, second, fifth or tenth. Not only do I have several new ideas, but I had to turn down a project that I would love to have taken on. The sacrifice! I'm committed to finishing this round of revisions before the end of this year. I'm more than half-done, past page 120 ... so must keep trucking along.

My family returns tomorrow, and I'll be very thankful to have them back, and you'll be spared the musings of a person with a too-full brain.

Thank you for hanging around, for your love and friendship, for inspiration, for just being!
God bless you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Laudamus te

Laudamus te, Advent 2012Although we already have the Roman Missal of 1962 at home, and I already have a subscription to daily Mass readings for the Novos Ordo, when I discovered Laudamus te, I had to get a subscription for ourselves.

We fell in love with the traditional Latin Mass. The prayers are so exquisite, and beauty in all its forms draws me nearer to our blessed Lord. It took me about a year to get used to the Latin (singing in the choir really helps, and it always surprises me that I can understand some of it -- we always have a translation). I realize that even if I do not understand particular words, the mystery of faith remains. Perhaps it even draws me deeper into it because I'm not trying to use my limited human mind. I can't quite explain it. It's a paradox that my understanding is greater with a language I do not know.

Of course, many days you'll catch me singing the Gloria in Latin, so some of it is seeping into my brain cells.

Laudamus te is the Latin equivalent of the Magnificat or Word Among Us. Daily readings. So just like I do both sets of Sunday readings, I am looking forward to doing my daily prayers using both the Novos Ordo and the TLM. I like them both for different reasons.

With the Novos Ordo, I read more of the Old Testament. But the TLM is on a single year cycle which somehow suits my seasonal nature. I don't have to think about Year A,B,C -- there is a sameness that is comforting week to week.

Anyway, I'm so excited, and I hope my first issue arrives before Advent. If you know someone who loves the TLM, perhaps you can pass on the news of Laudamus Te.

Okay, I know most of you have turkey on your minds, but do think about it after your pie.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Thanksgiving Writing Retreat ... Yes, Really!

Book in a Month: The Fool-Proof System for Writing a Novel in 30 DaysSo, I was reading this book last week, and my husband pipes up, "What's this, another fantasy novel?"

Laugh. He knows me too well. I am a slow writer. Methodical. Even scientific. Checking facts. I can be highly distractible. Procrastinator extraordinaire. I don't actually expect to ever participate in NanoWriMo and I suspect many of you are pounding the keyboard right now. I am in awe of you. I'm cheering you on. So although it may be too late for you this year, this might be the perfect little preparatory tool for next time.

But even for slowpokes like me, this is a fantastic resource. It works great not only for giving the idea shape, but also for revising. So while most folks are gearing up for Thanksgiving madness, I am having a *very quiet* home writing retreat with my pets!




Yeah, I know. I'm crazy. But writers are allowed this. My husband planned a trip to Disney World, invited his parents for a longish visit, and so ... I bailed out. I was in the process of figuring out pet care and knew the best solution would be for me to stay home, take care of the furry critters, and write like a madwoman. I've already had a very productive morning scribbling in my notebook.

Can I finish the whole thing in a week? Is it a fantasy? Come back next week and find out. 

Until then, have a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving holiday*. Do eat an extra slice of pie on my behalf.

ETA: I took a picture of my new work area, the entire dining room table, all tidied up! The oak leaves are from our backyard. I love all the color in my kitchen.

*And if you are struggling to balance writing with family and food preparations this week, you have my sympathy. Oftentimes, it's easier to simply put the writing aside. Enjoy your family. Maybe you can plot and plan a family vacation while doing dishes ...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Writing with a Christian Worldview

My interview with Sally Matheny on Writing with a Christian Worldview is up at the Write 2 Ignite blog. I'll be on the faculty in March 2013. And as you know, I'm on fire for our faith!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Honoring our Veterans

We honored our veterans at Mass yesterday ... and I think it's equally fitting to share this quote from St. Martin of Tours, the patron saint of soldiers.

He refused a war bonus, telling his commander: "I have served you as a soldier; now let me serve Christ. Give the bounty to those who are going to fight. But I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight."  But fight he did! For the Gospel and the Truth, with great justice and mercy.

Thank you, dear Veterans, for your service and for the sacrifices you make so that we may enjoy our life and liberty.

Listen to this classic Navy hymn asking to keep our seamen safe from all peril. The version we sing in church covers sea, land, and air.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Enthronement and Consecration

Today is the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica -- the Pope's local parish, from where he guides not only the local Catholics, but also the bishops. It is by coincidence that this is the date we enthrone the Sacred Heart of Jesus in our family. The family is the domestic church, from where we guide our children to follow Christ. We've been preparing for several months now, but more intensely for this past month, by examining our conscience and praying to do this worthily. Just like the consecration to Jesus through Mary changed my life, so will consecration to His Sacred Heart.

This is the image we loved the best because it has the entire Holy Family:

The readings for today are particularly fitting, especially the one from Ezekiel:
"The angel brought me back to the entrance of the temple and I saw water flowing out from beneath the threshold ..."

The Church has stood for 2,000 years and this is the legacy I see. From the domestic church to the Vatican, the Spirit of the Lord flows in the followers of Christ. The Catholic church is the largest charitable organization, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, educating the children, and protecting the most vulnerable in our society -- the unborn, the old, the sick, the dying. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. Lord, let Your river of love flow fast and strong from my heart.

I leave you with this beautiful hymn.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

On Democracy

This quote from H.L. Mencken seems especially appropriate today: Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

How can half the country think we're going in the right direction? Thud! For our own selfish interests, we are going to have four more years of this morally bankrupt administration. This is what we've voted for: in the name of choice, abortion on demand; in the name of mercy, euthanasia; in the name of separation of church from state, erosion of religious liberty; in the name of tolerance, assault on family life; in the name of charity, uncontrolled spending. We're going to have a taste of Europe. Don't people see what has happened there? It's a dying culture ... well, that's what we get for embracing the culture of death.

But I am neither despondent nor discouraged. The election results reflect the state of our culture. And it too shall pass. Prepare for the good fight.

I leave you with Ephesians 6:10-18

Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power.
Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.
For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.
Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice,
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace:
In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.
And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).
By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints:


Remember that the faithful have friends up high: St. Michael, St. Joseph, Mary our Mother. Pray for us.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dean Koontz Interview

Take a break from the election news, make a cup of tea or coffee, steal some Halloween candy, and listen to this wonderful interview with best-selling suspense novelist Dean Koontz. It's about an hour, but I promise you it be worth your time. Shop talk at its best.

Now go write!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Pilgrimage

We made our first pilgrimage -- a whirlwind trip to Florida this weekend -- to attend a healing Mass (from generational sins). The healing prayers were said during Adoration. We're talking spiritual warfare folks. I am so very grateful for Fr. Jose's healing ministry. We will go again. I would love to have complete healing from the migraines. Ironically, I have one now. Sigh.

I hope our family can make many more pilgrimages. The journey itself changes you because it is intentional. Have any of you made a pilgrimage -- to Fatima, Lourdes, Rome, Jerusalem? I'd appreciate if you share in the comments.

Sunday, we went to St. Augustine and visited the shrine of Our Lady La Leche. We prayed for ourselves and our friends who long to have another child again. What a beautiful and peaceful place.

You can imagine the Holy Sacrifice of Mass offered at this rustic altar by the Spanish missionaries. Actually, the first Mass ever offered in the US was in St. Augustine in 1565 AD. There are many beautiful religious icons and statues to lift your heart heavenwards. We all enjoyed walking and praying here. Yes, our dog came along too! 

Most of the people buried here had headstones from the 1800s -- we said prayers for the dead, for the holy souls in purgatory. I didn't know this until recently, but Catholic teaching tells us that our offerings can help souls fly to heaven. Here is a quick explanation.


Remember to vote tomorrow! Many Christians are split on the issue of pro-life/family vs. social justice. They tend to equate pro-life issues with the Republican party and social justice with the Democratic party. But folks, defending life is right and just. There can be no health care, no education, and no jobs for the dead. Death ought not to the be the cure for our social problems. It shows a lack of trust in God's providence. Unfortunately, the Democratic party has aligned itself with the culture of death. It is immoral. The Republican party is far from perfect, but cutting taxes and letting charity return to the local level is the best way for this country to recover economically. Amercians are the most generous people I know, giving of their time, treasure and talent to those in need. Let the government take a role in protecting the voiceless and vulnerable in our society -- the unborn and the old. So, please, folks. Vote with your conscience, a conscience formed by God's laws. Choose life.

Vote Romeny/Ryan 2012!!!

Mary, Queen of Peace, Empress and Protectress of the Americas, pray for us.