Day 30

Day 30 – A picture of someone you miss.

I miss Soldier Sally but so proud of her service!

Do you know that less than 2% of the population of the United States is in the military? Pray for our fine men and women in uniform (especially this one…and her hubby)

Day 28

Day 28 – A picture of something you’re afraid of.

Another doozy of a prompt. Okay, so what am I afraid of? What’s the real challenge in the topic? Am I afraid of death? My own? My loved ones? Um. Yes. And no. Not something I want to think about most days, but something very real.

Somehow, though, that’s not it. Even if you were to add up all the years of awakening in the middle of the night in cold sweats fearing for my childrens’ safety. (am I the only one to ever get up to check on little ones’ breathing? I bet not. Do I dare publicly admit I haven’t necessarily stopped? I take the fifth.).

So what scares me?

Financial ruin? Nah. Been there. Done that. Money is just…money.

Public speaking? Spiders? The Boogeyman?

No. No; ha! Nope.

Could I possibly be afraid of failure? I think that’s a little closer. As in, I won’t do something in case I fail. In case I look like a fool. In case everybody laughs. In case I suck and now the whole world knows what only I thought.


Frankly, the real fear is probably a fear of success. What if I do something and succeed, and it was a fluke?! What if I can’t replicate the success. What if after being good then I suck. That would be pretty bad.

Well, if you know me even a little bit you know I’m talking about writing. On the one hand, something that has consumed me in one way or another since I was a kid. On the other hand, something I have actively avoided committing to for just about as long as I’ve known I had to write.

What a head case, right? I mean, I have a blog, for crying out loud. I write all the time…some good stuff creeps in every once in a while, mostly silliness and a good time for my entertainment, more than a few clunkers, and a mish-mash of non-committal nonsense. So what am I afraid of?

I am afraid of my own voice.

There. I said it and nothing terrible happened. Of course, I haven’t hit the publish button either, so for the moment this is just between me…and me.

And God. Oh, and evidently I did hit the publish button, so you, too.

Most days I feel I am an adequate writer. Some days I totally miss the mark. And sometimes I write something and I say, “Wow, I don’t know where that came from; it was clearly the Holy Spirit.” Those are the days that I find the fear most challenging, when it seems they should be the most freeing.

Lately I’ve been working extra hard on this fear of writing. I’ve been working on accepting that it’s a precious gift from God. And that realization has me playing a little with semantics. You see, while I admit this fear, it isn’t paralyzing. It isn’t something I avoid.

I think what I need to do is substitute the word “awe” for “fear.” It makes better sense to me.

Awe is about reverence and respect. I feel better about it already. I respect the written word. I have nothing but respect for people who do it day in and day out, and manage to do it consistently and effectively. To write and move people, now that is an awesome gift. To do it for the glory of God, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

And that’s what I’m afraid of…not fear of embarrassing myself, but fear of failing to use this gift to glorify God, to brings others closer to God through my own experiences and sharing, to somehow squander a gift that has the potential to be awesome.

Because God is awesome.

Day 26

Day 26 – A picture of something that means a lot to you.

Hands. Hands mean a lot to me. Weird, I know. I’m sure there’s something significant about hands from my childhood, but who knows short of entering into some crazy and prolonged psycho-analysis. Still, the fact remains that I am drawn to hands in ways that people are drawn to eyes. (which, btw, I also love).

If eyes are the window to the soul, then hands are the levers that open that window. While eyes are for reflection and observation, hands are for action and function. They are an extension of the soul…the instrument by which our thoughts are put into motion.

Where eyes see pain, hands soothe.

Where eyes see love, hands caress.

Where eyes see need, hands fix, build, create, and love.

My friend, Steve Nelson, posted such a series of observations just this week on his blog. He’s documenting his mission trip to Haiti and posted this lovely series of picture of hands in action. Check it out; it’s beautiful at The Work of Human Hands.

Maybe I’ll write about my own thoughts about hands soon. Until then, I leave you with my favorite set of hands:


Day 24

Day 24 – A picture of something you wish you could change.

Oh, I was gonna be clever and post a picture of my fat Cuban ass. But, the TV is on in the background blaring its white noise and for a moment I caught a glimpse of the footage from Japan and I turned all my attention to the report. Again. And again, as I have done over the course of the last many days. Suddenly my fat butt wasn’t so funny any more.

My initial thought is, of course, I wish there was a magic wand to wave and make things better. Some folks are a bit more vocal and blame a God who allows these things and rage against him, or place blame in unreasonable places.

Whatever the response to those things we don’t like in our lives, the fact remains that we have the flawed human tendency to want to control our destiny, to play gods in our lives so that we can lay out our own perfect paths.

The problem with that is that we are imperfect, and thus, incapable of laying out that perfect path.

I think the root of our discomfort and sometimes even despair when faced with things we cannot control, whether huge like the earthquake in Japan, or personal, like illness or loss, is the feeling of impotence in the face of something out of our control. We think there is nothing we can do, and that’s not quite right.

We can pray, and here’s something that I think I have understood, at least at an intellectual level, and that is that we can submit to God’s will. I can say that not having faced desolation, you know? My home wasn’t washed away, and my family, while a little scattered about, is thriving. But I, too, will face that test one day, as we all will.

So, while we can’t change our circumstances, we can change our approach to our circumstances. The power of prayer has changed things. Produced miracles. Some that I have seen with my own eyes, but more often than not, the prayer for those miracles speaks to a lack of faith, or at least signal an immature faith. That’s the hard part, and surely the part that I personally struggle with daily. This submission to God’s will is huge.

It’s so huge that I can’t see what the real miracles are…not wanting to look to the good that may be inherent in tragedy because my mind and my heart are too small to see the greater picture.

I have little glimpses of this…little moments when I understand, albeit fleetingly, that God’s plan is greater than anything I can comprehend, and it gives me a moment of peace before the next wave of anxiety hits.

I ponder what good can come of destruction and death. I ponder why a small child becomes subject to a government’s bureaucracy instead of the comfort of his parents at home. I ponder man’s inhumanity to man in any number of abuses in what should be the safety of one’s home to all out war and oppression.

And then I see that there is something that I can do. I can counter the inhumanity with humanity. Perhaps in these tragic moments God gives us an opportunity to redeem ourselves by showing that we are capable of goodness. That in making us in His image, we can rise above the depths of the human condition and show the potential of the human condition.

When we pray the Rosary, in the opening prayers we call for an increase in the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. How beautiful to grow in our faith and feel confident that God does indeed have us in the palm of His hand. How encouraging to experience hope and know that things will be all right because He said they will. How humbling to demonstrate charity to one another, as we allow ourselves to love and be loved by one another.

That last one is the ticket, you know. To love one another.

In that spirit, I submit to you the picture of something I can change:

Day 23

Day 23 – A picture of your favorite book.

From my first reading of it as a child, I’ve loved The Little Prince. I’m sure that in my 10-year-old self, the appeal was in the author’s quirky view of adults and the opening scene where the Little Prince wants a sheep, and after many failed attempts at producing an acceptable sheep, the grown-up presents him with a box so he can see what he wants. As a child, I understood, perhaps unconsciously, that to see with a child’s innocence was something of value…and that sadly, adults become consumed with the daily grind and lose sight of that wonder. I wanted always to retain that. I often fail, as an adult, to remember this lesson…consumed as I tend to be by deadlines, bills, and responsibility to a household instead of recognizing my joys in the people who fill that household.

Whatever the reasons for falling in love with the book, it has remained for almost 40 years, one of my favorite books, and one that I reread just about every decade. Sometimes more, if the mood strikes me.

It is a book, among other things, about friendship and love, and how we must tame each other, like the Little Prince tamed the Fox. In loving another we must give of ourselves to that person. The joy of the giving is greater than the receiving. Of course, when we have true friends, no matter how much we give, our loved ones give in return in equal or greater measure, no? It’s a beautiful thing, this sharing.

As I grew up and made friends based on shared interests and experiences, I valued the lessons in the book more. In establishing these relationships, I came to know others better, and in the process, got to know myself. I can’t say that the book has been a guide in this discovery — more like in the rereading I have seen, in the parable, that it captures our natures as human beings. There is loneliness throughout the story, both by the grown-up who was lost in the desert, the only human being for miles and miles, and the Little Prince, an alien in this world. I have felt empathy for both, and yet, they find each other and risk themselves in the discovery.

For a long time, I thought that was it…that the theme of love and friendship was the overwhelming motif in the book. If that had been all, it would have still been a powerful little book for me. But of course, as I’ve grown older I find myself asking even more questions than when I was younger. I can’t really say those questions have been drawn from thoughts of mortality although we do tend to have more opportunities for those thoughts as we get older. It’s more like I have the life experience to recognize that no matter how many questions I have, and no matter how much I seek to find the answers, I don’t have them and probably never will.

Hold on a sec, lest you think I’m depressing myself. It’s more about understanding that life is a mystery. Taken to yet another level, the book is about faith. The book begins in a desert, and throughout the story the characters thirst…and seek to quench that thirst with substitutes for the truly quenching properties of water.

How did I miss that? The only truly fulfilling thing is to drink deeply from the cool waters of the well. I don’t know if St. Exupery was particularly religious, but it certainly reminds me of the story of the woman at the well. Like the conversation between the woman and Jesus was not about actual water, but the spiritual refreshment of faith, so too, is the story of the Little Prince.

At the end, when the Little Prince “falls down,” the lasting image is of a star — that reminds us, not just that he is gone, but that he remains.

Day 22

Day 22 – A picture of something you wish you were better at.

evidently I can't take a decent picture from my phone, either

It does beg the question: why don’t I just practice more?

Okay. Whatever.

Day 21

Day 21 – A picture of something you wish you could forget.

Oh brother. I should have vetted this game better. I already forget everything. Sometimes I feel like that guy from Memento, only without the tattoos. Polaroid pictures could be useful, though.

I’m thinking here, and what I’m thinking is that I couldn’t possibly have a picture of something I’d like to forget. Seriously? Like I’d take a picture of something I wouldn’t want to remember? Or…I’d keep pictures of something I found so distasteful I’d like to forget it?

I’m going to take a pass on this picture, but I’ll tell you what I wish I could forget. About 25 years ago when I lived in Bavaria in what was then West Germany, my husband and I would get up early on Saturdays, swing by the meat market for some coldcuts, and the bakery for some fresh rolls and a pastry or two, and hit the road. We’d pick a direction and just head out to see what we would see.

One beautiful spring day we were racing across farmers’ fields (everywhere in Bavaria was a farmer’s field) and we came upon a very tragic accident in the middle of nowhere. German law required that we stop. Never mind that there were like 10 other cars on the side of the road…one had to stop. So we did.

I wish we didn’t.

I’ve plucked children from swimming pools, rendered first aid at school sporting events, and administered CPR once, not to mention countless trips to the ER for myself and my family…for anything from broken bones to lacerations to burns. Nothing comes close to the images from that day.

I’d like to forget, and mostly it’s buried nicely with the rest of the collection of crap that contributes to my neuroses, but every once in a while if I smell gasoline in an unexpected situation I get a flashback. Interestingly, I can pump gas and even mow the lawn (not that I would) and I don’t have a flashback then. I guess things have to line up just so….

What an amazing organ the brain is!