My Mom is Cooler Than Me

My entire family is populated with wildly different people, and boy are they talented.

Mom & Pop

My father is the most hilarious professional photographer you have ever met. I seriously cannot remember a single conversation we have ever had that did not include a joke, and I have never seen him angry.

My brother is perhaps the funniest person alive, every conversation with him hurt my stomach with laughter. I have no idea how he does it, but any conversation with him is like a night at the improv.

My sister is an absolutely gorgeous flight attendant, constantly hopping around the country. It’s funny to constantly be getting calls from God knows where in the middle of the night about some great story about life on a plane.

Speaking of planes, my grandmother is a pilot, and an amazing artist. Be it stone or canvas, she has had her work in galleries for years. I just wish I could afford her stuff!

Where did these people come from? How was I born into such a strange family?

The worst is my mother.

Now I would not normally use “worst” and “mother” in the same sentence, especially about my mother, but you have got to see her to believe her. First of all, she looks young. seriously young. Last time she came up, we went out for coffee, and the owner of the coffee shop, a friend of mine, was so excited to meet my wife. No one has ever thought she was my mother, most think she’s my sister. She often feels more like a sister than a mother too, we are very good friends.

Now I could go on for an hour about all the interesting things she does, president of the local businesswoman’s club, newspaper reporter, crafts galore, business trainer, but to really illustrate my point, I’ll talk about her band.

Mom's Old Band

Yes, you heard me right, my mother is in a band, and not just any band. She is in one of the top cover bands in Northern California. Last year, I think they played over a hundred shows. Guys, that’s like a show every three days, it’s crazy. She is the lead singer and sometimes bass player, and my dad has the meanest sounding harmonica that you have ever heard.

Now, I must admit, my parents are both cooler then me.

While I’m quietly sitting at home studying scripture, with my lovely wife cross stitching away, and kids quietly reading a book, my parents are out rockin it like super stars. I’m not sure if I just think it’s silly, or if I’m jealous. One never expects to be boring when compared with your mother!

Mom's New Band

I will say this though. The kids think it’s pretty awesome to have a rock star grandmother.

If you would like to learn more about my mother,feel free to check out her blog at: Lulu’s Cottage

Alarm Clock Ping Pong

Ugg. I am not a morning person. All you morning people make my head spin with confusion. Why would you possibly get up before eight o’clock if you weren’t forced to by some evil villain bent on ruling the world?

When I wake up in the morning and see the light shining through the windows, I know what is really going on. God has brought out the holy flashlight. I imagine Him sneaking into my room, shining His flashlight at me and belting out as only a father can,

“What you doing out of bed boy?!”

Nope, I don’t like mornings. My lovely bride starts work at 8:00 though, so get up we must. I don’t quite have to get up that early though, because I work from home, so she usually gets up at 6:45 and I usually get up at 8:00. It’s not fair, but for some reason I’m okay with that. So to facilitate this fabulous arrangement, we each have our own alarm clocks.

Enter Lent.

Yes, I know I should at the very minimum get up with my wife. She doesn’t have the benefit of working from home like I do, so it seems rather unfair. So of course, it’s one of my Lenten goals to actually get up in the morning, say around seven o’clock.

That is not what has happened yet. It works out the same way every morning.

Her alarm clock goes off at 6:45, she hits snooze, we snuggle for five minutes, it goes off again. Another snooze, another five min, and the next time she hits snooze, get up, and hops in the shower. Mine starts to go off at 7:00, and I start my snooze relay.

Did you see me miss something there? Oh yes, something was most definitely missed, but if you look close, it wasn’t me who missed it. She just hit snooze again, and didn’t turn her’s off. Now she’s in the shower, singing her favorite hits from the eighties, and her alarm is going off full bore.

Arrgh! So I roll the thirty yards across my bed to get to the clock while my room starts to sound more like a fire station as this bell will not stop ringing. I finally slap my hand down on the thing, but by this time, I’m so exahsted from all the effort to make it to the other side of the bed, that I collapse back into sleep.

Then mine starts going off. Aaaahhh! I hate noise! Kill the thing, kill it! So again, I race to the other side, by now rolled up like a burrito in our comforter with only one arm hanging out, slapping out in the general vicinity of the loud thing.

This goes on for at least half an hour. Back and forth like a ping pong ball. See?

Mornings are evil.

Prayer of Death

So I’m about to head out on my weekly round to the nursing homes, and I’m suddenly reminded of my first service I was a part of for a retirement community. One of our die-hard parishoners was leading the service, and she asked me to read the prayer she always read right after communion. It was a special prayer to this community, but I did not know that at the time. Here goes.

“Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.
Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often.
Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life, and without You, I am without fervor.
Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light, and without You, I am in darkness.
Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.
Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You.
Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You very much, and always be in Your company.
Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.
Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I wish it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of Love.
Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and life passes, death, judgement, eternity approaches. It is necessary to renew my strength, so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You. It is getting late and death approaches. I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows. O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile!
Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all its dangers, I need You.
Let me recognize You as Your disciples did at the breaking of bread, so that the Eucharistic Communion be the light which disperses the darkness, the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.
Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You, if not by Communion, at least by grace and love.
Stay with me, Jesus, I do not ask for divine consolation, because I do not merit it, but, the gift of Your Presence, oh yes, I ask this of You!
Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for. Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.
With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity.
Amen” – St. Padre Pio, OFM Cap.

Now let me say right off this prayer is beautiful. I was just unprepared for all the “end of life” talk. It caught me off guard. As I’m reading it, trying to be full of expression, in my head I’m crying out, “Holy Cow! Why am I reading all this stuff about death to these poor people who are so near to it!”

I felt insensitive, rude, callous.

No one seemed to react to me though, and over the last six months, as I have read this prayer over and over again, and lost several wonderful people in the community, I have found such deep consolation in this prayer.

Yes, they are close. They are truly looking into the abyss, and are searching for hope. I am amazed by the courage they show, to look it in the face, see death’s approach, and bear it with gentleness and humor. I truly hope that near my end, those who love me don’t shy away from what is near. I want to be prepared.

I’m not afraid to talk and pray about death anymore, thanks to this wonderful community.

St. Joseph, please grant me a happy death.

Bishop Ain’t No Fool

So yesterday was the first Sunday of Lent. I don’t know what it is, but the church is always packed on the first Sunday of Lent. People just seem to come out of the woodwork.

The first Sunday of Lent is also the day that the entire diocese has to read the bishop’s appeal to fund the diocese for the year.

Coincidence? I think not.

There are many reasons why the first week of Lent is very appropriate. First of all, I mean, it IS Lent. Shouldn’t we have to talk a little about our charity? Of course we should. Doesn’t the diocese need support? You bet it does. Don’t we all have a duty to help support it? I certainly feel we do.

It shows a deep level of sophistication too. I mean, the bishop never makes his appeal for dough on Ash Wednesday. There simply aren’t enough people showing up to fill the coffers. For the same reason, you won’t see it the week before Lent, there just aren’t enough people actually there.

No, the bishops choose this day, because it just makes good financial sense, without crowding out the too important holidays, like Easter or Christmas.

This is of course, a brilliant move, but it begs the question, “Why if we can be so thoughtful and methodical about cold hard cash, can we not use that same sense of reason for the spiritual health of our people?”

First off, let me say that my bishop is phenomenal, and many other bishops across the county are as well, but on the whole, it is uncommon that I see bishops really using the same amount of thought and energy towards the spiritual health of their dioceses as they do for the almighty dollar. I know the dollar is important, don’t get me wrong. We need to keep the diocese running, but can’t the diocese just hire smart folks to do that? Yes, the bishop needs to make the end decisions, but does it really need to take so much time that most of their diocese only gets to see them once every couple of years?

This is one of my great concerns. I have a deep and sincere love and respect for the office of bishop. I feel honored that God loves us so much that he sent us shepherds to watch over us for all time.

I just wish they would take the time to be more like shepherds, and less like accountants. I have an accountant. We can hire administrators. These people can be found anywhere.

There is only one bishop.

I highly doubt my little blog will ever be read by a bishop, but just in case it is, here are my two cents your excellency.

My Beloved Bishop

We love you and we need you. Please hire great people to run the diocese, but we need you pastorally. We need to see you, to know you are really present, and really care. You are our connection to the rest of the Church, and without your presence, we have great lack, and great division.

Be bold, be present, be faithful, and we will follow.

Health is Not a Virtue

Seriously.

Yes, health is good. Health is fabulous. Feeling good is rather nice.

But it is not a virtue.

Now I’ll be the first to say, I love being healthy. In fact, my entire business centers around health. I live and breathe to help people lose weight, sleep better, have more energy, basically get their health to a more pristine level. It’s what I do for a living, and is a very real mission in my life.

But it’s not a virtue!

Society seems to disagree with me fully on this one. In fact they have replaced all the very real virtues, Prudence, Justice, Restraint, Courage, with health.

Have you noticed? Every magazine on the shelf is telling you the newest exercise to flex those buns of steel, get that six pack abs so hard that you can bounce quarters off of them, and run until you knees give out. Drink more water, eat less carbs, stop eating junk food, go organic, free range meat, and the list goes on and on and on.

The physically healthy are our heroes now, not the virtuous, the wise, the elderly. Gone are the days when you looked with respect at a man just because he was a good man, now he cannot really be all that good if he’s not also built like a roman centurian. A woman can be a model of kindness, but unless she has the figure of a 15 year old, there must be something wrong with her. It’s insidious.

No culture can stand without having some virtues to look up at, to uphold as an ideal. But have you ever noticed that things are darkest when they are almost true? Health is awesome, but let’s face it, it’s not awesome when you can sleep around with anyone you like, ignore your elders, be rude to people in general and barely pay attention to your kids.

Now let’s be clear, I’m not telling you to sit on the couch and eat bon-bons all day, good health certainly has it’s place. All I’m saying is never let your good physical health become more important than your moral and spiritual health.

I fear health has become the god of the secular.