Questions and Answers

“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” – James Thurber

Isn’t that a great quote?

As a reader and a writer, I understand the need to have questions answered.

So Many Questions, so Few Answers!

We all begin reading a book with many questions. What is this about? Who are the characters? What will happen to them? What obstacles will they face and overcome? How will this end? At the end of the book, if it’s a book worth reading, those questions are all answered to a satisfying degree. Unless the story ends on a cliffhanger to be picked up in the next book, we are unsatisfied if we don’t have answers. We want and need more. We need all the answers.

Life is a journey on which we grow, learn, discover, and become. We begin that journey with many questions. Who am I? What is my purpose? What should I do? Where should I go? Where will I end up? The questions are large, small, simple, and complex; and often, the answers we discover lead to more questions. We long for answers and tidy endings, but life is not a book!

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Be Prepared – A Reminder

Much of the following blog was written in 2020, but it could have been written this week. The message resonates now with just as much meaning as back then.

It was an ordinary Monday in an extraordinary year when a tree beside our house was struck by lightning. It was scary. The entire house shook from the sound akin to a sonic boom, and a red-orange light filled every room, like a giant fireball hurled through the windows. We knew lightning had struck nearby, but we didn’t know where. It was raining too hard to go outside and look around, and everything in the house seemed okay, so we surmised, perhaps it wasn’t as close as we thought.

That evening, we all sat down together to watch a holiday special on TV, and we had no signal. The Tivo was working. It told us what channel was on and what program we should be seeing on the screen, but all we saw was a message that there was no channel available. We checked the other televisions in the house and found that we had no stations on any of them. Ken went outside with a flashlight and found that the antenna was still there, so he checked the booster in the garage where the signal comes into the house. The booster was dead. We were not at all prepared for lightning to strike.

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Friends In Real Life

If there’s anything I cherish as much as I love and cherish spending time with my family, it’s spending time with friends. I think it’s something that people today don’t appreciate enough. When one can brag about having close to 1000 friends on Facebook, and the number of followers on Instagram is more important to them than the number of minutes spent face-to-face with live people, then there’s something very wrong with our world.

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Lessons From the Sea

Our family has always had a fascination with sea glass. Though we spend more time in the mountains, and I’ve never been a beach person, we love walking along the shoreline, searching for brightly colored pieces of time. It’s a peaceful, calming act in a world of noise and chaos. That was how we spent the last day of our vacation, and it was the perfect ending to an adventurous week!

My sister-in-law makes amazing jewelry, pictures, and other items from sea glass, so we’re always on the hunt for unique pieces and colors. Not to mention, the girls and I love sea glass earrings and necklaces!

Besides the beauty of the glass and serenity of the hunt for them, I think there are some lessons to be learned from these small fragments of glass that would serve us all well.

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What is Your Treasure?

“But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God”(Luke 12:21).

We heard these words in Sunday’s Gospel just before leaving on our summer vacation. Vacations are sacred to us, treasures to be kept in our hearts and cherished. They aren’t tangible, and they can’t be stored physically, but they are precious gifts that we always look forward to and look back upon.

Many years ago, Ken and I made the decision to never skip a family vacation. He has always worked high pressure jobs and rarely has the ability to just take a day off or check out early. Before he had his present job, he traveled so much, he was hardly home for the equivalent of an entire week per month. For his own mental health, we knew that we had to make vacations one of the top priorities in our marriage.

When we lead marriage prep classes for our diocese, we do an exercise in which the couples have to list their individual priorities for their marriage and then share and discuss with their fiancés what their couple priorities for the marriage are. Many of these couples include travel as a priority. We always encourage them to keep that as a priority, especially when they have families, because those times are a treasure indeed.

I’ve written before about how important vacations are in a marriage and family even if it’s just a trip to some place in your home town. But they are more than just jaunts away from home or time off from work.

They are treasures to be grasped and held onto.

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Finding The Way

Next fall, 2023, a few friends and I are planning to walk El Camino de Santiago in Spain. For those who may be unfamiliar with this, El Camino de Santiago, The Way of St. James, is a network of ancient routes taken by pilgrims wishing to make the same journey that St. James made while spreading Christianity (known in the first century as The Way) in Spain. The routes all end at the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, The City of St. James. Hundreds of thousands of people make the pilgrimage every year on routes that take between 8 and 35 days.

We’re not doing the 35 day route only because it’s a long time to be away, but we felt we wanted more than 8 days to experience this pilgrimage. We’ve decided on 14 days, and we will be doing the pilgrimage the way it’s supposed to be done–no tourist agency to plan our every step, no porter to take our bags from one stop to the next, no fancy hotels or five star restaurants. Just us, our lightly packed backpacks, walking sticks, and a modest hotel every few days. We will stay in local BnBs owned by families needing the income to survive. For this trip, there will be four of us, all learning our way along The Way. In 2024, I will be taking a large group of pilgrims (and doing things the easier way with professional help, porters, etc). This time, though, the pilgrimage is for me.

The View from Cat's Den

This week, as Ken and I explore the world outside our cabin in the San Juan Rang of the Colorado Rockies, I begin my preparation for The Way.

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Transformed by Fire

As many of you know, last week I spent five days with my tribe, the women who inspire me, encourage me, and pray for me. It was an amazing trip filled with adventures. One of our outings was to the Franklin Park Conservatory which displays a permanent collection of the famed Chihuly glass. The glasswork can be seen throughout the conservatory’s gardens and exhibits and are meant to “highlight the connection between art and nature.” Each piece of glass was a masterpiece in and of itself, and the displays throughout the butterfly garden and other botanical exhibits were breathtaking. After seeing the magnificent works of art, we knew we could not miss the demonstration of how the works were made.

As we sat in the outside pavilion, warmed on that chilly day by the 1800° oven, we were enthralled by the artisan, by his love of this beautiful form of art, and by the transformation of each piece from a glob of clear, melted glass dipped in crushed, colored glass to a beautiful work of art. Over the course of about 30 minutes, the glasswork was put into the oven at least a dozen times, each time being heated and then molded, changing and becoming that which it was intended to be. Even the color of the glass–clear when first taken from the oven, red when heated, and then the color of the crushed glass as it cooled–symbolized the transformation from indistinguishable glob to bowl or cup or vase or magnificent piece of art. Once the piece was shaped as desired by the artisan, it would be cooled overnight in a kiln at 900°, thus finishing the process.

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Finding the Right Host

I spent this past weekend on a girls’ trip with my besties. We try to get together twice a year, and even a worldwide virus couldn’t stop us from seeing each other last year or the year before.

We played a few games on Friday night that Susan put together to see how much we’d gotten to know each other over the past six years that we’ve been as close as sisters. We learned so much about one another that we never knew! In fact, it was a whole weekend of learning with trips to the Air Force Museum, the zoo, a butterfly garden, a glass-blowing demonstration, and more. Of all that we learned, the thing that keeps coming to mind is that I learned what it means to be a good host.

Let me explain…

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I Pray for Them

This past weekend, Ken and I went out to dinner with another couple. The four of us try very hard to get together about once a month, which isn’t easy with the busy lives we lead, but it’s crucial that we make the effort. We’ve known John and Alix for almost twenty years. Alix and I have been in the same Bible study group for nearly that long. Our kids went to the same school from first grade through high school. Ken and John went on a mission trip to Guatemala together. Our friendship is based on all these things, but what really holds it together is our faith. I have learned so much about prayer, faith, and healing from these wonderful people.

My long-time readers probably know that Ken was in politics for a very long time, almost half our marriage. His political career came to an end during a very tumultuous time in our lives. It was difficult for all of us. Imagine that the person you love most in the world is made into a scapegoat, has his name and reputation smeared by people he trusted, and is dragged through the mud for no other reason than political motivations. It was a heart-breaking time for me, to see my husband’s face on the news and read his name in the paper and know that everything being said was a lie. Rather than being relieved when the state ethics board cleared him 100%, I was angry because our lives had been turned upside down and because the media never once acknowledged his innocence other than a teeny, tiny one paragraph blip hidden at the bottom of an inner page in the local paper. I asked my husband over and over again how he was dealing with all this, how he was coping with the loss of trust and friendship he had, how he showed no anger toward the people who did this to hm, and his response to me was always the same. He simply said, “I pray for them.”

Now, if that doesn’t stop you in your tracks and make you look inward, nothing will.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Matthew 5:44

But there’s more to those four little words than I could comprehend at the time. So much more.

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Mind, Body, Spirit

About seven or eight months ago, I made two major changes to my personal health and fitness. I started seeing a chiropractor to help alleviate my arthritis pain, and I began an anti-inflammatory diet. What a difference I am seeing in my life as a result of these two things! I go for days, weeks, even months with zero arthritis pain (barometric pressure changes still get me every time), and my gut health is better than ever. These two changes have led to other changes in my lifestyle, and Lent is a great time to usher in even more.

For many years, I have done daily exercise. I visited the YMCA every morning for close to ten years before the pandemic struck and I discovered a whole world of exercise classes right on YouTube! Now, exercise fits into my schedule, and the type of class I choose is reflective of my needs that day. After trying lots of different things, I’ve settled on a Pilates and yoga mix each morning and a cardio workout every evening. Between the anti-inflammatory foods and the two exercise routines, I am actually losing weight for the first time in years without feeling like I’m missing out or killing myself doing it. This Lent, I decided to take some of these practices as well as my prayer life to the next level.

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