Friday, December 31, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

We had a lovely Christmas with everyone home, including Anne and my new son-in-law Zach. Family times. I just love to have all the kids home.

Here was the living room Christmas morning.

The kids need to stay at the top of the stairs until we start the music "Joy to the World." Then they come downstairs each carrying at least one Baby Jesus for the various nativity scenes. My nephew Luke (below) has the outdoor Baby Jesus. (which he did take out to the nativity scene in the front yard :-)
Then we light the Advent candles and sing Happy Birthday to Baby Jesus before everything starts. We all blow out the Advent candles as though they are birthday candles.

At 2:00 daughters Liz and Anne had planned "reindeer games." The notice of said games was posted the day before.
They were so much fun....word games, drawing games, and even a poem writing contest. We had 90 seconds to write a Christmas poem. Then judges Anne and Liz decided who had the best poem. Zach won with a poem that was so hilarious we were all falling off our chairs. (I may post it later.)

I hope you all had a Blessed Christmas and I pray you will have new year full of grace!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Urgent Prayer Request

Please pray for a little girl named Bridget. She is a very sweet, dear girl who has cancer.

She underwent neurosurgery on Monday and is now suffering from some pretty serious complications. Please pray for her. She comes from a large good Catholic family.

Father Solanus Casey, please pray that Bridget will be completely healed and able to come home for Christmas.

Please pray that the Lord will grant to Bridget's family the Christmas miracle they are pleading for. Lord have mercy. Come and reward your people's hope.

Oh Boy. I'm really tired. I've had a very busy month.

Everyone is home. It's wonderful.

I've made lots of cookies. I have a ham and turkey ready for Christmas. I have maybe half my presents wrapped. I have all my shopping finished.

My house is not clean. It's not bothering me.

My sister and her family have arrived.

I'm eating too much.

I have not neglected my prayer life as I usually do when I get busy. God is good.

My brother is planning a Christmas carol sing-a-long for Christmas day. I think it will be very fun.

Im sorry I haven't written in such a long time. I'm fine. Just busy and drawn to other things. I hope you are all doing well.

If I don't get a chance to write again before Christmas I wish you all a blessed, peaceful, and joy filled Christmas. May the holiness of that night that transcended all time be upon us all.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Transportation Security Administration

Personally, I think the new virtual strip search machines at the airport are an outrageous violation of the Constitution's protection against unreasonable searches. If this is not a violation what would be?

The Wall Street Journal in its December 4-5 edition printed an editorial that stated, "The head of the Transportation Security Administration says inconvenience is a small price to pay for safety." Well, Mr. Pistole, I think inconvenience is a small price to pay for safety too. But we are not talking about an inconvenience. We are talking about a gross violation of personal privacy. I have zero tolerance for bureaucrats who defend their actions with rhetoric that conceals the actual issue. Mr. Pistole, you know what this is about and it's not about "inconvenience."

I was also alarmed to hear his comment about an "underwear bomb." Now I thought the entire justification for this, in my opinion, ridiculous policy was the Christmas Day bomber. I thought this machine was supposed to prevent that from happening again. (Never mind that the terrorists have plenty of other ideas to use...) When asked if we even know if these screenings would detect such a bomb Mr. Pistole said that they "never put it on someone and tested it."

What??!!?? They never put a bomb like that on someone to see if it would be detected by these machines? Why not? They're spending millions of dollars on these privacy violating machines and they didn't test to see if it could detect the very device they say is the reason for the policy?
Is this incompetence on the part of the TSA or is the Christmas Day bomber not the real reason for the screenings. I think an explanation is in order.

Furthermore, I have another few questions. Now I'll grant you I may have not read enough about these things and maybe these questions have indeed been answered.

These images are supposed to not be saved on the computer screen. Is there a method for the operator to override that automatic protocol and actually save it? It seems there would be such an option to save it in the case of questionable scans. What safeguards are in place to ensure that the operator does not choose to save an image for another purpose?

If there is such an override option is it possible to email that image somewhere-- like to the TSA offices? Surely there is, since if someone brought a weapon or a bomb the picture would be needed as evidence. What safeguards are in place that would ensure that such email capacity, if there is one, is not abused?

And where is the ACLU? I understand that they do not like the new screenings. When are they going to file a lawsuit? A nativity scene in the town square is a threat to civil liberties deserving of legal action and these screenings are not? Seems just a little bit inconsistent to me.

OK. Thanks for letting me vent.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Red in the Flower Bed: An Illustrated Story about Interracial Adoption

Tribute Books has asked me to write a review of the children's book Red in the Flower Bed: An Illustrated Story about Interracial Adoption by Andrea Napa. And so I give you the following:

In 2001 Andrea Napa adopted a little girl, Leah, from Vietnam. It is to this daughter Leah that Andrea has dedicated her book. "For my dear Leah, whose journey in her young life has already taken her to far away and unexpected places."

Red in the Flower Bed is a sweet book. The story is a simple one of a seed in a faraway place which is dropped by a flower onto dry ground. The flower, realizing the ground is too dry, allows the wind to transport it to a garden that is especially right for it. The seed germinates and grows into a beautiful red poppy, delighting all the other flowers with its new and different color. The daisy exclaims, "There is now red in the flower bed. And best of all, look down the row...We have a complete rainbow."

A lovely metaphor for the international and interracial adoption process, the story is told in simple rhyme that could be easily understood by even a young child. I encourage you to view the trailer below...

The endearing illustrations and lovely message of hope and Providence make this a suitable book for children of all ages.

I almost wish the subtitle had not been added. It is, of course, important to the author as it is indeed a symbolization of the story of Leah's adoption. But the message could have an even broader appeal. It could, for example, invoke the saying "Bloom where you are planted." And I can see the allegory also giving comfort to children who have just experienced a family move, especially a move to a foreign country. The symbolism could be taken even further to unfamiliar and even scary situations where children might find themselves. Ironically, Leah, of whom the seed is a personification, did indeed find herself in such a situation when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. (She is, thankfully, now in remission.) That one can bloom and be loved and valued in the most unexpected and surprising of places is indeed a positive and powerful truth.

I recommend this book because of it's cheerful illustrations and enduring theme of hope...a lesson that is applicable to a number of life circumstances, even beyond the adoption process.

You can read an excerpt here. This is a dear book.