From Today's Readings

"True religion, the religion of the Bible, is seen under two aspects: one looking up to heaven, the other looking down to earth. It gathers all the interest of man under its protection and fostering care. Like the sun which, though fixed in the heavens, pours the flood of its light and glory and cherishing influence upon earth; or like the atmosphere which, though above the earth, enters into every place upon it, and sustains the insects that creep as well as the birds that soar -- so religion irradiates with its lights, guides by its revelations, animates with its stimulus, sanctifies by its power, and blesses with its influence, in all their relations and all their interests, all those who yield themselves up to its authority and government."

- John Angell James, Female Piety


Fourth and Fifth Day of Christmas: Color

Today was a lazy day. A day to curl up on the couch with my big lap dog, well she thinks she is a lap dog. Reading Charles Williams. Listening to Windham Hill and Frank Sinatra.

A day full of color. I know I am repeating what I said below in the "Richness" post, but it is one of those lessons we learn over and over again. Day by day.

Christianity gives us real color to life. It does not paint life with artificial, light pastels, nor does it cover the canvas with dark, foreboding blacks and grays. We see in true color. We can see darkness, for it is real, but then we see the reigning Light. Life becomes vibrant, never dull.

For "we see through a mirror dimly", He gives us snatches of Light in this, His world. But one day, we shall see in full color, without dark. And it will be brilliant. 'Till then, we can barely comprehend the glimpses we have of Light.

And we wonder.


Third Day of Christmas: Wonder of the World

Thursday night, Dad's oldest brother, my uncle Tony, came with his wife and two sons. My uncle is a Lieutenant Colonel, and has just finished serving a whole year in Iraq. He worked side by side with General Petraeus and several other great leaders. I love and respect him so much, we sat down in our backroom and listened to him tell us stories - meeting the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, among many people. The Deputy Prime Minister gave my uncle a plaque with the historical winged Iraq, and my uncle gave the plaque to my sister (who is his god-daughter).

My uncle has traveled everywhere - India, Thailand, Germany, Italy, Spain... Japan... Iraq. He has a story for every place he has been, a wealth of wisdom from those years of experience.

Listening to him talk gives more perspective than any geography course can. It is so hard for us to believe that we are not the centre of the universe, other countries exist, other cultures. We are not the only ones. And sometimes we need an eye-opened for us to realize that.

This is another wonder - a wonder of the world. Something we will never comprehend. So large, so encompassing, filled with a variety of people. Think: the Spanish-speaking Mexican wakes up to make tortillas, while in another part of the world, a Spanish-speaking Spaniard is getting ready for sleep. In one part of the world, they could be speaking a language that has never been written down, never been named. It is amazing.

When we understand a little bit of this wonder, we can see past our small lives and see them in the scope of not just the world, but the universe.

As Charles Williams wonderfully put it.

"Damn and blast! Why was this bloody world created?"

"As a sewer for the stars. Alternatively, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

- War In Heaven


Second Day of Christmas: Wonder of Workmanship

I spent practically all day tied to the living room table, surrounded by scraps of material. Hoping that it would come together to make a dress. Sewing is one of my favorite past-times, along with a hybrid of others. And as I pinned two pieces of the rough purple material together. Pin. By. Pin. Suddenly I realized how commonplace, and yet not so, the act of creation - workmanship - is.

God has given us this precious gift, this ability to create. To take a slab of wood, length of satin, piece of paper, and then form it into a thing of beauty.

We're physical beings, and we all experience a unique pleasure when we make something - anything! - with our hands. It could be the small origami box, the wedding dress, or the hand-written note. Such a small gift, it seems at first, but it broadens out into a mind-boggling gem from Him. Imagine life without creating anything... without the smile of your little brother or sister as you make them a paper airplane... without the awe of looking at the pyramids or the Parthenon. Humans were created to create. As obvious as it sounds, it just another one of those daily postulates of life that we take for granted so often.

Take a moment, the next time you write a story or take a picture, take a moment to remember that it is a gift, a wonder. The wonder of workmanship.


Christmastide - Wonder

For the first time, my family and I are going to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. Nothing big, just small festive activities each day. And in the same spirit, I'm going to post on each of the 12 days, all related in some way to wonder.

Wonder is truly a rare, yet God-sent, place of being. When we wonder, we must humble ourselves, and simply lift up our eyes with adoration and be content without an immediate answer. It is a state of child-like simplicity, a beautiful, God-glorifying state.

And as we celebrate these 12 days of Christmas, I hope and pray to learn some wonder.


First Day of Christmas: The Wonder of Creation

(Taken with Dad's cellphone, because the reliable camera broke down.)

We saw the sun go down with majesty on Christmas Day, marking the beginning of Christmastide.

The chilling ocean breeze danced around us. I leaned against Daddy's shoulder, with my youngest brother holding my hand tightly.

"Why does the sun go down at night and not up?"

"Because God made it that way."

"Oh, right."

In the distance, a solitary saxophone began its song. The clear, honeyed notes treaded gently upon the crashing waves.

Non nobis, Domine, Domine, non nobis, Domine.

The golden sun melted into the silver sea, and it is impossible to be there. Feeling my youngest brother's hand in mine. Watching Mom's face beam with happiness. It's impossible to be there and not praise God for His wonder-ful creation.

"A tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree. Water runs downhill because it is bewitched. The sun shines because it is bewitched." ~ GK Chesterton

Creation is truly a wonder.


Rejoice! Gaudete!

For unto us a Child is born! Unto us, a Son is given!

May the Joy of our Lord be with you all this blessed Christmas day. Merry Christmas!


Missing Her

Last night, we had our annual Night-Before-Christmas-Eve taco run. Half the family went to buy the food, and the other half stayed, making cookies, turning on the log in the living room, and making Mexican hot chocolate with the ever-loved Abuelita chocolate. The quiet of the house came to a stop when Dad and the kids came back with food, fifteen minutes later, all that was left was an artistic array of napkins, cups, and half-eaten tortillas. No utensils, of course.

As a wonderful surprise, today we were able to talk to my Army sister, the oldest of us seven, and stationed in Iraq now. We laughed and reminisced o'er past Christmases with her. This will be our first Christmas without her.

Tonight will be a night filled with lots of family, after the two hour drive down, tamales, singing, and lots and lots of laughing.

And in the midst of all, we'll stop and smile at each other. Missing our sister, and thanking God for her safety.



One of my favorite aspects of the Christmas season is the abundance of light - candles grace our kitchen, living room, and dining room. Flickering lights on the Christmas tree dance through the night. Just take a peek outside, and you'll see more light. Big bulbs of blue, delicate greens, and frosty whites and cremes, trying desperately to emulate snow in a very un-snow place.

Christmas music brings another kind of light to the season - a merry, lightness of heart, and the the deep and sober light of reflection and thanksgiving. Strains of the Messiah float through the house: ten minutes later, you can see me at my customary place by the piano, accompanied by the voices of the family, J. the third and our music genius, L.

I love the light of Christmas.


Thoughts from Stargazing - Part 2

Third night of stargazing. The ocean breeze drives all the city smog away, leaving the brilliance of the stars undiminished. Stepping outside is entering another world - a world with flickering light, living in amity with the velvet dark. A world where the cold embraces you, and the only sound you hear is the rustling of the winter breeze among the verdant trees. Any word spoken in the silence becomes sacred. A prayer offered to the Almighty God.

I speak a name, the white air vanishes into the cold, carrying my prayer with it. The stars beam afar, visual reminders of Him. How glorious!

And for just moment, with eyes riveted above at the wheeling stars, time is gone. No thought of future, present, or past spoils the moment - or was it an hour? I'll never, I don't want to know. For when the moment ended, a burning desire swept o'er me. I remember those passages from A Severe Mercy and The Weight of Glory. We're immortal. And hope shines afar.


Thoughts from Stargazing - Part 1

I didn't count sheep. I counted stars, the stars that flashed above my head. The Geminid meteor shower. After losing count at 37, I leaned back and wondered. The insignificance of mankind became a dawning reality. Stars are the little snags in the celestial cloth that seperates us from the Heavens.

And Heaven and Nature sing.

The Medieval view of Heaven went over and over in my mind. Think of the sky as an inverted basketball, we're on the inside - looking out. Not only space seperates us from the Heavens, the various spheres of light. We can't hear the music. The music of the spheres.

I fell asleep at that point. Under the stars, under the bright light of the angels, under the signs of His majestic, glory, holiness, and love.


Tree Decorating


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