Scary hot

Notice the time the picture was taken

I just now got back from the grocery store after picking up a few items I wouldn’t buy at Costco {read: did NOT want to go searching for more food during tax free weekend through all that insanity} and the lovely heat slapped me in the face as I walked out of the store…I imagine it would feel similar to Satan breathing down my neck. Here it was, nearly 8 p.m. and the temps were STILL hovering in the high 90s, possibly low 100s depending on which part of the frying pan you were standing. Inside the store was what really got me thinking about the oppressive heat. I generally take things in stride and let impending crises roll off my back. I do my best to put them in perspective, but the not-so-stocked shelves at the grocery store were noticeable.

Notice the empty shelves

Then, I made my way back to the dairy section. I looked for my favorite Splenda sweetened iced tea {no, I don’t need a lecture on Splenda or aspartame!} – completely out. No surprise, they were completely out days ago. Ok, I think to myself while looking up in the direction of heaven, ok, God. No more diet drinks. Sigh. I go to the milk section and I see several signs hanging inside the refrigerated section where the shelves should be full of milk.

And it hits me. This drought is NOT going away anytime soon. And even if it started raining, like, now? It would be a long time before we get back to “normal.” Pft. Normal. It hasn’t rained more than the fingers on one hand since our youngest was born. To give a little perspective, she turned one this past August 7.

We are in stage 3 drought {last I checked} and the latest advice has been to forget watering your yard, water the foundation. Homes are at risk for foundation cracks, we can no longer water our yard using sprinkler systems, we very seriously need to consider how full our dishwashers, and washing machines are before running {not too much a concern for us, anyway b/c I pack those suckers tizight} and the fun one…shortening bathing time. Uch! Stinky people in Texas in August. Are ya diggin’ where I’m going with this?

To say we need prayers in Texas and our neighboring states is an understatement. We need novenas, we need Mass intentions, we need Adoration hours and rosaries, Divine Mercy Chaplets, offering up our daily sufferings – ANYTHING we can do to on our end to bring about rain…and pray for God’s mercy. The shock I felt in the store will fade and I will return to my usual daily intentions…until the next time we need milk.

Join me in praying for rain for our parched land.

Conversion Doctrine Faith Formation Heidi Ink Slingers

If only he’d gone about things differently…

As I nervously sat down in my first RCIA (Roman Catholic Instruction for Adults) session, the last thing I expected to hear from one of the sponsors was, “That Martin Luther, if only he’d gone about things differently he’d be a saint by now.”

“Excuse Me?” I thought. “Didn’t I just introduce myself as a former Lutheran in a Catholic Church?”  I thought for sure Catholics as a group must have it out for those big bad Lutherans! It turns out that while some Catholics are very against all things Luther, many are graciously accepting of his human nature. I have found most Catholics are actually fairly indifferent and know very little about him at all.  For many years I had been selling Catholics short.

It took time for me to come to terms with the fact that no one looked down on me as a former Lutheran. The truth is I had to rectify this discovery with my former image of the fuddy-duddy old Catholics who thought they were better than everyone else.  I had a problem though… I couldn’t stubbornly resist an attitude towards me that didn’t exist. It turned out that the Catholics weren’t going to put me down.  Teach the Truth of the Catholic Church and instruct me when I was wrong or misinformed, yes.  But treat me as less of a person or less of a Christian because I wasn’t one of them?  Not once.

I have thought about that day many times as my family completed our journey into the Church.  I have gotten to know the sponsor who made such a shocking statement to me quite well.  She is a person who perpetually sees the good in a person’s actions.  She accepts their human nature and looks beyond that to how she can serve their needs.  Legally blind, she comes to mass with a giant magnifying glass so she can witness the consecration in colors and blurs each week.  She regularly organizes teams to cook for our weekly dinner following evening mass on Sunday.  When my boys told her she was like a rhino because they can’t see so well either, she laughed and thanked them for sharing.  She told them to always come and say hello when they see her so that she can learn their shapes and voices.  She has every reason to be bitter and cold, not to see the best in people and situations.

So what’s my excuse?

I don’t need a 500-1,000 year wait like Luther to know that I could be going about things differently.  Every day is a new opportunity to treat people with dignity, compassion, and respect.  Every day is a new opportunity to be a vessel of grace to those who surround me.  I’ve been a confirmed Catholic for 6 days and received Holy Communion exactly once.  It is probably time for me to start doing things differently.


Be “in” the World, not “of” the World

Pope Benedict speaking to the masses at World Youth Day

Interested in seeing what sort of news there was about World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain this year, I Googled “Pope visits Spain” to see what came up. What  surprised me was not the many articles on World Youth Day and his goals of inspiring the masses, but the several articles that came up detailing him being protested.

I’ve always found it interesting how bad news makes for the most popular stories, and it seems ever more likely that bad news regarding the Catholic Church is bound to get far more press than good news. These articles ignore the nearly 1 million attendees at World Youth Day while promoting the cause of the roughly 1,000 protesters whose range of complaints stretch from the Church’s stance on gay marriage to the Pope’s perceived culpability in sexual abuse scandals.

More loathsome than the emphasis on protests are the comments from readers that follow the articles. Any Catholic, and indeed any reasonable Christian, would feel at least a little nauseated after reading some of the vitriol posted about the Church, the Pope, or Christians in general. To summarize their general flavor, the Catholic Church, the Pope, and indeed all Catholics are nitwits, pedophiles, and intolerant hateful bigots. I was about to get angry about all this, and then I realized something.

This is what is supposed to happen. The hate, the disgust, the bad media—these only prove that we are doing something right. Christ even told us, in John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.”

The poor reaction of the world to our Church only highlights the need to be ever more present with our faith. And what better way to be present in the world (without being “of” the world), especially as the younger generation continuing the faith, than to participate in an event like World Youth Day?  What is more evident today of the strength of our Church than a mass of young people coming together bearing rosaries, scapulars, bibles, prayer books, and catechisms. And most importantly, bearing a common prayer of thanksgiving for the faith we’ve been given and for the most holy sacrifice our Lord made for us so that we might be able to stand together, cleansed of sin, and pray for the transformation of those protesters whose hearts have been hardened to Christ’s love.


To Pray With Confidence

There is this part in Mass where the priest says: “And now, let us pray with confidence in the words our Savior gave us.” This is followed by the Our Father. I hear these words each week but, recently, they took on special meaning. While my father was in surgery, I stayed with my mother and we waited by her ipad (modern day pacing of hospital halls) for words from my brother who was at the hospital. My 2 1/2 year old daughter, perhaps sensing the tension and worry while playing in the room we were sitting in, heard us talking about “Poppy.” She said “Poppy’s going to be alright and he’s gonna come home.” Just like that.

From that moment, I decided, that rather than sit in worry, I should just pray with confidence that my father would recover. He came out of surgery in exactly the amount of time that the surgeon estimated and that was a great sign. However, I nearly fainted when I was able to see my father in ICU. He had so many tubes. I could see how uncomfortable he was and it broke my confidence. The next day, I held vigil with my siblings waiting for my father to come out of sedation. I could see that my brother, who is a physician, was concerned that there was a problem. I decided not to go to the hospital on the 3rd day because I was getting discouraged and my worry was clouding my ability to pray with confidence. Then, my sense of humor kicked in. I told my siblings that watching Dad recover was like watching paint dry and I was not going to sit by his bed for another day and watch him drool. They knew I was joking, but it was my way of saying to them this: He is going to be alright and he is going to come home! So, I stayed with my mother and I de-cluttered his side of the bed and his favorite areas of the house, getting ready for his return. The next morning, I got a text from my brother that said: Dad is back 100%!!!

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ~Hebrews 4:16


Longhorns and Aggies *CAN* get along!

Recently I was asked by an online Catholic friend if I received a package yet. I hadn’t, so when I checked the mail after a long mail hold while we were visiting family in Virginia, I was excited to open the package and see what it was. To read more, find my entry at Austin Catholic New Media