Big Sponsoring News!

I’ve blogged before about kids and elderly folks I sponsor through Unbound.  To see why I became an Unbound (then called CFCA) sponsor in the first place, go here, and then come back and read about my little family.

First, the good news: Isabel, my college student from Guatemala, has GRADUATED!!!  She’s now working as a teacher, and while I will miss her a lot, I couldn’t be more proud!
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Now, the bad news: Bob, my college student from Uganda, has dropped out of school. Per Unbound’s rules, since he’s no longer in school, he loses his sponsorship. Please remember him in your prayers.

So, that means I now have two new sponsored young people (both names changed):

Dinesh, a college student from India.  He wants to be a teacher when he finishes school and his favorite subject is biology.

Rachel, a college student from Kenya.  She also wants to be a teacher when she graduates, and her favorite subjects are history and Kiswahili.

In addition to Dinesh and Rachel, I still have Julio, a 10-year-old boy from Guatemala;  Jude, a 14-year-old boy from the Phillipines; and Rajesh, an elderly man from India.  I pray for all my prior sponsored kids who never reached the finish line (Bob, Margaret, and Darweshi), as well as for the repose of the soul of Indira, the first elderly I sponsored.

Lent is a time of almsgiving, and Unbound will always be one of my favorite ways to give alms.  For these kids, it’s a hand up, a way out of poverty, and I consider it a sacred duty.

7 Quick Takes – Thank God It’s Friday!

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1.  First, I want to thank everybody who prayed for my friend K after her surgery a few weeks ago.  They removed a huge tumor from her – we were all good-naturedly teasing her about losing so much weight in one day – and despite the length and severity of the surgery, she got through it with flying colors and is now home with her husband and kids.  She still isn’t disease-free, but she’s far, far better off than she was before surgery.

2.  Remember how I got a phone interview in a town that DH suddenly didn’t want to move to?  I didn’t get the job, and honestly, I’m a little relieved.  In the first few minutes of the interview, it became clear that this wasn’t a job I would like or excel at.  Still have outstanding apps at two other companies, from which I have hear exactly nothing.

3.  I just realized that I ended a sentence with a preposition twice in the last take, and people might be shaking their heads.  This gives me the opportunity to trot out one of my favorite Winston Churchill quotes:  “This is arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.”

4.  So, it’s Lent.  What are you doing?  Me, I gave up fashion magazines, I’m trying to cut back on complaining at work, and I’m trying to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet more.  It’s never a prayer I’ve understood well, but that’s partly because I’ve never really made the effort.  We’ll see how this goes…

5.  DH is also giving something up for Lent. But he’s still an atheist and has zero interest in religion.  (Not sarcasm.)

6.  Despite what Comic Book Guy said, it might be useful to have one of these for the Internet:
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7.  It’s Friday and it’s Lent, so we need a hymn! Here is “Ubi Caritas” as sung at the Royal Wedding:

For more Quick Takes, head over to This Ain’t the Lyceum!

Book Review: Christianity, Climate Change, and Sustainable Living by Nick Spencer, Robert White, and Virginia Vroblesky

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 If you’ve ever wondered whether climate change is real, why you should care, or what in the world environmentalism has to do with Christianity, this book is for you.  Even if you think that climate change is not real, if you’re a Christian living in a First World country, I’d encourage you to read this book.

This book is divided into three parts. Part 1, aptly titled “The Nature of the Problem,” discusses not just causes and effects of our lifestyles on the Earth, but causes and effects of our lifestyles on us.  Our reliance on cars adds greenhouse gas to the atmosphere, lowers air quality and causes animal habitat to be destroyed for urban sprawl.  That urban sprawl is bad for humans too; because we are disconnected from our communities, our children don’t get to play outside because we’re afraid of strangers. We live farther away from work and spend more time at work than in past decades, and this leads to instability in families.

It doesn’t end with reliance on cars; Westerners’ continual “buy, buy, buy” frenzy is a culprit here too.  The authors point out the greenhouse gas emissions from transporting goods and waste in landfills (the average American adds about 1160 pounds of waste to a landfill every year, which in turn emit about 1000 pounds of methane per year).  We buy constantly because we’re surrounded by ads constantly, which leads us to tune out our surroundings more and engage with the world around us less.

In Part 2,the authors provide Biblical justification for caring about the environment: because God does, because stewardship of His creation has been important to Christianity historically, and because God has called us to care for the poor.  Rising sea levels, droughts, and famines will have the most negative impact on people who live near the Equator and people who live on islands or the coasts – and most of these people are poor.

Part 3 is our call to action.  Now we that we know there’s a problem, what do we do about it?  The authors lay out their vision for what a sustainable North America might look like and then provide ways that individuals, cities, states, and nations can move towards that vision.  I wish they’d spent a little more time on what individuals and congregations can do and a little less time on governments, but that’s just the Libertarian in me talking.

In sum, a few minor flaws, but overall, an enlightening read.  Great food for thought this Lent!

7 Quick Takes Friday – 7 More Quick Penances!

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Lent is fast approaching, and you know what that means – time to skip meat on Fridays.  But wait?  What if you’re a complete spaz really busy and forgot it was Friday until after you ate that leftover chicken in the fridge? Or what if you don’t eat meat at all?  Well, you could just do this:

M-E-H

We said “Meh.”

Or… you could try one of these things:

1.  Give up your car for a day.  Walk, ride a bike, or take public transportation, and remember all the people like this guy who aren’t fortunate enough to own a car.  Incidentally, this is one of my favorite times to pray the Rosary – Rosary bracelets and the Rosary app for iPhone are both excellent for this.

2.  Pray for someone you dislike.  (I realize this is very similar to another quick penance I posted.  However, not all the people we dislike are people we interact with regularly – this one works for somebody who you have a grudge against but lives far away.)  Say a decade of the Rosary for that person.  Offer up your day’s sufferings for them.  Remember them at Mass or Stations of the Cross.

3.  If you’re a couch potato, get some exercise.  Remind yourself that God gave you this body and He wants you to treat it with care.  Offer up your discomfort for someone who needs it.

4. Read a spiritual book.  And not something you’d usually read, either – if you like harrowing tales, read about a contemplative saint (or vice versa).  Read the Bible.  If you do usually read the Bible, read a part you don’t care for or that you have trouble understanding.

5.  Download a religious app for your phone and use it.  I’ve mentioned the Rosary app, but did you know there’s a Stations of the Cross app?  There’s also the iBreviary app for people who want to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and the iConfess app for your Examination of Conscience.  More great suggestions can be found here and here.

6.  Make a Holy Hour or go to Confession.  I’ve talked before about how wonderful MassTimes.org is for church-hoppers, but did you know that they list more than just Mass times?  Through this site, you can find Adoration chapels and Confession times in your area.  (And if you downloaded that Examination of Conscience app, you’ll want to use it, right?)

7.  Listen to the Rosary instead of secular music. I’m a fan of Mother Angelica, so here’s a video of her and her sisters praying the Rosary.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

Grumble, Grumble…

This year, DH and I are moving to the West Coast to be closer to his family.  I’ve been looking for new jobs in the state where DH’s family lives, and while I’d love to be in their exact city, pickings are thus far slim.

So, when an opportunity in a small town about 1.5 hours from DH’s family came open, I emailed him about it and he gave me the green light to apply.  I did, and to my everlasting shock, two days later I received a call for a phone interview.  Two days!  Usually it takes a month to hear back from an employer.

And when I told DH the good news he said…

“I don’t think I want to live there.”

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Really????  We finally take constructive action to get out of the situation we’re in and you’re all of a sudden not interested?  Do you know what the job market is like these days?

Yes, I realize that a phone interview is no guarantee of a job, but good grief, I feel like I’ve just been shot in the foot.  Thanks for listening to me vent.

7 Quick Takes

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1.  Prayer request: please remember in your prayers my high school friend K, who had surgery a few days ago for a rare and aggressive cancer.  The good news is she got through the surgery with flying colors and they successfully removed the primary tumor.  The bad news is that she still has metastases which will likely need more chemo once she’s recovered from surgery.  Please pray for her  and her husband and children.

2.  I have about two months until the last frost, and normally this is when I’d be planning my garden.  However, this year we are absolutely, positively, definitely moving.  And that makes me wonder if I should put in a garden at all – the idea being that I’d dial back on job hunting or use the garden as an excuse for continued inertia.

3.  In terms of the job hunt, I have a few applications out and I’m checking the listings almost every day.  Sooner or later, something will happen, or at least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

4.  I’m writing this while watching my team play college basketball.  The game started out great and has steadily devolved into “good grief, are you guys asleep out there?” territory, which may explain why I’m sounding a bit crabby today.

5.  Related to basketball: did you know that all fans do the Airball chant in the same key?  I Googled this to distract myself from my team making too many air balls.

6. As much as I enjoy watching basketball, I don’t play.  I’m awful with anything involving a ball and when it comes to height, I’m afraid I’m on the shallow end of the gene pool.

7.  I need a song to distract myself from my team’s awful playing! Here’s “Mama Said” by the Shirelles.

For more Quick Takes, head to This Ain’t the Lyceum!

An Open Letter to Al Gore

Dear Al,

You probably aren’t going to read this letter, and to be honest, I had second thoughts about writing it.  But I’ll go ahead and write it anyway, because I’m fed up.  Every single time I try to have a conversation about climate change, your name comes up.  So do the facts that you have a huge house, and fly often (sometimes in private jets), but tell everybody else to consume less.

Yes, I understand that your Tennessee house* is very energy efficient and that you pay a premium so that your energy company can invest in renewables.  That’s good, it truly is.  But that’s not what climate change deniers see when they look at you, Al.  They don’t care about the energy-efficient windows, the geothermal heat pumps and the hybrids parked in the garage.  They see a house that’s almost 5 times as big as the average American home.  They see a guy who jets all over the world to speak at conferences when he could just Skype in.  They see a guy living an extravagant lifestyle who tells the rest of us to sacrifice.  Some of them think that maybe you don’t actually believe what you’re saying and you’re just trying to get attention and make a buck, and while I don’t agree with them, I can understand where they’re coming from.

Listen, Al, I know you mean well. But it’s time to stop meaning well and start doing well.  And this goes for me too – my house is bigger than DH and I need, I commute 300 miles per week, and I could stand to fly less too.  So I’ll make you a deal, Al:  this year, you and I will both do a better job of putting our money where our mouths are.  My DH and I plan to move cross-country later this year (thereby eliminating the need for one of our yearly plane trips); when we do, we’ll get a smaller place.  I already drive a hybrid car, but when I move, I’ll be closer to work so that I won’t have to drive it as much.  Ideally, I’ll be able to take public transportation to work.

I understand what it’s like to not be taken seriously, Al.  I understand what it’s like to feel like you’re a voice crying out in the wilderness.  And I’ve learned that the only way you’re ever going to get people on your team is if you’re all in, if you start holding yourself to a higher standard than everyone else.  And sure, there will always be some haters; that’s what they do, after all.  But maybe, just maybe, if you do a better job of walking the walk, you’ll win over a  few more hearts and minds.

Isn’t it worth a try?

XOXO,

Mary

*Al and his ex-wife purchased an equally large home in California in the ’00s; however, when the Gores separated in 2010, Tipper kept the California home and Al kept the Tennessee home. Thus, I’m only writing about the TN home.