Pray without Ceasing – Offer it Up

Great Homily this weekend by Fr. Luke Suarez about how all that we do can be a prayer, not just our formal prayers at Mass or saying a rosary. We can offer all we do as parents, as employees, as students in praise. And then every action becomes a prayer.IMG_1254-1024x774

It’s a beautiful and powerful idea. I just wish I was better at it. This summer has been tough so far, with a lot of family needs and obligations which means very little “fun time” and no vacation for us this year. I know, even as I write it I think “My goodness, you’re selfish! As if you didn’t have an abundance of blessings in your life.”

Yet, I’m finding it difficult… to offer it up, to take my “trials and sufferings” (as minimal as they are) and offer them as a prayer and as praise to the One who provides all the blessings in my life. And then, I get angry at myself for NOT being able to offer it up and let it go. A vicious cycle.

This morning, I found this great quote at http://www.fisheaters.com/offeringitup.html

It’s quite a discipline to react to suffering this way! In mental or physical pain? Drop something on your toe? Putting up with a co-worker who is making your life a living Hell? Enduring the constant ache of arthritis? Standing in line at the grocery and hating every minute of it? Spill the milk? Accept these things in peace, and ask God to use them for the good of the Church or for a more specific intention close to your heart. This isn’t easy to do (and I in no way claim to be good at it), but it does make the suffering more meaningful and less — well, less insufferable!

So, today, I offer my “sufferings” to God and ask that he use them for the good of those who need (so much more than I do) the blessings of food, shelter, health and comfort. Amen.

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I’ve lost a webpage! Google Cache to the Rescue

The alternate title of this could be how Google Cache saved my …  I started a website the other day under a domain name that I later decided I wanted to change. So, I decided to delete the old domain from my hosting account and add the new one. I thought I was being so careful by using the save page as function in Google Chrome to save the pages of the old website.

save-page-as (1)

However, I discovered AFTER deleting the domain from my hosting account and setting up the new domain name that pages saved that way (or at least WordPress pages saved that way) don’t really get saved at all. It was as if the saved page was just a bookmark and when the web-page was gone, the “saved page” was gone too.

Arrrgh! Several pages of posts just lost in the ether.

So, I figured, I can’t be the only one who has lost a webpage and needs to get it back. I did a little searching around and found that you can very easily search for Google’s cached version of a webpage by using the cache: search operator.

Google CacheGoogle then brings you to their saved (cached) version of the page with this little info-bar at the top:

cache-header (1)

And Voilà, your page, as it appeared in Google’s Cache. And for me, exactly what I was looking for!

lost-post (1)So, the next time you’ve lost a webpage or even a whole website, use the cache:operator in Google to find the saved version of your page.

Does the Moon Cycle Effect Humans?

There’s certainly lots of anecdotal evidence of the effect of the moon cycles on human behavior… ask any teacher or emergency room nurse if things get a little more loony at the full moon. But do we have any scientific evidence of it?
MoonAt first glance it would seem quite logical that an orbiting body that can have a powerful effect on the waters of the ocean, via the tides, would also have a powerful effect on other earth inhabitants, particularly humans who are composed of approximately 60% water.

Several of the studies done have be debunked or refuted due to statistical errors and such. I have included links to several studies. However, one completed just this month at the University of Basel shows conclusive evidence on the impact of moon cycles on human sleep patterns:

KEY FINDINGS
Around the time of the full moon:
– Brain activity related to deep sleep dropped by 30 per cent
– Subjects took five minutes longer than normal to fall asleep
– They slept for 20 minutes less overall
– Study participants felt their sleep was poorer and showed diminished levels of melatonin, a hormone known to regulate sleep and wake cycles

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health-fitness/university-of-basel-researchers-prove-8216full-moon-effect8217-impacts-on-human-sleep/story-fneuz9ev-1226685217585#ixzz2aACEfTrc

Aside from this brand new study, most of my other research shows that there are as many studies debunking the effect of the lunar cycles on human behavior and physiology as there are studies proving the effects.

Another interesting abstract does show that there appears to be a correlation between moon phase and stock returns.

The findings indicate that stock returns are lower on the days around a full moon than on the days around a new moon.

The data show that the lunar effect is not explained away by announcements of macroeconomic indicators, nor is it driven by major global shocks. Moreover, the lunar effect is independent of other calendar-related anomalies such as the January effect, the day-of-week effect, the calendar month effect, and the holiday effect (including lunar holidays).

read more: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0927539805000691

And then there’s this report from the Journal of Private Equity:

We find strong lunar cycle effects in stock returns. Specifically, returns in the 15 days around new moon dates are about double the returns in the 15 days around full moon dates. This pattern of returns is pervasive; we find it for all major U.S. stock indexes over the last 100 years and for nearly all major stock indexes of 24 other countries over the last 30 years. Taken as a whole, this evidence is consistent with popular beliefs that lunar cycles affect human behavior.

Following is one of the studies that has apparently been debunked by the Skeptic’s Dictionary, but at the time, they stated that there was definitely a correlation in crime activity.

As revealed by correlations of police and fire department data with data from the lunar ephemeris san francisco suicides and florida homicides appear to be directly correlated with the appearance of the full moon. Evidence points to a ‘circa-monthly biological rhythm’ of human aggression that corresponds with the lunar-synodic cycle. By properly applying knowledge of the lunar effect, police and medical personnel can prepare for fluctuations in the rates of crime and psychiatric admissions. References and a lunar ephemeris are provided.

read more: https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=63700

I happen to believe that we as humans are affected by the cycles of the moon… I think there’s a rhythm to all life and that we are all impacted by the rhythms and cycles of the Universe. It doesn’t matter much to me whether science proves it. But it sure is interesting to see what scientists have found out about these “myths.”

 

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Getting Started on Ancestry Research

I started researching my family tree many years ago (pre-internet)… using the “old-fashioned” method of asking questions of my relatives to fill in the blanks of what I didn’t know. I had a computer program I was using to create the “tree” and family group sheets, but unfortunately I don’t remember what it was.

I do remember that it allowed me to create a GEDCOM file though. GEDCOM stands for GEnealogical Data COMmunication and (according to Wikipedia) is a proprietary and open specification for exchanging genealogical data between different genealogy software programs. Being able to create this file was a blessing, since it allowed me to quickly and easily upload all the data I had gathered into new software (and Ancestry online) when those tools became more readily available.

family-tree

The software I currently use for keeping track of all this is Family Tree Maker which integrates perfectly with Ancestry.com.

Quick note: I had tried My Heritage for a little while but I do NOT recommend it… somehow it took over not only my browser home page, but also the default search engine and it took me WEEKS to get my system back to normal!

Ancestry is a very full featured platform for doing your own family research, however, it’s not cheap. What I usually do, when the research bug has bit me, is sign up for a monthly subscription at Ancestry, and research all I can. Then download my GEDCOM file to my desktop computer and temporarily cancel my Ancestry subscription. That way I am not paying monthly for a service I don’t use frequently.

While getting ready to start this blog, I found a great article on cnet.com about researching your family tree. The author suggests that as a possible replacement to Ancestry.com there are services likeAncesStory that will do the Ancestry research for you. There’s also FamilySearch.org, a free service from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that has an amazing amount of information available.

Writer’s Block: I can’t think!

Once I decided that I wanted to start blogging (5 April 2013), I wrote at least one post every day from then until the weekend we were away helping a friend move. I figured that one long weekend off wouldn’t break my rhythm, and maybe that break is not to blame, but since then, I have found it harder and harder to write everyday. Some days I write on two or more of my blogs or I write a Hubpage article, but some days; like yesterday and today, I feel as if I simply can’t think of anything to write about.

I Can't Think
I Can’t Think by Alyssa L. Miller used under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Or that the things I think of are simply not compelling enough to get me to sit down at the keyboard and get the words to flow.

For one of my other blogs, I’ve been doing research on Lunar Rhythms and how “they say” it’s easier to get things done during the waning phase of the moon vs. the waxing phase (not sure where this “wisdom” comes from yet… that’s part of my research). I would love to blame my writer’s block on the moon… well, it’s a full moon, of course it’s hard to write. But I’m guessing that’s not really the problem.

Then I remembered something I had written a while ago about Yoga Breathing and the Space Between. I think that part of my difficulty with writing might be that there’s been so much going on in my personal life, that I haven’t had a chance to honor that space between…. and so I’m sort-of stuck in it. As if I’ve taken in too much without taking the space to process it…. the intake-outflow has been interrupted and I’m stuck in the middle in the big uncomfortable unknown.

I hope that writing even this little bit will help me get back into the rhythm. I have a strong feeling that, like most inertia, if I can’t get going soon, I’m going to stay stuck. Once I get into the flow again,  “a body in motion tends to stay in motion” and I should be able to keep writing. Here’s hoping. 🙂

Our Cinderella Story

Years ago we took our first family trip to Disney World. Our kids were 7 and 10 years old.  It never occurred to me that they would really be interested in the whole Disney character “meet and greet”… it was never a big thing for me when I was a kid. However, we found out once we got there that Elizabeth had her heart set on meeting Cinderella. I think she had seen the movie at least 25 times.

I got a great education in Disney Princesses… and the fact that if you want to have a meal at place where Cinderella will be, you should make your reservation about 6 months in advance.

I called every restaurant on the Disney property to find out where Cinderella would be and how we could arrange for Elizabeth to meet her. I asked and asked, but was told again and again that there were no openings at the places she would be. Finally, we settled on a “Princess Luncheon” at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot. I tried to prepare Elizabeth, telling her of the princesses we would likely meet, but also being honest with her and telling her that at that time, Cinderella didn’t visit that location. My darling, optimistic daughter said “Oh, maybe she will be there.”

Lo and behold, as we started to see the princesses come out to greet the patrons, there she was…

Cinderella

Keep ASKing for what you want and never give up hope that miracles can happen. These are the lessons I learned from our Cinderella Story. I’m now facing several new situations where asking the right questions is going to be key to making miracles happen… more on that here.

Special Education: Ask the Right Questions

I met today with Special Education Advocate, Linda Talbert, who also specializes in transition planning. Our son has been successful in school, but we know that the next few years, when things like college, career and independence are looming large on the horizon, that getting decent grades is not enough. There are many, many skill sets required for a successfully independent life that are not taught in school and are very difficult for the individual with a learning disability to acquire. Not impossible, but challenging.
FocusedToday I learned that there are many questions we should be asking about how the goals on our child’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) are designed to truly help him reach his goals of a successful transition to college and independence. It appears that there may be a mismatch between the goals that are being set and the skills that will be required for success in college.

Linda told me a story about Disney World employees…. that they are trained not to offer the specials that are available, but to provide them if someone asks for them. And suddenly, I understood a whole new dimension of things that are likely going on during the PPT (Planning and Placement Team) meetings at school. The school team may be aware of programs available to our child that would be a great benefit to him, but because of the pressures of budget, they are instructed not to offer, but only to provide if asked.

This puts a whole new spin on “Ask, and it shall be given unto you.” It also means that we have to learn the right questions to ask. Learn to ask for the programs that will ultimately help our son to reach his goals. As we learn what those questions are, I will post what I find here. I hope that our journey will help you with yours.

Do Catholics Pray to Mary?

Growing up Catholic it never occurred to me that there was anything different about saying the Hail Mary or that other Christians would find that strange or even, offensive. It was only later, when I spent more time talking to other Christians about their beliefs that I realized that many of them believe that Catholics pray TO Mary and the Saints and are thereby constantly breaking the first commandment; “You shall have no other gods before me.

Mary statue at Sacred Heart Church in Georgetown, Connecticut

I found a few websites that explain pretty well what Catholics believe about Mary (and the Saints). In my words… we ask Mary and the Saints to “pray for us” the same way we would ask a friend or relative to pray for us. So, we aren’t praying TO Mary and the Saints but instead asking them to pray WITH us. This makes sense to me.

However, I also found a website that articulates beautifully why Catholics so deeply revere the Virgin Mary:

Mary is the Mother of God. Catholics do not believe that God was bound by any compulsion to have a Mother; they believe that He chose to have a Mother and all that this implies. He chose to permit His human body to be formed in her womb.

I love the line about God not being bound to have a Mother… that he Chose to have a Mother and that by so choosing, gave a Mother to the human race like none we had ever had before.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
Amen

 

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