Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Jesus picks teams

40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

No. 37

I can picture Jesus standing in his strappy sandals on a hot, dusty day holding a big red playground kickball, stretching his legs amid the blowing dust, and picking teams. “I’ve got Simon, but – by the way – we’re going to call you Peter – and I pick his brother Andrew, plus James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Simon, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot.”

Grumbling came from the first eleven picked, as they kicked the dirt around them trying to look nonchalant about Judas joining the team. But — Jesus was known for being a sharp judge of character – so they let it play out.

But why Judas? WHY?

Turns out, the old number 12 was ready to play, but not by the rules. Oh, Judas!

Judas was sneaky. On the day Judas betrayed Jesus, the masses believed his poor choices led him to be a spy. Thus the name “Spy Wednesday”. Spy means “ambush” and Wednesday of Holy Week was the day he chose to betray Christ for 30 pieces of silver.

Here are some Gospel theories on why Judas went down the path he did:

  • Mathew’s Gospel tells us he was motivated by the 30 pieces of silver he was offered
  • Mark and Luck were convinced Satan “entered into Judas” to plan Jesus’ arrest
  • John’s Gospel says his motive was money, money, money.

Perhaps the reason was that Judas, like a lot of us, felt better making God in his own image rather than the other way around.

Knowing the sneakiness behind Judas, I wonder if Jesus would rethink his kickball team.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

just another manic tuesday

40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

No. 36

At midnight I realize it’s already tomorrow but my head is still in today. I know the new day arrived because I missed my Wordle window and the old word is like the newspaper The Sun to Virginia O’Hanlon’s dad, yesterday’s news, but still relevant. “Yes Virginia, if you see it in The Sun, it’s so”.

Google tells me my alarm is already set for today at 5:00 a.m. Google tends to know more than most under our roof. The hour it will start and stop raining, schedules – sports, school, my son’s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, directions to the tennis match, and the fact that I love cleaning the kitchen to the song MMMBop!

The early morning gym crew was alert. I saw a man reading The Bible in his car after working out. Starting the day with a clear mind and strong heart seems right.

The panic of traffic is rekindled. Always thankful for safe arrivals. Yet, I hear five minutes to spare is never enough to start the workday right.

Tuesday trickles by like a leaky faucet. Is anyone listening in class? Have they learned? Is the day spent blabbering about behavior rather than teaching?

Kids climb into cars as we open and close their doors.

I chat with a colleague. “You are so brave” I tell her…to go out and start a new career. We have but one wild and precious life. One-shot. One chance. Changing course is okay, starting new is valiant, and believing you can is priceless.

Home again. Dinner – thank you crock pot, make tortillas – check. Announcing at the baseball game – check, PTSA meeting (ugh…5 minutes late) – check, dinner together – check, doing a lot – probably too much none at 100%…maybe 70.

Midnight trickles in again. Our son asks how to get rid of acne, and another asks Alexa the Braves score. Dogs are asleep.

I missed Wordle again.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Bring them water

40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

No. 35

Yesterday, in Vatican City, the somber Palm Sunday celebration returned to the square, outside of St. Peters’ Basilica. The National Catholic Reporter wrote, “Tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists clutched olive branches and braided palms emblematic of the ceremony that recalls Jesus’ return to Jerusalem.”

Pope Francis called for an Easter truce in the hope that leaders would “make some sacrifices for the good of the people.” His homily asked for “weapons to be laid down to begin an Easter truce, not to reload weapons and resume fighting, no! A truce to reach peace through real negotiations.”

“When we resort to violence … we lose sight of why we are in the world and even end up committing senseless acts of cruelty. We see this in the folly of war, where Christ is crucified yet another time,” he said.

The suffering of Ukrainians is devastating and beyond belief.

On Palm Sunday I am reminded of just how human we are. Imagine Holy Week, the original, the first take. The excitement when healing happened – all the hailing and joy, then suddenly someone’s faith waned and their hosannas faded away. Hope was lost, nails were hammered.

Would you have come running to help when Jesus cried out: I’m thirsty as he hung on the cross?

Who will bring the Ukrainians water? Who will walk among them with Jesus?

Bring your neighbor water, cling to your faith, and pray for peace.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

some optimism

40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

No. 34

I like to think of myself as a glass-half-full gal. As soon as a game is lost, a tear falls, or feelings are hurt, I swoop in with lessons from the field, a tissue, and empathy. Although sometimes my swooping is way too much.

You see, after a 10-run rule baseball game, I might say, “Great swing! That pitcher looked like a 20-year-old senior!” Then there’s the swim DQ, “Nice dive! Wowee! You’ll get them next time!” or a lost tennis match 0-6, 1-6, “Seriously, that game you DID win was fierce!!”.

In return, I’d get – Maaama! Did you even WATCH? “Oh, yes I did, and the team really seemed to gel! You’re going to have some fun memories, for sure!” My words fade in their ears like the light on a fall evening, going, going, gone. Thank goodness I married a realist.

A Journal of Experimental Psychology: General study reports that optimism is particularly prevalent among children, and declines as they grow up into adolescence. As they grow older, children learn more from negative outcomes, lose their hyper-optimism, and become more realistic. “We found that children were much more optimistic than the adolescents. All groups of young people had an optimism bias, as they over-estimated how much they will earn, but the younger children were particularly hyper-optimistic, and thought they would get the most treasures.”

I’ve noticed as my own kids get older, their optimism wanes. Pandemics, rejection letters from colleges, and “best friends” who shifted titles to simply “good friends” are likely contributors to the skepticism that takes over.

I am reminded of the natural optimism kids have when I see one little guy in kindergarten at school. He starts every sentence with “Guess what!” The words that follow typically involve an amazing cartwheel he just did during recess or a really beautiful picture he drew for his grandpa who is sick and will for sure make him feel better. In fact, we were counting in Spanish the other day, and he had to stop at Ocho (eight) because “Guess what!” My brother’s favorite number is ocho and I just love my brother.” Joy and optimism envelop him and fortify everyone around him.

a bit of pessimism

In all honesty, when it comes to my kids’ grades, I still tend to see the 78 before the 98 and the unfinished project in the garage. I then proceed to pepper them with, well what did you miss on the test? Did you study? What is your homework? I mean, high school grades count! All useless questions I just want to grab back, toss into the air, and hope a skeet shooter blasts them.

So I try and focus on Winston Churchill’s famous quote that “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

And I still feel every sporting event my kids participate in is great…maybe not for them, but for an optimist like me…they are fantastic!

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

What do you think about every day?

40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

No. 33

I’ve heard we are what we think about every day.

Personally, my mind is constantly wrapped around family and writing. Lately, I’ve been focused on my parents.

I love sharing stories about how mom and dad hold each other up emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I think of them when I close the door on selfishness and gluttony and throw the welcome mat out for perspective and gratitude; faith and blessings. I love celebrating the dusty street I came from in Albuquerque’s South Valley, having green chili nestled in between the salt and pepper at the table with dinner every night, and stacking wood on the woodpile until it looked like a perfect MC Escher painting.

I love opening a letter with a butter knife — it reminds me of when mom and dad would get the mail and use the letter opener to whoosh through the top of the envelope. I love that they taught me delayed gratification by having my sisters and I open one present at a time on Christmas Day and write down who gave us what so thank you notes would go out promptly. I like thinking about them when I pour my coffee in the morning, knowing they are at the table, unfolding the Albuquerque Journal after Mom has placed the rubber band holding it together in a small Ziploc bag because everything that can be recycled or reused is. There is no waste.

Some days I feel I’ve made some decent parenting choices, others I feel I’m misfiring endlessly…because parenting is hard. It is packed with daily moments of failure, joy, wonder, and exhaustion. But it’s what I think about every day, and I am so grateful.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

All mic’d up on opening day…here’s Joey Votto

40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

No. 32

When players at my son’s baseball games congregate at the pitcher’s mound to chat with the pitcher during a game, I often wonder what they are saying. Are there words of encouragement being exchanged? Maybe tips on the hitter? A rant about the umpire? The weather? Whatever it is, it looks like a solid phoneless conversation between teenagers.

Tonight as we watched the opening day game for the Braves I heard Joey Votto, first basemen for the Cinncinatti Reds talking to the announcers. He wasn’t in the dugout, wasn’t leaning over the fence with other players casually blowing bubbles, he was ON THE FIELD. On first base! No glove covering his mouth to hide the baseball babble. Joey Votto was “mic’d up” as they call it.

According to Forbes Magazine, “When ESPN and Major League Baseball recently aired a series of all-access games in which players were mic’d up with ear-pieces, allowing them to converse with the broadcast team, the games were brought to life with a color palette the game has rarely seen. Player personalities jumped out as plays were broken down with real-time insight not by the analysts in the booth but by the players in the middle of the action. Suddenly, lulls in the game became must-see moments: It was no longer a guess whether the runner was thinking of stretching a single into a double, and a mundane walk became something close to electric.”

Back on first base, Joey Votto was personable and seemingly relaxed, although he did mention how his heart was pumping out of his chest. As the game was played, he explained each situation – and what his reaction would be if the ball soars down the line or flies up or goes foul. He connected with his audience, mentioning being in a “mid-life crisis” and how he was considering getting a gold tooth, “bling in the mouth”. He turned to the runner on first, telling him he was “mic’d up”. The runner was not surprised, as mic-ing up becomes more common.

It was fascinating being inside a player’s head as he narrated play-by-play. Maybe mic-ing up more professionals would serve us well. The cranky butcher at Publix would be fun to listen to as he thinly slices our steak while swearing, or the receptionist at the pediatrician’s office who has set up and changed approximately 56 appointments over the years. Maybe if we talk through our days and share how we’re feeling, the tough times will be a little more bearable and the joyful will be celebrated by all. Vulnerability isn’t that scary…for Joey Votto.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

What is your content diet?

40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

No. 31

I grew up with the newspaper on the table every morning and another local paper would hit the steps in the afternoon. We ate fresh tomatoes from our garden, apricots from our trees, and ensured we ate clean, healthy food. In our home, what we consumed, was paramount to who we were. Healthy food and quality news mattered.

One of the most well-read people I know, Polina Pompliano, founder of The Profile takes a deep dive into content diets and how we can improve what we consume. She believes, “What you eat is who you are, and what you read is who you become…While most of us are willing to invest in our health, we often neglect our ‘content diet,’ which refers to the type of information we choose to feed our brains on a daily basis.”

The key is to first take a good look at what content we consume. TikTok? Youtube? Podcasts? The Atlantic? National Geographic? The options are endless.

We are all at the mercy of whatever lands in our inbox each morning. Will it deplete our energy and precious time?

If so, it is time for a content cleanse! Rid yourself of the mindless scrolling and focus on what will increase your knowledge and help you contribute to and elevate conversations. Be intentional about how you fill your mind.

NPR’s Clay Johnson said, “The question is, can we make enough people go: ‘Hey, you know what? I’m done. I’m done with the sensationalism of media. I’m done being taken advantage of by media companies so that I can have ads sold to me.’ … If we want to make media better, then we’ve got to start consuming better media.”

Only we can control our content intake and decide how much we will consume. We have the power to fill our bodies with essential nutrients and our minds with nourishing content. Let’s spend our time wisely.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Decisions are hard.

40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

No. 30

Our kids have been faced with an unending list of decisions in the last few years. Virtual or face to face. Mask or no mask. AP or Honors. Baseball or golf? Band or drama? College, trade school, gap year?

Ultimately, our kids decide. Then we all throw two cents of advice at them thinking we know what they should do. Who do they listen to? Hopefully themselves, and maybe one cent of the two we throw.

“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

Paulo Coelho

I pray I will support all of my children’s decisions. Because when you’re standing at the fork in the road, having loved ones who support you will make the moments after 100% better.

Please pray for Ukraine.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Stay strong Ukraine

USA Today reports, “Ukrainians returning to Kyiv as Russian forces pulled out over the weekend found a shocking trail of destruction and death, including slain civilians lying on the streets with their hands bound.”

Please pray for those families and loved ones going through this war.

Father of all, we pray to you for all of the lost Ukrainian souls, and for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

I write my story

40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

No. 29

Kindergarten is a blur except for recess 
and a girl who cut in line

In first grade the Tree House was Magical for some
I found the wood and built my own

Harry had a wand and Hedwig
I widdled a bow and arrow
and wove a leash for our dog

The Giver and Jonas were dystopian
Me my family and bike are utopian

The Hunger Games tangled with win and loss
Everyday I failed
Everyday I succeeded

Stories are in books
I write my story
I live my story
I am my story