Posted by: Laura Carter | March 18, 2016

Jesus loves ALL the little children

Remember that Sunday School song we all used to sing “Jesus Loves the Little Children”? For some reason I started singing it this morning as I was getting ready for work. And, I thinking, “Jesus loves ALL the little children in the world including:

22% of all children in the US living below the federal poverty rate

one in five children suffering with mental illness

62% of Hispanic children in the US living in or near poverty

The estimated 679,000 children who were victims of abuse and neglect

All the Syrian and other refugee children, clinging to their parents, hoping for a chance to live in a better world

The children born to undocumented parents in the US who fear they may be torn from the only life they’ve know and deported.

Let’s remind all the “conservative Christian” politicians and their ilk spreading hate and bigotry, Jesus is not selective about who He loves and that is the model we should strive for. Not how much we can cut the assistance and education programs. Not how fast we can round up all the “undocumented” families or build a wall to keep out all those who do not ascribe to the same faith as they claim to follow.

all the children of the world

Jesus loves the little children All the children of the world Red & yellow, black & white they’re precious in his sight Jesus loves the little children of the world

 

Sing that little song several times today to as a reminder just who does Jesus love. Sing it for your family, your friends and co-workers. Sing it for yourself.

 

Posted by: Laura Carter | March 10, 2016

Little Zen Moments

I wonder, if like me, everyone occasionally experiences moments where the world seems to stand still and the cosmos aligns itself in perfect harmony.  These experiences might last for a few seconds or several minutes.  But, before the gears of chaos engage again, I always have the overwhelming feeling “Woo hoo, life is good!”

I’ve thought perhaps these moments of clarity and tranquility could be a spiritual thing…maybe a split-second glimpse of what heaven would be like.  Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, believed there must be a little bit of Zen in all creative and spiritual experiences.  Not counting any drug induced euphoria, I believe each of us can experience our “little Zen moments” during our lifetime-if we tune in.

Here are some of my little Zen moments:

Sitting in the sun, by the pool. Watching the clouds drift by, listening to the birds, I feel my body and soul warming, the tension washing away, and I experience “the eternal happiness of the spotless mind.”  Although not all Zen moments can be recreated, this works for me almost every time.

Waking up in the morning and walking into the living room where all my grandchildren have flung themselves to sleep in the blankets on the floor.  I look at their beautiful, sleeping faces and think, “Yeah, this is the best moment of their visit.”

Walking downtown during my lunch break, soaking in the sights and sounds of the city, sometimes gives me the feeling of being so completely alive it is a Zen moment.  It is especially meaningful if you just say “howdy” to strangers.

At the Botanical Gardens, I sit on a bench and stare out at the riot of plants and colors and feel in ‘shock and awe’ of nature’s divine creativity of which all our lives are a part.

Listening to a “kick-ass” song on the radio driving home after a great workout at the gym.  Go endorphins!

Having a cup of Oolong tea on the back patio with my hubby.  Sitting in the breeze, watching the bats come out at sunset, I feel the multiple activities of the day moving out of my mind.  This unfortunately does not last as long as I would like, ’cause the evening’s tasks soon take up residence.

If you don’t recognize your Zen moments, I urge you to learn to do so and then, please share.

PS I wrote this several years ago, but was reminded of it today.

Posted by: Laura Carter | February 28, 2016

Gardening on Cement

If you’re as old as I am, you might remember the Beverly Hillbillies TV show. The Clampetts, a family of hillbillies–obstinately from Tennessee–found oil on their land, got rich and moved to Beverly Hills, California. Elly Mae, the blond and buxom daughter, called the swimming pool their “cement pond”. I call our back courtyard garden our “cement garden” in remembrance of Elly Mae.

2015 garden

Last year’s garden

For the past several years we have planted veggies in tubs and large pots. We’ve had good success with tomatoes, peppers, okra (bred for containers) eggplant, Swiss chard and a variety of herbs. This year we are trying onions. We also replaced the lime and lemon trees as the previous ones froze two years ago.

20160228_133004

2016 Spring garden just planted

We also have two fabulous, 10 foot tangerine trees in a real dirt patch on one end.

tangerine tree

Last fall’s crop of tangerine totaled about 170

As you can see we also have cactus plants, a Bird of Paradise and about a dozen Plumeria trees in various stages of growth. Our small front courtyard is a plethora of plants and a volunteer Loquat tree, which we think is cool.

20160228_142634

This is what you can do with a little space and ingenuity.

 

Posted by: Laura Carter | December 2, 2015

In between Netflixing, what I’m reading

If you’ve read my blog post Confessions of a Streaming Addict, you might think that’s all I’ve been doing to while away the hours. However, I’ve managed to squeeze in several books—some of which are listed below.

1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse: Remake, Restyle, Recycle, Renew

book cover reuseThe concept of creative reuse aka upcycling, remaking or repurposing is not new.  According to Grant Johnson, author of the book “1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse: Remake, Restyle, Recycle, Renew, “…materials reuse has been around since medieval scribes scraped off and reused parchments, and the ancient Greeks melted down older bronze statues to make newer versions.”

Creative reuse, in its current incarnation, combines artistic expression with ecological responsibility served with a side of thrift.  1,000 photos of artworks and projects from artists around the world inspire us with infinite creative possibilities.

Spin

book cover spinWritten by Robert Charles Wilson, this is science fiction, but with plenty of plausible science based theories. The novel starts out simple, but grows with complexity as the story progresses. The main characters are exceptionally well developed and likable, too. Stick with it, as it becomes an engrossing read.

 

 

Last Train to Istanbul

book cover last train to istanbulA historical novel about Turkish Jews during WWII. It was well researched by the author who used historical aspects taken from written files and oral histories. I was surprised to learn the Turkish government has a history of not only welcoming, but protecting its Jewish citizens.

It is a tale of escape from the Nazi regime with realistic characters and plenty of suspense. I plan to read more of Ayse Kulin’s books in time.

 

City of Stairs

book cover city of stairsThis is a novel in the fantasy genre. I follow the author Robert Jackson Bennett on Twitter @robertjbennett. He is an irreverent hoot sometimes, but don’t be fooled, he is an amazing writer. It’s a tale of people and politics, a mythology of gods and magic. His imagination runs wild. Yet, Bennett manages to build a highly organized and absorbing world with a storyline and characters which will definitely grab your attention and leave you wanting more.

Posted by: Laura Carter | October 30, 2015

Seven Sisters of Blessed Sacrament Academy

Seven Sisters sounds like a movie title. Well, in a way it is. I recently created a video compilation of testimonies from the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament who live in the Convent (and original school) built in 1926 on 17 acres at 1135 Mission Road in San Antonio, TX.

Sister Odilia writes “…listen to our “job descriptions”, and when you add our personal journeys, you will get a hint of how huge those difference are. And yet … as we continue to work in and sponsor the programs of Blessed Sacrament Academy you can also sense and see the powerful work God is doing with our lives.”

I hope you find inspiration and appreciation as you listen to these strong, caring women tell but a fraction of their amazing life stories.

 

Posted by: Laura Carter | October 17, 2015

Mission Trail Rotary Charity Bike Tour

After a few years of working with Sister Odilia at Blessed Sacrament Academy, I have become a big fan of San Antonio’s Southside. As part of BSA’s community outreach efforts, Sister Odilia and I joined the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association and the Mission Trail Rotary Club. Both organizations bring together people who care about their Southside neighbors and neighborhoods.

m2m posterThe Southside is also home of the Missions of San Antonio (all but the Alamo) which were recently designated a World Heritage Site.The Mission Trail Rotary Club is hosting 2015 Mission to Mission Charity Bike Tour on Saturday, December 5, 2015 beginning at Missions Park Pavilion, 802 VFW Blvd, San Antonio, TX 78214.

bike riders

This year nine local charities will receive grants from money raised by bike riders and sponsors. Read the quick facts or go directly to register for the best charity bike ride of the year.

#MTRotary #M2Mbike

See you there!

Posted by: Laura Carter | August 30, 2015

Confessions of a Streaming Addict

OK, I admit it’s true. I am addicted to streaming.

Several years ago we cut the cable TV and bought a ROKU box. The ROKU is a magic box that allows you to watch a variety of streaming channels including Netflix, Amazon Prime, news and movie channels and a whole lot more on your TV set.

My first favorite was watching TV shows in binge mode. No commercials, pause when you want to, watch a whole season in back to back episodes. Who could ask for anything more. I started out with “The Tudors” and nip tuck“Nip Tuck” and progressed to “Mad Men.” Recently, I watched all 196 episodes of “Supernatural”–not all at once, silly.

My grandkids share their favorites and they have surprisingly good taste. Or, at least we agree on genres. My granddaughter and I watch horror movies–the old classics and the new not-so-classic like “Paranormal Activity”.

One grandson suggested “Six Feet Under” six feet underHe said it had the best ever last episode of any series. I watched it and agreed. I like “Hell on Wheels” and lots of the BBC murder mystery series–some of which are many years old. And, of course, “Downton Abbey”. Nature and science programs also show up on my recommended list.

orange is the new blackThe new Netflix originals are a great addition to the already amazing amount of choices. “Orange is the New Black” and “Sense8” are super.

Another really nice feature, for a person hard of hearing as I am, is to activate the closed captioning. It has made a world of difference in my viewing pleasure.

I list more of my streaming favorites on Pinterest and books I read too, if you are interested in more recommendations.

Posted by: Laura Carter | July 13, 2015

Mission musing in San Antonio

This morning, while brushing my teeth, my mind went wandering, and I found myself thinking about the San Antonio Missions. On July 5th UNESCO designated the four Spanish colonial Missions and the Alamo as the first World Heritage site in Texas. In a post I read on the Rivard Report, Nelson Wolff, Bexar County Judge, is quoted as saying, “This is a great day to celebrate our culture, our heritage, and the great historic structure of the Missions and the Alamo.”

I drifted just a few seconds to recall the crazy antics of weekend protesters who rallied in front of the Alamo fearful of the United Nations “taking away our control of the Missions.” No doubt, there are some who are worried Jade Helm may be hijacking the Missions for tunneling, secretly sending troops to overthrow the Texas gov’ment, and make it part of the United States.

the alamo

In my life I have been so fortunate as to have worked within walking distance of two of these great Missions. For six years, I worked downtown in the beautiful old building, 110 Broadway. The Alamo was one block from my office. I passed by it almost every day as I weaved my way through the tourists and other downtown workers to lunch or shopping. I never passed by the Alamo that I wasn’t aware of a slight emotional tug from the historical site.

mission conception for blog

Now, I drive past Mission Concepción on my way to Blessed Sacrament Academy campus at 1135 Mission Road. Both the history of the Mission and that of Blessed Sacrament seem sacred. It also feels, as they say, “Puro San Antonio.”

Come visit San Antonio and our historical sites and treasures.

selfie at the missions2

Me trying to take a selfie at the Mission was pretty funny.

 

Posted by: Laura Carter | May 17, 2015

Life According to Spock

Original post June 2010.

One time, my mother told my teen-aged son, “If you say you are bored one more time, you can leave my house. Only boring people get bored.” A couple of years ago, as I approached 60 years of age, I spent some time contemplating my life.  I was feeling–well–bored!  I felt as if I was hunkering down into a comfortable, yet uneventful, routine existence.  Life should be a luscious feast and I was on a starvation diet. Not wanting to become a boring person, I decided to fix that.

Inspired by my truly adventurous, un-boring mother and the “feed your head” attitude of the sixties, I know you have to exercise the brain, in addition to the body, to stay healthy and active.   I’ve heard we have as many brain cells as the national debt has dollars.  But, if we don’t use them, we will lose them. And, not just our brains, our psyche, our spirit, our creativity and our very love of life need feeding–not the usual fare, but tasty, spicy food.

I put the following words together and adopted them as an action plan: learn, create, try, see, travel, taste, listen, and visit.  Dragging the hubby along, we talked about making an effort to do something we had never done before or go somewhere we had never been, at least once a week.  Now, you won’t see us skydiving or riding a camel across the Sahara, there are plenty of less complicated ways to meet this goal.  Not that you should rule out anything you feel is in your scope of exploration.

We have been working our plan for about two years.  Some things are easy–having a beer while listening to Los #3 Dinners, live.  Some things are a real push for me, especially the going down in the Caverns of Sonora cave thing.  A disastrous exercise was a week long road trip to South Dakota–but that’s another story.  Recently, we visited, for the first time, the San Antonio River Walk extension down to the San Antonio Museum of Art.  Yes, we had to hunt for a parking space and got hot and sweaty.  We also enjoyed the view, the precious time together and the feeling of being a part of the city.  The museum, while not totally new for us, always unveils new treasures and renewed appreciation for art.

I think when Spock says “live long and prosper, he means live long and have a wealth of experiences.
Get out of your mental easy chair this week, do something different and share it.

Me at a "take it apart and make it art workshop" with spare parts and 10bitworks

Me at a “take it apart and make it art workshop” with spare parts and 10bitworks

Posted by: Laura Carter | May 15, 2015

Disabled Hondurans — voices for the voiceless

On February 26, 2015 eighteen members of the Honduran Association of Migrants Returned with Disabilities (AMIREDIS) began a journey across Central America to the United States. Their purpose to “raise awareness about the perils of riding on top of train cars on the Mexican railroad commonly referred to as “The Beast” (La Bestia in Spanish). AMIREDIS activists also “promote justice and rights for disabled persons” as their distinctive commonality is traumatic injuries incurred while riding La Bestia.

AMIREDIS represents more than 70 of the 700 persons in Honduras who have been maimed by a similar train accident.  For those seeking to escape a country rife with corruption, violence, unemployment and poverty, it is a courageous decision to take the long dangerous journey, across Central America and Mexico hoping to immigrate and/or reunite with family. “We have dreams of a better life,” said Jose Luis AMIREDIS president.

At the end of a grueling journey to the United States border, thirteen of the men turned themselves in and were incarcerated in the Eagle Pass detention center. They were transferred to the South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall where they stayed for over a month until RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) facilitated the release for 11 of the men who vow to continue the journey. “Thank God for RAICES,” said Jose Luis. “The detention centers have no way to care for people with disabilities, so we are thrown in a cell and forgotten.”

Read May 15th NY Times Editorial re immigrant detention.

Last week at the Episcopal Church of Reconciliation, four members of AMIREDIS, accompanied by RAICES attorney/advocate Mohammed Abdollahi, came to tell their stories to a group of interested San Antonio citizens. Abdollahi said, “These men have a credible cause for asylum.” Elaborated in a court document submitted by Attorney Jonathan D. Ryan, RAICES Counsel for the Respondents, the group’s “advocacy has garnered international media attention, effectively exposing the Honduran government for its incapacity to assist its disabled nationals; while the Honduran nation survives on the remittances of migrants who risk their lives travelling, it does little to support or assist those who return disabled. Consequently, these men now confront both the challenge of coping with their disability in Honduras, as well as retribution from the Honduran government for their advocacy.”

Hondurans seeking asylum
“In Honduras there are a lot of gangs,” Alonzo told us. “Because I didn’t want to join, they were harassing me to the point I felt I needed to take my chances to immigrate, or be killed.” “I had ridden the trains for days, been assaulted and was very hungry, thirsty and tired,” explained Alonso, who left a daughter with his mother back in Honduras. “I ran to get on another train, grabbed onto the railing to pull myself up and was dragged behind for several minutes. Finally I pulled myself up onto the train, but had mangled my leg in the process.” After a quick amputation and medical care in Mexico, he was deported back to Honduras.

“There are no jobs for disabled people in Honduras,” Ifrain told us. “There is such competition for work anyone with a disability is left completely out. And, there are no benefits for unemployment or disability. We come to try to find work and help our families back in Honduras.” He was deported back to Honduras after being assaulted and thrown from a train traveling through Mexico resulting in the loss of one of legs.

group at churchThe group is continuing to visit with people to help spread their message and to raise funds for the journey to the Washington where they hope to speak with advocates and policy makers. They have put their faith in God to help them be a voice for the voiceless, advocating reform in a broken immigration process.  “Nothing is impossible,” says Jose Luis. “We want to talk to President Obama.”

Immigration is a complicated issue. And, I don’t claim to know even a tenth of the legal or legislative aspects. But, I do know a compelling human story when I hear one. I also know that except for the Native Americans, we are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants.

 

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