Great Expectations

            One of the most cherished memories of my childhood is a time my parents piled us four kids into the car for what they said was a surprise. After a journey of a little less than an hour, we were indeed thrilled to show up at Disneyland. Best surprise ever!

            A couple of years later, my folks once again piled us into the car with the promise of a surprise. For all four of us, excitement was at a fever pitch.

            You cannot begin to imagine our disappointment at being taken to a clinic for inoculations.

            You often don’t get what you expect. For example, there’s a song by The Beatles, “A Day in the Life.” It contains two huge crescendos, and after the second one comes the wham! of a piano chord that slowly ebbs away. Well, my younger sister and I shared a room that had a radio alarm clock with the latest gizmo: a sleep function. You could set the radio to play for a certain amount of time without having to bother getting up to turn it off. And one night when we were in bed half asleep, “A Day in the Life” was broadcast. It played up to the end of the second crescendo, but instead of the piano chord every fiber of my being was expecting next, we heard the tiniest, almost imperceptible click! as the sleep function turned off the music.

            We both sat up in bed shrieking. The failure of that chord to sound made it seem as if time had stopped. But there was nothing we could do about it. That “other shoe” was never going to drop.

            We have great expectations of God too. Five times the Bible assures us that what we ask of God in faith, we will receive (Matthew 7:8, 21:22, Mark 11:24, Luke 11:10, John 16:24, 1 John 3:22).

            It sure doesn’t seem that way sometimes. St. James tells us if we don’t receive it’s because we ask wrongly to spend on our passions (James 4:3). But what if your prayer truly is unselfish? What if you don’t receive what you ask for then?

            In Luke, just before Christ’s assurance that we will receive, He tells us to be persistent in asking (Luke 11:5-8). I have to tell you this can work. Sometimes it takes a mighty lot of persistence–in my own case, 15 years of prayer for permission from my Spiritual Director to publish my first novel, Rain from Heaven. Fifteen years of prayer and trust may seem like a lot (well, it is!), but after that decade and a half I not only got what I was asking for but ended up with a far better, more polished book.

[SIDENOTE: I got into this business about asking and receiving a bit in my novel Amaranth. In it, the protagonist, Peter, keeps making requests of God but seemingly receiving no answer. In the end he realizes that every time he’d prayed, he’d gotten what he wanted, although not the way he expected. Instead, each time he got something better.]

            My great expectation is that God will be true to His promise to grant what we ask for. Even if it takes fifteen years. Even if I don’t live to see it.

            If I don’t get what I expected in this life, I’m sure God will grant me something far better in the next.

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Not the Best Year Ever

Here’s a little something I wrote to go with the tune of “Glow Worm.” For the purposes of this song, 2020 is pronounced “twenty twenty.”

Here in the year of 2020

We have got problems plenty plenty

We’ve got a bug named coronavirus

That we hope will pass on by us

Restrictions government’s imposing

Businesses and restaurants are closing

This year of woe has got to go

Go, 2020, go!

One of the reasons we’re all mopin’

It makes no sense what’s closed or open

Closing schools to kids seems unfair

When you can drop them off at day care

Can’t worship God at church in Reno?

Go play the slots at a casino

This year of woe has got to go

Go 2020 go!

One idea that should give us pause is

The virus won’t spread at certain causes

Pack in a crowd that’s close and so dense

Covid can always tell the diff’rence!

Funerals for grandmas all states will ban

But they’re okay for a politician

This year of woe has got to go

Go 2020 go!

In cities like Portland and Seattle

Folks are lining up for battle

“Peaceful” protests people don’t mind

Looting and burning surely are kind

Cops and protestors in a strange duel

Who want to live in a land of mob rule?

This year of woe has got to go

Go 2020 go!

If all of that is not astounding

Nature’s giving us a pounding

Storms that brewed in the Atlantic

Make a lot of good folks frantic

Evacuate to ground that’s higher

Hope lightning won’t start a fire

This year of woe has got to go

Go 2020 go!

Calendars show us this is a leap year

We started with hope and good cheer

Now it seems it’s never ending

Through this misery we’re wending

Wish I could leap to January

This one year I’d love to bury

This year of woe has been no fun

Come 2021!

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Living in Television Land

television for blog

We all are used to suspending our disbelief when watching TV. A few things, however, are so far removed from reality that I find them irksome. For example, if you live in Television Land:

  1. There’s always a conveniently empty parking space right in front of the building you want to visit.
  2. Your car will not have a rearview mirror on the windshield.
  3. If a car goes over a cliff, it will explode.
  4. Your grocery bag must be made of paper, and it must have a loaf of French bread sticking out from it. Bonus points if you have some carrot tops peeking out from there too.
  5. Your windows at home have no screens.
  6. You never say “Goodbye” before hanging up the phone.
  7. If you are on top of a building and are shot, even though the force of the shot should propel you backwards, you will fall forward off the roof. If there is a railing that should stop you, you will fall over the railing anyway.
  8. If you are shot while riding a horse, you will fall off the horse, even if you are only winged.
  9. The older the television show, the less likely it is that there will be any blood when you are shot.
  10. If someone dies but the body is not found, you can bet the person is not actually dead. This is 100 times more likely if you are on a soap opera.
  11. Furniture is sturdy unless there is a barfight. Then all bets are off. The same goes for glass in windows.
  12. If you are the murderer, you will confess when confronted with even the flimsiest of evidence, despite the fact that a halfway decent defense lawyer could get you off easily.
  13. If you are stuck in a place with a person you are on the outs with and there is a bomb with a timer ticking down, you will pick this occasion to mend your broken relationship. It will be okay, though. You will defuse the bomb with one second to spare.
  14. When someone is obviously dying and could easily tell you who the murderer is, instead of asking for this information, you will say, “Don’t try to talk. Save your strength.”
  15. The most dangerous thing you can say is “I know who the murderer is, but I don’t want to tell you over the phone.” I can guarantee you will not live to see another sunrise. (Frankly, you deserve to die since you are too stupid to take two seconds to tell the detective who the killer is.)

 

 

 

 

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The Great Divide

fault line 2

Lately our country has been more divided than ever. It seems like we’re shouting at each other, and no one is listening.

I think I may know one of the reasons why. Continue reading

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The Password Is “Work”

password for blog

Lately my husband and I have been watching some old episodes of the game show Password, hosted by Allen Ludden. They originally aired from the early sixties to the mid seventies and are quite a glimpse into the styles and attitudes of the times.

Every time a new contestant comes on the show, Mr. Ludden of course asks him or her a few questions so the audience can get to know the person a little. I was shocked, however, the first time he asked one of the women, “Are you a working girl?”

A game show host would never say that nowadays, and I realize that Mr. Ludden was just reflecting the culture of his time. In fact, when I pointed out to my husband that the question was a bit sexist, he said, “But a lot of women didn’t have jobs then.”

If by “having a job” you mean “gainfully employed,” he’s right. But that was only one of the points I was objecting to. I bristled a bit at the word girl. After all, Mr. Ludden never asked any of the men “Are you a working boy?”

But wait. It got worse. If a female contestant didn’t hold a job (again, in the sense of being gainfully employed), she was asked what her husband did. What she did with her time was ignored—as if her husband overshadowed her completely.

Just once (just once!) I would have liked this as a response to that question:

“Mr. Ludden, my husband works only eight hours a day, five days a week. I work twelve hours a day, seven days a week. I’m a chef, a baker, a seamstress, a laundress, a grocery shopper, a child care provider, a taxi driver, a maid, plus I run the errands necessary for a household. And I do it all out of love, not for money.”

I’m reminded of an episode of Make Room for Daddy in which the wife gets called up for jury duty, and the husband has to hire five people just to do the work she normally does all by herself. Take it from someone who was a stay-at-home mom for several years: the amount of work is astronomical, and it’s all done without pay and usually without any expression of gratitude from its recipients.

Something’s horribly wrong in a world when work is seen as valuable only when it produces a salary.

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The Year of Our Lord

Just an announcement that I am taking a year off from writing to spend time praying, reading, and working on my spiritual life. The blog may or may not resume after Christmas 2019.

Thanks to all of you for your support!

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Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

christmas-stockings-for-blog

Looking for some inexpensive gifts for your Christian friends this Christmas? All four of my Christian novels–Rain from Heaven, Nearer the Dawn, Amaranth, and Cherish–are now on sale for just 99¢ each on Amazon Kindle. That’s less than $4 for all four!

For ages young adult and above. All net profits go to charity.

Rain from Heaven, novel about God’s mercy: https://www.amazon.com/Rain-Heaven-J-Avila-ebook/dp/B00DPO6A3E

Nearer the Dawn, a novel about faith: https://www.amazon.com/Nearer-Dawn-J-Avila-ebook/dp/B00J1AVQLM

Amaranth, a novel about trusting God: https://www.amazon.com/Amaranth-J-Avila-ebook/dp/B00WSCJT64

Cherish, a novel about forgiveness: https://www.amazon.com/Cherish-J-Avila-ebook/dp/B071DCW1PM

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Power

power-grid-for-blog

Recently my husband came home from a Friends of the Library sale. My city library sells donated books every few months, and you pay only a measly two dollars for whatever you can stuff inside a paper grocery bag. The money goes toward buying new books for the library, essential when our city has slashed the new book budget to zero.

In my husband’s bag was a book he thought I might like because it’s about Catholicism. On the back cover are quotations from many prominent Catholics—that is, Catholics who are prominent in a worldly sort of way, such as politicians and actors. One quotation struck me immediately. I’m not going to mention who said it, but it read “When my mom asked if I wanted to be a nun, I said I’d rather be a priest . . . The nuns were always wonderful, but the power was with the priest.”

When I see something like that, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I did, however, read it aloud to my husband, and he burst into laughter. So maybe mirth is the more appropriate response to something so ridiculous.

If you think priests have a lot of power, read that quote to your local parish priest and see what his reaction is. Continue reading

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Missing

car in front of house for blog

We live less than a mile from our local university. And apparently one of the fraternities has moved into a house about three doors down.

Of course that means occasionally I’m going to miss some peace and quiet on the weekends. Thank goodness for double-paned windows.

Take, for example, a recent Saturday night. Even with the windows shut, the loud thumping of a bass pounded through into our bedroom. Not only that but cars were parked up and down the street, including in front of mailboxes and even where the street curves around the corner.

It must have been some wild party because the next day our neighbors discovered a can of beer in their mailbox.

What bothered me most, though, was that, come Sunday morning, a car was still parked in front of my house. I figured one of the guests had stayed over.

Monday the car was still there. Tuesday as well.

By Wednesday I began to get more concerned. Then one of the neighbors told me she had seen a young lady park it there Saturday night.

So—a young woman goes to a frat party and never returns to her car. Continue reading

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A Peep at Pepys

Pepys for blog

Lately I’ve been reading the Diary of Samuel Pepys (pronounced peeps), who lived in London in the 17th century. It’s a fascinating look into life in the 1660s. Most of the diary, of course, is taken up with the daily grind we all face: going to work, having lunch, back to work, and then home in the evening.

Once in a while, though, there is a glimpse of how hard life was back then. Pepys takes us through an outbreak of the plague and also the panic during the Great Fire of London.

Such things you might learn about in your average history class or by browsing the internet. I’m more interested in what might be considered the mundane aspects of life and how they differ from what we have now.

Take, for example, one time when Pepys records that he was having some intestinal problems. He does say that he had been consuming a lot of beer and milk that day. Now you and I both know that’s probably what led to his problem. But you’ll never guess what Pepys thinks caused his distress. Continue reading

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