On Spending

movie prop for blog

Occasionally I watch the television show Pawn Stars, shown on the History Channel. It can provide a fascinating look at historical objects, some of which are museum quality.

In a recent episode, the owner of the pawn shop (located in Las Vegas) took a trip to Los Angeles to procure more merchandise for his store. In particular he was searching for movie memorabilia.

But my jaw dropped at the amount of cash he doled out for one item: more money than my husband and I paid for our house. So what was it? The ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz? Perhaps Sam’s piano from Casablanca?

Nope.   Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

It Doesn’t Mean What It Means

Baptism for blog

I’m amazed sometimes at folks who claim scripture is the only authority yet somehow don’t accept it as their authority.

Take, for example, an internet discussion I had recently with a woman who had attended my Catholic elementary school. Apparently she’s no longer Catholic. I could tell because she shared the picture of a sign that proclaims we are saved by Jesus alone, not Mary, or a priest, or a pope. Okay, fine. All these Catholics agree with (although I do take exception to the implication we somehow believe Mary, a priest, or the pope can save us.)

One of the things on the list, however, was baptism. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Beauty Treatment

Beauty Parlor for blog

When I was teaching school, a student showed up one day wearing a T-shirt with three cartoon rabbits on it.  As I recall, the first rabbit was eating a carrot. The caption under it read “Eat Well.” The second rabbit was skipping rope. The caption under it read “Exercise Regularly.” The third rabbit was prone and had X’s where his eyes should be. The caption under that one read “Die Anyway.”

I’m often amazed at how much time, effort, and money we pour into making our bodies look good. It’s a losing battle.

Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t care for our bodies. They are a gift from God, and there’s even a Commandment (Thou Shalt Not Kill) that the nuns at my elementary school claimed also meant we should take care of our bodies by nourishing them properly and not abusing them through overeating, cigarettes, and drugs.

But sometimes physical beauty—like anything else—is taken to extremes, especially when we care more about our bodies than our souls. We should, as St. Peter said, pay more attention to the character of our hearts than to adorning our bodies. (1 Peter 3:3-4)

[SIDENOTE: This is a minor theme I covered in my novel about physical immortality, Amaranth. The main theme is Trusting God. But since it seems to me that some people overdo concern about their bodies to the detriment of their souls, I got into this theme a bit with one of the characters.  Okay, enough shameless self-promotion.]

How much attention do we give our bodies? According to one website I visited, (http://www.cheatsheet.com/personal-finance/how-much-do-we-spend-on-beauty.html/?a=viewall), about $55 billion a year on cosmetics. The typical woman, I am told, spends about $15,000 on make-up during her lifetime. Many people spend much more on plastic surgery.

How many Catholics, I wonder, will spend an hour at the gym that they won’t spend at Eucharistic Adoration?

One of the most beautiful women whom I’ve ever seen in a photograph is Mother Teresa. Yes, she had all those wrinkles. She also had an incredible smile and a liveliness in her eyes I don’t see in fashion models.

We will have our souls for all eternity. We will also, after the resurrection of the dead, have our bodies for all eternity. The beauty we possess then will come from God, not from a bottle of make-up or the precision of a surgeon’s knife.

I’m not saying women should never wear makeup. I’m not saying people shouldn’t work out. The question, however, is what kind of beauty treatment we’re prioritizing in this lifetime. Are we focused on one in which we try to beautify just our bodies or one which allows God to beautify both our bodies and our souls?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cherish Free on Kindle

In honor of Mercy Sunday, my Christian novel about forgiveness, Cherish, will be free on Kindle through Thursday, April 27.






Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Cherish for blog

My latest Christian novel, Cherish, is now on Amazon. For a limited time, it will be available on Kindle for just 99¢. As usual, all net profits go to charity.

Kindle Version: https://www.amazon.com/Cherish-J-Avila-ebook/dp/B071DCW1PM

Paperback Version: https://www.amazon.com/Cherish-J-Avila/dp/1544081952/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492453437&sr=1-1&keywords=avila+cherish

Here’s the story:

About to give the closing argument on the most important case of her career, District Attorney Candice Boulanger is struck down by a heart attack. When she comes to, however, she discovers she is not in a hospital but in an odd courtroom with no windows and no doors. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Let There Be Light!”

Easter Vigil for blog

A very lengthy—3 ½ hours–Easter vigil Mass once brought home to me the entire human condition just from two people sitting close by me.

During the numerous Baptisms taking place, I got the feeling I was being watched by someone in the pew in front of me. I glanced over to see a baby girl, perhaps 10 months old, her eyes dark as coffee beans, glaring at me. She had a little doll with her, one of those kind who have a plastic head, arms, and legs but the rest of the body is made of cloth. While staring at me, she turned the doll upside-down, stuck its butt into her mouth, and began teething on it.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On the Wall

Jesus Mural for Blog

When I was two years old, my mother enrolled my older sister in a tap dancing class. Since I was considered too young, I sat on the sidelines with Mom to watch their performances. Yet, not wanting to be left out and trying desperately to mimic my sibling, I would get up and do the routines. Eventually the instructor told my mother that since I was able to perform, I might as well join the class too.

It wasn’t long before we were scheduled to give a show in public. The class was invited to dance at a local social club—I can’t remember if it was the Lion’s Club or the Rotary Club, but it was some organization like that. I do remember they had a stage, and all we girls, dressed in western garb, lined up on it to perform “Cowboy Bob” who was the “rootinest, tootinest (bang! bang!) cowboy you ever saw.”

Because I was the youngest and therefore the shortest, the teacher had placed me in the middle of the line. And I was doing all right until the dance required us to make a 360 degree turn. I got halfway around and stopped dead in my tracks. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Good Enough for Me

Bauble Holder for blog

One day when I was driving my two daughters home from their Catholic school, they brought a problem to my attention. They were being teased about their shoes. Apparently everybody else in their classes was wearing Nikes and Adidas. Why did they have to wear shoes from Kmart and Walmart? Couldn’t they have those nicer, name brand shoes their classmates had?

My heart sank. How well I knew that in a school where uniforms are required the only status symbol a student can wear is something beyond the uniform. In an effort to quell such snobbery, in my old Catholic school we had been required to wear Oxford shoes so our footwear would be identical.

Yet even that had not been enough because girls could wear bows and ponytail holders in their hair. I remembered being teased for having just a rubber band for my ponytail instead of the incredibly popular bauble holders. Oh, how I desired to have those pretty bauble holders! Each had two colored plastic balls so you could choose what color you wanted that day.

Desperate to fit in with my classmates, I asked my mother to buy some. Well, she was not going to spend good money on a triviality like that! The rubber band that came with the newspaper was good enough for me. In fact, the rubber band that came with the newspaper was so good enough for me that it, along with a few strands of hair, was daily yanked out of my ponytail to be used again.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Relative Size

Bathtub for blog

One thing small children have trouble understanding is relative size. For example, my older daughter, when a toddler, always insisted I take her out of the bathtub before pulling the plug. She was terrified that she, like the water, would go down the drain.

I showed her one of her bath toys and asked her if it was bigger or smaller than she was. She admitted it was smaller. So I demonstrated for her that the toy could not go down the drain—even if I tried to squeeze it in there, it wasn’t going to disappear down the hole and be forever lost.

My pleas were to no avail. She just couldn’t grasp the concept and continued to insist on being removed from the tub before the plug.

Amazingly, I remember have trouble with this concept myself. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Full Gratitude

Roses for blog

When our first child was born, my husband wanted me to make a video for an aunt he was especially close to. This involved several hours of work since I had to edit out everything the aunt wouldn’t be interested in, like footage of my family. We shot a special introduction to the video in which we said we hoped she would enjoy seeing our new baby. We put her address and our return address label onto a bubble mailer and dropped it off at the post office.

So imagine my surprise when about a week later my mother-in-law informed me that the aunt had phoned to thank her for the wonderful video. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment