Lent begins for us Orthodox this week, about a week-and-a-half before non-orthodox have Easter!  I’m excited, and a little nervous, to be beginning Lent.  You see, in the Western Rite of the Orthodox Church, the Lenten discipline is to fast and abstain (from meat) every day of Lent except on Sundays!  I’m not sure I can handle that yet…  Donna is planning on doing Monday/Wednesday/Friday as meatless for the entire family.  I am going to attempt to do closer to what the Church call for…  but no promises!  This is one thing that I love about the Orthodox Church.  The Church expects a lot from its members, but it also realizes that everyone is at a different point in their spiritual journeys.  It doesn’t proclaim that its members are “going to hell” because of their failures.  Rather, the Orthodox Church, as a true hospital for sinners wants us to work towards the goal.  I can handle that attitude, and honestly, I think I am more likely to reach (or at least, get close to) the goal.  Additionally, I will be striving towards the goal with the right attitude — not avoiding hellfire — but striving towards being more like Christ.  After all, that is the ultimate goal of life.

After a fairly stressful week, I decided I wanted to get away.  Years ago, when Donna and I lived in Alabama, we would pack up and drive a few hours, stay at a motel, and just explore the area in which we found ourselves.  It’s a little more difficult to do that around here, since you really need to drive a lot further in order to get anywhere interesting!  So we haven’t done that in a long time.  Well, this past weekend was the one.  I just had to decide where to go….  It was going to be a warm, but really windy weekend.  I figured east would be the way to go, since I could get to the woods, right?  But then, at the last minute, I decided to go west to Carlsbad Caverns.  The wind wouldn’t bother us underground!

We left on Friday after work and drove to Lubbock where we stayed the night at a nice Holiday Inn Express.  The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel. They had the greatest breakfast ever!  Freshly made pancakes, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal, eggs, bagels, sausage, cereal, yogurt, several different kinds of coffees, and juice.  Yum!  We left from there and drove the rest of the way to the cave.

We decided to go down through the natural entrance.  The cave was absolutely stunning!  The trail was very steep, winding for about 1.25 miles down 750 feet, or, as the park ranger said, the equivalent of a 75 story building!  I had to carry Todd most of the way.  He walked some, and Donna gave me a (very) short break.  Preston and Russell were troopers, and made it down all by themselves!  By the time we made it down to the bottom, where the restrooms were, my arm and legs were killing me!  We didn’t make the tour of the Big Room, which was a little disappointing, but I suppose that gives us an excuse to go back!

We drove all the way home that evening, hitting a skunk in the process.  We all piled out of our stinky van and went to bed at 12:30 am Sunday morning.  And yes, we did make it to church later that day!

Once I get my pictures off the camera, I’ll add a few to this post.

That’s right! It’s time to sign up for health insurance again! This year there have been some pretty big changes. Our plan had to change to meet the new law’s requirements. No more supplemental… slightly better deductible, but still way too high. Ugh, I hate the way healthcare works in the United States.