The Amsterdam airport/security process in full review:

1) When we landed we taxied so long I thought that maybe we landed in Germany and were slowly making our way over to Amsterdam. It was so much time that Amy was able to take another very good nap before we got to out jet way.
2) Starbucks in America is expensive, but Starbucks in Europe is robbery. The drinks are priced higher to where even if the dollar was on par with the Euro a latte would still cost more, but if you throw in the fact that the Euro is 1 and a half times stronger than the dollar, your already expensive Chai Tea Latte will cost you $7.50.
3) Do not worry about buying a drink you plan on taking on your next flight or filling up your water bottle, you will be required to dump out all liquids an innumerable amount of times.
4) Do not think that your ticket or the electronic screens are incorrect when they tell you your boarding time is an hour and a half or more before your scheduled departure time….it is not incorrect. It will take you every minute of that time to get through the rigorous security process, which I will explain below.
5) You arrive to your gate area to find all of the seats empty and a VERY long line. You promptly assume that this is the line for a flight leaving before yours (as any thinking person would, considering it is a very long time before your flight takes off). However, your assumption is incorrect and you find yourself at the back of this VERY long line, which you then promptly notice, is not moving.
6) Half a lifetime later, you find yourself at the front of the line on the other side of a roped off area of “interrogation podiums.” Before you are let through the rope area you are asked if you are traveling alone or with someone. If you are traveling with someone they two of you are given a pre-interrogation interrogation, including questions like; “How long have you known each other” and “Have you been with them your entire trip?”, to which I would love to respond, “Well there was this one time she went to the bathroom without me, does that count?”
7) Once that interrogation is over they let you through the rope, direct you to your podium and take your passport and boarding pass for the first “swipe in.”
8) Once they have allowed you some time to sweat it out at the podium, they join you and begin asking you another series of questions about your trip, your relationship and your luggage handling while in the airport. (Some sidebar commentary: I think this is an exercise in futility. If I am a terrorist of if I am carrying things that I should not be transporting on a plane I will likely not answer “yes” to questions like, “Have you accepted anything from anyone that was not yours?” or “Have you let your bag out of your sight?”
9) Once you sufficiently answer their questions and they believe you are not a threat to national security they put you in the next security line, where you will dump out your water, AGAIN, take off your jacket, shoes, belt, etc…empty your pockets, put your bags back through the xray machines, step through the “swivel around your body” X-ray machine and then get a pat down. All of this mind you, after getting straight of a plane from another country where you just did this whole routine. I mean, I can see the water fountain I filled my bottle up in from here, do I really need to dump it out….in the same fountain?
10) Once you and your bags have been thoroughly X-rayed, scanned, patted down and violated, you can then take your seat, wait there aren’t any, in the small gate area, but don’t get too cozy, because you only have 10 minutes before the plane boards, even though you arrived at your gate nearly 2 hours before now.
11) After you are rested from your 10 minutes of sitting you will join all of humanity in the small gate area and herd your way like cattle down the world’s longest jet way to the seat you will spend the next 10 hours of your life in. Happy day.
12) Don’t worry, if you are still nervous and feel like this process might still not have led to a safer America, you will repeat all of this in the Atlanta airport, including picking up your checked luggage and sending it, as well as yourself back through security and X-rays…..so that you can get in your car…….and drive to your house.


the world's smallest smoking closet?

If ever I thought that the smoking room in the Atlanta airport was bad, the one in the Vienna airport in Austria is far worse...I think you could watch the years tick off your life just standing close to it. Someone opens the door and smoke comes pouring out. Yuck.


The Prague Bridge Band

I have mentioned before on here that I have some friends that I traveled Europe with after college that have since then started a hostel in Europe. My pictures from that trip are some of the first posts on this blog (January 2006) and I posted some pictures of their hostel a few months ago. It was what they felt the Lord calling them to do and though it seemed like an impossibility, it has come true. I have been lucky enough to come back and see this dream in reality; in fact, I am currently typing this from their hostel, Mosaic House. It has been amazing to catch up with them and see their world over here in Prague. April 9th was my roommate, Amy's birthday and she wanted to do something epic for it and Europe was the top of her list. We came over here and have traveled to a couple of amazing places. I have a lot of pictures and a lot to say about this in the future, but right now I just wanted to post this video of the "Bridge Band." One of the famous spots in Prague is the Charles Bridge. The Bridge is always bustling with tons of tourists, vendors and musicians. This band was my favorite for several reasons. Reason #A) There is a very old man playing a washboard with thimble like metal fingertips and he is darn good it. Thing # next) The man playing the trumpet is simultaneously smoking a cigarette, which I find hilarious. Hope you enjoy!


Lent Day 29

Opening Prayer:
you reward virtue
and forgive the repentant sinner.
Grant us your forgiveness
as we come before you confessing our guilt.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever.

The Readings: Isaiah 49:8-15; Psalm 145; John 5:17-

Let us give thanks to God, our Father:
through the power of the Spirit he purifies our heart and strengthens us in love.
Let us humbly ask him:
Lord, give us your Holy Spirit.

Help us to receive good things from your bounty with a deep sense of gratitude;
-and to accept with patience the evil that comes to us.
Teach us to be loving not only in great and exceptional moments,
-but above all in the ordinary events of daily life.
May we abstain from what we do not really need,
-and help our brothers and sisters in distress.
May we bear the wounds of your Son,
-for through his body he gave us life.

Closing Prayer:
Loving and merciful God,
I am so aware of my sins and weaknesses.
But as painfully aware of my faults as I am,
Let me also remember your tender love,
your gentle and limitless forgiveness.
I come before you filled with pain and guilt
but look into your eyes and see the forgiving love
I so long for in my life.
Help me to forgive the same way.
Teach me to love as you love.


Lent Day 28

Opening Prayer:
may our Lenten observance
prepare us to embrace the paschal mystery
and to proclaim your salvation with joyful praise.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever.

The Readings: Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12; Psalm 46; John 5:1-16

God the Father has given us his only Son, the Word made human,
to be our food and our life. Let us thank him and pray:

May the word of Christ dwell among us in all its richness.

Help us this Lenten season to listen more frequently to your word,
- that we may celebrate the solemnity of Easter with greater love for Christ, our paschal sacrifice.
May your Holy Spirit be our teacher,
- that we may encourage those in doubt and error to follow what is true and good.
Enable us to enter more deeply into the mystery of your Anointed One,
- that our lives may reveal him more effectively.
Purify and renew your Church in this time of salvation,
- that it may give an ever greater witness to you.

Closing Prayer:
Joyful praise in Lent?
I'm not sure I always feel that.
I ask you to help me prepare to understand
and embrace the paschal mystery in my life.
I don't always see the beauty and mystery of this season
and often I run from the pain.
Help me to see how your saving grace
and your loving touch in my life
can fill me with joyful praise of the salvation
you have sent to me.


Lent Day 27

Opening Prayer:
Father, creator,
you give the world new life by your sacraments.
May we, your Church, grow in your life
and continue to receive your help on earth.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The Readings: Isaiah 65:17-21; Psalm 30; John 4:43-54

Blessed be God the Father for his gift of this sacrifice of praise.
In the spirit of this Lenten season, let us pray:
Instruct us, Lord, in the ways of your kingdom.

God of power and mercy, give us the spirit of prayer and repentance,
- with burning love for you and for all mankind.
Help us to work with you in making all things new in Christ,
- and in spreading justice and peace throughout the world.
Teach us the meaning and value of creation,
- so that we may join its voice to ours as we sing your praise.
Forgive us for failing to see Christ in the poor,
the distressed and the troublesome.
- and for our failure to reverence your Son in their persons.

Closing Prayer:
God who created me,
You offer me new life through your Son
and through the gift of your sacraments.
While I see new life all around me,
I don't always recognize the new life you offer me.
Help me to grow this Lent in an awareness
of the gifts you place in my life
and in a greater appreciation for your care.
Give me the courage to ask for help.


Lent Day 26

Opening Prayer:
Let us pray
for a greater faith and love.

Father of peace,
we are joyful in your Word,
your Son Jesus Christ,
who reconciles us to you.
Let us hasten toward Easter
with the eagerness of faith and love.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The Readings 1 Samuel 16:1,6-7, 10-13; Psalm 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

Let us give glory to God, whose kindness knows no limit.
Through Jesus Christ, Who lives for ever and ever to intercede for us,
let us pray:
Kindle in our hearts the fire of your love.

God of mercy, let today be a day rich in good works,
-a day of generosity to all we meet.
From the waters of the flood you saved Noah through the ark,
-from the waters of baptism raise up to new life those under instruction.
May we live not by bread only,
-but by every word falling from your lips.
Help us to do away with all dissension,
-so that we may rejoice in your gifts of peace and love.

Closing Prayer:
Loving Father of mine,
I feel the pace quicken, the time draw near.
I am filled with joy as I move toward Easter
and the promised reconciliation with you.
Teach me to follow the example of your Son,
to be worthy of being called one his people: a Christ-ian.
Help me to live each day as he did
turning hatred to love and conflict to peace.
I await the new life with eagerness, faith
and a deep gratitude.


Lent Day 25

Opening Prayer:
make this Lenten observance
of the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ
bring us to the full joy of Easter.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The Readings: Hosea 6:1-6; Psalm 51:3-4, 18-19, 20-21ab; Luke 18:9-

To make us his new creation, Christ the Lord gave us the waters of rebirth
and spread the table of his body and his word. Let us call upon him and say:

Lord, renew us in your grace.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, clothe us with compassion, kindness and humility,
- make us want to be patient with everyone.
Teach us to be true neighbors to all in trouble and distress,
- and so imitate you, the Good Samaritan.
May the Blessed Virgin, your Mother, pray for all those vowed to a life of virginity,
- that they may deepen their dedication to you and to the Church.
Grant us the gift of your mercy,
- forgive our sins and remit their punishment.

Closing Prayer:
God of Mercy and Understanding,

I know that with help
I can open my heart more fully
to the mysteries of the suffering and death
of your son.
Help me to be humble in this journey
and remember that any mercy and compassion I feel
is a gift from you.
I await the joy of Easter with new longing and patience.


Lent Day 24

Opening Prayer:
Merciful Father,
fill our hearts with your love
and keep us faithful to the gospel of Christ.
Give us the grace to rise above our human weakness.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

The Readings Hosea 14:2-10; Psalm 81:6-8, 8-9, 10-11, 14, 17; Mark 12:28-34

Thanks be to Christ the Lord, who brought us life by his death on the cross.
With our whole heart let us ask him:

By your death raise us to life.

Teacher and Savior, you have shown us your fidelity and made us a new creation by your passion,
- keep us from falling again into sin.
Help us to deny ourselves today,
- and not deny those in need.
May we receive this day of penance as your gift,
- and give it back to you through works of mercy.
Master our rebellious hearts,
- and teach us generosity.

Closing Prayer:
God of Mercy,
I feel my heart overflowing with your tenderness.
I sense your loving touch deep within my soul.
I ask for your help in my weakness
that I might be faithful to your word
and I am so grateful
that your mercy for my failings
is as strong as your unbounded love for me.