Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Read this: Matt Maher


If you're not a Matt Maher fan (or you don't even know who he is),  read this anyway. He's got a new album out, and his reflections here about the saints is sound Lenten reading.

(Then go get the album. Or at least listen to it. But you should probably just buy it.)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Lent is always predictable

Via Dolorosa
My Lenten seasons are always predictable. God makes sure that I am given the opportunity to share in Christ's suffering. I can - of course - refuse to enter into the experience, but I try my best to muddle through. Wimpy, struggling, hard: but I try.

I have to get spinal shots for arthritis in my neck and shoulder every three months or so. It sounds horrible, but it's actually not a big deal.

Since our car accident in January, I've developed pain in my back and leg. Not just pain, but numbness, which is a whee bit frightening. So, the doctor has ordered a "nerve panel" to determine exactly what's going on, and then proceeded to tell me he'd give me the same type of shots in my back and hip that I get for my neck. Okay...

Except it was 12 shots. I'm not a wimp when it comes to needles, but 12 shots?? Are you freakin' kidding me?? All at once - sure. Why not?

I never have after-effects from the neck shots. Well, the back and hip ones - feels like someone punched me. And then, the day after the shots, I was in the shower and the world started to whirl around. That was not so good.

I spent yesterday in a nice, safe, immobile chair. I was diffusing frankincense and peppermint to help with the dizziness, and by about late afternoon I was feeling stable. My hip still hurts, but the world has stopped whirling around.

So, Lent. Thank you, Father, for always making sure that I get the point of Lent. Thank you for the opportunities to share in the Passion of our Beloved Savior, even if I do a completely horrible, miserable, sad and puny job of it.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Lent: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving

"Faithful Family" - artist Larry "Poncho" Brown

Monday Morning Musings

1. Gotta get to confession. It's Lent. We all need the grace. We all have sin. Gotta get to confession.

2. Spent Saturday with Dark-haired Daughter and Eldest Sister. Went to a lovely concert in downtown Grand Rapids, and then hung out at the Downtown Market. We scoured for food, tasted ice cream, found baked goodies. One of us settled on sushi, one on crepes, one on gourmet grilled cheese and washed it all down with hard cider (well, Daughter didn't).

3. Met my grand-dog. Curly-haired Daughter now has a lovely goldendoodle named Cosmo. He is beautiful - gorgeous eyes and a wonderful, happy personality. My daughter said it didn't feel like home without a dog.

4. Health issues continue to plague Dear Husband and me. Neither one of us has been sleeping well, and we're also thinking it's time for a new mattress. Which is about as much fun as buying a car. Which is about as much fun as a root canal.

5. The Gospel yesterday was one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture:

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
John 3: 14-21

Far too many prefer the dark. We must be the light.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hey, Democrats! Shame on you for turning your back on trafficking victims

Yeah, some Democrats have decided that funding abortions trumps helping human trafficking victims. If your organizations doesn't offer abortions, then you don't get $$.

Now, I am all for private organizations cutting all government purse strings. That way, you don't have to dance their dance. However, there are a LOT of organizations that right NOW are doing terrific work - much needed work - desperately needed work - with human trafficking victims.

But they can't get government money because they don't offer abortions.

Never mind that abortions are about as easy to get as a stray cat. Never mind that half of human trafficking victims are male. Never mind that female human trafficking victims don't need yet one more trauma added to their lives.

Shame on you, Democrats. Playing politics while victims suffer. Shame on you.

Monday, March 9, 2015

FREE! Really! Free Book!

My monograph on human trafficking will be a free e-book download, beginning tonight at midnight through Thursday midnight.

If you'd like a free copy of the book - ebook version only - go to this link, beginning tonight at midnight.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Changing our thinking about mental illness

You know someone with mental illness. Maybe they haven't told anyone. Maybe you're the one with mental illness.

We don't treat mental illness the way we treat physical illness. We call people, "crazy" instead of "ill". We make jokes about mental illness that we wouldn't make about someone battling cancer. We shy away from "those types" of people. We're scared and leery.

Ed Rogers at Psyched Catholic has written a great post about this very issue. Check it out, and share it. Here's just a bit:

  • Demographics. Nearly a quarter of the U.S. population will meet criteria for some mental illness this year.  Mental illness touches everyone’s life.
  • Friendships. Maybe you want to support friends who are suffering.  Or you know that increased understanding means a decreased chance of hurting someone you care about.
  • Personal Impact. You want to reduce your own chances of experiencing mental illness or cope better with the situation you are in.
  • Charity.  Perhaps you are someone who wants to “Speak the truth in love.”  The more you know, the better you can reach and relate to someone who struggles with mental health.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Catholic Conference 4 Moms

http://www.catholicconference4moms.com/

This is tomorrow, and today is the last day to register.

This is FREE! It's online! Join us from wherever you are - in your p.j.s, in your office attire, at the coffee shop, the family room, your cubicle.

Check out the presenters, too. Really, why would you NOT do this??

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

8 Things To Know About Discernment

People ask me and others frequently, "How do you know what God's will is? I've prayed, but I'm just not getting an answer."

Unfortunately for us, God does not take out billboards that blink in bright lights, "DO THIS!" (Not usually. Probably not. But don't discount it.)

What to do? Here are a few things I've learned about discernment:

1. First - and always - are you trying to choose between two good things? I know that sounds obvious, but sometimes we delude ourselves. Make sure you really are trying to decide between two goods.

2. Pray. A lot. In silence. God's voice gets terribly muffled in the din of our days. If you can, go before the Blessed Sacrament and spend time in prayer.

3. Don't push it. Unless it's an emergency, just keep taking your discernment to God in prayer and let Him guide you.

4. If you are able, talk it over with a spiritual advisor. If you don't have one, try a trusted priest or religious.

5. Ask others to pray for you. They don't necessarily need to know what you're trying to decide; they just need to support you in prayer.

6. Check and see if God has answered your prayer. Sometimes we think that God's voice is just going to "appear" in our thoughts and say, "Here's your answer." However, God often puts things in our daily path that are pointing us in the direction He wishes us to go. Be aware of those things. What's in your mailbox? What are people talking to you about? What are you hearing when you are in prayer or spiritual reading?

7. Ask the intercession of a saint. These people stand before Almighty God. You can't ask for a better prayer partner.

8. Don't push aside the hard answer. Often, we know what God wants, but we just don't want to do it - it's too hard. If you are truly willing to do what God wishes, you have to be truly willing to do the tough, the hard, the awful, the painful. Remember the rich young man? Jesus asked him to sell all that he owned and follow Him. The young man could not do it, and scripture tells us he walked away from Christ, sad. Don't do that.

Discernment is a process, not an event. Allow God to work in His time, which is not our time. 




Monday, March 2, 2015

Monday Morning Musings

Elayne LaPorta - artist
1. Tallest Son came home to visit this weekend. It's always wonderful to be able to have adult children you really like.

2. My small book on human trafficking is now available! You can get a sample and order it here.

3. Our pastor gave a great homily yesterday. The first reading is a toughie for us: How could God possibly ask a anyone to sacrifice their own son?? It's hideous! Father talked about cultural norms, and that God was using Abraham to change the real practice of human sacrifice.

My thoughts on the reading were this: Sometimes as parents, we are asked to make hard choices regarding our children. In our own lives, my husband and I have had to have a child arrested to save said child from drugs. We've had to have our kids committed for mental health issues. They are horrible choices, but we must do it in order to do God's will and save our children.

4. It's still freezing here. Cold. Snow. Ice. Sigh.... And yet, I just saw some guy skateboarding down the street.

5. Went prom dress shopping with Dark-haired daughter. My rules: it must have straps and it must come to your knees. We actually found 2 lovely dresses: one for prom and one for Easter. I'm chalking this up to divine intervention....if you've ever shopped for prom dresses for young ladies, then you know what I mean.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Don't just "knock" - pound on that door!

Read this in Magnificat yesterday. It struck a chord. The emphases are mine:

Ask, seek, knock

These are the three degrees and, as it were, the three please that must be made with perseverance, blow upon blow. But what must we ask of God in order to emerge from this worse-than-bestial condition in which sin has placed us...

Knock. Persevere in knocking, even to the point of rudeness, if that were possible. There is a way of forcing God and wresting his graces from him, and that way is to ask continually with a firm faith...Even though God seems either not to hear us or even to reject us, we must continually knock, expecting all things from God but nevertheless also actin ourselves...We must never forget that it is always God who provides....

My neediness prays. My necessity prays. As long as this disposition lasts, we pray without praying. As long as we take care to avoid what would imperil us, we pray wihtout praying, and God understands this language. O Lord, before whom I am, before whom all my misery appears, have pity on it, and all the times that it appears to you, O God most good, let it beg your mercies for me. This is one of the ways of praying always, and, of them, perhaps the most effective. - Jacques Benigne Bossuet (d. 1704), French bishop and theologian

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Things your kids will whine about now, thank you for later

  • Making them learn to cook.
  • Making them learn to clean. (Seriously. My daughter's freshman college roommate had never cleaned a bathroom in her life. My daughter was happy to show her how.)
  • Not rushing to school with forgotten homework.
  • Not rushing to school with forgotten lunch.
  • Making them stick out piano lessons.
  • Encouraging them to spend time with elderly relatives.
  • Acts of service in church and community.
  • Taking them to the symphony.
  • Making them call doctor's offices to schedule their own appointments.
  • Taking them out to really nice restaurants, with weird food, where they have to get dressed up and mind their manners.
  • Introducing them to a lot of different music.
  • Trying new food. (Even better, have them help you make new food!)
  • Calling adults "Mr." and "Mrs." ("No one else does!" Yeah, I know...)
  • Putting limits on screen time.
  • Encouraging reading. 
  • Getting a library card and going to the library every week.
  • Not keeping soda in the house.
  • Doing crafts and exploring art, even if you're not very good at it.
  • Learning a skill like knitting.
  • Figuring out directions and map-reading.
  • Taking family portraits.
  • Knowing it's okay to get lost - both literally and figuratively.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday Morning Musings

My great-niece playing "Für Elise"
1. Took my darling niece to go see Winter Jam this weekend: Hill Song, Blanca, Building 429, For King & Country, Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battestelli. Not only did I get to spend time with a girl whom I love, we had a blast singing at the top of our lungs, dancing around and praising Jesus.

2. Have to say: was incredibly impressed with the vocals of both Jeremy Camp and Francesca Battestelli. They can both flat-out sing!

3. Loved what one of the members of Hill Song said, "This is likely the largest non-denominational gathering in Michigan this year. You don't know the denomination of the person next to you...and that's probably a good thing." Sadly, true. The Body of Christ should not be divided.

4. Got in some snuggle time with my beautiful goddaughter. Oh, toddlers!! She's a busy little body, but so beautiful.

5. I don't care what anyone says, large families are such a blessing! To see my niece grow, mature in her faith, marry and now raise her children, and for me to be involved in their lives - thank you, Jesus! Truly one of the greatest blessings in my life are my nieces and nephews.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Great opportunity this Lent: Catholic Conference 4 Moms


The Joy of Lent

Lent gets a bad rap - and yes, I'm guilty.

We think of Lent in terms of "giving up." That sounds so wimpy. "I'm going to give up...."

Lent should be about getting going! Get going on your faith life! Get going on your relationship with Christ! Get going on resolving family issues or thorny problems in yourself you've been ignoring too long! Get going to Mass! Get going!

It is good to abstain. It is good to make our very comfortable lives a little uncomfortable. But we shouldn't do it just to make ourselves unhappy. We should do it in a spirit of companionship with those who truly suffer: those who are ill, lonely, persecuted. Those who are mentally ill, socially isolated, spiritually dry. Don't just give up - make it count through prayerful abstinence.

There is a joy in Lent. No, it's not the joy of Easter. There is nothing to compare to the joy of the Risen Lord. The joy of Lent is a joy of suffering, and that is a hard joy to understand. It is the joy of knowing that our Lord and God - God Made Man - allows us a tiny glimpse of what His life, death and resurrection meant - that Paschal Mystery. We get to journey with Him as He moves towards the cross. We get to be his companions.

That is joy. That is the joy of Lent. Don't give up.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mardi Gras! Lent! Why I'm not really excited!

It's Mardi Gras. Which means Lent starts tomorrow.

I have a love/hate relationship with Lent. First, I am TERRIBLE at fasting. I become obsessed with food, wondering if adding this or that to a meal breaks the fast, counting hours until dinner, looking at snacks with longing.

It has been a really long time since I've approached Lent with enthusiasm. My life is Lenten. It's hard. My kids still have a lot of issues I have to deal with, including having a 19 yo with disabilities who lives at home. I have chronic pain. In the past month, I've dealt with a major car accident with injuries to both me and my husband, the stress of dealing with an elderly parent's health and a heavy load at work.

Now I have to start a Lenten journey? My life is a Lenten journey.

I'm not complaining. I know God has a plan and I trust Him. It's just that I'm never sure how I'm supposed to approach Lent. Do I give something up? Going without chocolate seems trifling. Do I add something? Where? How? I'm already exhausted.

I walk a rocky path every day. Compared to so many Christians around the world who live in fear of their life due to persecution, my life is easy. Compared to many people around me, my life is tough.

Blessed Lent. I'll figure it out as I go along. I always do.