My dog is dumb...and so am I

This is Carlow. He's only a pup here, and now he's about 2/3 grown. I think he's dumb, but in a crafty sort of way. He is something of a terror, given that he's part terrier and wants to be entertained ALL the time. And when entertainment is not forth-coming from the humans with which he lives, he creates his own entertainment - climbing up on the dining room table, eating non-edible household items, terrorizing the cat.

I know he is trainable. He is smart, even though he does dumb stuff all the time. It's just that doing the dumb stuff can be far more entertaining, gets him a lot of attention and is fun. Why not?

I totally understand. St. Paul did too: What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. 1Now if I do what I do not want, I concur that the law is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if [I] do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand. For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, I myself, with my mind, serve the law of God but, with my flesh, the law of sin. (Romans 7:15-25)

For Carlow, the consequences of his misdeeds are relatively light: a rap on the nose and banishment to his crate. We humans face far graver consequences for our sins. Why do I keep doing the same dumb stuff over and over?

It occurs to me (and this is no original thought, as St. Therese of Lisieux attests) that our spiritual battles are typically not over big things, but little ones. Trying to keep a civil tongue in our head with a family member. Remembering to be courteous and kind when we're not feeling well. Praying for that person we promised to pray for. Being truly thankful for our many blessings. Being reverent at Mass in all manner of thought, word and action. Saying our prayers daily, with true devotion.

It may very well be that all dogs go to Heaven, but we cannot say the same for ourselves. Pray hard, friends: Heaven is ours to lose. Don't be dumb.

And now a word from our Holy Father....

From Vatican Radio:

"Entrust the Church to the Lord is a prayer that makes the Church grow. It is also an act of faith. We can do nothing, we are poor servants - all of us - of the Church: it is He who keeps her going and holds her and makes her grow , makes her holy, defends and protects her from the prince of this world and what he wants the Church to become, in short more and more worldly. This is the greatest danger! When the Church becomes worldly, when she has the spirit of the world within herself, when that peace which is not that of the Lord - that peace when Jesus says, 'I leave you peace, my peace I give you', not as the world gives it - when she has that worldly peace, the Church is a weak Church, a defeated Church, unable to transmit the Gospel, the message of the Cross, the scandal of the Cross ... She cannot transmit this if she is worldly”.

"The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree"

I have a new "fan" who doesn't like my blogging - or parenting - very much. He has called me out on the seven deadly sins - all of which I cop too. I am a sinner. No doubt about that. My only salvation is in Christ and Him Crucified, Resurrected and Ascended, and the Church He founded.

This "fan" told me that, in a recent post, it sounded as if my kids had the same problems. They do! They are human! We've had more than our fair share of struggles! And yet, I thank God every day for my imperfectly bratty, difficult, sometimes horrid children.

You see, all my kids were born to a woman who took crack cocaine. She was a prostitute. And yet, for whatever reason, she decided to give birth rather than having an abortion. Five times. And five times, Dear Husband and I said yes to a child that we knew was destined for difficulty.

And boy, have they been. I've spent years going to therapy appointments, dealing with social workers and psychologists, teachers, specialists of every kind. We put a lot of miles on that minivan. It's been alphabet soup: ADD, ADHD, ODD, bipolar, etc., etc., etc. We have no money to our name, and often rely on the kindness of friends and family to get us through.

And yet....

My kids are kind. They are thoughtful and articulate. They are empathetic. They lend a hand whenever asked, and often when not asked. I am insanely proud of them - they have been judged and mocked, physically assaulted, told they could not succeed, judged and been treated callously and rudely.

I guess maybe the apple doesn't fall from the tree. And I'm happy about the grace of God.

Monday Morning Art Jam

"Gehoeft im Licht"

Weird religious stuff, on the dangerous side

I love weird religious stuff. Tie a bag of herbs around a goat's neck, trekking around the desert throwing stones at a pillar: bring it on. Some religious stuff is weird and creepy, and some is dangerous. Santa Muerte is dangerous, and the Vatican is tired of it.

The Mexican offensive against Santa Muerte (Saint Death) launched by former president, Felipe Calderon, has now gone global. In an interview last week with a Peruvian Catholic news site (Aciprensa), the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, condemned the cult of the skeleton saint as "sinister and infernal." The Italian prelate, whom Vatican watcher John Allen recently called "the most interesting man in the Church" and even profiled as a candidate for the papacy, called for both Church and society to mobilize against devotion to Saint Death. 

"Everyone is needed to put the brakes on this phenomenon, including families, churches and society in its totality." The cardinal explained that devotion to Santa Muerte "is the celebration of devastation and of hell." The influential member of the Curia will take his message directly to Mexicans during his visit there next month to lead his pet project, the "Courtyard of the Gentiles," a Vatican program designed to engage with and evangelize non-believers.

Santa Muerte is tied very heavily to the drug cartels, and is disguised as just another saint in the communion of saints. It's not; it's sinister.  Pray the Vatican and the people of Mexico are successful in ridding the country of this false belief.

Freakin' Friday Fun

I've got a confession to make: motherhood is tough and sometimes unpleasant

Pearl of Grief - artist unknown
Oh, you probably knew that, though.

Yesterday, I had lunch with Curly-haired Daughter who is stressin' over finals, summer internships, a place to live over the summer, her job, college, food, name it. The typical college stuff.

Today, lunch was with Tallest Son, who is planning a several month long trip to Europe before he gets back to the business of earning a degree. While more laid-back than his sister (a hyperactive monkey is more laid-back than his sister), he's worried about making enough money between now and then to keep his life afloat in the manner to which he has become accustomed.

My day today started with a bang: literally. Youngest Son and Dearest Husband got into a testosterone-laden shouting match that left me soothing everyone's jangled nerves, getting Son to school late, then stuck in traffic...

I have a headache. I worry. I plan, re-plan, un-plan. I listen and try to keep my mouth shut when my kids are talking. I am trying to adjust to parenting young adults rather than children and teens.

I'm tired. Sometimes I think that they depend on me 1,000% and would they just please get a life, and other times I stress because they haven't called or texted in two days.

It's a tough job. This morning, the only thing I could think to do was an "emergency" prayer my sister-in-law taught me years ago - a cheap-and-easy novena: nine Memorares. It seemed to have worked, as I got everyone where they needed to go this morning.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for me.

We walk by faith, and not by sight

From Catherine de Hueck Doherty:

God gives it to me saying, “I love you. Do you love me back? Come and follow me in the darkness. I want to know if you are ready to go into the things that you do not see yet, on faith alone.” Then you look at God, or at what you think is God in your mind, and you say, “Look, this is fine, but you're inviting me to what? An emptiness? A nothingness? There is nothing to see. I cannot touch you. I cannot feel you.” Then God goes on to say, “I invite you to a relationship of love; your love of me, my love of you.”

And now a word from our Holy Father....

His homily from the Mass of the Feast of St. George:

Let us think today about the missionary activity of the Church: these [people] came out of themselves to go forth. Even those who had the courage to proclaim Jesus to the Greeks, an almost scandalous thing at that time. Think of this Mother Church that grows, grows with new children to whom She gives the identity of the faith, because you cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. Jesus Himself says in the Gospel: " But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep." If we are not "sheep of Jesus," faith does not some to us. It is a rosewater faith, a faith without substance. And let us think of the consolation that Barnabas felt, which is "the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing." And let us ask the Lord for this "parresia", this apostolic fervor that impels us to move forward, as brothers, all of us forward! Forward, bringing the name of Jesus in the bosom of Holy Mother Church, and, as St. Ignatius said, "hierarchical and Catholic." So be it.

If you take a vow, and then don't want to keep it.....

There was an article in The Washington Post complaining about "politics" and American sisters. The author said that the Vatican was playing soccer with the women who were choosing not to comply with the Vatican's authority. The following was my favorite reply to the article:

 (I'm not a Catholic so my comment is only from my personal point of view.)

It disturbs me whenever I read about the apostate nuns in this group who criticize their own church with such vitriol. A nun, because of her vows, has pledged to live tthe doctrines of her church and to be faithful to it. Her self-righteous, blatant criticism of the Pope is shocking to me and shows the opposite of allegiance and commitment.

If she really doesn't want to be a Catholic nun--and it sounds like she really doesn't want be--why doesn't she officially withdraw her vows and do her activism on her own?. Her disloyalty and lack of respect is shocking to me even though I''m not a member of her church.

No one respects a person who takes a sacred vow then slaps and denigrates the person or organization she has made her vow to..

Bibliophiles' Dream

I grew up in a very small town, with a very small library. By the time I was 12 or so, I'd pretty much read my way through the entire thing. There was the school library of course, but again....small town and small library. I went through phases of reading: for instance, I read every single biography in the elementary school library (Rosa Bonheur anyone? Rocky Marciano?).

I still love to read and a with the advent of Kindle (who could imagine??), I carry a library around with me. That doesn't mean I still don't love a book shop or library. Walking into a library is like entering a church: hushed and still, sacred with ideas and wonder.

Last week, I got to visit a local business that buys and sells books - mostly libraries of folks' who've died and whose families have no idea what to do with the books, businesses who no longer need the tomes, churches that donate materials, etc. The business owner opened up the doors to the warehouse and....Nirvana. Literally rows upon rows upon rows of books. Old books. Big books. Coffee table books. Books that no one in their right mind would read ("Computer Coding 1979"). Books. Aaahhhh.....He invited me back when I had time to browse. I will definitely accept that offer.

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.
Marcel Proust

Monday Morning Art Jam

The Artist's Garden at V├ętheuil, 1881
Claude Monet

Psalm 23: "Biblische Ausbildung"

I had something else planned to post today - and I may still get to it - but I ran across this blog and wonderful art/post that I just had to share: Biblische Ausbildung. 

Professor Stephen Cook, Virginia Theological Seminary:

“Lord is My Shepherd,” Eastman Johnson, 1863

My student Grace King brought this painting to our attention as we studied Psalm 23 in class. The painting provoked some good comments and discussion. Now that I’ve had a chance to look at the piece more closely, I am even more intrigued by it. Johnson painted his depiction of a free black man reading Psalm 23 the year that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into full effect. At a basic level, the young man’s literacy is a powerful statement of black inclusion in an emerging new America. Probing deeper, there is a powerful interpretation of Psalm 23 here.
Eastman Johnson (American painter, 1824-1906) The Lord Is My Shepherd 1863
Psalm 23 occurs in the middle of the Bible, but Johnson’s figure is reading the front of the Bible, the Book of Exodus (see image detail below). The artwork is thus suggesting that Psalm 23 is not the calm, individual-oriented poem that most people assume. Psalm 23 is about God vigorously leading an entire flock, as all shepherds do, not merely a private soul. Allusions to the Exodus story in the psalm convey a message of this-worldly liberation: “Let my people Go!”
The Hebrew clause "I shall lack nothing" in v. 1 of Psalm 23 recalls God's care in the exodus journey: "These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing." (Deut 2:7). The Hebrew verb for "lead" or "guide" in v. 3 of the psalm is used in a metaphor of God shepherding Israel out of Egypt to freedom in Psalm 78:52-53 (cf. Ex 13:21): “Then he led out his people like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. He led them in safety so that they were not afraid. . . . And he brought them to his holy hill.” As J. Severino Croatto has noted, the Hebrew behind v. 3b’s “paths of righteousness” (KJV) can equally be translated as “paths of liberation.”
So the painting correctly captures how Psalm 23 is about the individual joining with an entire flock being led by God out of slavery! Such joining in God’s work of liberation may even entail taking up God’s cause of liberation into your own hands. As the detail immediately above reveals, the young man here has a Union army blanket. Has he joined with the soldiers in taking up arms against the Confederacy?


Freakin' Friday Fun

It hasn't been a very fun week, with the disaster in Texas, the Boston Marathon attack, and now half my town in under water due to flooding. All the more reason we need to remember to laugh.

Lady Thatcher's Faith

England buried the "Iron Lady" this week, undoubtedly the most powerful female politician of the 20th century. Although Margaret Thatcher was known for her demanding ways, an unwillingness to bend politically and even a harshness in her personal life, she had a deep Christian faith (she was raised Methodist). Here are a few words from an interview she gave some years ago:

Christianity is about more than doing good works. It is a deep faith which expresses itself in your relationship to God. It is a sanctity, and no politician is entitled to take that away from you or to have what I call corporate State activities which only look at interests as a whole.
 So, you’ve got this double thing which you must aim for in religion, to work to really know your faith and to work it out in everyday life. You can’t separate one from the other. Good works are not enough because it would be like trying to cut a flower from its root; the flower would soon die because there would be nothing to revive it.

Three Good Things Thursday

1. Our basement is not flooded. This may seem odd, but given the torrential rains we've had, this is a very good thing. Pray that it continues to remain dry.

2. New bishop! The Diocese of Grand Rapids will soon have a new bishop: Bishop-elect David John Walkowiak. Looking forward to learning more about him.

3. Good people. People who help. People who are selfless and brave. People who offer help to a stranger. People who pray over the wounded and fallen. Good people.

Sacramental Joy

art by Crooked Little Studio
My Dark-Haired Daughter was confirmed last night, and it was so joyful. She was more excited than....I don't know what! It was like a birthday party, a graduation and a coming-out party all rolled into one.

At Communion, the choir sang Panis Angelicus and I lost it. Blubbered. Tears streaming down my face. Pure and utter joy.

When my husband entered the Church nearly 20 years ago, my mom said that she felt "high", uplifted, truly joyful. My sister-in-law said it was the grace of the Holy Spirit, and I felt it last night.

My daughter has literally been through Hell, and to see her face shine with radiance last night was truly a gift from God, a gift that can come from no other source.

"Oh my God, I want to love you and serve you all my life, I give you my soul, my heart, my whole self." -
Bl. Laura Vicuna

And now a word from our Holy Father....

From his homily at St. Paul Outside the Walls:

To be sure, the testimony of faith comes in very many forms, just as in a great fresco, there is a variety of colours and shades; yet they are all important, even those which do not stand out. In God’s great plan, every detail is important, even yours, even my humble little witness, even the hidden witness of those who live their faith with simplicity in everyday family relationships, work relationships, friendships. There are the saints of every day, the “hidden” saints, a sort of “middle class of holiness” to which we can all belong. But in different parts of the world, there are also those who suffer, like Peter and the Apostles, on account of the Gospel; there are those who give their lives in order to remain faithful to Christ by means of a witness marked by the shedding of their blood. Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life. Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God! Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church’s credibility.

If you love Flannery like I do....

...then you must check out: "Where Flannery Became Flannery".

Sacraments and our kids - have you had to be "creative"?

I wrote in an earlier post about some of the problems we've had getting our disabled daughter confirmed. One reader commented that our methods depended on "impatience, presumption, deception, and disobedience", and that was not a good example of saintly parenting.

I know many homeschooling families who've had trouble getting sacraments for their kids because their children were not enrolled in the parish religious education program, but rather were being taught their Faith at home. Some priests and DREs insist that this is not "kosher" and a child won't be able to receive a sacrament unless they are in the parish program.

There are parents whose children have severe gluten allergies and have had to figure out a way to have a child receive the Eucharist.

I myself had a young woman with severe mental illness come to me when I was working in a parish. In her twenties, she desperately wanted to be confirmed, but her anxiety and depression kept her from attending RCIA classes. With the understanding of the priest, she met with me and her parish mentor, and we helped her prepare. I don't know that I've ever seen a more joyful recipient of a sacrament. I know she still struggles with her illnesses, but know she has the grace of Confirmation to aid her.

I am not suggesting that parents out-right lie to or deceive priests and parish workers: "Oh, no, Father. We aren't living together!" or "My kid just can't make it to all those classes because he's a wunderkind at soccer and we travel too much". However, there are circumstances where people should be able to receive sacraments without so many obstacles being placed in their paths.

A wonderful document regarding this topic for people with disabilities is the Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments  with Persons with Disabilities.

Monday Morning Art Jam

artist Patsy Paterno

Freakin' Friday Fun

Paying for birth control AND babies

(This is cross-posted at

The Obama Administration has made it quite clear that we should be, in one way or another, forking over the money for people's artificial birth control. The HHS mandate requires employers to cover it as health care, and if they refuse to (as many religious-based organizations are doing), HHS has found an end-run way of charging for them anyway. One way or another, the Obama Administration wants to make sure that we are all paying to not make babies.

Unless you're part of a gay or lesbian couple in California who wants a baby. Taxpayers may have to pay for that. Bill AB460 will require group insurance to cover infertility treatments for gay and lesbian couples (as they do for heterosexual couples). Never mind that gay and lesbian couples are by nature and definition infertile. Never mind that this is one more health care cost we simply cannot bear. Never mind that many people believe some infertility treatments to be immoral and will be asked - yet again - to pay for something that offends their conscience. We're going to have to pay; the bill reads:

Coverage for the treatment of infertility shall be offered and provided without discrimination on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, domestic partner status, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.

Seventy year old lesbians want to have a baby? Taxpayers will have to pay up. Fifteen year old gay couple decides they want a baby? That's right - tax money shall be there for them.

We are in the midst of radically redefining "health care" into, "Whatever I want that makes me feel good" and those making the laws quite frankly do not give a darn about children, their needs, their best interest or their rights. The government is telling us, "Whether or not someone wants to have a baby is their business, and they can do it any way they please. You have no voice in that. But you are going to pay for it." Somewhere, reality became fantasy and fantasy became everyone's right and your responsibility. We are going to be paying for birth control AND babies.

Three Good Things Thursday

1. Lunch with Curly-haired daughter today!

2. April showers. Although I could do with a bit warmer temps. It's still only in the 40s here in West Michigan.

3. Nice yarn. I found some beautiful, soft, purpley-heather yarn and am having fun working with it.

What are three good things in your life today?

Every minute, every moment

Margaret Thatcher was born the same year as my mom. So was Queen Elizabeth. The queen is still kicking, but the Iron Lady has died.

I had a dream the other night about trying to help my mom. She kept losing her balance, falling over and over again. I was trying to help and couldn't. I woke up feeling helpless.

Now, my mom is in great health. She is a little "tipsy" and uses a cane now. Her mind is sharp. But she's 88. I'm trying to appreciate every minute with her now, trying to get her tell the stories only she knows so that I won't forget, so I'll have them to tell my children and grandchildren, my nieces and nephews. I want to hear again about her listening to the Detroit Tigers with her grandfather. When they won the World Series in 1935, her grandfather jumped up and down so hard he nearly broke the ceiling lamp.

I want to hear about her raising seven kids one summer in a tiny trailer after our house burned, and my dad and uncle were reconstructing it.

I want to hear about....all of it. I want to remember her voice, her laugh, her sense of humor, her tenacity and her deep faith.

Every minute, every moment.

Are we holding the Sacraments hostage?

Pope Francis seems to think so:

 The child has no responsibility for the marital state of its parents. And then, the baptism of children often becomes a new beginning for parents. Usually there is a little catechesis before baptism, about an hour, then a mystagogic catechesis during liturgy. Then, the priests and laity go to visit these families to continue with their post-baptismal pastoral. And it often happens that parents, who were not married in Church, maybe ask to come before the altar to celebrate the sacrament of marriage. 

Blogger Taylor Marshall goes on to say that he himself has "become discouraged how in the United States, the sacraments are 'held hostage' by local parish hierarchies." Our family has had a taste of this ourselves.

Dark-haired daughter has wanted to become confirmed. Bear in mind that, at the age of 17, she functions at about the 8-10 year old range cognitively, and has bipolar disorder. This, combined with many hospitalizations, made her formal catechetical training spotty. Despite this, we taught her as well as we could at home, formally and informally, and she loves her church and her faith. She desires to be a full member of the Catholic Church. Something stood in the way: a set of arbitrary rules mandated by a person wielding far more power than they should have.

We were told that Daughter would have to go through the 2 year Confirmation prep. program with the 7th and 8th graders in our parish. Besides being embarrassing and demeaning to her, Daughter really would not be able to keep up with and comprehend the work at that level. It was not a good solution, but we were told it was the only one.

So, I got creative. Let's just say that next week, Dark-Haired Daughter will be confirmed in the Catholic Church, with great joy on her part and a bit of sleight-of-hand on mine. It's not the way I would have liked to do it, as she will not be confirmed with our parish, but another one....but I think Pope Francis would approve. No one should have the sacraments held hostage from them.

Total Rip-off Tuesday: Christmas and Easter Catholics

Wherein I "rip-off" another writer on the web. Not taking credit, just sharing good stuff. Today's choice is Randy Hain, discussing what my dad used to call the "Holy Annuals", or as Hain says "C&E Catholics": those folks who show up at Christmas and Easter.

I admit it: I love Disney World.  My parents took me as a child and my wife and I have taken our kids a few times.  We have visited Disneyland in California the last two summers since my sister-in-law moved near there a few years ago.  The theme parks make me reminisce about the fun adventures I enjoyed as a young boy and I experience a degree of nostalgic longing every spring for my family to experience Mickey and friends once again.

Hey, wait a minute!  Isn’t this supposed to be a blog about “Catholic” stuff?  Indeed.

I shared my somewhat embarrassing admission about Disney World because of an epiphany I had at the end of 7:30 a.m. Mass on Easter Sunday.  As I looked around the packed church filled with faces I had never seen before, I wondered what drew these “Christmas and Easter” Catholics (as I have heard them described) to our parish on Easter?  All of our Masses were packed that day, just as they were at Christmas.  What draws this group of people to Mass these two days each year?  I believe they are experiencing a nostalgic longing similar to the one I feel every year about Disney World.  The Christmas and Easter seasons still register for them as important days to attend Mass.  They are connected enough to their Catholic faith to realize the significance of celebrating the birth and Resurrection of Christ, even if they may not attend any other Masses the rest of the year.

I wonder why they no longer practice their faith and what made them fall away.  I am curious about why they make the effort on these two days to dress up and come to Mass.  Is it because they are looking for something or more importantly, someone?  Are their hearts restless and their lives empty?  Do they secretly long for the Church of their childhood memories the way I do about Disney World?

Suicide, Mental Illness and the news

I was so sorry to hear about Pastor Rick Warren's son over the weekend. Rick and his wife, Kay, lost their adult son, Matthew, to suicide over the weekend.

I know many people do not agree with Rick Warren's theology or politics. That matters little when dealing with the loss of a child. I do admire how the Warren family is handling this. They are being forthright, open about the role mental illness has played in their son's life and their family's life, and are not treating this with any shame whatsoever.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

Adding to this: a thoughtful post from CNN's Rebekah Lyons:

As one representing the 26%, for me it came in waves. From the low hum during the longest of winters to volatile moments rocking on the floor of my closet, questioning whether my life would always bear this weight. Watching it firsthand in my family during my formative years, I wondered whether history was repeating itself in me.

For those afflicted, depression enters when we've lost hope for the future. When we no longer imagine a life that is free. Whether it’s triggered by a chemical imbalance or a change in circumstances, facing it in isolation is the most treacherous. At precisely the time we need others, our inclination is to turn inward.

I’ve been comforted to know I’m not alone.

Anxiety and panic are my nemesis. In my struggle to break through the mental distress, I’ve found comfort and promise in the writings of Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. His summation that the root cause of anxiety is a sense of unfulfilled responsibility resonates.

For me, the low surfaces when I am not contributing to someone or something. When I lose a vision for my life, purpose hides beyond my grasp. But when I recover my sense of purpose and calling — to help women navigate these hidden troubles — meaning rushes in.

Over the past three years, the promises of Jesus have been paramount in helping me walk forward. Uttering hushed prayers in subways as the doors close in, softly crying out for rescue on long desolate Central Park walks in the dead of winter. God’s presence has always been a guiding force, my source for purpose beyond myself.

Monday Morning Art Jam

Doubting Thomas - artist Denise Klarenbeek

"You get Plan B, and you get Plan B, and you get Plan B!"

It's like an Oprah-fest: a federal judge has ruled that females of all ages must have access to Plan B or the "morning after" pill. This means that  your 13 year old daughter, who can't go on the school field trip without a signed permission slip, can toddle on over to the clinic and get a handful of hormones.

Our daughters' health is at stake. Read this woman's account of her "easy, pill" abortion:

I was screaming and crying, writhing in agony on the floor. I couldn’t move; I was on the verge of passing out; I couldn’t even see – blinded by the pain.
My boyfriend picked me up and rushed me to the emergency room, where I waited, still sobbing and thrashing with pain. When the triage doctor finally saw me, my blood pressure was dangerously low, and my heart rate was all over the chart.

When I told him about the abortion, he callously said that I would be “fine” and pricked me with a needle to jolt my blood pressure higher – but still dramatically low. I was sick for two more days, drugged up on the heavy-duty painkillers that the ER doctor had prescribed for me.

When I returned to the OBGYN a week later and told him about my ordeal and severe reaction, he just looked at me questioningly and said, “You seem all right; you didn’t bleed out.” No sympathy, no concern.

These “convenient,” “safe,” and “easy” medical abortions are downright dangerous.

I wrote, about 15 months ago, about my decision to not give Plan B to my daughter after an assault, and let's just say that I was treated non-too-kindly in the blogosphere. Apparently, being pro-abortion also means being cruel, and wanting this type of callous, dangerous medical crisis for all females.

We have to keep up the fight, folks!

14 Beautiful Churches


Church of the Savior on Blood - Russia

Bogrund Stave Church - Norway

Church of Arbore - Romania
Visit the website to see the rest.

Freakin' Friday Fun

Three Good Things Thursday

1. 54 degrees today in West MI! For us, that's flip-flop weather!

2. One of my colleagues graciously spent over an hour with Curly-haired Daughter yesterday answering questions about college, classes, career choices. He was so helpful, and she was so mature in her manner. Truly grateful.

3. I did not binge on chocolate over the Easter weekend. Really. I was pretty proud of myself for that.

Total Rip-off Tuesday: I have no idea what to make of this....

In an art exhibit entitled "Rites & Remedies", Canadian artist Paul Roorda "transforms" old Bibles into art.

Paul Roorda haunts flea markets, thrift shops and eBay, looking for Bibles no one wants any more.
When he gets them, he often burns them. If he doesn’t do that, he might drive a nail through the pages, so they can’t be opened. Other times, he’ll cut each page into strips, then fold those into tiny scrolls and place them into gelatin capsules.

While this may sound like someone who has gone over the edge with sacrilege, Mr. Roorda is an acclaimed artist. His bold, thought-provoking sculptures and mixed-media collages—made from discarded Bibles—are currently on display at Wesley Theological Seminary’s Dadian Gallery.
The 24 works in “Paul Roorda: Rites & Remedies” might be considered the shadow side, or at least the flip side, of the typical seminary exhibit, where rare, beautiful Bibles from centuries past are hauled out and placed under glass for straightforward admiration.

Mr. Roorda will do just anything to an old Bible, in the interest of shaking people up, and getting them to think afresh.

“I do know that it makes people uncomfortable,” he said of his approach. “I like that discomfort. That’s a big part of the intent of my work. I want to challenge people. But there’s also an acknowledgement in the work that (faith) is a difficult topic, and it’s not to be taken lightly. I hope that’s apparent in the art.”

What hubris have I

It is not fun to be in a "dry" place spiritually. You find yourself saying, not praying, prayers a lot, but you keep at it. You do all the things you are supposed to do: keep close to the sacraments, do good works, pray, read the saints. Yet, there is no consolation.

That is, you don't "feel" good about your faith. You don't, in fact, "feel" much of anything. There is not a closeness to God that gives comfort, a joy from your faith that gives courage and vitality. There is no drink of water to quench the powerful thirst you have for Christ.

I've been in this place for awhile. I'm sort of used to it, and I just try to trudge along as best I can. However, this past weekend, I REALLY wanted to feel something. I REALLY wanted a little bit of joy, of inspiration, of comfort. Where better at the Easter Vigil Mass or the Easter Sunday Mass? And so I prayed for just that. I prayed that God would grant me just a bit of joy, a bit of comfort, a bit of consolation.

Somewhere in the midst of Mass on Sunday, I thought to myself, "What hubris! Who the heck do I think I am, asking God for this? Surely, God knows what He is about, and there is some reason why I am where I am." And I stopped praying those prayers.

 He found them in a wilderness,
a wasteland of howling desert.
He shielded them, cared for them,
guarded them as the apple of his eye,
Dt. 32:10

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