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Showing posts from July, 2013

Wherein we undertake a road trip

Let's be clear: my kids have NEVER been good at car travel. They bicker, they want food at every
turn, they require every blanket and pillow they own in order to travel in some sort of comfort. Youngest Son, when he was just a wee thing (he is now 6'5") used to scream from the time he got in the car until he was released. We all needed to be drugged for that.

And this week, we undertake a car trip. Granted, we are taking only the two youngest, and they are far older now than the last time we did anything like this.  However, they still do not like long car trips, and I am steeling myself for the inevitable.

I like taking car trips, so long as I'm not driving. I'll happily read, knit, nap - whatever; it's all fine with me. Wanna stop and look at Ye Olde Rock Shop? I'm game! A side trip to gaze at a llama farm? Okay by me!

We are driving about 10 hours to visit friends whom we haven't seen in awhile - my husband's best friend, to be exact, and his …

Let's talk about death

No, really. When was the last time you and your loved ones talked about death? At a funeral, maybe? We aren't very good about discussing death, what we believe about it, what we want for our own funeral or the funeral of a loved one. Nope, it's too "icky" or scary or something. We don't want to discuss it. But we really need to.

Jethro Heiko knows this. So he (along with three others) made "My Gift of Grace", a set of cards to start discussions about death. It's not scary; it's okay. Check it out:

If you could plan three things for your funeral, what would they be?Visit a local cemetery. If you see an employee, ask them what it's like to work there.What activities make you feel most alive? With a mother at the age of 88, and a dear friend who lost her husband at far too young an age, I've been talking about death and dying a lot lately. For our family, with our faith, it's a more natural discussion than for others. I think these cards …

And now a word from our Holy Father...

Pope Francis' farewell at World Youth Day:

“Show, by your life, that it is worth giving your time and talents in order to attain high ideals, it is worth recognizing the dignity of each human person, and it is worth taking risks for Christ and the Gospel”.

"How Long, O Lord?"

I left Mass yesterday feeling blue, and couldn't quite shake the feeling. It sprang up for me during the Gospel:

I tell you,
if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 

As a parent, you KNOW you're not supposed to give in to a whiny kid who keeps repeating the same thing over and over: "Mom, can I? Huh, can I, can I? Please, please, please?????" The kid follows you from room to room, repeats a text over and over, calls you at work to ask the same question you answered 15 minutes before. You know that by giving in, all you're doing is teaching the kid to beg and "POOF", you get what you want.

And yet, doesn't it seem like Jesus is…

Monday Morning Art Jam

Walker Percy Interviews Himself

Q: What kind of Catholic are you?
A. Bad.
Q: No. I mean are you liberal or conservative?
A: I no longer know what those words mean.
Q: Are you a dogmatic Catholic or an open-minded Catholic?
A: I don’t know what that means, either. Do you mean do I believe the dogma that the Catholic Church proposes for belief?
Q: Yes.
A: Yes.
Q: How is such a belief possible in this day and age?
A: What else is there?
Q: What do you mean, what else is there? There is humanism, atheism, agnosticism, Marxism, behaviorism, materialism, Buddhism, Muhammadanism, Sufism, astrology, occultism, theosophy.
A: That’s what I mean.
Q: To say nothing of Judaism and Protestantism.
A: Well, I would include them along with the Catholic Church in the whole peculiar Jewish-Christian thing.
Q: I don’t understand. Would you exclude, for example, scientific humanism as a rational and honorable alternative?
A: Yes.
Q: Why?
A: It’s not good enough.
Q: Why not?
A: This life is too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive…

Freakin' Friday Fun

Thank you, Catholic Memes!

How to raise the perfect Catholic family...or not....

A Catholic blogger is hosting an on-going conversation on how to raise a big, happy Catholic family. Good; parents need guidance. But I'm here to offer some caveats.

Don't assume that all Catholic parents can or will have BIG families or that they are contracepting if they only have 2 or 3 kids. You don't know what is going on: infertility, loss of fertility, health or financial issues, etc. You can have a great Catholic family and it can be small.

Don't assume there is a "magic formula" that will guarantee you practicing Catholic children. "Let's see, Gregorian chant + no tv + homeschooling = vocations and perfect kids!" Uh, no. Sorry. Just like the rest of us, God gave your kids free will. You can do everything "right" and still not have a practicing Catholic adult child. Conversely, you can do everything wrong and end up with a great kid. And, your "formula" might work for you, but not another family, and that does not me…

Parish life

Dear Husband and I had dinner last night at our church. It was the "Stockholders' Dinner" for our youth group: you buy "stock" from a particular youth to help fund their activities throughout the year, and then they host a dinner for all the stockholders.

It was great fun. The kids acted as hosts, seating us, serving us, and telling us about different conferences and events they'd been to. It was clear from their comments that they'd been impacted by their time at Steubenville, a monastery, and other experiences they'd had.

We had a great turnout for our small-town parish, and that is not unusual. We have a very lively little parish, a very social one, and we enjoy these types of events quite frequently. Our kids have grown up with our church as the center of not only our spiritual lives but our social lives as well. That's how it should be.

This morning, I'm giving thanks for our beautiful parish, Holy Family.

St. Sharbel Makhluf

I opened my Magnificat this morning and saw that today's saint is St. Sharbel Makhluf. I didn't know a thing about him, so I thought I'd share:

On the morning of one day in the year 1851, Youssef left his parents and his village. He headed for Lady of Mayfouk monastery in the aim of becoming a monk where he spent his first preparatory year and then he went to St. Maroun’s monastery-Annaya, where he joined the Corps of the Lebanese Maronite Order, choosing the name Charbel, one of the martyrs of the second century in the Antioch Church. On the first of November in the year 1853, he revealed his monastic vows in the same monastery. He was then well informed of the precise obligations of these vows: obeying, chastity & poverty.
He continued his theological studies in the Monastery of saint Kouberyanous & Justina, Kfifan-Batroun, under the care of his teacher the saint Nehemtallah Kassab Elhardiny, who was the ideal for the monks and a living image of the gre…

Envy, stupidity, revelation and life

I spent the weekend with a dear friend, whom I've known for 30+ years. I count her as one of the dearest people in my life - one of those people that I KNOW I could call at 3 a.m. and whatever I needed, she'd respond.

She is a mighty talented woman, and makes her living through her creative gifts, with the luxury of being able to work out of her home. She lives with extended family (what a treasure, in this day and age!), and has two gorgeous and gifted daughters. Her home is lovely, tastefully appointed, warm and inviting.

I used to be really jealous of her.

My home is often chaotic, and usually a mess. I can never quite get things caught up: there is always laundry, dishes, and cat fur to contend with. I live with "good enough". My focus and energy get drained very quickly from the demands of my job, the needs of my children and my health issues. When I (stupidly) compared my life to my friend's, I always came out on the losing end.

And then, last fall, very un…

And now a word from our Holy Father...

From the text of his opening speech at World Youth Day:

As I begin my visit to Brazil, I am well aware that, in addressing young people, I am also speaking to their families, their local and national church communities, the societies they come from, and the men and women upon whom this new generation largely depends.
Here it is common for parents to say, “Our children are the apple of our eyes”. How beautiful is this expression of Brazilian wisdom, which applies to young people an image drawn from our eyes, which are the window through which light enters into us, granting us the miracle of sight! What would become of us if we didn’t look after our eyes? How could we move forward? I hope that, during this week, each one of us will ask ourselves this thought-provoking question.
Young people are the window through which the future enters the world, thus presenting us with great challenges. Our generation will show that it can realize the promise found in each young pe…

Monday Morning Art Jam

Freakin' Friday Fun...on Thursday

Our office is having Mandatory Fun Day today (really, that's what we call it), and I'm going out town for the weekend, so I'm posting this early.

What do we do for Mandatory Fun Day? We bowl....


America's One-Child Policy

No, it's not quite the same as China. Our one-child policy is self-imposed. And the reasons parents
are giving are mainly financial:

“My husband and I have run the numbers front, back and sideways, and we come to the same conclusion each time: we simply can't afford another,” says Jen Wright, 34, who is raising her 4-year-old daughter, Madelyn, in Imperial, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. Although her work at a local credit union and her husband’s job as an ambulance mechanic bring enough to get by without government assistance, one more baby doesn’t fit into the equation.
“Not even close,” she says. “I look at pictures of when [Madelyn] was 2 and I think, ‘I’m never going to have that again.’ But now I can put money away for her college so..." Wright trails off.

We parents know it's tough to raise kids. We worry about putting food on the table, saving for college, keeping our cars together with bubble-gum and chicken wire. And if you live in a city, double t…

Support for Natural Family Planning

Disclaimer: I have NO experience in Natural Family Planning. Zip, zilch, zero. I have been infertile our entire marriage, and all my kids are adopted.

That being said, this looks really cool: an app for Natural Family Planning. I imagine it would be of great help to those who choose to practice this. Spread the word!

And now a word from our Holy Father...

Pope Francis at Lampedusa:

“God asks each one of us: Where is the blood of your brother that cries out to me? Today no one in the world feels responsible for this; we have lost the sense of fraternal responsibility.”

“The culture of well-being, that makes us think of ourselves, that makes us insensitive to the cries of others, that makes us live in soap bubbles, that are beautiful but are nothing, are illusions of futility, of the transient, that brings indifference to others, that brings even the globalization of indifference,” he continued. “In this world of globalization we have fallen into a globalization of indifference. We are accustomed to the suffering of others, it doesn’t concern us, it’s none of our business.”

Do you want to know what anxiety is like?

From a New York Times piece:



In a way, the desire to be rid of anxiety is neither unique nor difficult to understand. Like any other affliction, psychiatric or strictly physical, anxiety hurts. It is uncomfortable. If you suffer from emphysema, you will wish to be able to breathe unimpeded.
If you suffer from eczema, you will wish for clear skin. And if you suffer from anxiety, you will wish for a mind that does not spin every slightest situation into catastrophe — a mind that approaches everyday life with poise, reason and equanimity. Why wouldn’t you want such a thing? Why shouldn’t a person’s ideal be the very absence or opposite of that which torments him? It’s only natural.
With anxiety, however, there are two glitches to this desire. The first is that anxiety is not the kind of affliction that can be eradicated. This is because anxiety is not merely or essentially psychiatric. Even when it swells to the level of a disorder, it remains first and foremost an emotion, univ…

Monday Morning Art Jam

Is there no end to the depth of this pain?

Out of the depths I call to you, LORD; Lord, hear my cry! May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
No matter where you are in your faith journey, you've felt this sentiment from the Psalmist. You've hit bottom - or so you thought. And then the bottom falls out from underneath you once again, and all you have left to do is cry out to God.

Maybe it's health problems, an addiction, a sick relationship, the loss of a job, the death of someone you love. Whatever it is, it causes you what seems to be unending pain, and all you want is peace. To sleep restfully, to arise with joy, to walk through your day with uninterrupted thoughts, to know gentleness of spirit and to reach the end of the day knowing you've been a faithful servant.

But that isn't your walk. Your walk is sleeplessness, heavy burdens, a sense of being alone and adrift, looking at what you know could be a happy life but unable to grasp it. You bear a cross - not one you chose, but that was laid upon yo…

Freakin' Friday Fun

For all of us who never, ever tan...and enjoy our porcelain skin because of it...

This is why we have to keep fighting for life from conception til natural death

Jessica Grose wrote “Enough With the Grueling, Wrenching, 'I Had an Abortion' Essays” on Tuesday, critiquing a recent spate of articles defending abortions women had undertaken in difficult circumstances.
“A lot of women have abortions and don’t look back. A lot of women don’t want a baby, and they don’t care whether the fetus is viable or how much money is in their bank account. Where are their essays?” Grose asked.
Grose, the former editor of the website Jezebel, saluted “blithe and unapologetic” stories of abortions for abortion's sake. She cited the words of the anonymous 23-year-old author of “What to Expect When You’re Aborting” as a perfect example of her preferred abortive autobiography:
By monday my hormones were a little wonky but in all i just felt like this parasitic creature that burrowed its way into me and fed of my energy, apetite, [sic] and joy was removed. And I had been restored. Can't make this stuff up, folks...let's remember to pray…

Are saints perfect?

I read an article yesterday that questioned the sainthood of Bl. John Paul the Great. Why? The writer believed the pope did not do enough during his papacy to address the sex abuse scandal in the Church. And maybe he didn't. But does that disqualify him from sainthood?

Saints are not perfect. They aren't sinless. They make mistakes, but they seek forgiveness. St. Jerome was said to be quite grouchy. St. Therese of Lisieux often fell asleep in chapel during prayers (and who wouldn't at 3 a.m.??) St. Philip Neri was a jokester, and I imagine that irritated some who thought only boring piety was allowed for a priest. Padre Pio chased some poor woman out of the confessional - yikes!

For us poor humans, there is no such thing as perfection. We are going to keep messing up, but we also must keep inching closer and closer to sanctity. Admittedly, for most of us, it is two steps forward and three back on some days, and we can't see the finish line. There is no excuse for sin,…

And now a word from our Holy Father...

From the Sunday Angelus:


This Sunday's Gospel (Lk 10:1-12.17-20) speaks to us precisely of this: of the fact that Jesus is not an isolated missionary, does not want to fulfill his mission alone, but involves his disciples. Today we see that, in addition to the Twelve Apostles, He calls seventy-two others, and sends them into the villages, two by two, to announce that the Kingdom of God is near. This is very beautiful! Jesus does not want to act alone, He has come to bring to the world the love of God and wants to spread that love with a style of communion and fraternity. For this reason, he forms immediately a community of disciples, which is a missionary community. Iright from the start, He trains them for the mission, to go [on the mission].
Beware, however: the purpose is not to socialize, to spend time together – no, the purpose is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and this is urgent! There is no time to waste in small talk, no need to wait for the consent of all – t…

Wedding bells ring...and so do the cash registers....

Over the 4th of July holiday, I was chatting with a young friend about her upcoming wedding. Since it's only a few weeks away, she is understandably awash in taking care of details. Despite planning a fairly simple wedding, there is a lot to take care of.

According to any number of "wedding" authorities, you *can* spend $28,000 on the "average" wedding. YOU can. I sure wouldn't.

I'm glad I'm not a young bride today. With the advent of bridal reality shows, glitzy and slick magazines and Martha Stewart (yes, I'm blaming her), weddings are now meant to be entertainment affairs that bedazzle and out-do. Guests are to be wowed by the tiniest of details. Posh arrangements are a must, and the bride (after she has been sufficiently "boot-camped" into shape) must make her way down the aisle in the most perfect of gowns, which she has scoured the earth for.

Huh. I thought it was about getting married. You know, that lifelong commitment to your…

The Christian and how others view him

"For his brothers and sisters around him, the Christian is a man who loves the things of this world as they really are, according to their true value, but he is also a person who prefers the God in whome he believes to all other things. This preference leads him to make certain choices. People see him choosing the invisible God. These  choices pose a new question to the world, a question about whether there may not be something greater than the world." - Servant of God Madeleine Delbrel

Monday Morning Art Jam

Can this friendship be saved?

One women's magazine has a column entitled "Can this marriage be saved?" It allows the husband and the wife to each tell their side of the story as to why their marriage is in shambles, and then a therapist of some sort jumps in and helps them see why and how their marriage can indeed be salvaged.

I'm wondering if we don't need some similar for friendships after last week's DOMA ruling, the divide in our country regarding abortion, theists vs. atheists, etc. Civility and reasoned arguments seems to be on the way out, while beating each other up, both physically and emotionally are taking over.

Is it possible to be friends with those whose ideas are radically different than our own on such important topics? Can we still have a glass of wine and play Scrabble with someone who thinks abortion is okay, or that gay people can marry? What about that gay family member who keeps badgering us about our overly pious and outdated religious beliefs?

Is it time for us to…

Lumen Fidei

The light of love proper to faith can illumine the questions of our own time about truth. Truth nowadays is often reduced to the subjective authenticity of the individual, valid only for the life of the individual. A common truth intimidates us, for we identify it with the intransigent demands of totalitarian systems. But if truth is a truth of love, if it is a truth disclosed in personal encounter with the Other and with others, then it can be set free from its enclosure in individuals and become part of the common good. As a truth of love, it is not one that can be imposed by force; it is not a truth…

Freakin' Friday Fun

For all of you who have been treated to on-going fireworks in your neighborhood....


10 things to know about adopting special needs children

1. You don't need to be a hero, a saint, or a shrink to adopt special needs children. Yes, it can be hard, but if you're willing to love, the work becomes much lighter.

2. Like all adopted children, special needs children have something missing. Adoption means that a child couldn't be raised by their biological parents, and that is difficult. There are always questions in their minds about that.

3. We need support, not criticism. As parents of special needs kids, we know our children are going to act out, misbehave, get out of control, and generally be difficult sometimes. Don't judge. Don't give advice. Offer help, support and prayers.

4. It isn't all horrid.  Sometimes, people look at us with pity: "How hard it must be for them!" Yeah, ok, sometimes it is hard. But it's also great fun, a great joy, and we laugh a lot.

5. Have a solid, professional support team is a must. Finding the right doctors, counselors, social workers and therapists for y…

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

On prayer and courage:

Abraham is a courageous man and prays with courage. Abraham finds the strength to speak face to face with the Lord and attempts to defend that city.

When we speak of courage we always think of apostolic courage – going out to preach the Gospel, these sort of things…But there’s also (the kind of) courage (demonstrated) before the Lord. That sense of paralysis before the Lord: going courageous before the Lord to request things. It makes you laugh a bit; this is funny because Abraham speaks with the Lord in a special way, with this courage, and one doesn’t know: is this a man who prays or is this a‘phoenician deal’ because he’s bartering the price, down, down…And he’s tenacious: from fifty he’s succeeded in lowering the price down to ten. He knew that it wasn’t possible. Only that it was right…. But with that courage, with that tenacity, he went ahead.

"We need abortion because pregnancy makes us fat"

I only wish I made this stuff up. From a blog:

By the end, none of my shoes fit over my swollen feet. It’s not a medical concern, but not everyone can readily afford to just turn over a wardrobe twice in less than a year, especially when there are all these exciting new expenses for baby clothes and supplies.

Nearly a month after the birth, I still can’t fit into my pre-maternity clothes or bear to wear a real bra, and I’m really glad that I don’t have to show up anywhere looking professional for a little while yet. If I can’t be somewhere in an outfit that includes a nursing tank right now, I can’t be there.

She goes on to say that, "...it’s wrong and inhumane to make light of how difficult it is to 'just have the baby,' as anti-choice extremists say everyone should have to do."

I don't know any woman who's ever given birth who has made "light" of the experience. It's hard! It's painful! It's uncomfortable! But justification fo…

Last week's Supreme Court ruling and Scalia's dissent

“In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one’s political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today’s Court can handle. Too bad. A reminder that disagreement over something so fundamental as marriage can still be politically legitimate would have been a fit task for what in earlier times was called the judicial temperament.” - Justice Scalia

The American Spectator does a good job of digging into this.

Monday Morning Art Jam