Friday, December 14, 2012

Session 6 : Exodus and a non-sequitur on my toddler

So I'm a little behind on posting lately, sorry about that. In our last bible study session, we covered early Exodus. It has been a really long time since I've explored this part of the bible. I'm just really into all of this. I love learning our Jewish heritage and customs; especially seeing how it all ties into our Catholicism and the Mass today. It's awesome. I wish I would have learned everything I'm learning now 20 years ago...

With Advent here, we've been doing our nighttime advent readings at dinnertime, and I'm reading the bible with my oldest daughter every night before bed. I am determined to gift my kids with a love of scripture, something that I didn't have growing up. We are working our way through Genesis. In fact, I think I may do the same 12-book bible chronology of our bible class with my girls, but at a very slow pace. I can already tell that Genesis is going to be a hard book to read with a 6 year old. Lots of questions. How do you explain all that violence to a young child? (We are reading the Good News Bible version, I picked it up for $1 at Good Will. Obviously, some of it is above her head, but I'm trying to present it at her level.) Would you read Genesis to a six year old?

I also just discovered Ron Wyatt while doing some on line research. Have you heard of him? (OK, he is not Catholic, but a bible loving Christian who has made some utterly amazing claims of biblical discoveries.) Everything I have read and seen has been credible and fascinating. I have no idea if this guy is for real or not, but he strikes me as a genuine and humble man and watching the on line videos about his discoveries has just added a whole new dimension to my bible study, so with a discerning spirit and an inquiring mind, I present you with the following video (in case you are inclined to view an 18 minute long Exodus related clip... this one is good.)

And if watching an Exodus video on you tube is not your thing today?

How about my 2 1/2 year old rug rat singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?

This one is less than 1 minute and here goes...

(Lately, my toddler has been driving me crazy with the pooping 5 times a day thing going on and refusing to potty train... the crying fits... the waking up 3-4 times a night and the general "I'm a baby, no I'm a big girl, no I'm a baby" attitude). Seriously... does anyone else deal with this on your end? Drives me bonkers. No, this has nothing to do with my bible study! LOL!

Good Night Everyone, happy 3rd week of advent coming soon...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More Reversion: Looking For God

This post is a continuation of my attempts to write about my reversion back to the Catholic Church. My last post on this topic is here:
The Catholic Mom's Corner: Biblical Revelations

Suddenly things started happening.

1. I was convinced that God was real.

2. I knew that I did not have a close relationship with God and that I hadn't tried hard enough in the past to change this.

3. My Co-worker, who was so kind to me, and was loaning me his books, attended a Traditional Latin Mass (which I had no idea what that was about on any level and wasn't even aware that such a thing even existed in our present age). He had 7 kids who were home-schooled before they joined a co-op/school that was only attended by other Traditional Catholic children who went to his special church. He was absolutely unapologetic and uncompromising about his faith and talking about it at work (when people would ask, but not to people who didn't care to hear). He did not watch any rated "R" movies, and didn't have any interest when I would talk about the cool new movie I had seen that weekend. I was internally floored when he mentioned that The Sound of Music was one of their family favorites. Needless to say, I was smart enough to not mention my book collection (see my last post in this series). All the females in his household were modest dressers, skirts below the knees, yet were stylish, normal and very well adjusted people, despite any prior stereotypes I may have held out of ignorance, about homeschoolers. His teenage daughters were not allowed to date the same way that I did in high school... for instance, they were only allowed to go out in groups, and if they wanted to have an actual "date" with a friend of the opposite sex, they had to take one of their much younger siblings with them! I had never met anyone like this before, and I was frankly, fascinated, with him and his family. I asked a lot of questions and he was very open with me.

4. "The Lord" vs. "Our Lord". Now that I could chime in a little with all the Anne Catherine Emmerich discussions going on, I quickly realized that my friend always referred to "The Lord" (which is what I would always say), as "Our Lord". I just couldn't bring myself to say "Our Lord", it felt too personal and too uncomfortable for me. I tried it once, and I felt as if I hadn't earned the right to say "Our Lord", because He wasn't really mine. Isn't that sad?

5. I started praying in the morning in the shower a simple, "God, please show me who you are. I have no idea. Are you even there?"

6. I wandered into a local Catholic book store and picked up a book on Padre Pio (my Grandmother had mentioned him before, and the stigmata seemed interesting...) and a book called No Wonder They Call It the Real Presence  - I was still wondering about that whole veiling before the Blessed Sacrament thing, I just didn't get it, but was on the verge of discovering a whole new sub-culture below the radar of the comfortable "Catholic" world that I had known my whole life.

As always, there is much more to say, so I shall return... !

Click HERE to continue the story.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Eucharistic Flash Mob

I love this! I wish I could experience something like this on Black Friday...

What do you think?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Jacob's Daddy Issues - Session 5

A couple weeks ago we concluded Session 5 of  the Great Adventure Bible Timeline Catholic Bible Study - The Study of Salvation. I got through the entire book of Genesis! Yeah, that feels pretty good. For the first time in my life I can honestly say that I have learned more about our Biblical Patriarchs than ever before. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and his 11 brothers - their strengths and their weaknesses... how they were so human and flawed, just like us. How they trusted in God, and sometimes doubted God. Their lives were messy and complicated and God was with them every step of the way, drawing them into a deeper relationship with Him.

One really interesting theme from this session is the life of Jacob and his relationship with his father. While the Bible doesn't go into too many specifics of the dynamics, I don't think it is a stretch to "read between the lines" and to suggest that Jacob had to have some real issues and insecurities that he probably struggled with for his entire life. The kind of wounds that only God can heal.

Let's take a brief look at Jacob's bio. His dad, Isaac, at the age of 40, was overtaken by Rebekah's beauty, and he married her, and he loved her. After struggling with infertility for almost 20 years the Lord God heard Isaac's prayers and granted them... double! Rebekah was blessed with twins. Esau and Jacob, who battled from the start, in utero. Esau was the first born, ruled by his passions and often profane, yet favored by his father. Jacob, the younger twin, quiet and cunning, he was his mother's favorite child. How it must have hurt him to sense that his father loved his older brother more than him. He probably spent many hours in vain as a young boy trying to gain the approval and affection of his father, to no avail. All little boys want to be loved by their father and be the "favorite one".

As the boys grew older, they did not grow closer. Jacob ended up "buying" his brother's birthright for a bowl of stew, after Esau was clouded with famine due to a day of hunting and so hungry that he could not think straight. This essentially doubled Jacob's inheritance, and he would take over the rights that were usually set aside for the eldest child. Later, after their dad, Isaac, grew old and blind, he made plans to call Esau in for the coveted final blessing, which would bestow him with the promises of wealth, fertility, and prosperity. His dad wanted some of his good hunting game first, however, and sent him off to bring back fresh meat to prepare a delicious dinner. While Esau was gone, Jacob's mom helped him craft a disguise where he would pretend to be his brother. And to top it off, she would prepare the dinner, exactly to Isaac's liking, as she knew perfectly well how to do, and then Jacob would pretend to be his brother, pretend to have hunted and cooked a special meal for his dad, and then steal the blessing away from Esau! Jacob was scared he would be caught, but his mother encouraged him. It wasn't easy, but he received his father's blessing through deceit and fraud. How could he feel good about himself after what he did and how he did it? He had received the blessing, sure enough, but it still didn't change the fact that his father didn't want HIM, he wanted his brother, Esau to be his beloved and blessed son! And not only that, but when Esau figured out what happened, he wanted to kill Jacob. The Bible doesn't tell us how his father felt about all this specifically, except that he trembled violently and recognized that his younger son acted with guile. We can only imagine the anger and bitter disappointment that Isaac felt for his failure and loser of a son, Jacob, who ends up fleeing the house so his brother won't murder him. This was not a good scene!

After things have cooled off a bit, Jacob is blessed again and sent away by his father and mother to the Northern land of Haran to find a wife. He eventually sees his young woman/cousin named Rachel and wants to marry her, he agrees to work for her for 7 years. On their wedding night, his Uncle, Laban, "switches" his youngest daughter, Rachel, with his oldest daughter, Leah. So, Jacob wakes up in the morning to see that Rachel was "switched" with her older sister Leah and he has now married and consummated marriage to the wrong woman! When questioned, Laban replies that in his country, the oldest comes first! (Talk about What Comes Around Goes Around!) Jacob was getting a taste of his own medicine. He works 7 more years for the woman that he originally wanted. One can't read this without knowing that somewhere in this life experience God is trying to teach an important lesson to Jacob, however, through it all, Jacob still has the blessing and it is all part of God's important plan.

Jacob goes on to father 12 sons with Rachel and Leah, who will become the Fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel. He later reunites with his brother, Esau.

The day before the two brothers are about to reunite after many years of estrangement, when at Peniel, Jacob encounters a mysterious supernatural being (an angel in human shape who represents the Son of God) who battles with him for his life throughout the night. Jacob is wrestling with God! Is he angry with God because of the lost relationship with his own dad? Clearly he has divine assistance while fighting the angel, as no mere mortal human would have the strength to hold back one of God's angels.  God is showing Jacob that it is HIS will, and that neither his brother Esau, nor his father can determine or sway his God given destiny. God has chosen him, not by his merit or because of anything he has done to deserve it, but simply because it is God's will. When the angel says "Let me go, for the day is breaking." Jacob replies, "I will not let you go, until you bless me." What a peculiar response. He is still yearning for the blessing, the affirmation and the acceptance from someone, anyone, from The Father, because deep inside he knows that the actual blessing he got from his biological father was not truly intended or deserved. He must have deep seated insecurities and inadequacies and this is why he wrestles with God in this cryptic bible passage in Genesis 32:22-32. Jacob is then blessed by God and is given the name of Israel. He has seen God (or at least one of his angels) face to face, has lived to tell of it, has been humbled by being "touched on the thigh" and wounded by God, and ultimately healed by God, who has provided him with the fatherly love, relationship, and approval that he has been yearning for his entire life. He has truly earned his blessing this time. How fulfilling this must have felt for Jacob.

For those of you who can relate to Jacob because of lack of parental approval or affection, I think God can heal and make us whole again. He can provide meaning to our suffering and an ultimate plan for our lives. I know it is hard to imagine that He loves us even more than our parents, spouses, and our closest family and friends, but this thought provides me comfort at times when I am sad.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Biblical Revelations

In my last post I explained how I got my hands on Volume 1 of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich's Biblical Revelations.

I am a reader and always have been. I love non-fiction, and anything that tells a story about something that has actually happened or can expose some kind of truth, especially a shocking one, is especially appealing to me. Up to this point, I had always been attracted to the dark and macabre. For example, during this time, I can think back and one book that I "couldn't put down" was "A Child Called It" by Dave Pelzer. This is a horrifying autobiography of the worst child abuse case in California history and a mother who forces her own son to eat his own vomit, excrement, and bleach, amongst tales of brutal beatings and mental abuse. Sounds nice, right? The other book I had somehow found was, Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody, which tells of the real life experiences of the 24 year old neophyte author, as she works in the underground sex arena as a stripper, at a peep show, and for a sex hot line just for fun. You get the idea...

So, I'm pretty open minded, great thing... I pick up Volume 1 of this 2500+ page epic 4 set book which pretty much chronicles main events from the entire Bible, touching on Creation and earlier Old-Testament stories and focusing heavily on the life of our Blessed Mother, and the entire life of Jesus Christ. I know its religious, and I know the Good Catholic people at work are loving it. I decide, what the hell, right? Let's see what the big fuss is about.

I start reading the first chapter, and you know what? IT IS REALLY GOOD! The stories are vaguely familiar, they are our common Bible stories that we all know, but they are infused with great detail and insight and truth. I quickly find that Anne Catherine Emmerich's private revelations are very interesting and very readable. I am surprised that not only is this not at all boring, but extremely easy to read and even enjoyable. (Imagine the Bible re-written as a New York Times Modern Best Seller.) I found that I couldn't wait to get home every day from work so I could read a few more chapters in Volume 1. There were even parts that were appealing to my "dark side" - because she speaks in so much detail about false gods and how people from earlier times loved to worship them and what detrimental effect this has on their souls. It is all very fascinating.

Anyway, there's a lot I could write because it took months and months to read. And in fact, before I would finish all 4 volumes, I would indeed come full circle back into the Catholic Church with a force that I would have never even known was possible. But it is the kind of thing that you don't really ever want to end, and when it does you are a little sad. I remember telling my sister on the phone, trying to explain this new book I was reading, and not doing it any justice, just saying, "I don't really know how to explain this, but I think I am going to become religious..." I remember her saying something like, "Well... Good, I guess..." I started to slowly realize that reading tabloids was a waste of time, and reading things like the aforementioned books about sexual deviancy and child molesters and abusers were interesting, yes, but perhaps not really necessary, perhaps even less than what God would want... Months later, many of the books in my personal collection would be given away or donated to Goodwill. I remember giving away Candy Girl to a younger co-worker, a recent graduate with a nose-ring at my job who thought the author was "cool". I remember saying "Here, you can have this book. I don't want it back." (Maybe I shouldn't have encouraged her, but at the time, it seemed like an OK thing to do.) What should we do with books in this type of situation? Burn them? Throw them out? At the time, I just wanted to pass them onto someone else and get them out of my possession.

Writing out this story is difficult for me. First of all, it has been almost 5 years ago and the order of events tend to overlap, so I am trying to maintain the integrity of my details. And more importantly, I am afraid that it is boring and that nobody particularly cares. I'm going on and on about minutiae. A couple of people have mentioned that I should write this story down, but there are so many small details that have come together to make this all possible, it is not easy to capture everything succinctly. Anyway, if this even serves to help or entertain one person, it will be worth it! I appreciate the encouraging comments I have received thus far.

Next time I will explain further either how the Traditional Latin Mass began to arouse my curiosity and how I first began to pray and seek God even without knowing what I was doing in
The Catholic Mom's Corner: More Reversion: Looking For God

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Session 4 of The Great Adventure Bible Study

Hello Everyone and a Happy All Saint's Day to you!  Here is a quick check-in on Session 4 of Jeff Cavin's Bible Timeline Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study.

I am excited that I feel I am beginning to 'gel' a little more with some of the women in my group. (Even the 'strong' personalities that I tend to clash with, I am liking/accepting them too. Hopefully they feel the same way about me :-)

This past week we talked about the early patriarchs in Genesis. We learned all about Abraham and how his faith in God was unshakable. He trusted God to leave Ur and go to an unknown land, leaving the comfort and stability of his home. He trusted God when he was promised an heir, even though his wife was beyond childbearing years and he was a very old man! (We learned how this parallels the "impossible child" Jesus and Mary at the Annunciation). He trusted God when he was asked to sacrifice his only begotten son, Issac, on Mount Moriah. (So many hidden parallels to Jesus to be found in this Old Testament narrative.)

One take away I had from this session was that Adam and Eve, during the fall, were asked to trust God. They did not pass their "test".  In Abraham's life, he is not only asked to "trust", but also to "act" on that trust, ultimately with the willingness to sacrifice his only son. It really drives the point home that obedience, and our actions, are paramount in showing our faith and trust in God. It is one thing to believe, but a whole other thing to ACT on that belief in a righteous way.

Lord, may I have a strong faith in you, as Abraham did, and may I always act in accordance with that faith and your will! Amen.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Journey of a Thousand Miles

If you are just stumbling on this post, it will make more sense if you read Part 1 of my story:
The Wedding Invitation That Changed My Life

I hope you didn't decide to abandon me, dear reader, for being a horrible person. It's not that I was (or am) completely horrible. I think it has more to do with being raised in today's secular culture where our worth and our sense of accomplishment is often dictated by the size of our home, how big our flat screen TVs are, how successful we can be at work, how much money we make, and how thin we are.. things like that.   I was the one who always wanted to be popular, but never quite fit in. I am very vain and always wanted to be physically beautiful, but in reality, I am pretty darn average on my best days. I am insecure and have always compensated for my perceived short-comings with sarcasm and cynicism and judgement. I might not be gorgeous, but I can be smart. I may not have joy in my heart, but who needs that when I am so successful at my career? There just wasn't much room for God in my life. Not that I didn't believe in God, I just was doing things my way and on my terms, and was an extremely selfish and wounded person trying to "keep up with the Joneses". My daughter was going to receive her sacraments because "that's what Catholics do"... even though we were not even going to church. In fact, you could count on one hand how many times we had been to a Catholic Mass since our wedding day 7 years prior to this point!

And so here we are.

Because even though I didn't go to that wedding, the invitation, and the people behind it and what they stood for, changed me somehow over the course of the following year. Everyday I had to come to work, I was in an environment where I felt unsure of myself and very out of place. Surrounded by many deeply Christian individuals who were so simple and joyful and at peace with themselves and their faith.

And what was so special about this "Blessed Sacrament" that would cause someone to cover their head?

Somewhere in the very back of my mind a little voice kept asking that question.

Why was that so threatening to me?

I really didn't want to answer that question!

As the days passed, I kept quiet and listened to the Bible conversations going on around me and I learned to accept it. At some point being surrounded by faithful people makes you act a little more righteous. There was no competition, no gossip, no back stabbing, no racy jokes or inappropriate innuendos, it just wasn't what I had ever been used to. The men around me were all married and faithful to their wives. God was important, their families were important. They were also very smart. Masters Degrees in Engineering and PhDs. I was taking mental notice.

Several of them had begun reading "Biblical Revelations" by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. They talked about it every single day. This is a huge 4 volume set you can buy from Tan books.
Here's a link in case you want to see what I'm talking about. I wasn't about to spend the money for something like this by someone that I had never heard anything about, but at one point I was making casual conversation with my co-worker and said to him, "Well, everyone else is reading this, you are going to have to let me borrow it one of these days..."

I think I was being more polite than serious, but as you can probably guess...

I came to work a few days later and Volume 1 was sitting on my desk... My co-worker was loaning it to me, as he had now moved onto Volume 3.

I will continue my story in a future post about how reading this book immediately began to touch, well melt might be a better word, my heart.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Wedding Invitation That Changed My Life

This post is about how God sets into motion circumstances that change our lives.  It is how He uses other people to lead us to Him through grace.

When my oldest child was born, 6 1/2 years ago, I was successfully selling real estate and making a lot of money, working late nights and every weekend, and not practicing my faith. I got fed up with it all when I missed my daughters 1st birthday because I had to drive across town to show a home to a young couple who ended up ditching me anyway and the deal ended up falling through. I was not able to spend the day as I had planned with my little princess, firstborn, who had just turned one. I was devastated.

Eventually I started sending out resumes in order to obtain a job that was Monday through Friday, in the hopes that I could enjoy the weekends and evenings with my husband and daughter. I knew I would have to take a pay cut, but I didn't care.

I got a call from a company that I was not particularly interested in. It was far from home. I'm not even sure why I went to the interview. I already decided when I walked in that I wasn't going to work there. I didn't like it. They sent me home with an application, which I never filled out, and I never mailed it back to them. I wasn't interested.

Then they called. They wanted to hire me.

I said I wasn't interested. I let the application collect dust on the counter.

A couple weeks later I received an offer of employment from this company. It was for over $25k per year more than the other job offers I had received.

When they called again I tried to gracefully decline, using my current job as an "excuse" because I had some closings I wanted to see to completion in the next couple of months. They told me I could work part time and set my own schedule, they were completely flexible. They literally made it impossible for me to say no! I agreed to start on Valentine's Day and work 2 days a week to "test the waters".

At this place, I was in an alien environment. IT WAS A COMPLETE RADICAL SHIFT FROM WHAT I WAS USED TO.  I went from working with a bunch of women who drove very expensive cars, got their weekly manicures, lived in McMansions, and dressed very fashionable. Now I was working with a bunch of computer nerds who talked about jet engines, the inner workings of compilers, and an awful lot about the bible...

What a bunch of GEEKS!
That was all I could think at first as I just kept to myself and tried to adjust.

Now for the God part... it didn't take me too long to realize that everyone around me in my row of cube-mates was Catholic. (Well, one guy was Russian Orthodox, but he was off site most of the time, so I'm not counting him.)  But seriously folks, I'm talking the-most-devout-Catholics-I-had-never-met-before-Catholic. I was surrounded by 3 people in my row, and 3 others that would come over from other rows to talk to the people in my location, for a total of 6 completely practicing and devout Catholics hovering near by on a daily basis.  I tried hard to ignore them all.

But the people who sat by me, were just so nice...

I was very surprised when one of the gentleman asked me for my address.

"Why?" I wanted to know, always suspicious.

"So I can invite you to my daughter's wedding." 

"But you don't even know me!" was all I could say...

"Well, sure I do. Come on, it will be a good time. We would love to have you there."

So, I reluctantly gave him my address. And when I received the beautiful formal wedding invitation in the mail my bad attitude turned downright horrible when a small card fell out of the RSVP envelope, and it said this:

Our Wedding Ceremony is being held in a Traditional Roman Catholic Church. In honor of the Blessed Sacrament, we request that no sleeveless dresses be worn and that all women please cover their heads. (Veils will be provided.) Thank you.
I grimaced and gawked. My mouth hanging open in disbelief. I mean, this actually offended me. Blinded with pride, I called my sister and read her the invitation and we laughed at it. I jokingly told her, "I don't even OWN a dress that has sleeves. There is no way I'm wearing a stinking veil. I am NOT going to this wedding."

I RSVP'd "No" and told my co-worker that we were going to be out of town that weekend.

He smiled and said genuinely, "I'm so sorry to hear that. But... we will see you at the next wedding then. It will probably be next year." (My last thought was... Good grief, this guy has 7 kids and 5 daughters. Please don't invite me, I am going to have to come up with another excuse to decline...)   

But God had other plans.

To Be Continued... click here


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I hate my job

I'll spare the gory details... but I am fed up with my job. Right now I hate it.

I'm committed to putting in a 40 hour work week, and dealing with a 2 hour commute every day. And I realize this comes at a cost, and it is my family, and my health, that suffers for it. I also realize it brings many blessings (not really for me at all, but for my family), which I've talked about on here before, and that is why this is a difficult thing to just walk away from.
But I've really had it.

A new position, which is much much more visible and demanding. (No official promotion, though, just a lot more work and a lot more stress, yeah, one of those kind of deals...)

I can't take having to work every evening for hours after the kids go to bed, just so I can "keep up".

I can't take crying in the bathroom anymore because something isn't working and I'm already past the deadline, and I've had no training, and I've been thrown into something beyond which I can handle.

I can't handle feeling like a failure anymore.

I can't handle putting my husband and kids on the backburner.

I can't handle my two year old calling me "daddy" because she sees so little of me.

I can't handle the stress this is causing on my marriage because of built up resentment towards my husband because I hate my job. (And his built up resentment towards me from lack of intimacy, because I am too tired, from lack of taking care of the house, because I am never here, and from in-general all the things I should or could be doing that I can't because I am tied up trying to wrap up yet another 'urgent' work item.)

I can't handle spending more money on daycare than on my mortgage and 2 car payments, combined.

My company is sucking the life out of me.

Every week now since my daughter started CCD, I have met yet another homeschooling mom. Great for them, but it's driving me crazy with jealousy.

I used to think that this was "my cross to bear" and have been trying for the past 4 years to make the best of my situation, but now I am not sure why God would even want me to stay here. I've already learned to swallow my pride, I have been humbled. I have learned to accept people that I have strongly disliked. I have learned not to judge others as much.

Not sure where this is all leading, but it's just where I am at right now. Please say a prayer for me.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Session 3 of The Great Adventure Bible Study

Our third Session of The Bible Timeline Great Adventure concluded our study of Early Genesis, Chapters 1 - 11. We gained deeper insights into the 2 Creation Accounts, the Fall, the Flood, and the descendants of Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, and so on.

Some of the most notable things I learned:

The Ark is an old Testament type, or symbol, of the Church. Within the Church, we can safely navigate this treacherous world. God made a covenant with Noah, that he would never again wipe out mankind because He knows that it is in our nature to sin and he patiently waits for us to turn to Him. He marked this covenant with Noah by placing his "bow in the sky" (a rainbow). Isn't it interesting that the word "bow" is used? God hangs His "weapon" in the sky... to signify His love for us and his promise of peace!  After the Flood, it was like a "2nd Creation", and even a "2nd Fall", as man began to fall back into evil and prideful ways, as shown with the building of the Tower of Babel. Why do we have such trouble with trusting entirely in God?

I particular found it interesting that the "confusion" that occurred after the mixing up of languages at The Tower of Babel, was essentially reversed in the New Testament, at Pentecost. when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles! Wow, I had never made THAT connection before!

There's a lot more to say here, but you will have to go through this study yourself to get all the juicy details.

Somewhere in the introduction, it was recommended that we keep a notebook of the "hard-to-answer" questions so we don't get bogged down in the details and prevent ourselves from moving forward in the narrative story. I don't have a notebook, but I'm kind of using this blog to capture some of my thoughts and I'll just list them below. These are my unanswered questions so far, from the book of Genesis ...(and some of them may be goofy, but... they are things I am wondering!):

* Did Noah bring baby dinosaurs on the Ark? Or did they get left behind?

* Were all men vegetarians until after the Flood?  (Genesis 9:3 seems to imply this.)

* What could the Mark of Cain be? (Genesis 4:15) Was it very dark skin? (Wow, isn't it way politically incorrect to say that today? However, many have said this in the past. The descendants of Cain settled in North Africa. Has this biblical narrative been used to perpetuate racism?) Whatever it was, it prevented his own brothers and sisters from killing him, so it was a mark that came from God. Was it a tattoo or something sacred marked on his forehead? Some of our Church Forefathers have interpreted this as a physical trembling and a horrible countenance, perhaps a form of epilepsy and horrible birthmark?

* Genesis 6:4 is a wild verse. I wrote a blog post about it HERE. Many questions on the Giants or Nephilim...

*  Genesis 9:21-22 is just plain disturbing when you understand the biblical language that "uncovering nakedness" implies incest. (Just skim Leviticus 18 if you don't believe that, and you may reconsider.) So did Canaan either rape his grandfather or perhaps Noah's wife and then tell his father, Ham, about it? Did Ham gossip, brag, or laugh instead of trying to cover his father back up like Shem and Japheth did? Yikes! I would rather just go with the literal interpretation on this one...

OK, well, this is all I've got to say today. If you have made it this far, you are probably in the Bible Study yourself, so you will have to let me know what interesting questions you came up with after getting to this point and how you are enjoying your Bible Study.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

105 Waves, 3 Thumbs Down, and 2 Middle Fingers

Today our church had a "Life Chain". We gathered on the sidewalks up and down the busy streets surrounding the local abortuary for about 5 blocks on each side of the road.  We all held signs and stood peacefully by the street in view of every passing car. It was a good turn out.

I wanted to keep things as "entertaining" as possible for my 6 year old, so I suggested we wave at every passing car and see if we could get 100 people to wave back at us. I would estimate about 1000 people drove by. Most saw us, as it was impossible not to, but pretended not to see. Most didn't care. A lot of people honked and waved and smiled. (This was '1' point each.) My 6 year old, and I, kept smiling and waving. Some people reluctantly waved or gave a little nod. (Hard to ignore a little 6 year old vigorously waving at you with all her excitement and her toothless grin... '1' point each.) A few people gave us a big "Thumbs Down"... and 2 horrible people held up their middle finger, looking directly at US... towards me as I held my 6 month old infant and my waving smiling 6 year old. One guy even yelled "F You!" at the top of his lungs with so much anger, I felt a backlash of anger welling up in myself. Who would flip off a little girl and a new born baby? Are you for real? It was appalling. I had to stifle the urge to flip HIM off 2 fold. (I told you, I am not always the perfect Christian.) Fortunately, I got a hold of myself and realized that THOSE were the people whom we were standing out there for... the people that were REALLY angry that we were there. Those people are the poor souls that we need to pray and fast for in order to bring about a conversion of their hearts and for the salvation of their souls. Why would they be so angry? They were all old men! Can you believe that? What happened in your past to make you hate what we were doing so much? To make you hate all that pro-life stands for? To yell horrible obscenities at my little girls? There was so much hatred in those gestures, even if for only a passing instant on a busy street. Is it because you are voting for Obama? Is it because you have turned against God because of something painful that happened to you?  Did you and an ex girlfriend from your long-ago past make a decision to terminate her pregnancy and now you have buried the hurt deep inside and have to justify it through a hatred of Christianity?

My little daughter asked me what that "bad sign" meant, I could only shake my head in disbelief and tell her that it meant something very mean, and that those people were not on "our side"... they didn't believe that all babies should have a chance at being born and that if a mother didn't want to have a baby then she could decide just to make the baby go away, instead of offering the baby for another family who wanted to raise and love the child. Even my daughter had the sense to look at me and say, "Well how can they think THAT?  Even they were born..."

It all reminded me of Ronald Reagan's famous quote:

"I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born."

So, after we collected our 100 waves, we stood for a few more minutes to catch just 5 more, to make up for the 5 "Bad Guys". And when we gathered together to say our Rosary at the end, we said it not only for the intention of all the innocent babies slaughtered through abortion, but also for those 5 people who didn't like our signs. God only knows what good these things do... it usually feels like a lost effort and that you aren't going to change anybody's mind. But I know we have to keep trying.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Session 2 of The Great Adventure Bible Study

I am really enjoying The Great Adventure Bible Timeline Catholic Bible Study and wanted to post a quick update on how things are going. We meet every other Wednesday and it is a "Women's Group" at a local Catholic Church. It's really nice to be in there with other women, and the 2 hour "get-a-way" is a life saver. Two whole hours to talk about and study God's word, free from changing poopy diapers, crying babies and toddlers and all the distractions of a very busy home and stressful full time job! I sure do need this!

I didn't mention this earlier, but this study is about giving the "Big Picture" of the Bible and Salvation History through studying the 14 narrative books of the bible, starting with Genesis and working through the New Testament. The premise is that once a chronological story emerges, we have a full context for understanding what is really going on, how the Old Testament relates to the New, and how to place everything else into its proper historical context. We spend the first hour discussing our reading and our "homework" questions, and the second half watching an informative video by Jeff Cavins.

During this second session we reviewed Genesis 1-3. We talked about the 2 different accounts of Genesis and what they mean. We talked about the Fall and the promise of a redeemer in Genesis 3:15. It is really great to study Genesis in such detail with slow daily reading. There is so much depth here, it never ceases to amaze me. Right now the 2nd creation account really speaks to me (Genesis 2:5-25) and has me pondering God's original plan for marriage and how men and women relate and compliment each other. And just as an aside, it's really amazing that once you start reading something like this (The opening chapters of Genesis), it starts to appear everywhere, and I mean everywhere! My 6 year old is studying Creation in CCD, so I really enjoyed talking with her about the 6 days of Creation and even got to sit in her class with her. My husband coincidentally rented The Genesis Code, which was a really interesting movie talking about how to reconcile a literal interpretation of the "Days of Creation" with modern day science. In light of my readings, it was very timely. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

It is also nice that everyone seems to be taking to the Catechism, and understanding that it isn't "just a boring meaningless book". It is really cool how this study ties in a lot of Catechism reference and by going through this course, you aren't only going to learn the Bible, but you are going to learn a lot of what the Church actually teaches as well.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Awesome Catholic Working Moms and The Year of Faith

Next month begins the start of our Catholic Year of Faith. Pope Benedict XVI is launching this initiative to inspire us to share our Catholic Faith with others and to personally grow closer to God.

Now, my wonderful Catholic Mothers who are Working Outside the Home in a secular job, this post is especially for you. I have been thinking today about how our jobs provide us with a very special challenge and an opportunity to be a Catholic presence and a blessing to our co-workers who we encounter on a daily basis. Not to exclude mom's working in Catholic bookstores, Catholic schools, Churches, or other Catholic institutions, or mom's staying at home and taking care of your children, in fact, I wish I could trade places with you. However, I'm talking about evangelizing today! For me it seems easier to show off your Catholicism when you are sitting in circle time surrounded by the women in your Catholic Mom's prayer group, meeting the other good Holy Catholic Mothers in your Catholic homeschooling co-op group, or hanging out with your 100% supportive and fully practicing Catholic family. Yet some of us are single moms. Some of us are married to non-Catholics. Some of us have teenagers or other family members that may have decided long ago that the Catholic Church is not worth their time. And then some of us just spend the majority of our day surrounded by non believers just trying to survive the daily grind of life. People who are obsessed with their new I-Phones, the stock market, who is going to win the Big Game this weekend, what Lady Gaga is wearing today, and who is performing on Dancing With the Stars this season. When your daily peer group is not religious, there is always a little bit of discomfort with religion. I can tell you personally that I don't like to draw attention to myself. I want to sit quietly alone and do my thing. I do not want to make others uncomfortable, and I definitely do not want to be singled out as some kind of judgemental Holy Roller. However, it is growing more and more evident that at some point you need to foster your courage and convictions and just be who you are. I am getting better at this, but have a lot of work to do. I pray to the Holy Spirit for help with this.

Here are some small steps I have taken to be a positive Catholic influence in my workplace. Maybe this will encourage you in some way at your job. Or better yet, perhaps you can give me some additional ideas and inspiration.

Please share your thoughts!

Here are a few ways that I quietly evangelize and share my faith while at work:
1) I have worn a miraculous medal of Our Lady that I had blessed by a priest almost everyday for the last several years. (The chain it was on recently broke from wear... I really need to get a replacement.)
2) I put a pro-life bumper sticker on my car. "Children are a Gift from God." (And the 3 carseats crammed in there, and the tons of toys and religious books and rosaries scattered around I am sure make an impression.) Hundreds of people in the parking lot see this every day. Who knows what they are thinking? I am going to donate some $ to 2 local Catholic radio stations next and get some of their stickers on my car soon.
3) I finally got the guts to put up a Holy Card of St. Gianna Molla on my cube wall. (What an awesome pro-life, working-Mother, modern day Saint! St. Gianna, pray for us!)
4) I make the sign of the cross and say grace before all my meals at work and home. (Have you ever had to do this in front of your executive VPs at a business lunch meeting? It's a little uncomfortable.)
5) This goes without saying, but as a Working Catholic Mom, don't be a near occasion of sin for your fellow male co-workers. It's great to look feminine, but don't dress slutty. I only wear pants or long skirts these days.
6) Don't gossip.
7) Don't use bad language, swear, or step into inappropriate yet interesting conversations. (This can be challenging, and is a reminder to myself to be stronger in these areas!)
8) I don't hide the fact that I do not eat meat on Fridays. Just today, my boss was asking for lunch recommendations for our team meeting for tomorrow. I asked her to order a "non-meat" pizza via email. She responded and asked if I was a vegetarian or if I just preferred my pizza meatless. I said, "I just don't eat meat on Fridays." (If she mentions it further, I think I'll explain that I do this as a religious observance, "Like Lent, but all year around." or something to that effect.)
9) I try to go to Mass during lunch when I am really stressed out. It's a really great thing to do when I get a chance to actually do it.
10) When someone shares something about a family member or friend in trouble or having health issues, I let them know, "I'll keep them in my prayers" (and then I actually do it, and try to remember their name and inquire about the individual later). I have been thinking about carrying around a little "prayer notebook" to keep track of names of random people. So many people need prayers for so many reasons.

So, how do you bring your Catholic presence to your work? What areas can you push yourself to do more of to bring in the Year of Faith?

Have a great day and thanks for visiting!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Observations from my 1st Bible Study Session

I mentioned earlier that I signed up for Jeff Cavins', The Bible Timeline Catholic Bible Study. This is going to be interesting.

Here are some things I learned and observed from our 1st Session:

1. I never knew that the liturgy readings followed the NAB Bible. (OK, Duh, right? But nobody ever told me. I don't even own an NAB Bible. In fact, I admit, I don't even know what NAB stands for, but I'll look it up as soon as I'm done with this. New American Bible?)

2. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (the one promulgated by Pope John Paul II) uses quotes from the RSV (Revised Standard Version) and the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version).

3. We were encouraged to highlight passages in our Bibles (with colored pencils being one suggestion,because they don't bleed through the pages) and to make notes with a very fine ball point pen in the margins, as a "2-way dialogue" with God. I admit, I get REALLY uncomfortable with this... I don't like writing in my books. However, I decided to give it a try anyway. Hopefully I will not regret marking up my brand new leather Bible!

4. The lack of interest and knowledge of the Catechism by many of the individuals present was mind boggling. While not everyone there was anti-Catechism, I was shocked at some of the comments:

   "This is boring..."

   "What's the point of this thing, anyway? I don't get it..."

   "This just all seems like... legalese to me."

Some of these women, didn't know their faith very well.  (Which is great that they were there to learn, so I hope they stick it out!) One or more are even involved in grade school CCD, which really kind of scares me. As parents, we really need to take a very active role in our childrens' faith formation. Even with the best of intentions, you cannot guarantee that your children are going to be taught authentic Catholic teachings.  We MUST be involved when it comes to our kids and if you have had a poor faith upbringing, I suggest that you learn WITH your kids and take responsibility for catching up. It is never too late. Start with the Baltimore Catechism #1, easy obtainable online or at a Catholic bookstore, and read through it with your children. You will quickly learn the basics and it is very empowering.

5. There are 2 different creation accounts in Genesis. The first in Genesis 1 is chronological:
(On Day 1, God said "Let there be light." and He creates Day and Night,
 on Day 2 the firmament called Heaven,
 on Day 3 dry land called Earth, gathered waters called Seas, and vegetation,
 on Day 4 the Sun, Moon and Stars for signs and seasons,
 on Day 5 swarms of creatures, fish, etc. to fill the waters, and birds to fill the sky,
 on Day 6, animals and "beasts of the earth" and MAN and WOMAN,
 on Day 7, He Rests. )

The 2nd account, in Genesis 2, is from a different perspective: In the beginning, there are "no plants of the field yet on earth", and God formed MAN out of dust and breathed life into him and he became a living soul. Then the garden of Eden was planted. It seemed as if the man was alone for a very long time. "Original Solitude". God wanted to make him a helpmate. Animals were formed and brought forth for Adam to name. Nothing was fit for man. Next, Adam was put to sleep, and Eve was formed from Adam's rib.
"This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh." 
I am having a little bit of a struggle reconciling these 2 different accounts into "the Big Picture", but I'm jumping ahead of Session #1 already, so I have some more praying, reading and researching to do until I find something that makes sense.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Words Cannot Express

It feels like we are in the End Times.

May God bless the souls that perished in this attack.

May God bless our Country.

May God bless our Unborn.

May God bless our Religious Freedom.

May God help us be true to our Catholic Faith in thoughts, words, and deeds in this age of utter confusion.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Ipsa Conteret Caput Tuum!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Prayer and an Indulgence for you before Reading your Bible

I signed up for Jeff Cavin's The Great Adventure Bible Timeline Catholic Bible Study at my local parish. I am so excited to delve into this intensive Bible Study.

Here is an awesome prayer I just read while looking through some of the course material.  I think I am going to print this out on business cards and pass it out to the women in my study. I would like to pray this before I read my Bible. It is a prayer from Origen, one of our early Church Fathers who lived in the years 184 to 253. (Isn't it so great to be Catholic?!)

Lord, inspire me to read your Scriptures and to meditate upon them day and night. I beg you to give me real understanding of what I need, that I in turn may put its precepts into practice. Yet, I know that understanding and good intentions are worthless, unless rooted in your graceful love. So I ask that the words of Scripture may also be not just signs on a page, but channels of grace into my heart. Amen.
Also, I wanted to add that there is an indulgence that was granted by Pope Leo XIII in 1898 to all the faithful who "shall read for at least a quarter of an hour the books of the Sacred Scripture with the veneration due to the Divine Word and as spiritual reading, an indulgence of 300 days". (Preces et Pia opera, 645.)

So, next time you are going to read the bible for 15 minutes, remember Pope Leo XIII, and do so with the intention of obtaining your indulgence.

God Bless!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Phenomenological... What?

I have a very general understanding of what Theology of the Body is about. I know it is a long work written by Pope John Paul II. Ephesians 5, and all that. Body and Soul. Sex is both unitive and procreative. It is also good and holy and important. I know who Christopher West is and have heard highly positive things from liberal groups and some negative things from trad circles. Personally, it doesn't offend me that he said "I love Hugh Hefner", in whatever context he said that. But that's it, folks, that about sums up the extent of my knowledge about Theology of the Body. Nobody Catholic close to me or in Church has ever mentioned anything about Theology of the Body, EVER. What little I do know I have heard about from listening to Catholic radio and some light Internet reading.

But my daughter's godfather kindly gave me some Theology of the Body Cd's to listen to when my daughter was baptized in June. I am really getting into them now. And, I'm realizing there is a lot here to delve into and a lot that I do not know.

And, I just learned a new a word. Phenomenological. I have never, ever heard this word in my life. My education is in the technical realm, so I missed out on all the good philosophy. Phenomenology is a 20th Century school of thought using the subjective experiences of a person to understand reality. I'm still trying to grasp exactly what this means, but it is starting to make more sense. (kind of).  JP2 was a phenomenologist. So was Edith Stein. (Whose feast day is my birthday.)  So maybe phenomenology explains why the new Catechism is so darn different from The Baltimore Catechism. (Which I know and love, the right brain side of me just connects with the simple logical easy question/answer format.) Maybe, phenomenology also explains why my husband finds the new Catechism boring to read. (Sorry, honey...) We decided to stop reading it at dinner time, as it is "too much" for the kids. I'll be reading it alone by myself before bed, and hubby will be reading the Baltimore Catechism, with everyone, after dinner.

I consider this a new challenge... deepening my understanding of phenomenology... and Theology of the Body. I just purchased "Man and Woman He created them: A Theology of the Body", and along with my 30 audio Cd's from the Theology of the Body conference, I'm bound to learn some good stuff.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My First Blog Update

So, I never actually thought I would have a blog. It's been kind of fun. Maybe you are an ego-maniac like me and check your stats all the time to see how many people are coming to your blog and where they are coming from?

In the grand scheme of things... who cares?
But it IS exciting to have traffic!

Here's how things are going:
1584 Blog Hits

My Top 10 Google Search Keywords:
best carseat for chevy cruze
bikini onesie template
cruze back seat 3 kids
3 c sections
catholic tithing gross vs net
catholic breastfeeding blog
feeling envy catholic mom
i am catholic with 5 c sections
crystal rosary on my dashboard

Crazy, isn't it?

Here is one of my favorite comments from another Catholic Working Mom that I received from my post:  The Catholic Mom's Corner: My Blessings as a Working Mother made by Michelle from Endless Strength. You said exactly what I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it! Thank you!

I definitely know where you're coming from on many fronts. If you search my blog from Aug-Sep last year (can't remember exactly) I wrote a series on how we ended up with our kids at our Catholic school. I went through many feelings of inadequacy that were really of my own making. I don't think any of the homeschooling families ever judged us for the fact that we had a different arrangement, but I wanted to be like them so badly, that I figured they probably didn't approve of us or something. It is silly now that I look at it. Also, I have some other WOTHM posts I have written about not really fitting in with people in my work life and not really feeling like I fit in with people at church and even at school. But I think one thing I have learned through the last 12 years is that God calls us to these vocations not so that we can all be the same, but that we can all learn to love through our circumstances. I actually had a SAHM of 6 who I really really admire sit there and say something about how incredible I was that my husband and I accomplished so much with our jobs and our children and our faith life and SHE looked up to ME and I was so floored! Because I really look up to her. So you see...we all have something to teach each other and God works through all of us in so many ways. 
This is a great post and I have found that being thankful for what my role brings to our family has been a great way to grow in my faith and serve my husband and children and the world through my vocation of wife and mother.

Another really interesting comment came from my post:
The Catholic Mom's Corner: Paradise By the Catholic Dashboard Light by Steph who asked the following:
Inspiring post....Which brings me to a scenario that maybe you might have some info on, or anyone else visiting your blog. My Grandmother passed away more than a year ago from cancer. She kept several rosary beads by her bed. I took a blue one, and hung this in my dashboard. In the past week, both myself and my cousin have had very vivid dreams of her. The beads of my Rosary are blue, however, yesterday, I noticed that the first five have changed color to a vivid purple. Have the bottom crystals changed to purple due to the sunlight? Is there a significance to the color purple? Instances like this leave me asking if there is a logical explanation or is this a sign?
I hope I left adequate advice on this one, feel free to add some insight for her.

Anyway, I will conclude with a report on my AdSense earnings, as I promised. I have received a whopping one click since the implementation. (I think it was an accidental click from, non other than, you guessed it, Moi...) The one click has resulted in a 3 cent profit.  (Just in case you thought you were missing out on something... LOL, think again.)

Have an awesome day!

A Rosary Question

Which do you think has more merit?

1) An entire Rosary,  devoutly recited in prayerful solitude


2) One decade of the Rosary, very hastily said, with your husband and kids, while your 2 year old is crying to go downstairs and read books and your 6 year old is asking for 2nds of the left over mashed potatoes?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gossip and the 7 Deadly Sins

Sometime I have a real temptation with GOSSIP. Ugh. Don't you hate that word?  This morning I was thinking about this problem and a situation from over 23 years ago that got me into trouble in this department.

I try to overcome this vice by not saying anything to anyone else that I wouldn't say to a person's face. I always keep secrets and usually personal information private. I've gotten pretty good at this.

Sometimes I don't say anything, but I really wish I could.

And then there are the occasional times when I say something "nice" and roll my eyes or insinuate with body language and facial expression that I mean the EXACT OPPOSITE of what is coming out of my mouth. This is a form of gossip and can be very hurtful. I think all forms of gossip are dangerous, and that this is a particularly insidious sin.

I am even trying to figure out which of the "Seven Cardinal Sins" that gossip falls under, and I am not even sure. I think it can apply to ALL of them, except perhaps #1, in a sexual sense and maybe #4, but I will give it a shot:

1. Lust - One can have an intense desire for attention or popularity, which could incite the individual to gossip.

2. Gluttony - Haven't we all known someone who just can't keep their mouth shut and talks about anyone and everyone at all times? The juicier the better? Isn't this a form of gluttony?

3. Greed - An excessive desire for material possession can be an underlying reason for gossip.

4. Sloth - So this one I am struggling to make a connection to gossip, except for stretching a bit and saying that sometimes it is much easier to be a passive participant to gossip and go along with the flow by quietly listening to someone else gossiping away.  (And enjoying the listening.) I am so guilty! By being lazy and not doing the right thing by either leaving or changing the subject or defending the person who isn't there to defend themselves, we are not only guilty of engaging in passive gossip, but perhaps sloth as well.

5. Wrath - If one harbors anger and an intense desire for revenge, this can manifest itself in very ugly gossip.

6. Envy - Some of us struggle with envy, or as St. Thomas Aquinas phrased it "the sorrow for another's good.". To take it a step further, there is even a German word called Schadenfreude which means "pleasure derived by another's misfortune".  I think it hits the nail on the head over the root cause of my gossip.

7. Pride - Wanting to be more important or better than someone else.  I think this is probably why most people gossip, but am not sure. Personally, while I'm sure I have had my moments, I don't think I struggle with pride as much as with envy. At least not at this stage of my life.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Paradise By the Catholic Dashboard Light

Someday I would like to sit down and write about the loneliness I feel after my reversion. My husband and I are the only practicing Catholics in our immediate families.

Sometimes I search for my Faith Family in the most unlikely of places... like in parking lots and on the highway. This may sound desperate, but as I have mentioned before, I spend a lot of time on the road and it is where I spend most of my time praying and listening to Catholic media.

I always get a big goofy smile on my face when I drive by another Catholic. Whether it is a rosary hanging around the rear view mirror, a pro-life bumper sticker, a vanity plate with a Catholic message, or even a mini-van with a more-than-usual-number of those crazy family stickers, I feel an instant connection with you as we pass each other on the way about our daily business. I actually thank God for all of you people. And the coolest thing is, every day, I see more and more of you. It is as if we are multiplying. I like to think of all of us as one big army and we are rallying the troops.

The other day I pulled in at a random rest stop off a major Interstate highway and the car who pulled in next to me happened to be a family of 8. They just kept coming and coming... I smiled as I saw all those kids, and YES, rosary around the mirror. Hello, fellow Catholics! I told my kids to look at that awesome Catholic family. When they left, another car pulled in their place, and I noticed a scapular and a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe around their mirror. Hello, Friends! And to top this off, as I was pulling out, and exiting the parking lot, there was a nun in full habit getting out of her car! We honked and waved, even though I am not sure that this little old sister knew why we were so excited...

Just a week before this as I was driving down I-75 to work, and I noticed a businessman driving on my right had a simple picture of a rosary silhouette in his rear window. Yeah! Good Morning, Catholic! And it even gets better, just as we were in line with each other, ANOTHER car passed me on the left, and it was a huge white truck with a bumper sticker that said, very boldly, My Favorite Weapon, and had a picture of a rosary. We were all 3 in line at the exact same time on the road. Coincidence? Or God's way of reminding me that I have plenty of like-minded family members, and they are everywhere.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"Mommy, Who are those people at Chick-Fil-A?"

On Saturday mornings we have swim lessons with our girls and usually eat at Panera afterwards. This past weekend, we were enjoying our normal routine, but on the way back home, we noticed a crowd of people hanging out and holding gay pride signs and protesting at our local Chick-Fil-A. I made my husband do a U-Turn and drive into the parking lot.  No, we were not hungry! We drove right past the small group of people, mostly teenagers and a few adults, holding signs and waving to cars. I wanted to show my support to Chick-Fil-A! We drove through the drive-thru and bought ice cream cones for the kids. They were happy.

I have always loved Chick-Fil-A for these reasons:

#1, They have darn good food! Really, I love their chicken.

#2, They are closed on Sundays, out of respect for "The Lord's Day".

#3, A great Christian environment, they usually are playing Christian music in the background when we visit our local store.

#4, Our Chick-Fil-A has a toddler play area and slide, and my kids LOVE it.

#5, The family nights on Tuesday are great... crafts and fun activities for the kids at our local Chick-Fil-A.

#6, They are always promoting positivity in our neighborhood... they give free chicken sandwiches out on Election Day, if you vote. They are always passing out free chicken coupons for local teachers, and offer children free rewards for accomplishing their "summer reading" challenges at the library, etc.

#7, Their store environment is really clean, and their staff is extremely courteous. I love the "It is My Pleasure", after every "Thank you."...

When I heard that President, Dan Cathy, made a public statement in support of Traditional Marriage between a man and a woman, (reminds me of when John McCain appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show back in 2008), I was grateful to have another voice speaking out in favor of Traditional Marriage. Chick-Fil-A doesn't have anything against homosexuals... and Cathy is certainly entitled to hold the views that he does. Our Chick-Fil-A was gracious to the protesters and was handing out water and cookies to them.  I heard about the planned "Kiss-Ins" where homosexual couples were planning to "crash" Chick-Fil-A's last Friday and start making out inside the restaurants. Thank goodness that was not going on here and with this particular crowd. It was all pretty civilized.

My 6 year old, of course, wanted to know why they were there, so I took a deep breath and explained that God created the sacrament of marriage to be between a man and a woman. Just like in the Bible. We reminded her that even though we are Catholic Christians, many other people in the world have different view points and they do not necessarily think the way we do or follow what the Bible says. The people standing in the street are not bad people, but they have different views than we do. We follow God's rules. A man and a man can't be married. They can be friends, but they can't make babies together. This simple explanation made sense to her, and she didn't seem phased by it all, thank goodness. This is difficult to talk about when friends and co-workers are gay and are terrific individuals. I try to imagine what it would feel like if I were in their shoes, or if my child was. Maybe I would feel differently. If I were homosexual and Catholic, I would be called to a life of celibacy and chastity, not unlike unmarried heterosexuals are. OK, I know... this is not exactly a popular view point. I struggle when reading Romans 1:18-32 and reconciling the growing trend of society pushing the agenda that Traditional Marriage between a man and a woman is in someway out-dated, unnecessary, un-sacramental, and optional.

Does anyone have any personal thoughts to share on your local Chick-Fil-A in light of recent events?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Evolution of 3 C-Sections

I have had 3 Cesarean Section Births.

With my first child I was hoping to experience a vaginal (possibly un-medicated) delivery. I was very excited and nervous. I was also pretty naive... I was a week over due and my baby was showing up apx. 10 pounds on the ultra sound estimation. My doctor wanted to induce me, and was worried that I would have an 11+ pound baby. I didn't think or know to say "No"... and just went with my doctor's recommendations. I figured he knew best, he has delivered thousands of babies. After the induction, and 19 hours of labor, there was not enough progression, the beginnings of fetal distress, and meconium was detected once my water was broken. I had to have a C-Section, my doctor said. I cried, and begged him to let me labor for 2 more hours. He consented, but I heard him say, "Prep Her..." to the nurse as he walked out the door. My worst fear was coming true. (Waiting two more hours didn't do any good, even though I did everything I could to try to further the labor.) I was petrified of undergoing this surgery. I was absolutely terrified!!! When it was time immediately before the birth and the doctor said, "Are you ready for your baby?" I said "No! Please give me something..." I did not want to be crying out of sadness during the birth of my first child. I was given some sort of sedative which made everything kind of fuzzy. My daughter was healthy and beautiful but I felt like a failure and was consumed with guilt and fear over it all. It was rather traumatic. I suffered postpartum depression, and nursing did not go well, probably due in large part to the circumstances of the birth. The recovery was slow, although not nearly as bad as I had anticipated.

With my second child, I wanted very much to try a VBAC. My doctor said there was a 70% chance I could do it and that he would be supportive of my choice and that I would not be induced due to chances of uterine rupture. He also mentioned that there was a risk, a very small risk, that I could experience a rupture. This scared the hell out of me. He said in a worst case scenario, (in the case of a rupture), I might need an emergency hysterectomy, or my baby could end up on a ventilator for the rest of her life. There were many positive stories of wonderful VBACs out there, and I spent hours reading the many positive stories, and a few not-so-happy stories. In the end, I knew my daughter was a big baby (~9 lbs) and I chickened out and opted for an elective c-section. I did not want a repeat of my first experience... the uncertainty, the hours of labor, the disappointment of another failed vaginal delivery. The 2nd time I was mentally prepared. I was calm during the experience, but I was still pretty scared of the operation. The recovery was much easier than I thought.

With my third child, I knew I would be choosing an elective c-section. My doctor would not support a VBA2C (Vaginal Birth after 2 Cesareans). I would probably have to go to a midwife/home birth situation to attempt this (or find a far-away doctor who would take me as a patient), and I was not comfortable with these options. I was very excited to be having this baby, and very ready for the delivery. I enjoyed all of it! The recovery was a breeze.

My husband caught this amazing moment on his camera phone. I wanted to share it with you.  (This is short, and not too graphic.)

If you find yourself in a similar situation, (facing an unplanned c-section, especially if it is the birth of your first child and you are scared out of your mind), please know that it's not the end of the world, or anything to feel guilt over. I am at the point now where I can say without shame that I really loved my Cesarean births (at least the last 2 of them)!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Quick Update On Our Family Tithing Efforts

At the start of 2012, I made a New Year's Resolution to give tithing a shot and I wrote about it here:

The Catholic Mom's Corner: A Resolution to Tithe 10% of our Net Income

It's been 6 months already, and I wanted to post an update on what has changed since the beginning of the year.

As I explained in the original post, we were pretty stingy with the collection basket and I wanted to challenge myself to become a more giving person in this regard. Well, it has been an interesting journey. I'll give you the short version:

* When I first brought it up with my husband, we got into several huge arguments about tithing. He felt that we were not in the position to give 10%. (Lots of home repairs, many expenses, etc.) I felt very strongly about doing this.

* In good conscience, I could not move forward without his support, so I decided to tithe 10% of my income and let him put the envelopes in the collection basket on Sundays, so we were "in it together" so to speak. (I realize technically this is not giving 10% of ALL of our income, but even so, to contribute 10% of mine, is a BIG deal. This level of giving was entirely new to us.)

* We did 10% of my net income and 10% of our federal and state income tax return. (The tax return tithe was the hardest check to write... it was really difficult and resulted in another argument with my spouse. He did agree to put it in the church basket, though.)

* Overall, if felt really good to be contributing. It's a very traditional church that has been around since the early 1900's and is struggling financially. If it were to close, we would lose a major source of orthodoxy and a very beautiful and holy church.

* I stopped being so worried over money. There was never any extra, but it seemed as if things usually just took care of themselves and there was always "just enough to get by".  We have started using more coupons and cooking at home more. It has helped me in many ways to "not sweat the small stuff". Where I used to get very uptight if I lost $5, for example, now it is not as big of a deal because I would just be giving it the church anyway, it is "only money".

* I think we have a greater acceptance that we will never "have enough". There is a certain longing in our  hearts to always acquire more, have more, do more, be more. As we grow closer to God, it has helped us to get our priorities in order. Heaven is more important than amassing material objects or a lot of money. (Heck, we still want the money and the nice things, but we are getting A LOT BETTER.)

* Can't remember where I heard this, but it is true, "If you can't live off of 90% of your income, then you can't live off 100%"...

* I am trusting more in God that he will provide our family with what we need and not try to control everything that happens around me.

* One phenomenal thing happened immediately after we started tithing. A rental property (duplex) that I bought a long time ago that has been a very huge thorn in our side (think: negative equity, bad part of town, no decent renters, some really bad evictions, major repairs costing tens of thousands of dollars, can't sell it and can't refi, don't want to foreclose...) We were able to get a tenant to rent out both sides, and not only that, but he has been paying the rent on time every month (this is a major first!!!) and he also offered to cut the grass on his own. (We are supposed to do that per the lease, but my husband recently had a 2nd major back surgery and we were very worried about this maintenance aspect - however, this tenant just offered to do it out of the blue.) I really feel like this is an answer to some serious prayers. God really really was looking out for us. If we didn't get this tenant in there when we did, it would have cost us an additinal $1100 / month to cover expenses, and financially, there is no way we could have managed this with our new baby. Not really sure if it has anything to do with tithing or not, but I do feel that there was some serious divine intervention going on.

* Now is the challenge. We have a third child to pay for day care and my husband just went back to school to get more teacher's credits and the school expenses are huge. We are carrying a hefty credit card balance for the first time in a while and the question is, do we tithe this month, or do I start to pay off the credit card? I am not sure how I am going to handle this yet, but am prayerfully considering what to do.

* So, that's the update. Overall, it has been a great experience and we will continue to grow in this area and help share our blessings with our church and with others.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

In the mood for some REALLY GOOD Catholic Music?

I really enjoy the group "Marian Grace..."

Marian Grace - : Ignatius Press

This link above will let you listen. Check out Track 2 "All Creatures" for a preview - It is one of my favorite recordings ever. (But they are all good... beautiful recordings of contemporary Christian music and Ancient Chant.)

If you have anything you would like to recommend, please let me know!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saying Goodbye to the Smoking Lady

When I was in college, almost 20 years ago, I walked into a coffee shop and saw a large picture hanging on the wall in a broken glass frame. There was a little tag on it that said $175. I loved this picture so much, I had to have it. I saved up my money and I went back and bought it and took it home with me. I was so pleased to find out that it was a very high quality lithograph from France and probably quite valuable. Later, after I had graduated, had my first real job and apartment, I had it put in a very expensive custom frame and hung it on my wall. It's hard to explain why, but I so loved my smoking lady.

This picture has followed me through the years from 2 different college housing units, 2 apartments, 2 townhomes, and 3 different single family homes that I have owned. The Smoking Lady hasn't always been hanging up on display, but she has always been put in a safe place. I've always had a bizarre attachment/attraction to her.

It is finally time to say goodbye. As I grow in my faith, I am becoming more and more conscious of the fact that what is in my home, what I do and say, the books I read, and the TV shows and movies that I watch affect more than myself. My children are watching me! It wasn't without a tinge of sadness that Smoking Lady went into the Goodwill donation bin. But now she is gone for good... Farewell my old friend, it was time for us to part.

Here is what my husband and I bought to replace her. She is Our New Lady and we have hung her up in our family room. 


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Blessings as a Working Mother

Today our alarm woke our family up at 4 am in the morning. We hurried to get ready so that I could drop my two oldest daughters and their father off by 5:45 am at the airport. He is taking them to Florida for an entire week to visit his sister. My daughters were very excited because they have never been on a plane before. We decided that I would stay behind with the baby this time. What a sight to behold, my hubby trying to negotiate 2 suitcases, a stroller, a car seat, a Dora backpack filled with books and movies, a Tablet PC with a splitter and 2 headphones, a very active 6 year old, a precocious 2 year old and one very important stuffed Bulldog. He is indeed a brave man! His vacation has just begun...

...And so has mine!

After work today, I picked up the baby, made a frozen pizza and a large bowl of ice cream, and I'm sitting on my bed eating dinner, on my computer, with my baby sleeping on my lap. My house is messy and there are dishes and laundry to do, that are definitely not going to get done tonight, and probably not tomorrow either. The house is ... completely quiet ... I am completely alone with my lovely sleeping baby. Does this sound awesome, or what?!? This type of solitude is very rare (actually, non-existent) in this house. As I sit here enjoying the tranquility I feel compelled to write this blog post. I will try to explain.

I have been feeling negative about having to work for quite a while now, and I realize that my attitude is reflected in some of my blog posts. The truth of the matter is that it is difficult to have to put your kids in daycare and not be able to be there to spend time with them during the day. I sometimes feel terrible guilt over it. Also, I really love to read other Catholic mothers' blogs. Sometimes it is the only way I can really connect "mom-to-mom" and share the "Faith" side of my life... which is so important to me. I do have my husband, but he is a man, and sometimes well, it is just nice to have a girlfriend. We have a very secular network of friends and I really turn to the blogosphere to get in touch with other practicing Catholics. I often feel like such an outsider. I don't fit in the "regular" world. I don't have many friends, except for two kind women that I have met along the way and they have kept me around. I haven't told either of these two close friends about my blog, can you imagine that? I haven't told my family about it either (except my sister). I just feel more comfortable being anonymous at this stage. I know a lot of my new attitudes and behaviours will or do seem "radical" and out of place amongst my peer group and family members, many of whom do not fully embrace Church teaching. I try to quietly witness and set a good example, and not preach or judge. I definitely don't want to lose the only 2 female friendships I have in my life, or the connection I have with my family.

But I don't quite fit into the typical "good Holy Catholic Mother" world either. We stopped going to our TLM after much discerning, not because it isn't the best and most beautiful celebration of the Holy Mass that we have ever encountered, but in large part because I was the only non homeschooling mom there in a very tight knit community. We also had an unusually small family due to finally "getting with it" at such a late stage in our marriage. We stuck out. Now nobody probably even cares, no one is singling us out and saying, "Oh my gosh, you only have 3 kids" and "What a horrible parent... you send your kids to public school." But the pressure is driven from within my own heart. I am probably my own worst enemy. Anyway, I felt, and at times feel, inadequate and "less than". It is difficult to explain the dichotomy, other than "caught between two worlds". I admire homeschooling moms so much and am so drawn to want to know your world better and be your friend. To be more like you.

But back to the subject of this post...

Although I struggle at times, there are many positives I can come up with. God has led me where I am at this point in my journey, and I want to thank Him and conclude this post by reflecting on the blessings I have received as a working mom.

Here is my list:

1. 100% because of circumstances at my workplace, I have come back to the Catholic Church. This is my largest blessing.

2. Working is required for our family to make ends meet - (and it is a struggle even with me working!) I don't think our marriage could handle the stress or fighting that would ensue if we didn't have 2 incomes - we just couldn't swing it even with eliminating/cutting back every non-essential.

3. We don't have an extravagant home by any means, but we live in a very safe community. This was not always the case for us and we are thankful.

4. We can afford extra-curricular activities for the children that we would not be able to participate in if I did not work - swimming lessons and soccer.

5. I have a one hour commute to work. I say the rosary on the way in to work every morning. I don't think this would happen if I was at home - I would be way too distracted. It is sometimes the only time I have to really pray.

6. At work, I have encountered many strong and faithful Catholic co-workers. This has been a significant blessing.

7.  Knowing my weaknesses, I don't think I would be a very good stay at home mom or homeschooling mom.

8. I am able to have paid maternity leaves.

9. My job helps us to save for our retirement/future.

10. If the children have to be in daycare, at least it is very nice child care. They really do enjoy it. They have many friends at school and enjoy sign language classes, dance, field trips, all kinds of interesting things that I probably wouldn't get a chance to expose them to.

11. I really appreciate coming home every day and having dinner with my family.

12. Because of my job, I have been able to come to terms with many issues from long ago and I think it has forced me to deal with certain people and grow into a better and more accepting person.

13. Because of past jobs I have met the two friends that I am thankful for.

14. Who knows, maybe I have made an impact on somebody's life at work for the better or have somehow brought them closer to God? I hope so.

15. My job can be very mentally challenging and there is rarely a day when I am bored.

Thanks for reading this post! God Bless...