Friday, December 30, 2016

Blessed is She Devotion: Saint Joseph's Fiat
Did you ever think of what it might be like to be Saint Joseph? At first glance, it seems kind of intimidating: his wife was sinless and his Son was God. God chose him to be foster father to Jesus, gave him the grace to live his vocation, but Saint Joseph is the one who said “Yes” in his own Fiat. Again and again in his life Saint Joseph responded with submissive obedience to God’s plan, and in return, God Incarnate submitted to Saint Joseph as a Son. This is the foundation the Holy Family, which we honor today, is built upon.
At the very end of the Nativity narrative, we hear how the Holy Family “went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth.” I like to meditate on those years they lived together in Nazareth while Saint Joseph was alive and before Jesus’ public ministry.

Read the rest at Blessed is She...

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

At the NCRegister: The Longing of Advent Does Not End With Christmas

This year it took until the third week of Advent for me to have what I call “that Advent feeling.” I discovered in our dusty pile of CDs a forgotten Advent album produced by Wyoming Catholic College made in 2015. The first track is a hymn called Behold the Dwelling of God by Andre Gouzes, O.P. about Mary and the Incarnation.

Behold, the dwelling of God among his people,
Mary, so highly favored,
shelter of heaven’s Glory,
Mother of Immanuel.
The angel of the Lord was sent to Mary,
And the Virgin was overcome by the Light.
Listen, Mary, do not be afraid:
You will conceive and bear a Son.
You are the new Eden and the Land of the Promise.
In you, the Sun of Justice has made his dwelling.

The melody causes one to feel that a promise is going to be fulfilled, that our longing will one day come to an end. It reminds me of the faithful remnant of Israel crying out to the Lord: we have been faithful, so when are you going to rescue us? In Mary the promise to Israel, to all the nations, was fulfilled. Every Advent that old familiar longing and ache for a fulfillment that we cannot have in this valley of tears returns to me as I contemplate the coming of the Infant Christ...

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Friday, December 9, 2016

Seven Quick Takes: Advent Times

My stock Advent wreath photo.. this is a few years old...but looks the same this year!
1. One of the goals I have in setting family traditions is for them seamlessly be apart of our days, weeks, and years. I think that our Advent ones are pretty well established. We have not changed anything from last year or the year before. It took me about 20 minutes to set up our Advent in the home: wreath, Jesse tree, wreath on door. We fit the Jesse Tree into our night time prayer time. We sing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel with the lights out a dinner. We pray for Jesus to help us prepare to receive Him in our hearts at Christmas.

2. I was just talking to some other moms at our home school co-op this morning about how easy the internet has made Christmas shopping. You can do it in a few hours plus you get the excitement of packages almost every day!

3. The main laborious part of Advent for us is Christmas cards. We still write them all by hand, even the addresses. We purchase our cards from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priests, and the recipients of each card is enrolled in their novena of Christmas Masses, which I think is so cool. It is worth the card writing tradition to give this gift to all our family and friends. We like to spread out the card writing. The professor and I each do ten a night until we are finished.

4. The weekend before Thanksgiving I took the advice of a few Facebook friends and let my garden Brussel Sprouts brave a cold front. I harvested them on Tuesday in my last harvest of the Spencer Garden 2016 season. They were nearly frozen when I brought them in, so we blanched and froze them immediately for use on the Immaculate Conception. I am going to try them again next year, but plant them earlier and actually space them out so they get more sun. We had a small forest of plants, that only yielded 1.3 lbs of marble sized sprouts.
5. Yesterday, for the Solemnity, I made the Professor's favorite pie, steak, stout, and mushroom, accompanied by the garden brussel sprouts braised in cream and served with bacon from our "happy" half hog. The "happy" beef is from the Professor's aunt and uncle's hobby farm; G even got to pick which of the beeves she wanted for our freezer. It was all delicious. My dear toddler son has yet to discover that Good Food is worth eating, so we had a leftover pie to freeze and eat at a later date. Maybe on the octave?
A little blurry, but perhaps that captures the mischievous glee he takes in all he does...
6. Speaking of toddler sons, I am pretty sure that God made toddler boys for the purpose of having cute haircuts. The hair cutting process itself it not cute: fussing on his part and my fear of cutting my own fingers off as he flops about. But the result is adorable. I am a little obsessed with his hair and eyes these days. But also so thankful that he naps and has an early bedtime as his favorite things to do are drag chairs around, turn lights on and off, and try to get at everything on the kitchen counters.

7. I had heard that there will be a new Rite of Marriage in the Roman Catholic Church soon, but I did not realize that it was so simple. According to my girls to get married a bride has to walk down the aisle to the singing of "Alleluia" and then "Kiss Lips" with the intended groom. When one daughter announced that she had married her balloon I informed her that she had the wrong matter to have the Sacrament of Matrimony and probably the wrong form as well...

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes. Please pray for the repose of the soul of a friend of hers, a husband and father, who passed away suddenly this week.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

NCRegister Blog: Love of Neighbor, Like Zeal for Our Tradition, Should Burn Hot in Our Hearts

Rigidity. Pope Francis seems to talk about that a lot. And the instance that struck home for me most recently was from a recently released interview he gave in 2007 in which he spoke of the rigidity of young traditionalists. I am a recovering rigid traditionalist. Before that I was a rigid charismatic. I have experienced firsthand what is it like to be rigid, standing in cold judgment of a perceived wrong way of doing things, and I have encountered firsthand what is it like to be snubbed by the rigid, seeking to be understood and finding no sympathy.

Read the rest at the NCRegister...

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sweet at Six

We hosted my side of the family for Thanksgiving, everyone from my parents down to our two month old niece. Some people stayed with us, other people stayed elsewhere, but they all came from out of town. In all we had 9 adults and 9 children around our Thanksgiving table and through Sunday. It was a lot of fun from all of the cousins playing for hours together to staying up late with the adults.

On Saturday we celebrated L's birthday which is today. She is my Advent baby, having been born on the 1st Sunday of Advent six years ago. Upon opening her present from my parents which was also for the other November daughter of mine, L looked at the three fancy dress up dresses and said, "This is what I wanted! Remember, Mom! A chest of princess dresses to share with my sisters!"

Sweeter still though is the way she has been taking an interest in praying the rosary all on her own during her quiet time. She takes our Sacred Art Series Rosary flip book into her room, asks about the mysteries of the day, and prays devoutly in her own little way. I love to see the faith blossom in this sweet daughter of mine.

Happy Birthday to my six year old!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

NCRegister Blog: Reflections on the End of the Liturgical Year

Ever since I was a child, I have loved Advent. My mother always made it beautiful with our homemade Jesse Tree ornaments, our simple green Advent wreath, and our tradition of singing, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” in the candlelight before supper. All of our voices would rise up together in our hope for the coming Savior. This liturgical year, which has been passed down to us by tradition, and which never ceases, is the heartbeat of the liturgical life. Around and around we go. From Advent to Christmas to Lent to Easter to Pentecost and the time after up through our remembrance of the dead in November during which in our Mass readings we anticipate the Second Coming of Christ. It all fits together so beautifully and is one of the things that I love about being Catholic...

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Monday, November 14, 2016

Blessed is She Devotion: The Love You Had at First

This devotion I wrote back in September for today on the daily Mass readings is full of my own advice that I really needed to hear. My prayer life has been a bit of a struggle these past few weeks; it has been harder to pray, to want to pray, and to focus on prayer. But I am reminded that I need to continue on in my own resolutions despite my difficulties, and focus on kindling the love God first gave me for Him.

Read today's readings and the devotion at Blessed is She...

Friday, November 11, 2016

Only a Few Quick Takes...

It's Friday! It's Friday! This weekend we are going to winterize the yard, which means raking, bush trimming, composting the garden. It has been so mild this Autumn that we had been able to put this off until mid-November, and I am not complaining! We actually still have broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts still growing. We are going to start our sauerkraut fermenting tonight.

I just wanted to let you know about two awesome things coming up.

First, if you have not ordered your Blessed is She Advent journal, do it. And do it soon. It is amazing. As a theological editor for BIS, I have read it all through and it is soooooooo good. Elizabeth Foss did an amazing job with the writing. I want to hurry up and get ready for Christmas materially before Advent so I can sit back and pray with this journal. Head over to Elizabeth's blog to see her introduce the journal.

Second, Anna, Jacqui, and I will be running the Catholic Women Bloggers Network Midwest Conference on March 25, 2017 in St. Paul, Minnesota. If you are a fellow Catholic women blogger, we would love to see you there! Registration starts soon, so keep an eye out for the details and join our Facebook group.

Have a blessed weekend.

NCRegister Blog: The Difference Between Forbearance and Patience

About six months ago I took it upon myself to organize and host a women’s Bible study in my home. I emailed a large group of women whom I thought might be interested and received a very positive response. Since we started meeting, we have had many spiritually fruitful discussions. One that I found to be particularly helpful was the hour we spent discussing the difference between forbearance and patience as presented in Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

It all started with a footnote in the New Testament Ignatius Catholic Study Bible on Romans 2:4. The verse states: “Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” The footnote differentiated between forbearance and patience. The distinction between the two is significant, yet subtle, and one could say that forbearance is a kind of patience...

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Now She is Four

The Professor went to a conference this past weekend, and his mother came over from Michigan to help with the kids and keep me company. It has become a sort of annual event since we first had children. He goes to a few conferences a year and I often ask my mother-in-law or my parents to come and stay when he does.

 So, on Thursday we dropped the Professor at the airport and picked up his mother at the same time. About 24 hours later as we were sitting down to dinner, F asked, "Where is Daddy? His car is here! Where is he?" I suppose that she was having so much fun with her grandmother that she had forgotten about the whole airport event. Fast forward to Sunday, with her grandmother already flying home and her daddy not home yet, F was a mess of emotions in her quiet time. She did not want to be alone, she was so, so sad. I went to her and talked to her about how she was feeling, but nothing cheered her up until I said, "Do you know where Daddy is right now? He is on an airplane." Her tears of sorrow turned into giggles and laughter as she buried her face in the comforter she was laying on. "What does that mean?" I asked her. "It means he is flying home!" she said joyfully.

And that is my little F.

Beautiful beautiful brown eyes
Beautiful beautiful brown eyes
Beautiful beautiful brown eyes
I'll never love blue eyes again.

(Well that is the way I feel when I look at those deep brown eyes.)

Happy Birthday, to my sweet four year old!

Friday, November 4, 2016

NCRegister Blog: Our Children Need to Know the Saints

My girls frequently talk about what they will be when they grow up. One says that she would like to be a mom, while another proclaims her desire to be a princess, and another often talks about becoming a sister or nun. Around the canonization day of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, I read the newest book from “The Life of a Saint” series published by Magnificat and Ignatius Press called Mother Teresa, The Smile of Calcutta. Within hours of reading the book, one of my daughters came up to me with the book saying, “I want to be that kind of sister...”

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Back when the kids were smaller and we were poorer

As I was writing the article for the NCRegister linked below, I saw that Rebecca Frech had written about things she misses about being poor. She reminded me of the friendships I thrived upon with fellow mothers in the throes of early motherhood. We spent so many mornings together sharing food, watching our children play, and drinking cups and cups of coffee. We made meals for each other at the birth of our babies. We shared clothes. We basked in the simplicity of having small children without busy schedules of older children. Those friendships are so special to me, and now I live hundreds of miles away from those ladies I spent so many hours with, I still cherish the friendships we had back then while we stay in touch now.

Pancakes were a lunch we often made for each other. Whenever I make them for lunch now, I think about those friends. They are the ultimate comfort food on a cold Fall, Winter, or Spring day in these northern states that I have been settled in. They are also an inexpensive meal that I can guarantee my children will eat, and mostly healthy since I use whole wheat flour.

We paid off my student loans last month, and have not yet quite realized the financial freedom which we now have. With older children the money will be redirected towards things like piano lessons, home school supplies, more clothes. But I will always try to remember the times when money was more sparse and when we felt guilty for buying even the simplest of things.

NCRegister Blog: Our Open Hands Can Open the Hearts and Arms of Mothers

There is a growing feeling among pro-life Catholic Millennials that those segments of the pro-life movement that focus just on law have failed to see and do what will really save lives. Having all been born since Roe v. Wade, we have lived all our lives with the reality of legal abortion. Many of us spent countless hours of our youth praying outside abortion clinics, being yelled at by passing drivers, being scorned by the media, but not afraid to be persecuted for our defense of life. We have heard from our earliest days that Pope Saint John Paul II told us, “Do not be afraid!” So we have been brave in our defense of truth and life issues, and we are not afraid to continue to face persecution.

Read more at the NCRegister...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My Intention for St. Jude, Patron of Hopeless Causes and Desperate Situations

Today begins the novena to St. Jude, Patron of Hopeless Causes and Desperate Situations. Last year my intention was for baby T's teeth to come in and him to start sleeping in longer than 45-90 min stretches at night because I was desperate for sleep. St. Jude has been a dear patron of mine since that time. I ask for his help a lot.

In this year's novena I am praying that enough citizens decide to vote third party or write-in a candidate for president of the United States that neither Mrs. C nor Mr. T win the presidency. Or that neither of them is elected by some other means.

This presidential election is truly a hopeless cause and desperate situation.

Here is the link to the St. Jude Novena at Pray More Novenas.

St. Jude, Patron of Hopeless Causes and Desperate Situations, 

Pray For Us!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

At the NCRegister Blog: In Memory of the Babies We Have Lost

I have four living children. I also am a mother to two others. The only evidence I have of the existence of one of my children is a hunch based on careful charting, an early period, and a blood test with traces of HCG, which is a hormone produced by a placenta. His or her existence on Earth, when my eldest was 10 months old, was brief, but not forgotten by us. Our child always was and still is in the hands of God.

Today, October 15, is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. And interestingly enough, in a country where it is legal to murder one’s unborn children, we have a day to honor the loss of innocent life when it happens through miscarriage, through stillbirth, or through the death of a newborn baby...

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Story of Our Relationship, Part Two: Abroad in Austria

Where were we? M and I had just broken up after a crazy, intense beginning of our relationship. All of July and August I struggled to let go of him, because he was trying to figure out his vocation. Yet, every time I prayed about him I knew that there was something more for us. I felt deep inside that we were supposed to be together.

Behind the wall in Gaming, Austria.
In trying to remember that time, I recently reread my prayer journals from when were broken up, and I asked my mom why I had such a hard time letting go of M. Again and again in my journals I talked about how young and foolish I was, at just 19 years old. But somehow I felt that this was a crucial relationship in my life, and it turns out, it was.  My mom pointed out that I really did know, that God was showing me in my heart, that M and I were meant to be together, and that watching me that summer, she saw what was going on.

During that summer I decided that I should also revisit my own discernment of whether I was called to religious life. I prayed a lot about it, and eventually I spoke with a nun that I had known in high school. During the last conversation that I had with her, I came to the realization that while the call to be the bride of Christ was beautiful and wonderful and so, so attractive, it was not where I was being called. My heart was still being drawn to M, and I felt that it would never stop tending towards him. I was right.
The Kartause where we lived, studied, and prayed. Of all the places in Europe, this is one I'd love to be in again.
At the end of August I saw M for the first time after our break up. We were at Dulles International airport in Washington, D.C. And he claims that I was giving him longing looks, but I can tell you that he was giving me the same looks (accompanied by his brown eyes and long dark lashes). On the overnight flight to Vienna for our semester in Austria, I could not handle my desire to talk to him and tried to get him to talk to me. This is pretty much the story of most of our semester abroad: I could not handle my desire to just talk to him and tried desperately to not to. We traveled together in the same group of friends, snatched hours of conversations, gave each other longing looks, went for walks together. All the while I tried desperately to let go of him, and could not. 
We took a lot of pictures of each other.

But few of just us. So here we are in Spain.
I spent the semester praying a 56 day rosary novena for a number of intentions, but the biggest prayer breakthrough for me was when I realized that it was not a selfish thing to pray for M to finish discerning. I prayed that he would finally know one way or the other. I realized that it was not actually selfish for me to ask God to show M His will for M. I had been resisting, because I felt like it was selfish to want the discernment to be over.

This path around Gaming was a favorite haunt of ours together and separate.
It took nearly a whole semester of waiting, praying, and trying to overcome my attraction to him. A whole semester of traveling all over Europe, slipping off to take walks together, late night talks on overnight trains, praying at Masses in every language, and spending hours (separately) in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. As the weeks went by, it became slowly more clear to both of us that he was going to eventually ask me to date him again. (As far as everyone who was on Austria campus with us were concerned, we were definitely an item.) And for him the discernment of his vocation was not just to be a priest or not, but he already knew in his heart that if he discerned to date me again and to not pursue the priesthood, that we would eventually get married. For him, discerning the call to marriage was about the call to marry a particular person, and I suppose in the end it was the same for me. I did not settle on marriage as my calling until there was M in my life.

The most significant trip of our semester was when we went as a study abroad program to Rome. All of the students in Franciscan's Austria program went on a school sponsored 10 day visit to Rome and then Assisi. In Rome I finally worked on overcoming my desire to be next to him whenever possible. We would go on walking tours of the city and I would often stand next to M. Yet, I slowly stopped myself from doing that. I resisted. I also had several emotional meltdowns while praying in Rome (we went to daily Mass as a school and had daily prayer times). I cried a lot, and was so thankful for my good friends who supported me in my weepiness. A few days into the visit in Rome, I noticed that while I had not gone to stand by M on our walking tours, he was starting to stand by me. See the difference? He was seeking me out. Then we went to Assisi for a couple of days, and again I was successful in resisting my desire to be close to him; I even enjoyed spending time with other people and letting go of my anxiety about the waiting. I do not know why I found it so hard to wait.

The view from the hermitage outside of Assisi.
One of the days in Assisi, it was a chilly afternoon, we walked up a large hill to the place of the hermitage of St. Francis and his friars. I began walking alone, but M appeared next to me, walked beside me silently as we prayed our rosaries. He even carried my jacket for me when I became warm and took it off. When we reached the hermitage, we parted ways and wandered alone in the paths of the woods. I found another friend to walk down with, but I had again found some freedom from my desperate longing to be called his.

Thanksgiving was few weeks after our return from Rome and Assisi (which we did through the mountains in a snowstorm), and there was a Thanksgiving Ball after the dinner. A few days before the ball, M asked me if I would dance a most of the dances with him at the ball. I immediately said yes, seeing his desire as a good sign. Then I slowly realized that I did not want to just half be his partner at the ball, I wanted to either go with him or not dance with him at all. So, I went to his door, knocked on it and told him so. (I have never been subtle with guys I suppose.) And to my surprise, he immediately asked me to be his date for the ball, and I, in my astonishment, accepted him.

It snowed in the mountains the night we bussed back from Rome.
Then the ball was anticipated with much trepidation. Was he going to tell me his final decision there? Were we going to be officially a couple again? I put too much weight on what would happen at the ball leading up to it. During the ball, we stepped out to go on one of our evening walks around Gaming, and when he clearly did not ask me out again on that walk, I made a decision to just have fun with him there. We went back into the ball and just enjoyed being together, with a freedom we had not had together all semester. We were there as a date, so we could enjoy being together as on a date. And I realized that I was not over him, and he was not over me, but that we had been falling in love with each other again all along.

These are the very pines.
And then two days later, in due time, he took me on a morning walk. We walked one of our usual routes, rounded a bend, and under a row of tall pines, in the snow, he asked me to date him again. And of course I agreed to it.

We spent our last 20 days in Austria as an official couple, free to spend time together without fear of impeding M's discernment; he had chosen to pursue a relationship with me. We had chosen it together, and as we went back to American I joyfully anticipated our future together.

And I can't really stop here. I will have to tell you the rest another time.

Monday, October 3, 2016

At the NCRegister: How to Defeat the Noonday Devil and Sanctify Your Daily Life

One of the oldest tricks of the Deceiver is disguising his temptations so that we do not realize what they are. Very recently I had a revelation about the vice of acedia or sloth in my life. I have been dealing with feelings of resentment, discontent with my life, and a desire to be doing something other than what I am doing for much of my life. It has never been a continuous feeling, but one I would have when I was alone trying to get work done and once I became a mother a feeling I would have when I was home with my children going about my daily tasks. In fact my feelings of discontentment would increase often when I would be doing the Sisyphean tasks that come with motherhood, ones that demand attention day after day and week after week, and rarely when I would sit and stare at social media for too many minutes of my day. It was a feeling and a temptation that wanted me to be dissatisfied with and seek to escape from the good things in my life.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register...

Friday, September 9, 2016

Seven Quick Takes: Cake, Planners, and Flowers

I am linking up, yet again, with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes.

1. We celebrated the Nativity of Our Lady yesterday, and the girls wanted me to make all of ours favorite cake. It was inspired by the peanut-butter cup cream pie I always order for my birthday. It is chocolate cake, frosted in chocolate with peanut butter frosting decorations and chopped Reese's cups on top and on the side, and the middle layer consists of a thick layer of peanut butter frosting, chocolate frosting, and more chopped peanut butter cups. It is sooooo good. We figured if Our Lady was having cake with us for her birthday, this is the one she would want.
2. The girls devised a new way to elect a president while I was working on the cake.
The girls:
"We should have whoever can make the best cake be the next president!"
"Yeah, that would be awesome!"
"Mom makes the best cakes."
"Mom, do you want to be the next president?"

"Not really, but I bet I can make a better cake then the people running..."
It might be time for the 28th amendment, but I hope someone else can make a better cake than I do.
3. I featured our house growing morning glories a month or so ago, but we also planted them all along the fence adjacent to the driveway. They are pretty stunning these days.
4. We also have some blue ones on the house, which are our particular favorite.
5. We sent the professor off to his first day of school this semester, and because we had already started school a month ago, I did not mind as much the fussing of a certain toddler-baby. He had been so cheerful all of August that I knew it was just him feeling unwell. The school week went fine after that, and we are peacefully anticipating the weekend!
6. Blessed is She made a liturgical planner for the school year, and I have been using it and loving it. It makes my life feel so much more ordered.
For some reason it is helping to have my day written down, instead of scheduled in my head. It is not that I am doing things any differently than I was before; I am just writing it in the planner. It is absolutely lovely as well, with a full two page calendar every month, notes for planning things at the beginning of each week, and hourly slots for each day.
So, so, nice. They are taking preorders right now for one for the 2017 Calendar year. Don't miss out if you are interested!

My friend Anna is doing a giveaway of the 2017 one. So, you could take your chances over there.

7. Speaking of Anna, and our friend Jacqui, all of us were featured together in an article in The Catholic Spirit, the Archdiocesan newspaper for the Twin Cities. Check it out, mom-bloggers are so interesting... ;)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

At the NCRegister Blog: Sigrid Undset and the Hound of Heaven

I recently finished reading Sigrid Undset’s The Master of Hestviken, having also read Kristen Lavransdattar and Catherine of Siena, and I am struck once again by her ability to understand humanity. One of the overriding themes in Undset’s works is God’s continual pursuit of a soul to the very end. She narrates nearly perfectly the interior state of her characters in all of their thoughts, experiences, desires, and inability to see truth. And, since her characters are so much like real people, they fall from grace, and live long lives of wallowing in their sins, and fleeing from a pursuing God who wants only to love them and to be loved in return.

The way she shows God’s continual, steady desire for humans to turn to him is reminiscent of Francis Thompson’s poem The Hound of Heaven, which begins with these lines:

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
   I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
  Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears

And ends in these:
Halts by me that footfall:
   Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
   'Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
   I am He Whom thou seekest!

Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.'
Read more at the Register.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Blessed is She Devotion: Being Who You are Called to Be

I love that I was assigned to write about St. John the Baptist today. I have a special connection to him my whole life having been born two weeks past my due date on his Nativity in June. Today is the day in which we remember his martyrdom at the hands of King Herod. And as always happens when I write devotions, what I drew from the readings is so relevant to me today. I pray that I can be more like St. John the Baptist and allow Christ to use me despite my littleness.

Here is my devotion:

Two things stand out to me in today’s readings for the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, the first being how King Herod felt about John:

Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.

King Herod knew that Saint John was a righteous man, and that he was speaking truth. But the truth put King Herod into a funny position. If he listened to Saint John, he would have to completely change his life. He would have to admit that he was wrong, and give up the women that he had taken as a wife from his own brother. He was stuck, and he was very attached to the life that he had, and because of this he was forced to kill a man who he knew to be holy and righteous.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Seven Quick Takes: Home School Plans

I am linking up with Kelly, the hostess of Seven Quick Takes!

1. People have been asking me if we started school,
and I sheepishly admit that, yes, we have. We have been "doing" the Awesome School since August 1. We needed structure. We needed routine. And two weeks of no structure after our final vacation of the summer was too much. So we started right along with two weeks of swim lessons for the two older children. The first week, all I did was 2nd grade math with G and 100 Easy Lessons with L. G did her history audio CD, piano, geography and Latin studying on her own. The second week we added science and spelling. The third week we added catechism, and this fourth week, we added on English for G and 1st grade math for L.

2. This has been our basic schedule, which I have developed as we added subjects. When G can work independently, I work with L. It has been going really well. Not in the schedule are the twice a week school time they have with their father (Latin, Geography, poetry memorization) and the painting and classical music piece per week. We are planning on doing four day school weeks this year (which is also why I started early).
3. G (2nd grade)
We are mostly continuing with what we did last year, but added a spelling and science text. And note that she did her First Communion in first grade.

4. L (Kindergarten)
L spent most of last school year making paper dolls and resisting learning to read. This year she is discovering that if we do lessons nearly everyday, "It is easy!" She also has shown an aptitude for math beyond the kindergarten level, so we are trying out Singapore's first grade curriculum and will take it as slowly or as quickly as she needs. 

5. F (Pre-K)
  • Printing: My First School Book from Handwriting Without Tears
  • Reading: If she has a desire for it, we will start 100 easy lessons once L is finished. This is a book I dislike in general to force on children until they are really wanting to read.
  • Nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and Beatrix Potter
  • Play!
  • Teach her baby brother what siblings are for
6. Fine Arts: The professor has been working with the girls on poetry memorization, but has also been teaching a painting and piece of music per week. He teaches them about the composer/artist and the period of art the work is from. We do this at dinner time. Here is the Fall semester list.

7. I am really glad we started the school year in steps. It has made it really low stress for me, and now doing a full day of school seems so doable. L is usually finished around 10am and G and I work until 11am. Then they can play until lunch. And now when September hits with the increase of commitments (piano lessons, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Little Flowers, Co-op) we will already be well-adjusted to doing school.

Bonus take: Yesterday afternoon, after I got baby T (14 months) up from his nap (who is so much of a toddler these days), his sisters were demonstrating their gymnastics skills. L showed us several cartwheels. Then F did a few somersaults. We clapped after each physical feat. Then T seeing the floor clear, climbed off my lap, lay on the floor, and proceeded to show us how he could roll front to back to front to back across the floor. So, of course, we clapped.

*Please be advised: Some of the links are to Amazon. If you purchase anything through those links, I will receive a small percentage of the purchasing price. However, I linked mostly to the websites that we actually purchase from and have found the best prices.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

At the NCRegister: St. Benedict's Rule, the Little Silence, and Family Life

The first time I that read the Holy Rule of St. Benedict, I was particularly struck by the adaptability of the Rule to family life. This is not to say that a family should follow the Rule to a T. Rather, in our home life we should emulate the virtues that are needed for the particular roles in a monastery. Also, a structured routine of prayer, work, and planned relaxation is key for the formation of holiness. I have found that our whole family is happier when we have a routine, and that our routine helps us all learn the discipline required for forming virtuous habits.

One of our good college friends will soon be joining a monastery, and in discussing his future life, I asked him about the daily routine at the monastery. He described his day of waking early to pray, to eat breakfast, to pray, to work, to pray again, to pray more, to eat the afternoon meal, and then what they call “the Little Silence” (as opposed to “the Great Silence” at night)...

Read the rest at the Register...

Monday, August 8, 2016

Country Roads: Our Big Summer Roadtrip

We spent two weeks of July doing one of those massive road trips that we are wont to do; the kind that make we wonder if we are insane. We parred it back a bit from our Christmas trip, from three weeks down to two. And since the night weaning of T was so effective, we actually slept pretty well until he gave into his slowly emerging molars and woke several times the last night in MI. (The molars are still the cause of a 5-6ish morning wake up which requires me to feed the poor, teething baby; but this, too, shall pass.)

Here is what we did on our trip:
St. Paul to Michigan to Buffalo to the mountains of West Virgina with a stop in Pittsburgh to drop a friend off and an impulse swing by Steubenville (Hail, Alma Mater! Let your glories here be told!) back to Michigan over to Grand Rapids for a wedding back to Ypsilanti for Sunday Mass with a priest friend home from Germany and finally, finally, home again, home again...

And the best part is that for all those hours on the car, 13 month old T only was really inconsolably upset about it for the four hours between Steubenville and Ypsi.

Our first trek of our trip brought us for two nights to stay with the professor’s parents and his sister. We spent a quick 36 hours with them before shuffling off to Buffalo, NY, where we lived for four years while the professor earned his PhD. My grandparents live on the west side of Cleveland and we stopped there for a couple of hours and lunch; it was wonderful to see them and visit with them and my aunt and my two-year-old first cousin.

As we drove through Cleveland, east on down I-90, through the snow belt of Ohio, into Pennsylvania, and into New York, so many memories of our time in Buffalo came back to us. We talked to our eldest of parts of the road she always screamed through as an overtired infant at the end of long road trips, reminisced about the intense snow storms we plowed through for out Christmas visits to family, and pointed out our favorite places to stop for gas. All the emotions we felt in the instability of grad school life came back to us. We remembered our first drive up to Buffalo together to hunt for apartments. We admired the still beautiful vineyards of Western New York and admired the view of Lake Erie from the bluff that I-90 runs across.

In Buffalo, we stayed with some of our good friends from our years there who always seem to have at least twice as many kids as we do. We had none when they had three; we had two when then had four; we had our third when they had six, and now we have four and they have eight. They also live in a large, beautiful custom built five bedroom house (which is always spotless) with plenty of land for playing and exploring. In addition to hosting us for two nights, they graciously held a gathering with most of our friends that we were close to in Buffalo. It was awesome to see everyone, and we were all about the same as always with just a few more kids. I don't think I saw my older children the whole time we were there since they just were absorbed into the playing.
After two nights we drove to a resort in the mountains of West Virginia where we all felt awfully car sick rented a seven bedroom vacation home to house 11 adults and 12 children. We vacationed with these college friends three summers ago, and I wish we could do it every summer (or that we all lived in the same town). They are all so dear to us; these were the people with whom we formed a foundation of faith in our early adulthood and the kind that I can't wait to spend eternity with because they are so wonderful. (But we have also found wonderful friends everywhere that we have lived, and we love you all!)

The view from the porch of our house.

After our week of West Virgina we went back to Michigan for a cousin's wedding, and to see our dear friend who was ordained a priest for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priests last summer and was on a home visit. He has a beautiful hand carved wooden travel altar on which he said a traditional Latin low Mass in a house (just like the old days...) at which we were thrilled to assist. G requested the front row and knelt inches away from Canon (the title for priests of the institute), which was so special for her.

Between West Virginia and Michigan we made an impromptu stop in Steubenville. The campus was all set up for a youth conference, but we found a visitor parking spot and did a walk around campus. It was weird being there in some ways. We showed the kids where we had met, the courtyard between our old dorms where we had fallen in love, took them to the Port to pray, and spotted a young couple having an emotional conversation probably similar to those we used to have. It was nice to stop by and see the place.

The Marian (R) and Trinity (L) Hall courtyard that we often rendezvoused in before walks (like the one during which we confessed our like for each other).
The poured cement steeple of Christ the King Chapel next to which we met for the first time.
Where we met nearly 12 years ago.
The Portiuncula Chapel where there is perpetual adoration during the semester.
G and The Port.
The bridge between Steubenville and Weirton, WV.
We had a lovely trip, but are now savoring these warm months, easing back into school days (1-2 subjects a week), and eating all the in season foods... It is good to be home.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

At the NCRegister Blog: The Martyrs Witness to the Finitude of this Life

About two years ago, my eldest daughter at the age of four showed me a painting of St. Agatha’s martyrdom that she found in a children’s book of saints. The painting shows a deathly pale St. Agatha after the torture impose upon her of cutting off her breasts, gesturing in a pleading manner up to Heaven. A sorrowful looking woman is holding her from behind, pressing a bloodied cloth against the wound. And her breasts are being carried away on a platter. My second daughter at a similar age was fascinated by this painting and by this martyrdom, in her turn. She still has a great devotion to St. Agatha, though she has not yet asked to carry a basket of bread to the All Saints day party at our church. I will say that I have not yet been explicit with them about the details of her death.

My children’s wonder at martyrdom has always been prevalent in our discussion of the saints, and the manner of the saint’s death is often the first thing they inquire about. Christians should draw strength from the witness of the martyrs, and in my children’s youthful innocence, they see something appealing in martyrdom, in making a sacrifice.

Read the rest here...

Friday, July 29, 2016

At the NCRegister Blog: The Use of NFP Can Make Us More Truly Human

Of all the moral theories I learned in my few years of studying philosophy, a morality based on virtue was the one that made the most sense. Furthermore, in the writings of the doctors of the Church and the great spiritual works, again and again, virtue is the basis for human happiness.  St. Augustine explains that, “Virtue is a good habit consonant with our nature.” And as our nature was created for union with God, virtues are habits that make us like God. Also, seeking a life of virtue is inseparable from loving God, for to form virtue we must first keep God’s law as we see in Matthew 19:16-17:
And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments."
Virtues are good habits, and when one uses discipline to follow the commandments and the moral law, one is habituated in virtue, and by being habituated in virtue, one is happy—for that is what happiness is.

It is Natural Family Planning awareness week again in the Church, and the discussion of NFP in the blogosphere is one that never seems to cease. After nine years of charting cycles, eight years of charting while married, and four beautiful children on earth, I can honestly say that the most human approach to sexuality is one that is based in virtue...

Read the rest here...

Saturday, July 23, 2016

At the Register: John Paul II’s Advice on Using Media Well

One of the most frustrating things on a weekend night is finding something worthwhile to watch on television or a computer screen. There seem to be limitless options, but I know that most of them are not worth watching. Why would I spend that time watching something that will make me a worse person the next day?

Don’t get me wrong, relaxation and recreation are a good thing, and surely there is some moral benefit to be derived from taking in a good movie, play or book.

In fiction, we can understand and explore moral situations. We see a character make a bad decision, imagine the consequences and form our consciences against these bad decisions...

Read the rest here...

Friday, July 15, 2016

At the Register Blog: St. Switin's Day If Thou Be Fair

On a recent road-tripping holiday with my family, we immersed ourselves in Howard Pyle’s land of fancy in the Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. In the stories we caught a glimpse of a merry medieval England, but another thing we got a sense of was a continual reference to the intercession of the saints. There were favorite saints of the time, like St. Dunstan and St. Aelfrida and it made my husband and I want focus even more on saints and their feast in our family lives.

I want my children to grow up knowing about things like St. Swithin’s day, which is July 15, and on that day you say this rhyme:

St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.

Perhaps in Wales it often happened that St. Swithen’s day was a predictor of weather for the rest of the summer...

Monday, July 11, 2016

Day Nine, July 12: Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages

St. Louis Martin
Welcome to Day Nine, Tuesday, July 12, of the Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages.

Day Nine, The House of the Father. Click on over for the prayers.

Here is the litany for the feast day!

Happy Feast of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin! Thank you for joining in the novena. It has been an honor to pray with and for you. I would love to hear about any great graces received through the novena!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Day Eight, July 11: Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages

St. Zélie Martin

Welcome to Day Eight, Monday, July 11, of the Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages.

Day Eight, The House of the Father. Click on over for the prayers.

We are so glad that you have joined us! 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Day Seven, July 10: Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages

Cathedral in Lisieux. Photo by Katie Boos.

Welcome to Day Seven, Sunday, July 10, of the Novena to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages.

Day Seven, Abandonment in Hope. Click on over for the prayers.

We are so glad that you have joined us!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Day Six, July 9: Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages

Les Buissonnets, The Martin family house in Lisieu. Photo by Kristi Tyler.

Welcome to Day Six, Saturday, July 9, of the Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages.

Day Six, The Night, The Desert, The Purification. Click on over for the prayers.

We are so glad that you have joined us! 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Day Five, July 8: Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages

Statue of St. Louis and St. Therese. Photo by Katie Boos.

Welcome to Day Five, Friday, July 8, of the Novena to Saints Louis and Zélie Martin for Marriages.

Day Five, Beyond All Suffering. Click on over for the prayers.

We are so glad that you have joined us!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...