Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Denunciation of the Pharisee in us all

Today's Gospel reading (Matthew 23:37-32) has Jesus chewing out the Pharisees:

"On the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing." (Mt 23:28)

Mithc Finley writing in today's Living Faith talks about the Pharisee in us all. We all try to appear to be "Good Christians" (and that definition changes depending on who we may be with at the time) to others yet inside we all have our battles with sin. We all have parts of ourselves that we try to hide from other people. We all wear masks and try to appear better than we are. Finley invites us to pray "Lord Jesus, help me to be true to you and to myself." I would add "and please help root out the evil that lies within." Amen.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Solo Mass for David

Bernie and I take the boys to mass every Sunday morning which is always an adventure. Every once in a while, however, it is a pleasure to go by myself and actually focus on the liturgical celebration instead of whatever trouble my children may be causing at the given moment. Tonight I had that opportunity. My boss called earlier today and said I didn't need to come in tonight. Bernie and the boys still had their weekly date at Grandma's house for supper so I had a couple hours to myself and my parish has a Tuesday evening 5:30 mass. It's a short liturgy - 15 minutes, but it felt good to check in with God. I offered it up for David as he starts school next Tuesday and for me to accept that reality as well as I should.

I've been stressing so much about him starting school and it isn't even that I'm going to miss him (which I will). I'm just concerned that he isn't going to be able to cope and that every day he will cry and I will have to force him to go like I did with swimming lessons this summer and quite frankly, I don't have the heart for it. Two weeks I could survive - 9 months I can't do.

Academically, I think he will be fine. He knows his letters and numbers and after 7 months of practice can write his whole name. He just started learning to read - the lightbulb suddenly went off last week and little words started to make sense to him - it was wonderful to experience! But I worry about bathroom issues because he still asks for help sometimes and they aren't going to help him. I worry because zippers and buttons and snaps still give him a hard time. They said he had to be able to tie his shoes which we have practiced and practiced and he almost has it figured out. To be on the safe side, I got him velcros! I'm also worried because he likes to talk so much. In the afternoon they have a half-hour rest period in which they are supposed to lay down and be quiet. I don't think David has been quiet for a half-hour since he learned how to talk!

So, prayers are needed, for my son to be brave and for me to be calm, and hopefully all will go well.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Walking with the Saints

I've been reading "My Life with the Saints" by Fr. James Martin, SJ. It is a spiritual memoir in which Fr. Martin shares how he became acquainted with various saints and what prompted him to want to learn more about these models of holiness. Different saints have provided him inspiration and aid at the varying stages of his life. Among them are the plastic St. Jude statue that was relegated to his sock drawer when he was a teenager, Thomas Merton who in many ways was responsible for Fr. Martin's movement toward the priesthood, and Pope John XXIII who provided a model for living a chaste celibate life.

The saints have been my friends as well as I have moved through life. When I was a young girl, my mother would take me to "The Open Window" - our diocesan bookstore - where I could pick out books on the saints. The ones I remember most were written by Fr. Lawrence Lovasik. Each page featured a beautiful painting of a saint and his or her corresponding bibliography. Once I was able to read more fluently, I devoured the saints' lives in our Catholic school library with a vengeance, so much so that the school librarian actually suggested I broaden my horizons and read something else. (I know she meant well - she had no idea that I would actually spend my life studying theology!) My mother had a deep devotion to St. Therese and at the age of eight or nine I read her autobiography "The Story of a Soul." Looking back, I imagine much of the book probably went over my head at that time, but how I wanted to be like her! Her "Little Way" was something even a child could understand. I wanted to be holy like the saints were holy.

Of course, as a teenager, my devotion to the saints wavered a bit. I still prayed to them, of course. St. Anthony is foolproof when searching for lost objects! And St. Anne, whose name I took for my confirmation, I prayed to for meeting a good man and to make the right decision about getting married. I have always prayed to St. Therese for my sister (who bears her name). And St. Jude was always there for lost causes. But along the way I learned that many of the things we know about saints' lives are mostly legends and this diminished them in my adolescent opinion. In college and graduate school, the saints didn't get much attention either - the exception being a course I took on "A Reasoned Faith" which focused on Augustine, Anselm and Aquinas, and one on "Christian Spirituality" which introduced me to the likes of Teresa of Avila, Edith Stein, and Dorothy Day.

As an adult, however, I have come to appreciate the saints even more. I obviously have more to pray for these days and it is a great benefit to have these holy persons intercede on one's behalf. St. Anne watches over my children and helps me to be a good mother. St. Jude and St. Peregrine help those I know who are ill and/or battling cancer. St. Therese is still busy watching over my sister and her family. But I have also come to appreciate the role models the saints provide. In reading about them, one becomes aware of their humanity. These people failed. Many of them lived sinful lives before their conversion. They faced temptations, lost loved ones, suffered from illnesses, and faced the dark night of the soul. Through it all, however, they retained their faith and trust in God. They sought God's will instead of their own. Their ways of being holy are as different as each human is from every other. God calls us each to be holy in our own way and that is remarkably comforting.

Now, I am introducing my own children to these amazing people and the help they can provide. We have been using "Catholic Cardlinks" by Thomas Craughwell and reading one saint a night before bed. They and I have learned wonderful things like St. Brigid is the patron saint of students, particularly appropriate since David is starting Kindergarten, and that St. Raphael protects against bad dreams. We now pray to that particular angel on a regular basis. The children have been enjoying these stories greatly and it has helped them appreciate the whole communion of saints, that there are all these holy people up in heaven just waiting to help them out. I hope as they grow that they will develop a friendship with at least one or two of them. Like Fr. Martin in "My Life with the Saints," we should all go through life walking with the saints by our side.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sure Sign of Fall


The calendar may still say August but it has felt decidedly fall-like in these parts. My boys picked up these colored leaves on our walk yesterday. And today was cool and damp enough to break out the jeans and long-sleeve shirts. Of course, the first time I do that each late summer/ fall I realize that my boys no longer fit in their clothes. (For some reason that thought does not cross my mind until I actually attempt to put the clothes on them!) Of course, Isaac is no problem. I simply take David's clothes and put them in Isaac's bureau drawers. David, on the other hand, ends up looking like a rag-a-muffin. Thankfully, his size 6 pants which were long on him in the Spring now fit him, but he definitely needs some new shirts. That's on my to-do list for this week.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Center for Spiritual Direction Updates

For those of you who live in Western, MA, I just posted the Fall schedule of workshops at the Center for Spiritual Direction including an "Exploring Watercolor" workshop by yours truly.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New Website Updates

Here are some new articles I just posted on the website. The first two deal with praying to God when we are angry at God or feel God is nowhere to be found. The last is a new Book Review. The book isn't coming out until next month so enjoy the sneak peek!

Dear God, I'm Mad As Hell

Where Are You Lord?


HolyLand USA: A Catholic Ride Through America's Evangelical Landscape by Peter Feuerherd

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

St. Maria's Messenger

Two young farmgirls run "St. Maria's Messenger" aimed at girls and teens to help them focus on their spiritual side and remain pure until marriage. St. Maria refers to St. Maria Goretti. They just posted their latest e-letter at

http://smm-eletters.blogspot.com/2006_08_01_smm-eletters_archive.html

which focuses on St. Faustina of the Divine Mercy movement - one of my favorite saints.
I'm happy to help them get out the good news about their publication.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sleep Update

Thankfully, David did sleep better last night. He woke up for the day at 5:40 a.m. but I will take it. Hopefully we can make it two in a row.

Currently, every night we read a short "life of a saint." Tonight's Saint was Raphael the Archangel, protector against nightmares. So, David fell asleep tonight praying to St. Raphael. I figure it can't hurt!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Middle of the Night Prayers for Sleep

5 year old David has been suffering from insomnia the past couple weeks. Traumatized by a bad storm we had, his fears have just magnified leading to bad dreams and a general inability to simply roll over and go back to sleep. Of course, his first response when he wakes up is to come get Mommy, which then means that Mommy needs to lay down next to him to help him fall back asleep.

I have walked the path of sleep-deprivation before. While I hear stories from other mothers on how their children have slept through the night from the age of 2 weeks, I was not blessed in that regard. David did start sleeping through the night at two months only to start waking up again at five months. We solved that one by having him sleep in our bed until we did a slightly modified Ferberization when he was a little over a year old. Isaac was due soon and we needed to have at least one child sleeping. After that experience, my husband made me promise we would never have another child sleep in our bed. Therefore, I now go to them.

No matter how prolonged David's issues with sleep were, nothing could have prepared us for Isaac. He was the original non-sleeping baby. He just didn't get tired. He would take a 10 minute powernap and be good to go for the rest of the day. At night, he would wake for hours - not crying, just babbling. Even my laying next to him didn't help. He was simply awake. He didn't sleep through the night until he was two years old. Thankfully, his bouts with insomnia are now few and far between, although every now and then, he will have a night that involves more waking than sleeping.

There are people who can function reasonably well on little sleep. I am not one of them. Sleep-deprivation makes me cranky and miserable. A normally patient person, everything grates on my nerves when I am tired. Therefore, for everyone's sakes, I pray every day that my children will sleep through the night. I even have them pray that they will have a good night sleep. After five years, why God sometimes chooses to answer those prayers and sometimes not remains a mystery to me. I was pondering that as I lay on the floor next to David from 2 to 4 am last night, listening him to relate all the things that were on his mind, trying to keep him quiet so that Isaac wouldn't wake up. I just kept praying and praying, all to no avail. Meanwhile, my anger kept increasing - my anger at the little boy who just wouldn't be quiet and go to sleep, and anger at my husband who was sleeping happily in the next room because in the five years my children have been on this earth, they have not once gotten up in the middle of the night and looked for Daddy. I kept trying to keep things in perspective, but I have found that at 3 a.m., I pretty much lack perspective. I even tried explaining to David that it was in his best interest to let me sleep because that way I would be more fun to be around the next day. He didn't seem to care. When he finally fell asleep at 4 am, I tried to escape back to my own room. He came to get me 5 minutes later. I hoped that maybe he would at least sleep later in the morning because he had been awake so long. He woke up at 6:30 am ready to face the day! Needless to say, I was not so eager to be up.

I was still seething, a response I realized was totally irrational. I also knew I needed a break. While I could fake being a happy mommy for a little while, it was not going to last long. Just listening to them talk was like someone running their fingernails on a chalkboard. I begged my husband to take the boys out for an outing today to just give me some time to rest. Thankfully, he obliged, and once they returned I was in a much better position to take care of the boys for the rest of the day.

So, tonight, again I prayed. Hopefully, God will be kind to me. I even told David if he sleeps all night, he will be able to get a sticker on the calendar tomorrow. Meanwhile, I keep reminding myself that this, too, shall pass, and that one day, I will wish that this was the biggest problem I had with them!

Important Pro-Life Message

More "Straight Talk" from Michael Galloway, founder, Catholic Online, and co-founder, Your Catholic Voice Foundation (YCVF).

The Baby In the Womb has Three Enemies
Apathy, Treasonous Sympathizers, We Choose Agenda.
Someone should step into the fight.

The Roe Vs Wade ruling did not make the United States a Nation of Murderers.

It simply revealed that we are a nation of murderers if someone removes the restraint. Not a pretty picture is it? Compromise of principle is a slippery slope.

One of four pregnancies will be terminated by abortion this year. Over one million senseless and brutal acts committed by the powerful against the powerless. It will not stop until we have had enough and get serious about providing alternatives.

Have you had enough? What will it take to get you and me off our backsides?

How can this occur? Let me share a few observations in our continuing series to provoke thought and a more successful action to promote life and adoption. It is critical now.

Years ago, newspapers would call attention to a criminal act by emphasizing Public Enemy No. 1. The Public Enemies of the Child in the Womb may surprise you.

The baby in the womb has three enemies that make the challenges of childhood disease and health trauma pale in comparison. These enemies will orchestrate the death of one in four children in the womb. In cultures outside the United States, the statistics are even more alarming, particularly for baby girls. If you are going to fight an enemy, you should know something about the enemy you intend to engage.

Enemy Number 1: Apathy. We don't know and we don't care. The debate surrounding women's rights, abortion rights, and the language utilized by all sides to raise the rhetoric is generally ignored by almost half of the population. We are numb and dumb. It is more offensive to have pictures of aborted babies on a television news program than the very fact the pictures demonstrate babies are being slaughtered. Forty five percent of our population, according to polls have no strong opinion on Abortion, yet nearly 70%, in the same polls, say that religious belief is an important priority in their lives. Evidently, those that believe that abortion kills a child have been unsuccessful in communicating their message in a meaningful way that would be measured by some meaningful depth of conviction by one half of our society. It is time to make the Apathetic Uncomfortable by every effective means of communication.

Enemy Number 2: Treasonous Co-conspirators and Sympathizers even in church circles. These deluded individuals are quoted as saying that "they are certainly against abortion, but are for a woman's right to choose." They have reached an accommodation with the Kingdom of Darkness; they are sell outs, they should not be in leadership in the Church or in any para-church organizations. There is no neutral position to claim in the issue of abortion. You either want it stopped or you are complicit in the brutal killing of helpless innocent children.

It is reminiscent of some cowardly people who once said, "Well, I believe slavery is wrong, and I would never own slaves, but I support a person's right to choose to own slaves." No one with a truly formed conscience that felt the impression of the Holy Spirit believed that slavery was right, in spite of the fact that there were laws and court rulings that supported slavery. Amazingly, the slave owners and those who made a profit in the "trade" utilized the familiar argument heard today. "Anyone against slavery is against personal freedom expressed as a right to choose. If you don't want to own slaves, don't interfere in our rights to own slaves. We have a legal right to choose. We will suffer economic hardship if we are not allowed to retain slaves. Even the Highest Court of the Land says the slave is a non-person without rights that must be respected." Sound familiar???

It was never right, and it was never going to be right to own a person, even if the law considered them less than full persons. Being sanctioned by state or federal rulings did not make it right. Our society, and particularly those that were slaves suffered greatly until we collectively said, "Enough" and backed our conviction with our actions. We had to look carefully at the rights of individuals set forth in our country's founding documents. We should be mindful that there were church attending people who were content to do nothing, and gave support to the "Right to Choose" argument of those who chose to own slaves. They were just cowards. We have a lot of cowards in the religious circles today.

We have to stop being so politically correct and allowing for so many diverse opinions, when some "opinions" are simply wrong. Misguided PC Tolerance is killing babies. Let judgment start with the church and those who claim allegiance to Christ. No wiggle room. No neutrality. While we hear a lot about utilizing a litmus test for public office appointments being inappropriate, there should be no such reluctance for those that profess to represent Christian based organizations. Are they Pro-life, or Pro-Death? We should ask. They should answer.

We all know the clever word games associated with utilizing the phrase "Pro-Choice" to establish that we are for a person's right to choose. Get real. Everyone is pro-choice about some issues, and anti-choice about other issues. Want an example?

Our society may say that every man should have the right of choice regarding his right for personal sexual expression, but my support for his right of choice would cease the moment he expressed intentions to harm my daughter. When there can be a victim by the action following a choice, the right to choose was just narrowed or completely disappears. Some "choices" are simply wrong!

A room full of sixth graders could sort this out. Can we?

Enemy Number 3: We do what we choose. The organized expressions of a mistaken philosophy of life that makes perceived personal happiness and convenience the primary consideration for all decisions, rejecting even the concept of moral absolutes as archaic meanderings of a less enlightened civilization and the current preoccupation of a "radical religious right" is alive and well, and spreading around the world.

Throughout history, this philosophy has found its way through many expressions and movements, but it is safe to say, in all of history, it has not been as pervasive as it is today. Regardless of the name of the movement, all expressions share a common theme:

Man is the center of the universe, and man is a law unto himself. Therefore, whatever man determines, at that moment in history to be right, is right.

The implication of embracing such a philosophy of life is staggering. Any act can be reasoned out within this incorrect philosophical context. Any Act! No atrocity is bad if it serves my personal good. No act is wrong or right, it is just expedient. There is no absolute right or wrong. We determine.

We are living with the result of this philosophy mirrored by
our society's actions.
"Children are likely to try sexual expression anyway, so let's teach them technique without moral restraint or compass. You already have two children and are now established in your career. Better to abort this child than have a child that is unwanted. You don't really want to marry this girl you have been sleeping with. Convince her to abort the child so there are no future ties and messy obligations. (see Chris and Monica Debate) Baby girls are less valuable than baby boys. Abort them. Children with handicaps will be burdened throughout their entire life. Better they do not start.
On and on."

We are alarmed with the increase in child abuse, and the daily reports of unthinkable acts of violence against helpless children. Why? It is the natural result of a society throwing off any objective moral restraints. Read Romans, Chapter One in the Sacred Scriptures.

The baby in the womb has three enemies. Unfortunately, that baby is not quite ready to step into battle on its own. Someone should step in, and now.

Every pregnancy occurs in relationship to some family. Often, the support of the family is the dominant single influence in the decision to choose life. Can the influence of a parent or grandparent overcome the enemies of the child in the womb? Is it possible that even good Catholics could waiver in a time of teen pregnancy? Our decisions, even when it is tough to do the right thing, make all the difference.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Jack Dunn vs. Dan Brown

Most of the furor regarding "The DaVinci Code" has died down, but in my little corner of the world things are just getting interesting. A local man, Jack Dunn, wrote a book called "The Vatican Boys" several years ago. "The DaVinci Code" is strikingly similar. Our local Catholic newspaper, "The Catholic Observer" ran an article on him a few weeks ago. You can Read the article here.

Since this article was written, my brother-in-law has taken on the case and filed a multi-million dollar suit against Random House on behalf of Jack Dunn. Mr. Dunn sent me the following media release which I am happy to share with you:

Media Release

Regarding the US District court filing by Jack Dunn against Dan Brown, Random House and Sony Pictures of August 16, 2006 for copyright infringement.

1. The Vatican Boys was published and copyrighted in 1997. The Da Vinci Code was published and copyrighted in 2003. Alerted by readers of my new book, Holyoke-The Belle Skinner Legacy in December 2005-January 2006 that there were substantial similarities in the texts of The Vatican Boys and The Da Vinci Code I read the book for the first time in January 2006 and noticed immediately what I consider to be substantial similarities that relate to the structure of the stories, including but not limited to the characters, plots, themes, scenes, feel and flows of the stories. While I was reading some of the scenes in The Da Vinci Code it appeared to me like I was re-reading what I wrote in The Vatican Boys.

2. I alerted Random House and Sony Pictures on 4/26/06 2006 that I felt there were problems with the contents of the books and possible copyright infringements. I received no response from either company except a letter from Random House that they received my complaint.

3. In good faith I sent a copy of the Vatican Boys to Random House for them to review.

4. After soliciting and receiving several opinions of Literary experts and a screenwriter whose analysis confirmed my opinions that there were substantial similarities in themes, plots characters, and feel of the story that they felt would be ‘noticeable to a lay reader’ I filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts on August 16, 2006 a copy of which has been emailed to you. Damages are estimated to be in excess of $400 Million Dollars.

Cited in the complaint by means of ‘flow charts’ are the sequences of events and character interactions of The Vatican Boys that also appear in The Da Vinci Code. A far as similar phrasing or scenes that appears in both books there are many examples:

5. TVB page 209, “it’s a way of getting Catherine out of this,” – TDC page 409 -Langdon refers to, “getting Sophie out of here alive” in TDC

6. Both Catherine Turrell and Sophie Neveu have reoccurring nightmares, and they both ‘dream about Bridges’.

7. Page 61, TDC, “Each term was indeed the sum of the two previous,” and in TVB on page 171 “the first two and the last two digits of each set were exactly the same,” the use of variations of number sequences that involve the number 2 to figure out the codes.

8. Catherine Turrell in TVB is in her 30’s, is a beautiful and rebellious French woman whose family has a county estate in France. Her father has a friend who is a Knight Banker who helps Turrell get away and then helps Hathaway and Turrell gain access to accounts at his bank that contain secrets that are accessed by using a number combination involving the number 2 and a five-letter of the alphabet password. Sophie Neveu is in her 30’s, is a beautiful and rebellious French woman whose family has a county estate in France. Her Grandfather has a friend who is a Knight Banker who helps her and Langdon gain access to a safety deposit box that is in his bank that contains a secret that is accessed by using a number combination involving the number 2 and the five-letter of the alphabet password. Once they get the secret he then helps them to get away.

9. On Pages 275-279 of TDC, a strangely noticeable similar scene takes place that is substantially similar to a scene in TVB in Pages 180-188, where Neveu, Langdon and Teabing have the cryptex that will lead them to the Holy Grail (Relic), and Silas the Opus Dei soldier beaks in to where they are all together, trying to get it. Silas now has a ‘injured right ankle’ that he gets at this exact point in the story. In TVB Rovarik, Hathaway and Turrell are in a place all together with the relic and the Opus Dei mercenary Jeremy breaks in trying to get it and Hathaway at this same point in the story has just fallen and has ‘a injured right ankle’.

10. The use of “playing cat and mouse,” –TVB page 43 – “game of cat and mouse,”- TDC page 293.

11. Descriptions of what the characters ‘see’ or ‘look at’ the same point in both stories in London as Fleet Street is used as a ‘major point of entry’ for the characters in the stories in both books, TDC page 337, “Fleet Street?” There’s a crypt on Fleet Street?” - TDC page 347 descriptions in the Temple Church of, ”Langdon was feeling gooseflesh too as they stepped into the circular chamber His eye traced the curvature of the chambers pale stone perimeter, taking in the carvings of gargoyles, demons, monsters and pained human faces all staring inward.” TVB Page 155, - Fearsome dragons guard the entrances to Old London, hellish demons perched on tall pedestals said to stop evils from entering the city. The most prominent one is on Fleet Street,” - on page 156, Catherine, “she looked up to see the dragon on its Fleet Street perch. Seeing it reminded her of the nightmares, the ones in which a gorgon haunted and hunted her on a bridge.” In both stories when the characters look at their surroundings, they ‘see’ dragons and demons.




These are just a few of the hundreds of examples of similarities in the ‘use of characters, phrasing, scenes, descriptions, information’ that first appeared in the fictional novel The Vatican Boys that are used in The Da Vinci Code. There are many others listed in the charts by comparisons of the stories, the line -up of characters, the events and the flows of information into the plots of the stories of the two books compared in sequence. The arrangements of the ‘words’ may have been changed around to try to conceal the duplications, but the nature of the use of the same ideas and characters and the similar phrasing or descriptions of the characters interactions are unmistakable.

And, we are talking about two books of Fiction.

Jack Dunn

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Imitation of Christ




"The Imitation of Christ" is one of those spiritual classics that everyone seeking the way to Christ should read. It has been termed "the second most important book" in history, right after the Holy Bible. Amazingly, I just read it for the first time. I was incredibly inspired by this book. The message is one of incredibly high standards but it reinforces the way Christ himself showed us how to live. You can read my full review here: http://www.spiritualwoman.net/Books/ImitationofChrist.html



Things I never thought my 3-year-old would say

When you dream of having children, you have a vision of what these little people will be like, what their interests might be, that they will be polite, caring children who will hang on your every word and do what you ask. Of course, as any parent will tell you that dream goes out the window the first six months!

Still, that dream took another jolt when Isaac got up this morning and told me that Grandma taught him how to play "Texas Hold-Em" last night! Granted, Isaac loves to play cards. He mastered "Uno" at age 2 and "Solitaire" this year. I suppose poker was simply a natural progression. It just isn't one of those things I ever imagined hearing from my 3 year old!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Feast of the Assumption

Today is the feast of the Assumption when we celebrate Mary being taken into heaven body and soul after her physical death here on earth. It is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics in the US.

The Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and Blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God.
Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Time to Just "Be"

I was going for a walk down my street the other day and I happened to notice an elderly woman sitting in her back yard. That was all she was doing - just sitting, enjoying the beauty of the day. I couldn't help being inspired by that. I know that as a woman, and especially as a mother, I find it hard to give myself permission to relax. There is always something or someone waiting for my attention. The "to-do" list is never-ending. As soon as one item is crossed off, two more seem to take its place. Multi-tasking is the order of the day. I'm always trying to be productive.

Well, I had a chance yesterday to attempt to relax. My two young boys were going out with Grandma to a picnic for the day. I had seven glorious hours on a gorgeous summer day to do whatever I wanted. Now, Grandma takes the boys out pretty regularly. Usually at least once a month I have a few hours on a Saturday left to my own discretion and I do try to enjoy that time. I also try to accomplish as much as possible. Generally, home improvement tasks rank high on that list. Yesterday was just too beautiful to be spent inside, however. Plus I was vowing to be non-productive. I was going to relax!

My husband and I went out to play tennis. In our younger days, almost every good weather day would find us on the courts. We hadn't played in six years. When I found out I was expecting David, tennis was one of the first things to go. Needless to say, the six-year hiatus had not helped our game. At times, we were downright funny as we swung at balls and missed. But at the same time, it felt so good to have that racket back in my hand, and while our somewhat older bodies could only last one set, it was time well-spent. After that, we went to the library and then for a very leisurely lunch.

When we got home, I decided to take a nap - outdoors. I used to love sleeping outside on summer days, and once again, this was a luxury I hadn't had in years. I took my sleeping bag and a pillow and curled up on the deck. Granted, my neighbors probably thought I was crazy, but I honestly didn't care. It was glorious! It was warm and there was a gentle breeze blowing and I was happy and peaceful as could be. Even after two hours, I honestly didn't want to get up.

After that, I admit, I reverted back to productivity. I did some reading (which is something I enjoy immensely) and folded the laundry (it was Saturday, after all, and it did need to get done) and soon, the boys came home from their adventure and I was back to being Mommy. Still, it had been a wonderful day. I'll have to take time to just "be" again, soon.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Reminder About Priorities

Today's Gospel offers a good reminder about where our priorities should be in life:

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?'" Matthew 16:24-26

Fall is in the Air

The past few days we have definitely been able to feel that hint of fall in the air. The nights have been cool, there has been a refreshing breeze, and even the shadows seem to be taking on that long, deep quality. Most years I relish fall (October has always been one of my favorite months). Even though I left school years ago, there is something about that back-to-school feeling that has always inspired me. I don't even mind raking leaves.

And yet, this year, I am so dreading fall. I can't believe David is starting school in 3 short weeks. He already has his school supplies and his Spiderman backpack and lunchbox. Today, I had him practicing with his uniform pants and his belt. (It is always a good thing to be able to take off your pants and put them back on when you need to go to the bathroom!)I know he is as ready as I can get him to be and that I need to Let Go and Let God and see what happens. I'm going to miss the little guy, though, more than I ever thought possible. And I find myself trying to hold on to these last days of summer oh so tightly, as if I could make them last forever if I just tried hard enough. But as Isaac tells me, "The days go by so quickly, Mommy."
Yes they do.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Grace on the Go

Lisa Hendey has a great new book spotlight at CatholicMom.com. The book is called
Grace on the Go and it is about praying when there is very little time to pray. Sounds like a winner to me!

A Visit From the Tooth Fairy

David lost his first tooth yesterday. It is really amazing - you get so excited when your baby gets his or her first teeth and you get equally excited five or six years later when it falls out! So, the tooth fairy paid her first visit to our house last night. I'm sure there will be many more visits to come!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Another Parenting Challenge

I have repeatedly found that as soon as parenting seems to be going rather smoothly, some new wrinkle will come to once again challenge you. For us, David is now resisting going to sleep at night. There could be many reasons contributing to this, among them some post-traumatic stress regarding the massive storm we had last week (he now has an incredible fear of a storm coming and taking our house), the fact that he is starting school soon which he also has some stress about, or the simple fact that he is getting older and perhaps just doesn't need as much sleep as he used to.

Regardless, in order to keep him in his room and have him go to sleep, I now need to sit outside his door until he goes to sleep (the past two nights that has been an hour). While I am getting some reading done, it has sharply cut into my writing and computer time. So, here I am, trying to trust God that I will get the work done he wants me to and that this new phase in parenting won't last too long!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Seeking Solitude

The Gospel for today (Matthew 14:13-21) once again tells of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. There is a second undercurrent in Matthew's telling of the miracle, however. Jesus was trying to get away from the crowds and they kept following him. He was searching for solitude and no one would let him have it. Yet, he kept giving from his heart to these people. He needed to be quiet and to pray and there he was continuing to love those who needed them.

I can so relate to this. Sometimes it is so hard to get through my morning prayers. One or both of my children may interrupt with whatever they may need at the moment. I try to create a sacred space. I know I need to pray to get through my day, but I am also a mom and my children do have needs. Sometimes they need to be answered immediately and sometimes I tell them they need to wait until my prayers are done. One thing that I have learned since becoming a mom is that quiet is a state of mind. Sometimes you need to find solitude in brief moments in which you can commune with God and tap into the well that provides the energy to continue to love.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Turning Back the Hands of Time

This was sent to me today by Janet Cassidy and I thought you might enjoy it. It is interesting the way technology can sap our time. I love my computer because it allows me to reach out to people and work in a way that I would otherwise not be able to do. For a stay-at-home mom, it can be a God-send! Yet, I do try to limit its use. My children can use it an hour a day and 99% of the time, I work at the computer at night after they are in bed, so I definitely do try to limit its effect on our family time.


TURNING BACK THE HANDS OF TIME

I’ve decided to turn back the hands of time to around 1993, our pre-computer era. I’m going backward because I asked myself one question: What did I do instead of computing?

Although I don’t surf the internet or play games on my computer, I do spend some time checking e-mail and writing. These aren’t bad things, of course, but they lure me away from other, more important things. So, about a week ago, I decided to idle my computer for larger blocks of time. Remember, it’s only been one week. Since that time, here’s what happened:

I taught our daughters about cake decorating (the old fashioned way; the way mom used to do).
Our youngest spontaneously joined me in vocal prayer.
We put together her dog book, complete with laminating and binding.
I worked on a cross-stitch gift.
I picked beans from my over-grown garden.
I sat under a tree, on a hot, breezy day, listening to a toddler-weary young mother express her frustrations.

I listened more. We talked more. We prayed more. We played more.

I mention this because I wonder if you might also be caught in the computer trap. Consider what you might be missing and then do something about it. The result is very liberating!

God Bless,

Janet
life is a joyful mystery!

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Enjoying peace and quiet

Mother Nature definitely had an attitude last night in my little corner of the world. Not only was it the hottest day of the year for us, but during what should have been a "run of the mill" early evening thunderstorm, there was what the paper termed a "micro-burst" of wind (not a tornado because nothing was in a circular pattern). Basically a pocket of 80 mile an hour wind burst through my neighborhood, uprooting trees on almost every street and knocking out power.

Of course with the kids, we tried to bill this as a "great adventure." David, the little "worrier" of our family was very concerned about another storm coming, but I tried to calm his fears as much as possible. We moved a mattress and a sleeping bag downstairs to our living room where it was about 5 degrees cooler than upstairs. Then, we went out driving to try to get our adrenaline laden boys to fall asleep. They finally conked out a little before 10 pm. We carried them in from the car and put them to bed, before getting ready for the night ourselves. Of course, it was warm and uncomfortable and we really didn't get much sleep, but in that middle of the night, I was amazed by the quiet.

There was no hum of a fan or air conditioner. Our windows were open and I could hear the crickets and there was beauty in that. The moon was shining bright and had no competition from streetlights or the blue flicker of television screens or computers. We are so used to all the noise that surrounds us and it was so nice for just a little while to have that peace and quiet.

Of course, I was also very happy this morning when the power came back on. Tonight we are looking forward to a good night sleep in our air conditioned room. We were lucky. Many people around us still don't have power. But while I am reveling in being back to my usual routine, part of me misses the quiet I got to appreciate last night.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Book Review: The Foxhole Angel


It is always so nice to be surprised by a book. I spent the past three days reading "The Foxhole Angel" by J.D. Kamps. When I first got it, I wasn't sure what to expect by this military drama set in World War II. But I really enjoyed it. Read the full review here: http://www.spiritualwoman.net/Books/FoxholeAngel.html