I am a writer, artist, and homeschooling mom. Here you will find musings on life, readings, and a relationship with God. To add a RSS feed to this blog, go to http://feeds.feedburner.com/SpiritualWoman
I had read end enjoyed John Elder Robison’s treatise on life
with Aspergers, “Be Different,” and so I eagerly looked forward to reading his
latest volume, “Raising Cubby: A Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s,
Trains, Tractors and High Explosives.” In this book, Robison shares his
experiences of raising his son, Jack (aka “Cubby”) who also has Aspergers,
although neither of them knew how or why they were different when their
father/son relationship began.
One thing I loved about this book is the respect with which
Robison treats his first wife, affectionately known as “Little Bear.” While
their marriage didn’t work out, he dedicates the book to her, stating “Even
though we have not been married to each other for many years, her achievement
in raising our son is not to be minimized. To the extent that he is a
prize-winning specimen, she is large part responsible.” In the pages of “Raising
Cubby,” it is obvious that he holds her in high esteem and that they worked
together to raise their son.
As the mom of a twelve year old Aspie kid, I find reading
books about Aspergers interesting because while each child is different, they do
provide me with some insight into how my son sees and relates to the world.
This one took a little while for me to get into, but I’m glad that I stuck with
it. What especially grabbed my intention was the development of Cubby’s
obsessions as he grew older.
Unfortunately, his obsession with chemistry led to
some very negative consequences in that he ended up being prosecuted by the
District Attorney for possession of explosives. The latter part of the book is
devoted to relating the tale of the court case. For those who enjoy legal
drama, it makes for some compelling reading. As an added bonus, Robison and his
family live in my corner of the world. While I do not recall this particular court
case, I am personally familiar with many of the locations Robison refers to in
“Raising Cubby” is a testament to parenting, love, and being
wired differently. It is valuable for anyone who loves someone with Aspergers.
Patti Maguire Armstrong and Theresa Thomas, who previously
paired up to write and compile the wonderful “Stories for the Homeschool
Heart,” have now come together to create “Big-Hearted: Inspiring Stories from
What makes a family big-hearted? It is a spirit of
generosity with a focus on putting God first. “The families in this book
[share] the goal of striving to put God first, of trying to love well.” The
authors encourage those who want to have big-hearted families to “sacrifice
much. Choose God’s will. Love profusely. Be big-hearted. And then see how our
almighty God, who is the same now as always, blesses you again and again.”
Armstrong and Thomas share their own experiences of being
part of big-hearted families growing up and then creating their own version of
such a family once they married and began to have children. This is not a two
women project, however. Many other voices weigh in and share powerful, and
sometimes difficult stories, of the struggle to love generously and be open to
Thomas Mahala shares his story of fearing having a child
with Down Syndrome. When his 8th child and first daughter after
seven sons was born with an extra chromosome, he struggled to love her, but
with time and God’s grace, that love came. Calvin Bader shares he and his
wife’s struggle with infertility and how they became foster and adoptive
parents. DeeAnn Smith writes of her struggles with alcoholism and what it meant
to have the unconditional love of her children as she worked to get well.
Jeffery Gross highlights the life of his son who was born with cystic fibrosis
and who also suffered from muscular dystrophy. Sherry Antonetti focuses on the
adventure of taking a trip with ten children. These are just some of the stories featured.
Light-hearted stories balance heart-wrenching ones, but each
of the families featured in the pages of “Big-Hearted” have something to teach
all of us about the power of love and the importance of putting God first in
our family life.
“Miriam: Repentance and Redemption in Rome” by Cheryl Dickow
is a sequel to “Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage,” but don’t worry if you
haven’t read the first book. “Miriam” is an engaging novel all on its own.
Miriam Goldfarb is the Jewish daughter of a woman who was
killed in a bombing in Israel. As this novel opens, we meet her as she is
serving as a Mossad Agent, a member of Israel’s Institute for Intelligence and
Special Operations. She is in love with Joseph, a fellow agent, who has a
Christian mother and Jewish father. Because of his background, he is open to
learning more about the Christian faith and Catholic saints. It also makes him
extremely valuable as a Mossad agent.
The two are chosen for a secret operation in which they will
offer protection for an end-times meeting of “The Four Horsemen” in Rome – four
highly respected religious leaders who are making a last-ditch effort to turn
the world from its evil ways. The four include the pope, the highest Muslim
cleric in Lebanon, and two chief rabbis in Israel.
Elizabeth from the first novel returns in a supporting role
as she and her husband take a trip to Rome and end up providing support to
Miriam when she needs it most.
This is an apocalyptic novel, although the timing of the
final coming is not known. It simply maintains that the signs are here and it
is time to become ready. One quickly turns pages, eager to discover how it will
all turn out. With “Miriam,” Dickow has once again made a wonderful
contribution to the genre of Catholic fiction.
Connie Rossini has put together a brief, straight-forward, and insightful handbook on how to live a holy life in Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life. The five key lessons are 1) You were made for union with God, 2) Holiness begins and ends with love, 3) Prayer is necessary for salvation, 4) Little things matter, and 5) The greater your trust, the greater your spiritual growth.
Rossini relies on wisdom from notable Carmelite saints St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and St. Therese of Lisieux as the foundation of her text. These three Doctors of the Church provide a wonderful starting point for anyone seeking to live a life in union with God.
Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints is deceptively simple, but one could spend a lifetime learning and practicing its lessons.
Do you see yourself as worthy of God’s love? Many women
don’t. Due to sin, disappointments in life, and voices in the outside world,
Satan is often able to convince women that they have lost God’s love and these
women in turn give up hope. “Satan wants nothing more for us than for us to buy
into the lie that we can never, ever, ever be redeemed."
Amanda Mortus, a young woman with an important message,
wants to reach out to these women who are in such pain and speak the truth of
God’s love to them. Worthy: See Yourself
as God Does is an incredibly honest book.Mortus shares her own experience of living a double-life for a semester
in college. As she states, she “spent her days as an angel and my nights
unleashing the devil within,” spending her time partying, drinking, and spending
her time in unhealthy relationships. She deeply regrets that time, but it did
give her valuable insight into the lies that Satan is so eager to feed all of
“It is not enough for Satan to lead us to believe that we
are unworthy of love, of hope, or joy, or peace, or prosperity, or wealth, or
salvation. We must believe that we are truly unworthy of all of those things.” As
a result, women end up believing that “we feel we have no right, no place, and
no need to hope for mercy.” At times, we believe the lies so much that suicide
begins to seem like the only answer.
So, then, if we have bought into the lies, what is the answer?
Is there any hope? Mortus answers that with a resounding yes and offers a blueprint
to do it. In Scripture, God is described as the potter forming us out of clay.
The healing begins when we bring all our broken pieces to God. “God’s voice is
louder than all of the voices that whisper that we are unworthy. His voice is
the sound of love, and His voice is telling a different story.”
Mortus offers Mary, “the perfect example of womanhood and of
what it means to fully serve God,” and the Proverbs 31 woman, who is “clothed
with strength and dignity” as role models for women to look to as they seek to
live for God. “As women of worth, we are called to be clothed with strength,
which actually means that we are clothed in His strength.” In the end, letting go
and surrendering to God is the only way to allow Him to fix our brokenness.
While written primarily for young women, Worthy is for any woman who struggles
with her sense of self or who finds herself looking for love and happiness in
all the wrong places.
I've been thinking about it for a while and I've decided I need to take a blog break for the summer. I need some time to regroup and do some discernment. The one exception is that I do have some book reviews I've promised people so I will be honoring those requests and posting those as they become available.
Discerning a vocation is a big deal and one that should be taken seriously by young people. That isn't always (or even frequently?) the case, however. For the past year or so, when we say the rosary at night, I pray with my big boys that they choose the right vocation in life and be the people God wants them to be. I don't know what God has in mind for my children. I know where their strengths and weaknesses lie, but what they are supposed to do with them is still a mystery to me and to them. Neither one of them has an interest in becoming a priest, but they don't show much interest in marriage either. Of course, puberty may change that! Whatever they do or become, I want them to be the men God created them to be.
On the other hand, the young man who wrote the following blog post: Vocation Discernment may very well have a vocation to the priesthood. I know him and in my humble estimation, he has the intelligence and personality to make a good one, if that is what God is calling him to do. And that's the thing - he's really working to figure that out - whether God is calling. Maybe you could say a prayer for him as he works through this process?
I wish all young people, my own children included, would take discerning who and what they are supposed to be in life as seriously.