31 August 2009

My Own Flock

There’s a certain letter I’ve been reading over and over lately, and the funny thing is, even though this letter wasn’t meant for me, the message has hit me between the eyes. (No, I’m not sneaking into mailboxes reading other people’s mail!) It reads:


“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” 1 Peter 5:2-4


Peter wrote these words to the elders of the church in relation to their pastoral duties in their communities, not to a mother and homemaker. Yet the more I read it, the more it fits. I’ve worn a lot of different hats in my life, but I’ve never seen myself with a shepherd’s staff before.


Right now my husband and I have a flock of three, ages 8, 6, and 2. Like most parents, I tend to forget that my children are not mine. They do not belong to me; they belong to God. They are His children, and for a time in their lives, they are in my care, but they share the same relationship with God that I have – Father and child. In that strange and wonderful way, my children and I are equals.



Please read on...




Humility

Humility is as humility does!

Sometimes we confess that we are nothing,
that we are weakness itself,
the very dust of the earth.
But we get very upset if someone
takes us at our word.

We conspicuously retreat into solitude,
and hide ourselves,
but with the hope
that the world will "discover" us.

We take the lowest place,
cherishing the hope
that we will be asked to go up higher.

True humility does not go about
looking and sounding humble.
For the humble person prefers
to hide her virtues,
and conceal her true self,
to live unknown, in a concealed life.

My advice then is that you should
go easy with your expressions of humility,
making sure that your deep inward feelings
agree with whatever you say outwardly.

Never cast down your eyes
without humbling your heart,
and do not pretend that you wish
to be among the least
unless you truly desire it in your heart.

Really humble people prefer to let others say
they are contemptible and worth nothing,
than to say it about themselves.

St. Francis de Sales


Another bulls-eye... ouch.



30 August 2009

Praise!

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"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14


1. I praise God that He is God forever, and He is good, and patient, and merciful, and loving, and wise.

2. I praise God for the love and comfort of my family.

3. Praise God for the rain.

4. I praise and thank God for all the material comforts of my life that many people live without.

5. I praise and thank God that I have never gone hungry or had to watch my children go hungry.

6. Praise God for rest when I don't feel well.

7. Praise God for giving us Jesus. Thank you for giving us Jesus!

8. Praise God, always, for chocolate!


Please join me in Praising God today for all His goodness and mercy! Praise the name of Jesus!

Have a most blessed and wonderful week ahead, everyone!


27 August 2009

Let God Do the Rest

I hope you're not tired of me sharing so many thoughts from St. Francis de Sales...I am finding his wisdom and gentleness to be like medicine and food for my heart these days. It has been a strange and difficult summer, a very arid and empty season, and I find myself clinging to the truth with my mind even though inside I feel only aching, or nothing at all.


Sometimes it seems like the best thing I have going for me is a stubborn persistence. I echo Jacob's words over and over: "I will not let you go unless you bless me.... I will not let you go unless you bless me... I will not let you go..."



Then I go and read St. Francis, and his words seem like they were written only for me.



The biggest mistake that most of us make about God,

the one that most consistently undermines the peace of our soul,
is the idea that God demands a lot of us,
more than a fragile being like ourselves could ever give.

Such a God is frightening.

But God in reality is content with the little we can give,
because God knows -- and accepts -- the little that we have.

We need to do just three things:

Do the best we can to find and honor God in everything we do.

Do whatever-- however little-- we can to live this way.

Let God do the rest.

If we follow these simple rules, we will possess God.
And possessing God we will not be disturbed,
we will not be anxious,
for we will have no need to fear a God who never asks of us
more than we can give.


St. Francis de Sales

25 August 2009

It Is Enough

Here's what I'm clinging to today:


The way to honor God whose handiwork we are, is to be who we are, as perfectly as we can.

It is enough to be what God wants us to be, rather than some perfect creature that God never had in mind.

It is also enough to do whatever it is that you can do being who you are, and where you are. Just do wholeheartedly what you know God is asking of you. Don't bother yourself about whether or not what God asks of you is important or grand. Whether your actions are insignificant or not does not matter, if they are God's will.

How could you be disappointed at even the smallest opportunity if you know that it is God's will -- born of His providential concern for you, and chosen for you in His eternal wisdom?


All through the day: Be Who You Are


St. Francis de Sales (of course)


23 August 2009

Praise!

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"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts." Psalm 105:1-2


There's always so many reasons to give God praise; let's get to it!

1. Praise God for the
fabulous thunderstorm we had yesterday! Lots and lots of heavy rain, thunder & lightning. I just love to sit in a quiet, dark room and listen to the pounding rain.

2. Praise God that my kiddos are excited about the start of
a new school year tomorrow! God bless us all and keep us safe.

3. Praise God for
His patience and gentleness.

4. Praise God for
His tender love.

5. Praise God, and thank you,
Jesus, for giving us Your sweet Mother. Your generosity just never ends...

6. Praise God for the
steadfast faith of other Christians that encourages me and lets me know that there are still people out there who love the Lord Jesus and won't cave in to the nonsense of the world.

7. Praise God for
cookies baking in the oven!

8. Praise God for chocolate! Always chocolate!
Chocolate Forever!


Do join me today in singing out
Praise to God, and tell the nations of His marvelous deeds! I hope y'all have a terrific week ahead (school starts!) and that you see God's hand everywhere you look.


21 August 2009

A Fun Alternative to Screaming

I have discovered my new favorite serious-stress-reliever.



Swordplay on the Wii.


"Take that!"


"And that!"

"And that!"



And you watch your opponent fall off the platform into the water below. Very gratifying on a day when nothing is going right and you want to pull your hair out.


Leave the tresses alone, girls, and whack away with your sword.

Ahhh... I feel better now.



19 August 2009

Girl Scouts and Catholic Schools

Went to Parent Orientation tonight at the Catholic school the kids are attending this year. I'm hopeful for a good year. The school has a good reputation, and so far what I've seen looks solid.

Didn't take me very long tonight to make a new enemy, however! The principal introduced at
least a dozen people who are leading this activity or sport or club or whatever, and finally she got around to the Girl Scout troop leader. I decided to ask a provocative question. (I know, that's soooo unlike me.)

I raised my hand and said as sweetly as I could, "Can you tell me what association , if any, does this troop have with Planned Parenthood?"


Well, you would've thought I just called her and her daughter and her dog the most nasty, terrible names or something. This lady looked like she wanted to rip my head off.


She just stammered, "Uh, none. I've never even heard of such a thing."


I smiled and said, "Great, thank you."


I approached her again afterward at the troop's sign-up table, and said, "Hi, I'm sorry if I threw you with my question."
She wouldn't look me in the eye. She was so angry!

She just looked down at her table, fussed with some catalogs and said, "Yeah, well I've never even heard of anything like that, and I certainly don't discuss topics like that with the girls."


I tried to explain the known connection between Girls Scouts and Planned Parenthood on a corporate level, and she just shook her head at me and said, "Well, I don't know. Like I said, I've never heard of that before."

I walked away knowing she was shooting darts at the back of my head. I'm definitely on that woman's hit list!


The greater issue, of course, is Catholic school girls and Girl Scouts. I say it is time to sever the relationship completely, forevermore.

I do not see how Girl Scouts can continue to have a place in Catholic schools. Are we Pro-Life or not? Do we support true marriage between one man and one woman or don't we? Do we believe in one God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or not?
Do we want our daughters taught by a PP rep that it's okay to sexually gratify yourself when you feel like it, and lesbianism is not only acceptable, but desired?

These are the beliefs of the modern Girl Scout leadership, and they are not compatible with the Catholic faith any longer. It's time to cut this cord.


There are two excellent alternatives: The Little Flowers Club, and American Heritage Girls. How about putting our time and effort into those organizations and help them grow, instead of supporting an ultra-liberal feminist group that demeans the vocation of homemaker, and rejects the truth of the sanctity of human life?




No more cookies for me, and of course, I never intended to sign my girls up for Brownies. But I'm feeling the motivation to take this far beyond one school, one troop. The Girls Scouts has no place in our Catholic schools anymore.


Good old Guilt

I'm in the middle of a frustrating season with my kiddos, particularly #2. I'm guessing it's because she's #2, and is suffering from "middle-child syndrome" or something.

Too often the atmosphere around here has been full of whining, crying, bickering, screaming, and lots of short people standing in corners for extended periods.




It's enough to make a momma want to run away and hide.


Yesterday, I'd had it.
HAD IT. The two oldest have been just downright mean to the youngest one all summer long. Just nasty mean, and I'm sick of it! So yesterday morning, I let 'em have it with both barrels.

"This is not acceptable! We don't treat each other that way in this family! I've had enough of you two being so mean and unkind and unloving and selfish and greedy!"


It went on like that for a few minutes at a loud volume.
(ahem, I can be rather loud.)

Next, I banished them upstairs to make their bedroom "sparkle" and checked on their progress periodically. Then an hour went by and I hadn't seen them. All was quiet. I decided to leave them alone and enjoy the quiet.



Soon they came bounding down the stairs and before I knew it, the kitchen was a flurry of activity as they prepared lunch --
for their little sister! They were helping her get some juice, made her a sandwich, brought her some toys... all with this sweet, happy, sing-songy conversation, "Mom, we decided we needed to be more kind and loving. Cause it's not good to be mean, and we thought you'd be more pleased if we were helpful and loving. After all, she's our baby sister and we're supposed to be teaching her things!" They went all-out being NICE, and Chris and I stood there watching, trying not to bust out laughing.


'Twas a pleasant afternoon, with no more whining, crying, screaming or bickering. A miracle? As far as I'm concerned!
The best part was when #1 said to me, "Mom, you know what? The more I'm nice to her, the more love I feel in my heart, and the easier it is to be nice to her!"

Well, well... out of the mouths of babes.


"Yes, honey, isn't it wonderful how God does that? The more we love, the more love He gives us in our hearts."
She smiles up at me, very pleased with herself. I was pretty pleased, too.

"Dear Lord, may they always love each other and stick together."



17 August 2009

Both Hands

More wisdom from St. Francis de Sales:


Think of a little child walking with her father. One hand clings tightly to his, but with the other she gathers fruit from trees along the way.


Imitate the child. With one hand go ahead and gather what you need of the world's good things, but with the other hold on to your heavenly Father, checking regularly whether or not He approves of what you are doing with your life.

Above all, beware of letting go of your Father to free up both your hands to gather more of the world's goods. You will find that by yourself you will stumble and fall.


And when your gathering does not require all your attention, turn your mind to God as often as you can. Like a sailor returning to port, look to the sky and not just to the waves that carry you.





16 August 2009

Praise!`

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"Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name." Psalm 103


So we begin the countdown to the first day of school... T minus 8....

I wish there were only 8 days left til winter! (grumble, grumble) This hot, humid weather just drags me down.

Here's to making this last week of summer vacation worthwhile, and enjoying the laziness while we can!

1. Praise God for a fun summer filled with lots of great memories.

2. Praise God for all the free time to spend together, being goofy, staying in our jammies all day long, eating lots of ice cream, and doing absolutely nothing.

3. Praise God for a new school year to come, and all the surprises awaiting us as we learn!

4. Praise God for rain... lots of rain... with lightning and thunder... and the strangely comforting sound of raindrops falling heavy outside.

5. Praise God for the gift of encouraging words, and wise words at just the right moment.

6. Praise God for my loving husband who inexplicably thinks I'm beautiful and tells me so all the time.

7. Praise God for wine and chocolate! (I know, I said that last week, but hey! We're talking about wine and chocolate here!)

8. Praise and thank you, Jesus, for being our Living Bread. We have no life without You.


I hope y'all have an easy and happy week ahead. Please share your Praises! It's so nice to have you joining in with me!


14 August 2009

Be who you are

St. Francis de Sales is rapidly becoming my new favorite saint.


I'm reading Introduction to the Devout Life (when I actually have time to sit down and read uninterrupted!), and today I was loaned another marvelous little book based on Francis' wisdom. I'm eating it up.

It seems like nearly everything he says shoots straight to my heart like an arrow and leaves me stunned. Like this one:


"Don't waste your time dreaming of being, trying to be, someone else. Work and pray at being yourself. Be who you are, where you are."


Perhaps most folks would read that and think, "Well, duh! That's obvious. What's so brilliant about that?" But it was a newsflash for me. It's something I'm going to be chewing on for a long time. It might just be the tip of the iceberg...

Do you ever just wish you could skip the million steps between you now and you where you want to be? My patience with myself runs thin... isn't it amazing how patient our Father is with us?

Part of the need to rush comes from fear, I think. The fear that I won't ever get where I want to be if I don't hurry up and get there today. God forgive me... pitiful me forgets that He will take me there in His perfect time in His good way. I cannot fill my basket with flowers if I don't stop along the way to pick them.


13 August 2009

Dear Mr. President

13 August update: This letter is also now available at Catholic Online. Click here.

Dear Mr. President,


I have in front of me a letter I received from you in response to a letter I wrote to you regarding abortion in the U.S. You thanked me politely for taking the time to share my views on abortion and said, “This is a heart-wrenching issue.”

I just haven’t been able to get one little question out of my mind since reading your letter. Why?

Why is it heart-wrenching? Why would my heart be rent by making a perfectly legal and morally acceptable choice to have an abortion? Why should anyone’s heart be torn by this choice? The highest law of our land says that there is nothing wrong with choosing abortion. If no law is being broken, why should my heart or anyone’s heart be troubled?


In the short time you’ve been President, you have strategically worked to expand abortion access around the country. In fact, you promised in your campaign that your first task upon taking office would be to sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act, which would eliminate virtually every existing restriction on abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, and even lift the ban on partial-birth abortion. (You said you considered that one a legitimate medical procedure.)

I’m trying to understand, Mr. Obama, but it just doesn’t make any sense. Why would you work so methodically to increase the occurrence of something so heart-wrenching?

As a woman, I can testify to the fact that when I make decisions to protect my privacy or the autonomy of my body, there’s nothing heart-wrenching about it. I am not the least bit torn or conflicted about defending myself in those ways. Indeed, it is my body – the one God gave me and the one He expects me to care for wisely and honorably. My body – like yours – was made to be holy.

If the choice to “terminate a pregnancy” through abortion is merely about a woman’s right to privacy and autonomy, there should be nothing difficult about it at all. If there are no grounds to declare it illegal, inhumane, or morally wrong, then indeed there should be no conflict of the heart whatsoever.

But you and I both know that is not the case, because you and I both know quite well that there is something very, very morally wrong with abortion.

No one can pretend the other person in this equation doesn’t exist. No one – not even you – can deny that abortion ends a human life. Whether the medical profession classifies that person as an embryo, a fetus, or a newborn, the indisputable fact is we’re talking about a new human being. Not an eggplant or a seahorse. This person is not an extension of her mother’s body, but a distinct, separate individual with her own body and soul.

Abortion does not tear the mother’s body limb from limb, or burn her body with chemicals, or suction her body into a vacuum, or stab a hole in her skull and suction out her brains. Abortion does all these hideous things to another human being. That is the reality of this wretched “choice.”


No thinking, civilized person can deny it. We all know in our hearts, in the depths of our souls that abortion kills a human person. There is a very strange and powerful sort of delusion going on, then, for that is the only way to explain how so many people can stubbornly, arrogantly and blindly cling to the notion that abortion is legitimate “reproductive health care” and a “right” of all women.


I ask you again: what is so heart-wrenching about availing myself of legitimate reproductive health care?


Those who demand abortion rights must constantly prop up the illusion in their minds that they’re not hurting anyone or doing anything wrong. It helps their cause to use more palatable language, like “terminating a pregnancy” rather than killing a baby. (Mr. President, I’ve been pregnant four times and I can assure you that every single time, I was pregnant with a baby. The only way to terminate a pregnancy is to terminate the baby.)

Ah, the baby… could that be the source of all the heart-wrenching? But we’ve already decided we’re not going to even acknowledge the humanity of the baby, so what’s the problem? Just get rid of the unwanted tissue already and be done with it.


Pro-Choice advocates must continually shout the mantra of “women’s rights” in order to keep from thinking about the mangled little body lying on the instrument table after the “procedure.” If they stop for even a moment to consider the actual results of abortion, all arguments for its legality would necessarily collapse in a heap around them. No one with an ounce of humanity could stomach this gruesome brand of “medicine” without the protection of narcissistic and evil delusions of choice and rights.

The enemy of every human soul has deceived and deluded us into rationalizing the unjustifiable murder of our own children. You are being deceived, Mr. President, by the father of lies. The prince of darkness has persuaded many of us to reject our natural instinct to protect our young. He has convinced too many women that they can simply destroy their own child and walk away unscathed. It is not so. Abortion leaves only a trail of death and despair. It is not freedom for women; it is bondage to brokenness.


You now stand in a position to set in motion changes to our nation that may last for decades or longer. You can either use the power in your hands for life or for death. I grieve to think that you will persist in your path of death for our country; that my children will inherit the destructive fruits of all that you seem intent on pursuing. I beg you to hear the truth, to hear the cry of the voiceless little ones. I beg you to choose life.


Do not include abortion funding in your health care reform. The purposeful death of a human being can never be considered health care. Do not continue to demand that our nation’s collective tax dollars be spent on the mass-killing of the unborn. The truth is laid out before you in the purest light; without shadows, without doubt. “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20


There is nothing heart-wrenching about choosing life, Mr. President. No shame, no regrets, nothing lost. Only blessings gained. I continue to pray for you, that you will have the courage to protect all human life, especially the weakest and most defenseless. I pray that you will use your position of power to bring life – not death – to our nation. I pray that the Lord of Life and Prince of Peace will bless you and guide you and that you will welcome His revealing light. Choose life, Mr. President. It is the only way we will survive.

JLH

11 August 2009

Project 2,996


Want to join me in a very worthwhile project to remember the victims of 9/11?


I've signed up for Project 2,996.

Simply write a tribute for one victim and post it on your blog or website on September 11 of this year to honor their life and memory. If you sign up, add a post to your blog now about the project so more folks will go sign up as well. There are still many, many names waiting to be assigned.

Take a look for yourself. The research may be a bit tricky and will require some digging, but I think it's worth it.



10 August 2009

Enough!

Enough is enough!

Enough was actually enough a long time ago, but there can’t be any doubt all lines of respectability have been crossed. It is high time to draw a new line in the sand – a line that Catholics will never again cross. It is my position that Catholics who supported Obama made a grave mistake and the consequences may be catastrophic. It benefits no one to tread lightly here for fear of hurting people’s feelings – the truth is plainly obvious. President Obama simply could not have gotten to the White House without the Catholic vote and he had no business getting it at all. He skillfully exploited the ignorance and apathy of some Catholics to his great advantage. It’s time for folks to open their eyes to the bitter reality and make sure this never happens again.

Let’s review, shall we?

Please continue reading...



Please keep up the letter-writing, phone calls and emails to your Representatives this month! At such a crucial hour in our history, we simply can't remain passive or silent. Health care reform that does not protect the unborn is NOT acceptable. Pray!!

09 August 2009

Praise!

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"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him." John 6:56


If you read the Theology of the Swamp you know what I did all week! It was so much fun, I was sorry to see it end. Plus my hubby and I celebrated 10 years together, and he surprised me with roses, wine, chocolate, pajamas, and one final thing... as I laid my head down to go to sleep, there was a box... gasp! A little square box... I tiptoed into the bathroom to turn on the light, opened the box and saw a beautiful silver ring with two stones; a sapphire (him) and a garnet (me) side by side. By this time, I'm bawling, he walks in and says he wanted some reminder of the day to last forever, so he had this ring custom-made for me. Then he asked me to marry him... again.

Yes, I know I have the most thoughtful, romantic husband...

1. Praise and thank you, God, for giving me a wonderful man to share my life with and raise a family with.

2. Praise God for wisdom revealed to children, especially to almost-40 yr-old children like me.

3. Praise God for the fun of clapping, stomping, singing, and dancing with my kids and 150 other kids.

4. Praise God for the Living Bread come down from heaven that feeds us forever!

5. Praise and thank you, God, for loving me, forgiving me, putting up with me, and patiently teaching me.

6. Praise God for wine and chocolate!

7. Praise God for the big, beautiful butterfly in my lantana this week. We all stared in wonder at it and remarked at how pretty it was. Simple things... simple joy.


I hope your week was full of simple joy and sweet surprises. Please share your Praises!
God bless you this coming week and hold you close to His side. Let your little light shine before all!


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