27 February 2010

Praise!



"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord." Psalm 150:6


'Tis a glorious sun-shiny weekend with some of the bluest skies I've ever seen.  Cool wind and fluffy clouds makes it picture-perfect.  What's your scene like?

Praise God for the beautiful world He made!

Praise God for my eyes that squint in the bright sunshine and marvel at all He's created.

Praise God for my ears that hear more and more birds chirping and singing these days...

Praise God that I am able-bodied (though very tired!) and I can walk, speak, fend for myself, care for my family, clean my home, write down my thoughts, make birthday cakes and cookies, sew, drive a car, and live independently.

Praise God for the freedom and prosperity I enjoy by living in the United States.

Praise God that I can safely worship Him without fear for my life.  God bless and protect the Christians around the world who are persecuted and killed for their faith.

Praise God for the chocolate I have given up for Lent, and the strength to make an intentional sacrifice (though teeny tiny) for my sweet Jesus.

I hope your Lenten walk is going well and proving to be rich and fruitful.  Please join me in giving God the Praise He deserves!

The Lord bless you and keep you this week,
Jennifer

25 February 2010

Fetal Pain Act Could Change Everything


from Catholic Online 

If Nebraska in 2009 gave us the hated “Cornhusker Kickback,” Nebraska in 2010 is poised to possibly give the Pro-Life movement a welcome and cherished gift.

Legislative Bill 1103 would ban abortion after 20 weeks unless the procedure would save a woman's life or “avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”  Why?  Because babies that age can feel pain.



If passed, this ban has the potential to change abortion policies nationwide.  It was Nebraska that first brought the heinous partial-birth abortion procedure to the national spotlight in 1997 when the state passed a law banning the barbaric practice, which requires the baby to be delivered feet-first up to the head, then punctured at the base of the skull with scissors and brains suctioned out, skull crushed and head delivered.  

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that Nebraska state law, declaring partial-birth abortion legal.  It would remain so until 2007, when the high Court upheld a federal ban on the procedure, medically referred to as a “D&X”.

Current abortion law states that abortion is legal up to the age of viability, generally considered 24 weeks.  After that time, abortion can be restricted unless there are serious risks to the mother's life or health.  The problem is, we have seen the definition of “serious risk to the mother's life or health” broadened to include everything from a bad headache or just a bad attitude that day (I just don't want to be pregnant anymore).

This new bill from Nebraska has the potential to once again focus the debate like a laser on the real issue:  the baby.  Our country may finally be forced to acknowledge the humanity of the child in the womb.  No longer a blob of insentient tissue, but a human person who feels pain, like you and me.  

We will no longer be able to dismiss the cruelty of abortion in a fit of rhetoric about women's “rights” because the question will demand to be answered, “Are we seriously insisting it is okay to kill a baby in the womb knowing full well that baby feels the pain of dismemberment, stabbing and suctioning?”    We rightfully condemn torture, even when used against our worst enemies in a time of war.  Can we seriously continue to uphold the “right” to torture defenseless babies in the womb?

The irony is that miraculous medical advancements made in recent decades now allow surgeons to operate on the tiniest babies in the womb, and those operations require anesthesia be given to the baby.  No surgeon would dream of taking a scalpel and cutting into a tiny child without the assurance his little patient would not feel the pain.  Who could operate on a patient who was writhing and squirming in pain?  

Yet ultrasound images clearly demonstrate that babies much younger than 20 weeks move away from the abortionist's vacuum and try to dodge the needles and clamps being thrust at them.  It is delusional to insist that the baby does not feel pain at being dismembered and stabbed.  It is delusional to pretend that abortion is not cruel and torturous.

Similar attempts to pass fetal pain laws at the federal level in 2005 and 2006 have all failed.  If passed in Nebraska, this new ban on abortion might provide the momentum to try again at the federal level.  It may also bring the issue all the way to the Supreme Court, something the Pro-Life cause would welcome.  

It would force the insanity of abortion into the light:  either we acknowledge we're killing a human being in a painful, cruel manner, or we acknowledge and affirm the “right” to murder babies, as long as we give them some pain meds before we kill them, because after all, we're merciful people.  Such an admission would surely be abhorrent to most Americans.  If only the slave owners had numbed their slaves with pain killers before they beat and branded them...

Opponents of this bill are, of course, arguing that it takes rights away from women and does not allow for mental health exceptions, even though threats to a “major bodily function” are interpreted to include mental health.  But the Supreme Court has never been asked to rule on whether a health exception must include mental health.  In upholding the ban on partial-birth abortion in 2007, the Supreme Court said the ban did not need to have a mental health exception.

Keep your eyes on this bill and pray this action on behalf of the preborn is victorious.  This has the potential to be a game-changer in many ways.  Pray that this bill will be used to open the eyes of many in our country who will not yet acknowledge the truth written on every human heart – the child is the womb is one of us.




22 February 2010

Ladies, Your Freedom is All in Your Mind

from Catholic Online

One of the women Tiger Woods had an affair with has retained an attorney.  I watched this attorney on TV last night explaining profusely why this poor woman was so victimized by Tiger, how much damage he did to her life and her career, and why Tiger must own up to his wrongful treatment of her and offer a very humble apology.  Only then can talk of monetary damages proceed.

It was the victim routine again.  “The Victim” should be a Broadway production by now.  Everyone is a victim nowadays, but I find it especially irksome when women play the victim-card for themselves or each other, as the liberal feminist attorney did for her client.  It's always the big, bad man being mean to the poor little woman.  And then she cries, “How could you treat me this way?”  I'll tell you how – you let him.

Ladies, I'm going to do you one better than your liberal feminists sisters will do and tell you that freedom isn't free.  It costs something and requires conscious effort to protect.  And the responsibility is yours.  Stop blaming men for treating you badly and kick up some dust on your way out.

Here's the thing:  the empowerment you seek, the freedom you crave – it's all in your mind – literally.  It's in the decisions you make, the choices you purposely choose and the exercise of your will.  It is forfeited in the careless choices you make and the bad decisions you won't turn from.  It is lost in the mistakes you refuse to learn from and correct.  It is restored when you decide to stop playing the victim and become the woman of integrity God made you to be.

It's all up to you.  It always has been.  Are there men who treat women terribly?  Absolutely, and I'm not releasing those men from their guilt.  But why is it that here in Land of the Free there are so many women – bright, educated, accomplished women – who allow it?  They would rather cry victim, suffer terribly and unnecessarily at the hands of a complete jerk than use their heads, make a truly empowered decision and walk away.  Somehow it's better to seek revenge in a courtroom after the fact than to use the power of their minds and stay out of trouble in the first place.

It really is all in your mind and your will.  It isn't easy, but so what?  Isn't your life, your freedom, your prosperity, your health, your body, your heart worth some hard choices?  Who's calling the shots anyway?  You are.

I learned that lesson the hard way.  Before I met my husband, I dated a man who was very charming and extravagant.  Gary was quite successful at his job and had a fancy car and loved to dine at restaurants all the time.  He brought me flowers unexpectedly, and would shower me with love notes and surprises.  He was very romantic and I found it all quite irresistible.  He was also a very troubled man, having grown up in a profoundly abusive home.  Under the surface, he seethed with rage, and when it bubbled up, it was frightening.  He would become verbally abusive, demeaning, cruel, and he would lose all control of his temper.  He did not physically strike me, but he would delight in beating me emotionally.



Those scary scenes were always followed by great remorse and affection, and thus our relationship went on like this for nearly two years.  He shared with me the horrific stories of the abuse he endured as a child, and my heart broke with compassion and love for this wounded man.  We'd pray together for healing, and even went together to seek counseling for his rage.  I thought that because I loved him, I could and should help him get well.  I saw all his good qualities – there were many – and thought how unfair it was that this man was basically ruined by his cruel parents.

Someone needed to stand by him, and it was going to be me.  Yet, my own heart was never comfortable with the thought of spending my life with him, and fear gnawed at me constantly.  In my soul, I knew the relationship was wrong for me, but I was in love with him and I didn't want to abandon him.

The blow-ups of rage became more frequent, our fights became more intense, and I was disintegrating into a victim mindset.  I thought I'd be heartbroken for life without him, yet my soul was telling me I'd be a battered woman for life if I didn't end the relationship now.

I've heard God's voice with unmistakable clarity only a few times in my life, and one night on the floor in my apartment, sobbing, He asked me quite simply, “Is this what you want?”  I whipped my head around to see who had come into my room because the voice was audible in my ears.  I heard God's voice.  Again, I heard Him:  “Do you really want to give your heart to a man who will hurt you?”  Suddenly, my tears dried, my mind cleared and I heard myself say out loud, “No.”

Then came His answer to me.  “Then make your choice.”

It was my choice and God would let me make it and He would let me have whatever I chose, be it good or bad.  I was not a victim, I was a willing participant and it was high time I made a better decision for my life.  The responsibility was mine and I had no one to blame but me.  As much as I thought I loved Gary, I could not change him or fix him or heal him.  I could only stay and surrender my freedom to a man who would continue to hurt me.  Gary stopped beating me with his anger the instant I stopped letting him.

I released him to the Lord, moved away and cleansed my mind and heart with God's truth.  Less than a year later, I met my wonderful husband and with great joy I gave my heart to a loving man who will never hurt me or our children, and God is as happy as I am that I made such an excellent choice.  My life could have been very, very different.  I shudder now to think of it.  I thank God every day for His grace that saved me.

Ladies, the choices are ours to make.  The Lord longs for us to protect our hearts and our freedom by using the good sense He gave us to make good decisions.  I believe He weeps when we choose badly and then refuse to take responsibility for our choices.  The power we need to live full, happy and free lives rests in the decisions we make.  This woman who believes Tiger Woods has wronged and damaged her must start by looking in the mirror.  There she will find the person who is responsible for her unhappiness, and the person who can change her life starting right now.

God's abundant grace is there, waiting to be poured out on those who will choose well.  Decide carefully, choose well, and you will live well.  “Preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.  Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”  Proverbs 3:21-24


21 February 2010

Praise!

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"Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth." Psalm 57:5

Spring seems to have sprung around here this weekend, and it was a beautiful day outside riding bikes, kicking balls, drawing on the porch with chalk, and soaking in the crisp air and sunshine.
 
Praise God for perfect spend-the-day-outside weather.

Praise God for witnessing sweet milestones in my kids' lives... like the oldest one learning how to ride her bike without training wheels!

Praise God hot showers, soap suds and clean-smelling kiddos.

Praise God for a glass of red wine and my husband with me on the couch watching a movie.

Praise God for His grace and strength and patience, which I fear I have sorely tried lately.

Praise God this Lenten season.

For what are you Praising God this day?  Link up and share your Praises!

God bless your week ahead with His abundant grace and joy!

Jennifer

19 February 2010

The Health Care Bill Lives: Obama Prepared to Pass by "Reconciliation?"

from Catholic Online

Have we gotten comfortable with the notion that the health care bill was dead?  I've listened for weeks to those who have been giving the legislation its eulogy.  It seems such reports have been greatly exaggerated.  We should not be surprised.  If President Obama has taught us anything, it's that he has audacity.  It's just not hope he's selling.


He has invited Republicans to a televised summit next week, in a move that now sure smells like a set-up.  He already appears to have his back-up plan ready to go.  Namely, a recrafted legislation that combines the House and the Senate bills into one which he will attach to a budget bill and pass by reconciliation, completely avoiding a Republican filibuster.  That's right – he is reportedly prepared to piggyback a monstrously expensive and unwanted health care bill onto a budget bill and pass it by force.

Administration officials have said Obama's new proposal will be posted online by Monday morning.  Ahead of his meeting with Republicans on February 25.  Seems like his mind is made up already.

Then he can claim that the Republicans didn't offer anything of substance, they weren't willing to talk or negotiate, they are the party of “No” and there was no alternative but to go around them in order to “get this done for the American people.”  He can say he tried, and the opposition gave him no choice.

An ironic phrase considering that “no choice” is what the rest of us will get when it comes to paying for this terrible bill.  “No choice” is what we'll get regarding our tax dollars being used to pay for the murder of our nation's youngest citizens.

It's unknown at this point what this new bill being created will specify regarding abortion funding, but we have a wealth of evidence behind us to say with great certainty that Obama will not give in and adopt the Stupak amendment.  He sold himself to the abortion lobby a long time ago, and he knows he will not be given a pass if he allows this “victory” for abortion “rights” to slip away.

We have every reason to expect that the Senate language concerning abortion is what will be present in this final, new legislation; language that allows tax dollars to be used for abortion on demand all over the country.  Obama has left no doubt that he will not let silly little things like babies get in the way of doing what he wants.  He seems to not even care that the majority of Americans don't want his version of health care reform.  He hears no one but himself and his pro-abortion donors to whom he is beholden.

Let's not be caught unaware.  Obama does not govern openly or honestly; he dictates in the shadows and mandates by force. 

It's time once again to write your Representatives in Washington.  Call their offices, send emails, send letters, and call again.  And again.  We've been at this “near finish line” place before many times, and each time it is critical that we act and speak out against the abortion mandate that this administration wants to impose on all Americans.  

Until Congress and Obama can present a health care reform bill that actually protects human life at all ages and stages, does not use taxpayer dollars to pay for the killing of the preborn, and does not drive our nation into such unimaginable debt that our great-great grandchildren will still be paying the bill, we must oppose their plans and demand they listen to those they are supposed to serve.

You can reach your Representatives by going to: www.stoptheabortionmandate.com/representatives
And www.stoptheabortionmandate.com/senators

Keep this fervently in your prayers.  Fast and pray that this anti-life legislation does not prevail.  It's the final stretch (again).  Let us finish the race.




Ordinary Heroes at CO

With great joy I'd like to introduce you to Michael Brandon, and invite you to visit Catholic Online to read his guest column today called, "Encountering Ordinary Heroes"

Michael is a dear friend in the blogosphere and a true friend in Christ.  His tender heart for the Lord will bless you, I promise.

You can visit Michael's blog, Freedom Through Truth for more!

18 February 2010

Baby Gianna Story, Part IV


Stop over and read this important post.  How many Gianna's, all over the country, have been treated at a Catholic hospital, not with reverence for their lives, but with the threat of being killed?  It should make all of us angry as Catholics that this is allowed to happen under our roofs.

If you didn't read Part III, here it is.  Grab Kleenex.  Lots of kleenex.

16 February 2010

Interview with Fr. Dwight Longenecker: The Gargoyle Code

I caught up with Fr. Dwight Longenecker to ask him some questions about his new book, The Gargoyle Code: Lenten letters between a Master Tempter and his diabolical Trainee.  You can purchase your own copy from Fr. Dwight's website at www.dwightlongenecker.com.  This book was made to be read during Lent, so order yours today!  (See sidebar on the right for book image.)


Fr. Dwight,

Hats off to you for writing such a captivating book! I got hooked during the Introductory Letter to the Reader – immediately I knew this book would be engaging, revealing and challenging. To my delight, I also soon found that it is wickedly funny!

 How did you come up with the demon's names? Slubgrip? Pipteazle? And perhaps my favorite, Stanksizzle?

(FDL):  I took disgusting, lascivious or hellish sounding words and played with them. 'Tease Grub Dog Snub Snip Grim Knob Sizzle Wart Grizzle, etc,' then put them in your brain blender and see what comes up.

 Your book is a present-day take on C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. Did you take a slightly different approach to creating your demon characters and their “patients?” What inspired you to write this book?

(FDL):  Of course I was inspired by Lewis' great idea. I started writing the book as a series of blog posts in Lent 2007. I wanted the situation to be updated, and for there to be modern technological temptations as well as the older classic problems.  I also wanted the demons to be working with Catholic patients not only to appeal to my target audience, but to make the temptations and problems more specific to Catholic difficulties I spot in everyday ministry.

While a very entertaining read, this book is deadly serious in its subject matter – namely, the very real battle for souls happening every moment of every day. Are you hopeful that people who perhaps don't take Satan very seriously will change their minds after reading your book? What's the biggest lesson you want readers to take away?

(FDL):  The biggest lesson is that the devil is real, and temptation is everywhere around us. He's subtle, he's crafty, and once we spot him the best defense is to laugh him away. He hates being laughed at.

What gave you the idea to write this book around the 40 days of Lent? Do you recommend reading each “day” in the book as they come, or can readers sit down and finish the book in one sitting?

(FDL):  The Gargoyle Code started as a series of blog posts during Lent, so that sparked the idea that this also gave a structure for the book, a reason for the book and a nifty plot line. Most people actually read the book in a couple of sittings. They get interested in the characters and plot line. Then I hope they'll go back and re-read the book one letter a day during Lent.

 One part in the book that really jumped out at me was the lecture to Dogwart in which Slubgrip explains that “because they are half animal and half spirit, what they do with their bodies affects their souls.” He goes on to warn, “Once they take control of their appetites Dogwart, it is only a short time before they take control of themselves, and then before you know it they will be taking control of you.” Clearly, in our modern age we have tried to disconnect our bodies from our souls, believing there is no spiritual consequence for our physical actions...a malady the discipline of Lent is tailor-made for, right? Do you think the Catholic Church is uniquely suited among Christian churches for teaching people that real freedom comes from taking control of our bodily appetites?

(FDL):  The Catholic Church has a more 'physical' dimension to its reality because of her high emphasis on the sacraments. Satan hates the sacraments because he has no physical form. The fact that God gives us humans physical means of grace annoys and enrages Satan. That's why the attack on the church invariably comes as an attack on the sacraments, the priesthood or the hierarchy. As a result physical asceticism during Lent should not be neglected. Our bodies and souls are interlinked.

It is great fun throughout the book to watch the suspicious and snide backstabbing going on amongst the demons! Yet the point you make is critical, even if your manner of delivery is cleverly subtle: Satan cannot ever be trusted. His motives are always self-serving, even if it appears to be good for you at the time. His pat on the back is never to congratulate you, but to stab you. The only interests he looks out for are his own. What a contrast to the selfless sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and yet so many people still don't get it! Why not?

(FDL):  Self sacrifice is counter ego, and we naturally live for ourselves. Only by supernatural grace can we change the direction. The transformation is like turning a great cruise liner. It's slow and it's risky.

You take on the Anglican church throughout the book, as well as Catholics whose practice of their faith is only for appearances, and also Catholics who think they're holier than everyone else because they reject the Novus Ordo mass. In each of these examples, you highlight a victory of the devil. Something tells me you're not worried about “offending” anyone!

(FDL):  If anyone is offended I hope they know that I'm almost always preaching to myself. I experience and witness most of these temptations too.

The Holy Week section in the book is powerful yet still funny, especially their whining about the deviousness of God in becoming “one of the snot dribbling, snoring, defecating hairless chimpanzees” and thus defeating Satan by a “sneaky, low down trick”, and the migraine headaches suffered by all hell's army on Good Friday, rendering them weakened and powerless. Yet through their whiny lamenting, you drive home the bottom line: Satan and his minions are limited to one tactic: “The only hope we have is to blind our patients to the enemy's message, and get them into our own habits...” It seems so clear, like we should easily see him coming and send him packing right away, yet we are indeed blinded so often. There's the rub, eh?

(FDL):  I think we miss the point that Satan is persistent and he will get us down through the little things. The little sins matter. Too often we excuse ourselves by saying this sin or that sin in 'only' venial. Most of us are soft. Most of us should be a bit tougher on ourselves, and Lent is a great time to get our act together a bit more and 'sweat the small stuff.'

One last question: can you clarify the parameters of “mindless drivel on TV” a bit? Otherwise, I may never be able to watch Throwdown with Bobby Flay again without worrying there's a Slubgrip or a Stanksizzle on my shoulder. How about Star Trek reruns? My husband and I are Trek fans. (C'mon – Spock is the greatest TV character of all time.)  M*A*S*H?

(FDL):  Sure there's good stuff on TV, I don't want to be a spoil sport, but I'm thinking of mindless entertainment like reality TV, endless titillating chatter, dumb adult cartoons, immoral soap operas. Why not watch the classics by renting them through Netflix or something? That's what we do. We don't have TV as such, but we watch what we want through choice.

Visit Fr. Dwight's blog, Standing On My Head to learn more about his ministry and order your copy of The Gargoyle Code.

Praying with my favorite saint and teacher

I just got a wonderful new book... can't wait to dig in.

Praying With St. Francis de Sales


It's a book of 15 meditations based on his writings, and each one has a theme, St. Francis' thoughts on the subject, then a reflection with questions to ponder, Scripture and a closing prayer.

It looks just heavenly, and I'm anxious to take it in.

Hard to find copies, too, because I think it's going out of print.  I'm glad I found this one.

Baby Gianna Story, Part II

Grab some kleenex and head over to Creative Minority Report for part II of Baby Gianna's story...

15 February 2010

14 February 2010

LENT! (I'm Not Ready Yet!)


It's here already and I'm not quite ready!  But thanks to some very helpful ideas from some brilliant blogging moms, I'm getting there quick.

I'm always short on ideas for making Lent more relevant and meaningful to my kids, and these ideas from Kate at Momopoly are fantastic.

I'm also going to do the Lamb calendar countdown to Easter this year, courtesy of Karen Edmisten.  Although, she says she drew hers freehand -- and uh, well, I can't draw stick people.  Seriously.  I have to find a way to blow this image up and trace it somehow.

Do any of you have great ideas that help you teach the meaning of Lent to your little ones?  

I thought if we Link up it'll be easy for others to read your ideas and share them!

13 February 2010

Praise!

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"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.  Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh."  Luke 6:20-21

This week I am thankful that God often does things upside down, inside out, bottom up and top down.  Bad is used for good, sickness for health and suffering for joy.  Nothing is merely what it seems.  God is at work doing unexpected, marvelous things.

Praise You, Lord for Your loving discipline.  Thank you for not leaving me in my miserable state, but loving me enough to clean out the wound and hold me while I squirm from the pain.

Praise You, Lord for Your patience and persistence.

Praise You, Lord for Your mercy that is new every morning.

Praise You, Lord for my partner and friend in this life, who knows me well and somehow still loves me.

Praise You, Lord for the snow that fell again this week, and the luxury of sitting still to watch it dance in the air on its way down to the ground.

Praise You, Lord for friends who are true.

I wish you all a blessed week heading into Lent.  May God's grace be with us and may we be inspired to greater sacrifice and self-denial than ever before, to the glory of His name.

Blessings,
Jennifer

11 February 2010

Refiner's Fire... It Hurts

"I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities."  Isaiah 1:25

"This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold."  Zechariah 13:9


"For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap.  He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver."  Malachi 3:2-3

"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."  Hebrews 12:5-6

10 February 2010

Pure Fashion is Purely Fabulous!

from Catholic Online

I was thrilled to learn about Pure Fashion from Mark Henry, a colleague at Catholic Online. I'd never heard of this program before, but boy, do I want to spread the word now!

You can visit their site directly at www.purefashion.com.


Let me just share with you a few things about this much-needed program for young girls. In their own words, here is their mission:

Pure Fashion is a faith-based program that encourages teen girls to live, act, and dress in accordance with their dignity as children of God. Pure Fashion focuses on guiding young women ages 14 to 18 to become confident, competent leaders who live the virtues of modesty and purity in their schools and communities. 

Through an eight month Model Training Program that covers public speaking, manners and social graces, hair and make up artistry, personal presentation, and much more, Pure Fashion models learn the importance of living a life in accordance with God’s will and fostering a life of grace through purity of heart, mind, and body. The Pure Fashion program culminates in a city-wide fashion show featuring clothing that is pretty but not provocative, trendy but still tasteful.

Pure Fashion works with local leaders, clergy, and lay people to promote the virtue of modesty, protect and preserve purity, and foster an awareness of the dignity of the human person. Pure Fashion seeks to complement the pastoral programs of the diocese it serves.

Pure Fashion hopes to positively impact the fashion industry by motivating customers to choose clothing and accessories that are fun and fresh, yet modest and respectful of the dignity of the human person.”

Wow! This is a dream come true! It's especially wonderful to know that this program is a service of Regnum Christi, an ecclesial lay movement of the Catholic Church. Pure Fashion's website contains a map showing the various cities where programs currently exist (nearly 30 by my count) and gives complete guidelines for bringing the program to your city. I'll tell you this much – wherever the Army chooses to send my family next, if Pure Fashion isn't already there, I'm bringing it there!

I cheered out loud when I read these statements about their mission:

Pure Fashion is an international faith based program designed for girls 14-18 to help young women re-discover and re-affirm their innate value and authentic femininity.

Pure Fashion is a character formation program that enhances not only a young woman's external appearance, but more importantly, her interior beauty and balanced self confidence.

Our goal is to emphasize a young woman's inherent dignity and therefore create in her a desire to dress and act in accordance with that dignity. We understand that many young women today are losing their sense of innocence at a very young age, and Pure Fashion aims to reverse this trend by offering a fun, exciting and effective virtue formation program that can impress the hearts and minds of young girls at a very critical stage in their lives.”

As a mother who wants to pass on the blessings of modesty, purity, chastity, respect and dignity to my daughters, this program is a Godsend. This is exactly the kind of effort the lay faithful in America need to get behind with all their might. This can be a very effective weapon in the war against promiscuity and the culture of death. We have to begin changing the way young girls today view their bodies and their sexuality.

As it stands now, most of their information about sex and relationships comes from people and places that have no interest in preserving innocence and purity. For too long, the truth about the beauty of sex, the dignity of each man and woman, boy and girl, and the sanctity of human life has been muted by the clanging noise of false liberation and a distorted femininity. Our daughters – and our sons – need us to turn up the volume again, and Pure Fashion is an outstanding microphone.

Take a moment to check out this program and see if Pure Fashion is already in your area. If not, prayerfully consider bringing it there. There are practical things we can do to counter the destructive messages of our sex-obsessed culture, and Pure Fashion is one such thing.

Can you imagine the power of a generation of young ladies who refuse to surrender their purity? Who will not compromise their dignity? Who understand the value of the feminine gifts God has given them and how to use those gifts to give life? Can you imagine the effect these young ladies would have on the young men around them?

Do we dare believe we can actually influence our children in favor of sexual purity? Are we gutsy enough to try? We'd better believe it, and we'd better do more than try. Let's not resign ourselves to another generation of kids becoming promiscuous, sexually immoral adults who've lost their respect for life.

Modesty isn't an old-fashioned idea. Purity isn't outdated. Both are essential to our kids' wholeness and happiness. I dare to imagine that girls can learn to be young women of virtue, even within our morally corrupt culture. I dare to ask God to bring about transformations I can't even imagine. How I pray that the Lord will ignite a modesty and purity revolution in our nation. Pure Fashion may very well be leading the way.


Are We Witnessing the Death of Modesty?

from Catholic Online

In continuing the discussion about a sexual counter-revolution and defeating the culture of death, let's also confront the need for a fashion revolution.

Every time I walk through the mall I feel this stab of pain in my gut. It also happens in Target, Wal-Mart, the doctor's office, the grocery store; it even happens in church. I don't need medication for this pain. It's not a disease – it's grief. I'm mourning the death of modesty.

Last week I read the most perfect definition of modesty on the website for the Archdiocese of Washington. Msgr. Charles Pope wrote that “modesty is reverence for mystery.” I can't imagine a better way to define it. And sadly, in our culture, the mystery is GONE. And with it has gone all reverence, dignity, and respect.
I'm just so sick of seeing breasts and booty on display everywhere I go. It's inescapable and it's gotten trashy.
I feel sorry for men today – at least the men who are attempting to be gentlemen. Men are visual creatures by design, and now the poor guys can hardly raise their eyes off their shoes without being confronted by half-naked women they're then not supposed to look at.

Women “advertise” their assets in skin-tight, low-cut clothing that reveals more than it covers and then are offended when they aren't given respect for their skill and intelligence. They market themselves to the world as a sex object and are shocked when they are treated as such. And make no mistake, ladies, when you walk around dressed that way, you are marketing yourself as a sex object whether you think so or not. There's a neon sign over your head saying “Look at my body! Don't you think I'm hot?”

There was a time when a woman's appeal was multi-faceted; her poise, her intelligence, her manners, her wit and savvy, her skills, and yes, her feminine style. Today it seems the only criteria to be met is being sufficiently “hot.” It's a contest of breasts and bottoms and the tools of battle are push-up bras and butt-lifting jeans.

It's bad enough that adult women's fashion has become entirely about sex, but the real grief is that sex-centered clothing is now commonplace for young girls. It is appalling to see what has become acceptable in girls' fashion. Not a day goes by that I don't see little girls dressed in spaghetti straps and bare midriff tops and I think back to my girlhood and know that I never would have been allowed to leave the bathroom like that.

If by some fluke I'd managed to avoid being seen by my mother, I never would have made it past my father. Thank God. Of course, the point is that my parents taught me to be a modest young lady and thus I never had any desire to wear sexualized clothing. I would've been mortified.

I ache with sadness to realize that mothers and fathers today do not protect their daughters' innocence and purity by dressing them modestly. Little girls are learning at a very young age that it's okay for their bodies to be publicly “consumed” and their self-esteem and self-image is cemented to their sexual appeal.

From a tender age, the seeds of promiscuity are planted. From that seed grows unmarried sex, STD's, warped ideas about sex, unintended pregnancies, unhealthy body images, destructive relationships, broken hearts, and worst of all, babies killed by abortion. Go back step by step by step, and it begins with the absence of modesty.... no reverence for mystery.

I recently went a few e-mail rounds with the president of a children's clothing company after I got their catalog in the mail and was shocked by what I saw. The catalog featured a swimsuit for little girls (I mean toddlers, here) that was simply two small fabric patches shaped like ladybugs held up by strings over the shoulders and back. That was the top. It looked like something meant for a stripper. This was supposed to be “cute” on a little girl.

Just enough fabric to cover her tiny nipples and a little ruffle over a triangle-shaped bottom to cover her rear end. When I wrote to express my outrage, I was told in reply that the staff – made up mostly of moms and grandmothers – was upset that I would impugn their choice of swimwear for little girls. They would never sell anything that was inappropriate or indecent, I was told. But they thanked me for my concern and assured me that they'd take it into consideration for next year's line.

Please. We're living in a culture that is saturated with sex and every possible perversion of sex. Is it really beyond the realm of common sense to realize that our daughters should not be half-naked in public, even if they're only two years old? That swimsuit was a pedophile's dream. Is that really so hard to understand? As far as I'm concerned, to expose a little girl's body in public in such a manner is neglectful and dangerous. It isn't adorable, it's stupid and reckless. It's inviting trouble in so many ways.

Part of successful abstinence education among our kids is going to be a successful revival of modesty in dress for young ladies. Teach a young girl that her body is sacred and should be cherished and treated with care, show her how to present herself accordingly by the way she dresses, and that girl will be much less likely to throw away her purity.

Teach girls that it is their responsibility to themselves – and to young men they meet – to set the tone for how she expects a man to treat her. Clothe yourself with dignity, girls, and show yourself the respect you deserve. A gentleman will follow your lead. A guy who won't should be shown the door.

Toward this end, I was absolutely delighted to learn from a Catholic Online colleague about Pure Fashion, a faith-based program designed to teach young girls to live the virtues of modesty and purity. Please read on with me in part two of this article and learn more about this very exciting program that is an answer to this mom's prayers.

Click here to read Pure Fashion!


07 February 2010

Praise!

My sincere apologies... a scheduling error is the reason this is up so late today.  You know, AM and PM make a difference!

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"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?"  And I said, "Here am I.  Send me!"  Isaiah 6:8

Well, can you believe it?  We got some more snow yesterday!  Just a light dusting, enough to give the ground a white, powdery covering.  The tree in my front yard looked as though it had been sprayed with powdered sugar.  It was beautiful!  It's gone now due to the sunshine today, but it was a nice treat.  Thank you, Father!

I'm Praising God today for more of the winter weather I love so much.  I'm a strange bird, I know, but I'm in no hurry whatsoever for spring to arrive.

Praise God for the coal from His altar that purges my sin and cleanses my mouth.

Praise God for the angels that guard and watch and guide and protect.

Praise God for the friends I've met through blogging.  There's a lot of wonderful people out there, and I love being introduced to them.

Praise God for my husband... I'm so blessed.  I knew he was a great guy when I married him, but he just gets better and better all the time.

Praise God for my daughters three... each one so different, each one causing me to shake my head in awe and think, "Whoa...that's my girl?  How did I get so blessed?"

I certainly hope your week behind was good and your week ahead will be, too.  I so enjoy reading your Praises, and I hope it makes our dear Jesus smile as well.  Praise to the Lord for He is good!  His love is everlasting!

Bless you,
Jennifer

04 February 2010

Time to Take Another Look at Abstinence

from Catholic Online

A recent study out of the University of Pennsylvania came to an unwanted conclusion regarding teenagers and sex. Unwanted, that is, if you're Planned Parenthood or any other proponent of “safe sex” education. The study found that, as it turns out, abstinence just might be possible after all. In fact, those abstinence programs just might work.

As reported in the Washington Post this week and published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, the study involved 662 African-American students in grades 6 and 7. The students were divided into different groups: one group went through an 8-hour abstinence only program, another group through a program that taught safe sex, a third group through a program that taught both abstinence and safe sex; and finally a fourth group of students were taught healthy eating and living habits.

The result was that after two years, 33% of the abstinence-only group of students were sexually active, compared with 52% of the safe-sex group. 42% of the comprehensive group were having sex, as were 47% of the “healthy living” group. So who was the least sexually active? That's right – the abstinence-only group.

Abstinence educators are rightfully saying, “Well, duh! We've been saying this all along!” As expected, “safe-sex” proponents are arguing the whole study is bogus and has been misrepresented and is basically irrelevant. Obama's administration, of course, has eliminated funding for abstinence-only programs, preferring to pour more than $100 million dollars into programs that have been scientifically shown to work, they say. So naturally, the scientific validity of this study will be attacked, lest someone suggest abstinence is worthy of funding again.

There are so many opinions regarding the meaning of this study, the significance of it, and of course, the validity of it. But amidst all the blah blah blah, a few points grabbed my attention. First this, by James Wagoner from Advocates for Youth, in his article regarding the flaws of this study:

“Further, shouldn't we respect young people enough to provide them with all of the information they need to take personal responsibility for their sexual health?”

There are so many things wrong with that sentence I hardly know where to start. First, let's emphasize that word young, and remember we're not talking about adults, but our children. We have adopted a very warped definition of respect when it comes to sex education and our children.

It may sound very academic and open-minded to say that we should respect our young people and let them take responsibility for their sexual health, but it's really an indictment on our society as parents and grown-ups who should know better. What is lacking is parenting, not respect. We've confused parenting with simply giving information. We've abdicated our own responsibility to shape their character by teaching right and wrong in favor of “respecting” their individual choices. We've shrugged off the burden of formation and left our young people to figure it out for themselves according to popular opinion and momentary preference, guided mostly by hormones.

My kids would most likely choose not to eat fruits and vegetables if it were up to them. I regularly give them all the information about how they need to eat veggies for their health and explain all about the vitamins and good stuff veggies contain, yet their inclination is not towards their health. But if they eat nothing but candy and become overweight and undernourished with rotting teeth, at least I can say I gave them all the information and then respected their choice. I gave them the responsibility for their own good health because I respect them so much.

01 February 2010

Modesty and Purity Revolution

white rose

My first-grader is home sick today. It's flu season, and common sense says that a kid who's coughing and sneezing shouldn't be around other kids. Most schools today are strictly enforcing “sick child” rules, and all the experts and pundits and public figures are urging people to use common sense, stay home when they're sick, wash their hands, etc., and take extra care not to spread germs to others.

We go to increasingly greater lengths to prevent spreading and catching the flu. Rightly so. Our concern for the danger of the flu lies in shocking contrast to our lackadaisical attitude about the dangers of sex, especially concerning our children. The very same experts and public figures who tell parents to keep their sick child home from school to prevent spreading the flu will turn around and tell parents they must have an honest talk with their kids about protecting themselves by having safe sex.

The phrase “safe sex” betrays the fact the there is danger waiting to be encountered. Life-altering, even deadly danger. And yet, the expert counsel is not to make the case for abstinence and actively discourage sexual activity, but to resign ourselves to the cop-out idea that the dangers can't be avoided so we'd best teach them all the tricks we know, even if those tricks are unreliable and fraught with their own inherent dangers. Hey, it's the best we can do, and beyond that, we just cross our fingers and hope for the best (the least amount of damage done).

So great is the need for common sense and maturity to interrupt this circle of asinine thinking! What kind of craziness sends young people into the minefield that is unmarried sexual activity rather than looking them in the eye and saying, “This might kill you! This could change your life forever! You need to protect yourself by saying NO.”? Condoms are lauded and hailed as “smart”, the Pill is called “freedom”, but abstinence is dismissed as a stupid idea only religious fools support. We don't bother to arm our children with respect, self-control, and the knowledge that they do not have to be slaves to their hormones; instead we bet their futures and their lives on a piece of latex.

When it comes to sex, our culture only gives empty lip service to our claim of wanting to keep kids safe. The environment is not structured for success; we set them up for failure right from the start, and we actively sabotage every safeguard that truly protects.

Just last week, Oprah Winfrey cynically challenged Bristol Palin's resolve to remain abstinent until marriage. “I'm just wondering if that is a realistic goal,” Oprah asked. Rather than applaud Bristol's mature and smart decision, Oprah was condescending and left little doubt that she doesn't think Bristol can succeed. “I was going to give you a chance to retract,” Oprah said, “but if you want to hold to that, may the powers be with you.” Whatever happened to empowering young women to make their own decisions for their futures? Whatever happened to confidence, to living your “best life”? Apparently, Oprah thinks it's just not possible for anyone to say no to sex.

That's precisely the message our culture hammers home every single day by every conceivable means. We are absolutely saturated with sex and we seem to have arrived at a place where it isn't even considered possible to say no to sex, or worthwhile to even try. Instead we focus on damage control. Why have we forgotten that the damage need not be inflicted in the first place?

Recall how last summer Brooke Shields told Health magazine that she regrets not losing her virginity sooner than age 22. Incredibly, she said that having sex would have helped her with her body image as a young adult, and she might have shed the “protective 20 pounds” she carried in college. In one fell swoop, she made virginity a shameful thing to be gotten rid of, the sooner the better, in order to have a healthy body image. I wonder how many girls read that and thought, “You mean even a gorgeous model like Brooke Shields needed sex to feel good about herself?”

I am fed up with the perverse sexualization of our young children and the apathetic mindset that our teenagers must inevitably engage in sexual activity in order to find out who they are, and other such stupid nonsense. It is high time a loud chorus of voices arises to insist that abstinence is not stupid or unrealistic, but is in fact, the only real way to protect our children from harm. The risks of unmarried, “casual” sex are numerous and great; the benefits? Gee, let me think. There are none.


The map being provided our kids to navigate them through adolescence into adulthood has been created by Planned Parenthood and others who profit from teenage sexual activity. The entities that sell “safe sex” are literally banking on the STD's that spread and of course, the abortions young women will “need” when their “protection” fails to protect them. But don't dare suggest that we start teaching young people to keep their pants on, because that could never work!

In fact, abstinence can work and does work when not actively sabotaged. Yes, I realize that what I'm suggesting requires something much harder to give than a condom. It requires virtue. It requires adults to set the example through their own lives. It requires restructuring the environment so it supports, rather than negates, the practice of self-control, respect, decency, and delayed gratification.

I believe it could be done, if our society got serious about it and actually put our effort and our money where our mouth is. Unfortunately, speaking of money, the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. decided last year to eliminate funding of abstinence-education and channel that money instead toward more contraception and “safe sex” education for our kids. From the top down, we're telling our kids there's no point in even trying to say no to sex.

Condoms will not keep our kids safe. Sex is not simply a physical activity, and the emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences cannot be ignored. If we are sincere about desiring to protect our kids from danger, the only logical, reasoned and responsible thing to do is to get serious about teaching abstinence.
My own experience growing up Catholic tells me that plain talk within the Church about sex and its repercussions is sorely lacking, and that cannot continue. Times may be changing and I certainly hope they are, because it's up to the Church to lead a Modesty and Purity Revolution in America and counter the destructive message of our modern culture with the real, liberating truth about the holiness of human sexuality and the beauty of God's plan. (Thank you, JPII, for the Theology of the Body!)

No, I'm not naïve, but I am determined. I have young children, and I'm on a mission. The course of the society they are inheriting must be changed, because frankly it's a death trap. Oprah may not be willing to applaud Bristol Palin's resolve, but I am. Bravo, Bristol. You can achieve your goal of abstinence until marriage. Brooke Shields may regard virginity as baggage that needs to be lost, but I do not. I'm no supermodel, but I say virginity is cool. Sex is a precious gift meant to reveal God's love, not a dangerous recreational pastime.

America needs to trade condoms and “safe sex” for self-control and purity. It can be done, and the Church must lead the way. The faithful must lead a true sexual counter-revolution; a Modesty and Purity Revolution.

from Catholic Online

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