About Me

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Byzantine Catholic convert, wife, mother of seven.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Real Enemy

Lately I have had a very difficult time reading the news without becoming horribly depressed. Whether it be ISIS slaughtering Christians in the Middle East, or local teenage boys raping and murdering little girls. Everywhere you look diabolical evil is rearing it's ugly head. In my prayer time, however, I was reminded that we have one enemy. The same adversary that has hated the human race, created in the image of God, since the very beginning. When we lose sight of who we are really fighting we become distracted from the best way to defeat that evil. Each of us struggles with that battle every day. Little decisions we make to either honor God, or compromise what we know to be right.  The Holy Spirit, through the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians explains it this way:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.



When I see the victims of these terrible atrocities I have to remind myself that often times it is the perpetrator of the heinous act that needs my prayers even more than the innocents who have suffered. For as we read in the second letter of St. Peter:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.


...and in Ezekiel we read:

Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord GOD, "rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

So as much as my flesh cries out for blood retaliation, my spirit is quietly whispering, " pray for your enemies". God doesn't want any sinner to die unrepentant. So my prayer should be for repentance, not death of those who are carrying out these crimes. Not that we shouldn't do what we can to physically restrain this evil as well. But, as Christians, we need to clearly focus on the root of the problem and the true, lasting solution.

I am also reminded that, in the case of the Christians in the Middle East, this is not something new or something that we as Americans will necessarily be exempt. Jesus told us:

"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.

And St. Paul said to the Romans:

Just as it is written, "For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

Throughout history we have many documented accounts that the holy death of a martyr was the very catalyst that brought repentance to their own torturers.  We might not all be called to a dramatic physical martyrdom, but we are all called to, "take up our cross and follow Christ", and, "present ourselves as living sacrifices". This is not usually all that easy in our hedonistic minded world.

So, in short, these are the things that I especially need to remember:

 Satan and his demons are really the ones we are fighting and that battle is won through prayer and personal holiness. I need to pray for those souls who are committing these awful crimes. This life is short and this world is not my home. As a Christian I am called to a life of sacrifice and death-to-self in imitation of Christ.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject as well.



St. Michael the Archangel, 
defend us in battle. 
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. 
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, 
and do thou, 
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, 
by the power of God, 
thrust into hell Satan, 
and all the evil spirits, 
who prowl about the world 
seeking the ruin of souls. 
Amen..














Sunday, March 25, 2012

Potty Training and Confession

I admit, I'm a little bit lazy when it comes to potty training my kids. Having the first four children in fewer than four years contributed to making me slothful in this area. There really is no efficient way (at least none that I have discovered) to aid the two year old so she doesn't fall through the public toilet, and at the same time attempt to keep the one year old from crawling over to the next stall to go fishing, all the while sporting a very large prego belly in confined quarters. I'd much rather just change a diaper.

Back when child #1 was 18 months old I tried everything in the book to get her to cooperate. We kept on with this endeavor all through her second year of life, and it wasn't until she was three years and three months that she decided she was finally ready. After much frustration, I learned that when she really was ready it was easy as pie....or M&Ms, or whatever the bribe of the day happened to be. We had no accidents and no problems from that time forward, but each child is a little different.

At any rate, things have become slightly easier in this department now that most of my children are older and are willing to help train the toddlers. Last year, all three of the older girls thought it was a lark to put their little sister on the toilet and encourage her to go. Who need's a Baby Alive doll when you've got the real thing? This worked out wonderfully well until the girls lost interest and Kathleen suddenly decided she didn't want anything to do with the potty. So we put things on the back burner until recently. Now Kathleen has been going half the time on the potty and having accidents the rest of the time. The thing is, she knows how to go on the potty, she wants to go on the potty, but sometimes she chooses not to. The other day I caught her grunting and turning red in the kitchen. When she saw me looking at her she said, "don't mommy" and ran out of the room so I couldn't see what she was doing (as if the scent wouldn't give her away). As I am cleaning her up after every accident she very sincerely proclaims, "I'm never going to go in my pants again mom." She has a firm resolve that she will never do it again.....but she does do it again, and again, and again. We are making progress, and eventually she will overcome, but it's a process.

All of this got me thinking about confession. When we sin, it is kind of like making a stink in our pants. We may not really want to do it, but we give into a sudden urge and we find ourselves in a mess once again. Sometimes we run and hide because we don't want God to see what we are doing, but he does know because our sin stinks to high heaven. We are heartily sorry, and we confess our sins, we firmly resolve to sin no more with the help of God's grace, and we are sincere in that resolution. However, we often find ourselves, once again, in a pile of poo. At that point we have a choice, we can wallow in our filth, or we can humbly submit ourselves over to be cleansed by confessing the same sin, yet again, in the wonderful sacrament of reconciliation. We may find ourselves confessing the same thing numerous times before we overcome, but if we are consistent, God will give us the strength we need to persevere and conquer one sin at time.

The Church, in her wisdom, gives us this season of Lent to spend a little extra time reflecting on the sins that need to be rooted out of our souls as we look forward to celebrating the Resurrection of Our Lord with a clean heart. I am so thankful we have a loving Father who is so patiently merciful with our messes.

I'd love to meditate on this a little longer, but I see that there is a puddle on the floor behind me to mop up.


Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
 Psalm 51: 1-2
  















Thursday, February 2, 2012

5 Educational Tools To Save Your Sanity

When I started homeschooling my older children I had fine dreams of an old-fashioned, perfectly ordered, one room school house. I even sacrificed an entire room of our home to the noble cause of education by
painting it bright red like an old school building, complete with table, chairs,cute posters and a bell.I would spend a nice morning in our little room working with my Kindergartner and Pre-schooler while the other two (toddlers at the time) played happily away....at least that is how I choose to remember that time of my life. Incidentally, that room is now painted pink and lodging three girls. The exterior of my home is painted in that lovely red color instead. The symbolic significance of that fact just struck me and it speaks volumes about how the whole house, and really the whole of life, is now our classroom.

Amazingly, I was able to hold on to my delusional home school fantasies(at least some of them) until my fifth child was born. Enter kid #5, John Michael. By the time Johnny was 14 months old I could no longer contain him in crib or pen. By the time he was 15 months old he had discovered multiple ways to escape the house. He would grab my keys (knowing exactly which one started the ignition to the Suburban)and run out the door yelling,"I want to drive". Two years and nine months after John was born his female counterpart, Kathleen, came along. The two of them have dedicated their existence to making sure I never have a boring moment ever again. So far they are doing an awesome job. Now, after seven years of homeschooling, with a total of seven children, I have become very thankful for online programs and various products that do some of the drill work for me, and help to take just a little bit of the "crazy" out of my day. The following list of  items are both fun and educational and some of them are worth their weight in gold to me.

Headsprout Reading Program:   

This one is a little expensive, but I've found that it is well worth the price, and they do offer a 50% discount on successive children using the program. I use it as a big part of my Kindergarten, 1st, or even occasionally 2nd grade curriculum. It takes care of a lot of the drill work I used to do freeing up my time to work with the kids in other areas. At the end of each lesson I spend a few minutes using the Sprout Stories and Flash Cards online with them to make sure they are truly understanding the new concepts before they move on. They also have a reading comprehension program available for older kids that I have not tried out yet. Maybe when that child tax credit rolls in I'll give it a go.

Timez Attack:  

Once again this program does a lot of the drill work with the kids in a fun video game format. This has radically transformed multiplication study time from that of total dread to a sought after privilege. Big Brainz actually gives you the basic package for free, but you only get one of the "worlds" which can get a little boring by the time you get to the 4x's. It is however, a great way to sample the program before you buy to see if your child does well with it. Purchasing the full package is well worth the money, especially since you can use it with multiple (no pun intended) children. You can also get a division attack add on for $20 more, and they are currently working on addition and subtraction versions as well.

Oregon Scientific Smart Globe: 
This is one of our new Christmas toys. I grabbed the last box at Costco on Christmas Eve for about $70.00. This interactive globe has a ton of facts and games that make learning geography a blast. You are able to select levels from Kindergarten to adult, making it a fun tool for the whole family. Last year CBS reported that 6 in 10 young Americans can't even find Iraq on a map. In this age of information there really is no excuse for that.This globe has already increased our family's knowledge of history and geography. I"m just itching for that category to pop up on Jeopardy now!

Gospel Champions: 

Gospel Champions is a video game that helps kids learn Bible stories and prayers. They have both a Catholic (Gospel Champions) and a Non-Catholic (Bible Champions) version as it was developed by a Catholic and a Baptist working together. How cool is that? We've found that it is a fun way to supplement our home catechism lessons. This is one game that I have been known to be caught playing from time to time as well.

Starfall:

This internet freebie is a reading program for K-2nd grade. They just added a version you can pay a modest yearly fee for that has more games including basic low level math. It is nice to let the kids play with this when you need to give them a fun and productive break from the routine.

Well, this is obviously not an extensive list, but each one of these has been a blessing to our educational life.
What learning product gems have you discovered? Which ones have been the most useful to your family?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Death Stinks

The third year anniversary of my mother's death is coming up on September 15th. She was only 57 years old and died during a surgery to try to remove some of the cancerous tumor that was consuming her body. It was too late, the Cancer had taken over and she was just too weak to survive.

Yes, I am thankful that she is no longer in bodily pain, and yes, I have a glorious hope that I will see her again in Heaven. That doesn't make death a good thing though. Death is an unnatural separation of body and soul that God never intended to be. It came into the world through sin. Jesus overcame sin and death by his sacrifice on the cross and by his resurrection. We have the hope of that same resurrection through him, but until then, we are still separated from the ones we love that have died. My heart aches, I miss my mom and the love and comfort that can only come from your mother. I am thankful I still have my husband, my children, and my dad, but I miss my mom. There are four new babies in the family that will not know her. The ones that did know her still cry and miss her. Every Mother's Day I walk through WalMart looking at cards and fight back tears. I have to take over the holiday planning because she is no longer here to do it. I feel pangs of envy when I see women my age with their moms. I will never be "over it". I Want My Mommy! I know she is in the arms of her loving Creator and alive "in Christ". I know she is praying for me and my family, and I have that connection to her because of Jesus. I believe,"O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?( 1 Cor. 15:55) and that this is not a permanent condition. But for now, I can't hug her, I can't chat with her on the phone, I can't have her over for afternoon tea with the kids. I grieve for that loss, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. Death stinks. I will celebrate her life and the promise of life eternal, but I will also mourn for what I have lost. That is a part of life. That is what makes this Earth seem a little less inviting and Heaven a little bit sweeter. The older I get and the more I lose here, the clearer that will become to me. For now, I know that God is good. I know that God only allows this pain because it can bring about some greater good. I don't fully understand what that is yet, but I have faith.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Drinkin' A Bit O' The Green


"Are you tired? Run down? Listless? Do you poop out at parties"

I do love Lucy, but the answer to all these problems is not in a little bottle of intoxicating Vitameatavegemin, but in a delicious green smoothie!

I have recently discovered the wonder that is the green smoothie, and let me tell you, and I am hooked. Now before you write me off as crazy (probably most of you did that along time ago)here me out. A green smoothie is a blended drink of fruits, water, and a fist full or two of a green leafy vegetable. I have used all kinds of fruit and a variety of green leafies from spinach, to beet tops, to dandelions from our own backyard (of which we have an abundance).

The fruit makes the pile of raw greens palatable, and the green leafies give you an energy burst without chemicals or the jitters. I have also found that the combination suppresses my appetite and makes me feel satisfied for a longer period of time. My 14 month old totally LOVES them, and my other kids are warming up to the idea (some more than others).

I made a new combo this morning and honestly I could not even taste the spinach. All of the kids really liked it too. Here is what I did:

1 banana
1 mango
1/2 frozen raspberries
1/2 cup water
Blend
Then add 1-3 handfuls of baby spinach. I use three, but if you are just starting out you may want to use just 1 for now.
BLEND BLEND BLEND

For more info on green smoothies here is a good site.

http://www.rawfamily.com/

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Take On Tebow


I am not a football fan. I just Googled to find out who is playing in the Superbowl this year. I'll be cheering for the Saints. How could you not cheer for a team with a name like that? I have however been following the controversy over the Tim Tebow ad that Focus on the Family is to air during the game. Certain women's groups are fearful that the message is too pro-life. Yet many in the pro-choice camp have admitted that those groups are taking things a bit far, and prohibiting the ad would be a violation the 1st Amendment. Much has already been written about that. I think another point must be made.

First off let me say that I think the ad is a good and positive thing. I hope that it makes people stop and think about life issues, but let's take a little hypothetical rewind. What if Mrs. Tebow had given birth to the little boy that the doctors warned her about? What if instead of a tall, good looking, Heisman Trophy winner, little Timmy had been a severely mentally and/or physically handicapped child? Would her "choice" then not be laudable? Would Tim's life not be as valuable? The triumph of the story is not that Tim grew up to be so successful. The glory lies in the fact that a baby was given the chance to continue on living.

All human life is valuable.....ALL HUMAN LIFE! From the time conception takes place, until the time we breathe our last, our lives are of infinite worth...no matter what. Football players, computer geeks, supermodels, janitors, homeless folks, CEOs, prison inmates, all are equal in their human dignity. Mrs. Tebow is to be praised because she understood that fact. She knew that regardless of the outcome, her child was created in the Image of God and therefore should be allowed to live until the Creator decided otherwise.

When doctors encourage women to abort their children because they might be "abnormal" we tread on some dangerously familiar ground. "Lebensunwertes Leben" or "life unworthy of life" was the ideology behind forced sterilizations and mass murders in Nazi Germany. When we believe that it is more humane to kill a child rather than have it live a "challenged" life what does that logically lead to? I think we have already had a taste. March 31st will be the fifth anniversary of Terri Schindler-Schiavo being inhumanly dehydrated and starved to death. Terri had no terminal illness. She was not on life support. All she had was a feeding tube to give her basic food and water. Yet she was subjected to a slow agonizing death while the entire country looked on. Stray dogs have a better fate. There are similar, less publicized murders that take place in nursing homes all the time. For more on this check out http://terrisfight.org/ .

So yes, I celebrate Tim Tebow and his chance at life and what he has done with it. I just think we also need to celebrate the lives of people like Leslie Lemke as well. I want to leave you with this video. Probably a lot of you have already seen it, but it is worth watching again.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Plans Vs. Reality

Do you remember that scene in Anne of Green Gables where Mirilla is meeting Anne for the very first time? "Tell me about yourself", Mirilla inquires. Anne replies, "If you let me tell you what I imagine about myself it would be much more interesting."

My imagined world is so orderly, so clean, so perfect, so.... not my real life. I've taken the time to make beautiful schedules, goals, outlines, and charts. However, somewhere along the way family members get sick, mice invade the house, or the dog gets a little too friendly with a porcupine (all actual events), and low and behold I'm behind in the laundry, and dinner ends up being toast and eggs.....again. Now I am not saying carefully made schedules are a bad thing.....sometimes they even work out! Yet, no matter how organized a person you are, there are just those days that we must be willing to adapt.

Chaos or calm I try to remember one simple daily prayer....." Dear Lord, please help me to accomplish all that is necessary today." God knows my family's needs. He can see the big picture and the final goal a lot more clearly than I can. Sometimes God takes me in a different direction than I originally planned and I need to learn to yield my will over to His will. Even Jesus prayed, "not my will but yours be done, and we are to "take up our cross and follow Him". Sometimes that means making a simple dinner because I have to spend extra time potty training my toddler. Sometimes it means setting aside a grammar lesson because my kids need some one-on-one cookie baking time with mom. Sometimes it means I have to take a nap while my capable 9 year old makes PB&J for lunch because I was up all night with a sick baby. Whatever it is, as long as I know that I am truly seeking God's will I can rest assured that He is taking care of what really needs to take place that day. Whether it matches my imagined day or not.

However, there are days when I am derailed due to my own selfishness. It is so easy to make little excuses for myself when I spend too much time on the computer, phone, or watching TV. At times I just don't feel like trying, or asking God what He wants from me. I can not have God's blessing if I am not attempting to do His will with my whole heart. There is always grace, but I need to cooperate with that grace to live out my vocation as wife and mother like He intends me to. If we allow slothful behavior to continue it can become a pattern of serious sins of omission. When we are idle with our time we are failing to do the things God has given us to do. We are also setting a bad example for our children to follow. Do as I say, not as I do does not work very well.

Oh, that reminds me.....time to exit the blogosphere and tackle those dishes!