Thursday, October 6, 2011

When Living and Blogging About Our Catholic Faith Runs Afoul With the Fam

Hummm.  Sooooo.  Turns out living the Catholic faith out loud can ruffle a few feathers with the family.  What to do when every life choice I make stands in stark contrast to both of our families, and it seams to cause a bit of discomfort?  Stop living the faith?  No I don’t think so.  Stop writing about living the faith?  Maybe for a while.

Interesting that the discomfort all seams to be one way, as in Hubby and I are fine with our life choices and don’t feel it’s really our business about the choices of others in the family, but our choices appear to create discomfort in others.  I can’t help wondering if it’s the discomfort of conviction, but perhaps that presumptuous. 

Homeschooling = we are nut jobs

Homesteading = we are nut jobs

Rejecting IVF = we are judgmental and hurting our nieces & nephews who are IVF conceived

Rejecting Contraception = yea, easy for you you’re infertile

Rejecting Consumption = what the heck is the matter with you have you gone off the deep end why don’t you care what Oprah & Cosmo say?

So we’ve found ourselves at an interesting crossroads with an odd deep gulch developing and family members who all wear an expression as if they just smelled pooh when we enter the room.  Sort of a, “sush, the freaks have just arrived, act natural and maybe they will leave us alone, and not get any of their odd goo all over us,” kind of a thing. 

And I’m not sure how to bridge the gap, but I am sure I don’t want to live on the other side of that gap, so now what?  Can’t have a conversation about learning how to skin a chicken this year.  Don’t want to have a conversation about Jennifer Aniston’s appearance.  Not much left to talk about, and I’m sad.

Our Lady, Queen of Peace.  Pray for us.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The search for you will end and the world will move on tomorrow, but our tiny little corner of the world will hurt over the loss of you for a very long time. May the Lord have mercy on us all. Amen.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mothering The Hurt Child

Our son has a past, a very painful past. Every human person experiences pain, but some lives are more painful than others. I wrestle with the concept of suffering. Our culture tells us to flee to every diversion possible, our faith tells us that we can unite our suffering to that of Christ for the salvation of souls. While I truly don’t comprehend the Catholic position, I accept it on faith; I accept that human suffering when joined to Christ’s is efficacious for our salvation and the salvation of all humanity.

Which leads me to the topic of Bubba and the Art of Grammar. Two and a half years into our history as a family we are getting into the nitty gritty of our son’s history. Homeschooling has changed the dynamic. Violence surrounds his academic history and has left in its wake an ocean of pain. Avoidance has been his tool of choice, his survival mechanism, his go to position when his pain became intolerable. What else is a kid to do if the person who is supposed to help is inflicting the pain, what’s left but to avoid the topic, stuff the pain down, disassociate, deny, deny, deny?

The problem with emotional pain is that it does not heal in isolation. Stuffed down pain bubbles up to the surface in our son’s case when he encounters the trigger of recollection. School. Academics, the learning curve of mastering new material take him right back to the worst parts of his life, and there he is with oceans of pain crashing over his head, pulling him down into the undertow, dashing him against the rocks, swirling him around in the chaos, alone without a life preserver to help buoy him up, without a tether to hold to find his way back to solid ground.

At site school he had 101 options for distraction when the waves of painful recollection pulled his pain up to the surface and threatened to pull him down under. Home schooling allows me to parent full time, to begin to help heal, and for us right now this is the point and my highest priority.

Emotional pain management, that’s my job as a mom right now. It can be a daunting task and there isn’t a road map. So here we are this child, my husband and I going way off road.

I work to stay in tune with him to recognize when the waves are crashing to hard when he is becoming “dysregulated” as the therapeutic community says. In therapy speak I’m “co-regulating”, helping him manage and identify his emotions, staying with him in the pain and offering that tether to keep him connected to keep him from tumbling out into the ocean of pain that is so deep and profound.

The idea isn’t to continue to avoid the pain, but to manage it in small doses. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Like last week when I got swept out to sea and pulled under like a lifeguard with a drowning victim climbing on, pulling them both under to drown. In retrospect I don’t think it was any coincidence that happened on a Tuesday when our Parish has Adoration.

I spent a good hour that day in our Church loft weeping like Rachel for her children. Weeping for my son, weeping with a greater appreciation for the depth of his pain, weeping for all children and adults who suffer with invisible wounds so profound yet so often disregarded, weeping, weeping in the presence of God.

Perhaps one day he will feel safe enough to consider the reality of his suffering rather than splitting off that part of his life. Perhaps one day he will be able to “offer up” his pain in union with that of Christ for the salvation of souls. Perhaps this mother son dance will help him heal. Perhaps, in God’s time, he will be a strong man tested by fire, a warrior for Christ. This is my prayer for my son.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. I trust in you, help me to trust in you. Amen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Good, Good Day – Full of A Kid Who Really Does Not Feel Like Doing His School Work

Oh yea, yesterday was a day full of ho, hum, lead in the backside, slightly sour puss, not really so much in the mood to hit the Grammar lesson, regular average everyday “school work is not really what I feel like doing today” stuff.

"How again is that a good day," you ask?

Garden variety “Gee I don’t feel like doing my work” day is huge for us. THAT is typical kid stuff, the terrain every kid’s education trudges through. The kid doesn’t feel like doing the work and the teacher/parent places boundaries in place that don’t give the kid any other options.

The kid works through the material, he learns it, he learns that he can trudge through the hard work even when he doesn’t feel like it, he learns self discipline via the boundaries, he learns what he can do, he learns how to learn, he comes out the other side knowing that he can do it, that the parent/teacher cares and is there to help, to respond with limits that guide toward learning the material, as opposed to responding with fury and physical torture over missed answers.

It was a day with NO flashbacks, NO terror relived, NONE of the trauma revisited. Yesterday’s pain was garden variety pain, the mild discomfort of the immediate, not the overwhelming terror of the past. This is a huge, huge stride in our household.

It was a very good day at St. Francis of Assisi, a school following the Classical Liberal Arts Academy curriculum, student population one! A very good day indeed!!

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, we love you, Ora Pro Nobis.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Attachment Parenting in Foster and Adopted Children – Parenting to Help Heal Childhood Trauma

Parenting a child from an abusive background can be challenging, it requires parenting with a therapeutic point of view. That is to say parenting the child both in real time, and parenting with the specific intention of helping to heal the effects of trauma in the child’s history. You parent both the 10-year-old child of today, AND, for example, the child who at 5-years-old was traumatized by having been choked to unconsciousness over a period of years for having misspelled words on his tests. It’s unlikely that an abuser who is inflicting trauma on a child also sooths the child’s hurts and fears, so those hurts remain, no one cares for him, he doesn’t heal, you parent those hurts too, when they come up, and you have to be very tuned into the child in order to attend to him when they do.

Dr. Bruce Perry, a psychiatrist specializing in childhood trauma and author of the book “The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog,” believes the child’s brain development is interrupted by trauma. The child’s body continues to mature, but the trauma halts the child’s emotional development at the point of the trauma, not completely, but in parts where the brain’s connections aren’t made via healthy secure attachment to parents, where a child isn’t held and comforted isn’t nurtured and loved. This has the effect of creating chaos in children from abusive or neglectful backgrounds. Think of the behavior of a baby or a toddler in a school age child and you begin to get the picture.

As the parent I have found it vital to keep in mind that a big part of my job is to help my child learn a new internal cause and effect dialogue. I’ve learned that brain development from birth to age five is foundational to our entire lives, and that healthy brain development requires consistent loving interpersonal relationships with others, primarily moms, but if the brain’s development is impaired in the early years, some areas can be improved, the brain’s connections can be healed to some extent, via loving interaction as a healing balm in the child’s life.

Generally speaking the earlier and more profound the abuse or neglect the more difficult it is for the child to heal, even with loving interpersonal relationships. Such are the difficulties of children institutionalized in orphanages or otherwise uncared for, not held, not played with, spoken to, rocked, touched, not nurtured, in a word, not mothered. The brain doesn’t develop as it should, and the child’s injuries are very real.

I’ve found two books particularly helpful in understanding brain development in early childhood. Each of these books focuses on the impact of trauma, abuse and neglect on developing children, but the information is both interesting and useful on a broader scale, especially for moms of young children. While I don’t believe it’s the author’s intent, each of these books makes the case for the value of motherhood in the strongest possible terms.

The first, mentioned earlier, is “The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog,” by Bruce Perry. The second is “Building the Bonds of Attachment,” by Daniel Hughes. Dr. Perry’s book covers a series of case studies from his psychiatric practice working with abused and neglected children. His research focuses on the impact the child’s relational world has on his brain development. His cases involve children in whom the brain’s pathways are un-developed or under developed, and his work as a therapist focuses on interventions specifically designed for the parent to work with the child in these undeveloped areas. The idea is to parent the child at his developmental age rather than his chronological age under the premise that trauma interrupts brain development and the connections necessary for brain development didn’t happen as they would for a child who is parented by an attentive and attuned mother. Fortunately, some of these brain connections can be rewired, and Dr. Perry’s research suggests that attuned parenting, even in older children can help rebuild some of the brain’s missing connections.

Daniel Hughes book, Building the Bonds of Attachment is a fictional case study of one young girl. His narrative is based upon his work with children from abuse and neglect as well, and he walks the reader through this girl’s life from the time of her conception to her adoption as a school age child. The focus of his work is very similar to Dr. Perry, but less oriented toward explaining the development of the brain, and more focused toward the interrelatedness between parent and child, particularly from a therapeutic point of view. I have read and reread this book as we prepared to adopt an older child from foster care and again as we began to work through some of the issues that are a natural part of integrating an older child into our family. As I was seeking counseling for our family I was very specific in looking for a therapist with a background in Dr. Hughes methods. While there is some talking involved in this type of therapy, the focus is on the bond between parent and child rather than between therapist and patient. Dr. Hughes model is far broader than simply talking. It involves a lot of playfulness, touch, empathic listening, in short recognition of the child. Who the child is individually and what his life story is all about, and ultimately isn’t being know and loved by another one of the fondest desires of our human hearts? Ultimately isn’t this what Jesus offers us? Physical love, not just the words, but love in the whole messy business of daily living? He offers us his very body to eat for Pete’s sake, “You have given them bread from Heaven, containing in itself all delight”. But I digress.

All of this brain development business came home to me recently when I took our son to the eye doctor. We had been told that he had a “lazy” eye, and while he has glasses we’ve really only made him wear them when he’s driving. (We live in the country and well a kid needs to know how to drive on a farm don’t ya know.) When I asked specifically about his lazy eye the doctor told me that the eyes are making important connections with the brain in small children, and that if he had worn a patch over his stronger eye as a toddler his weaker eye would have been forced into making the connections in his brain and his vision would be equal in both eyes, but because he wasn’t his week eye is 20/400, or to put it another way he’s legally blind in one eye. The doctor told me that at his age it’s to late to go back and rewire the eye brain connection and that made me really sad, but I’m not sure I’m willing to accept his prognosis. If the brain can “re-wire” and make new connections via interpersonal relationships why couldn’t that work for an eye brain connection too. When I googled it up I found a study done in 2005 that showed improvements in 53% of children under the age of 12 who wore a patch to make the lazy eye work harder. Humm, I’m seeing a pirate in our future, maybe we’ll start calling him Patches. Poor kid.

Sts. Lucy and Odilia, please pray that Jesus heal my son’s eye completely. Amen.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Reaction to Homeschooling – Didn’t See That One Coming

Really, I didn’t see it. My mother’s jaw dropping to the table, the awkward elephant in the room discomfort from my brother and sister as if they were suddenly talking to a Martian. It’s been a bit weird really. Homeschooling seams quite normal to me, maybe because I hang out with a lot of home schoolers, well electronically at least and some IRL. Apparently it’s not really so mainstream as it seams to me.

Hubby thinks we need to come up with some talking points to explain, but I don’t really give two shakes of a rat’s backside what everyone else thinks. He does though so I guess perhaps I should give it some consideration.

I imagine this Martian amongst us reaction must be what large families run into, but I have to ask myself when exactly did the drinking the cool aid become so very fashionable? When did we become so homogenized, and who exactly set the American standard, and is it working? Seriously, if I’m the Martian because I want to spend time with my son, because he has some needs that only his Father and I can appropriately meet at this time, I have to ask, “How’s it working out running your kids to and fro to be cared for by others, while you see them for ½ hour in the morning and maybe 2 hours at night?”

So now I’m the odd one because I want to parent my son full time rather than part time. Oh well, I’ve been the odd one out before, like at every baby shower I’ve ever attended, it’s not new territory for me.

Yes, Mom, John, Cheryl, Renee, etc., etc., I’m confident the child will continue to enjoy the company of his peers on a regular basis, in fact his classmates are from around the world, he was chatting with some CLAA kids in Australia today, but you can bet your cool aid cocktail they won’t be his primary influence for 50% of his waking hours each day, and that will be a good thing.

St. Don Bosco, Ora Pro Nobis.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

On GLBT Adoption

I just can’t help myself on the topic of GLBT adoption I have to jump in. Especially when all the voices chime in with, “sure it’s great, love is love, all these kids need homes and well it’s the straight community who’s abandoned them so of course they should be adopted by same sex couples, it’s only natural, proper and correct for our modern age, and plus I know a gay person!!!”.

I’m talking about a post on Facebook at the Adopt Us Kids page linking to a CNN article extolling the virtues of GLBT adoption and the entire community save one or two of us clapping in unison and proclaiming it “good, very good”.

I went on and on, far longer than useful I’m sure, and it’s likely that my voice is completely drown out by the GLBT supporters, but enough is enough someone has to speak up, and I remind myself that Jesus does not tell us we will be successful, in fact he tells us to shake the dust from our feet and move on from the towns that reject his disciples so rejection goes with the territory.

I tried to use a natural law and reason approach since any type of faith based discussion would be folly to the GLBT community.

My argument, it takes one man and one woman to create a child so we can deduce that the same configuration is nature’s best model to raise the child to maturity and that this configuration is in the best interests of the child. GLBT crowd shouts in unison, “NOOO, Bigot, Evil, Nasty”, blah, blah, blah. Good thing I was out of range or they would have spit on me!!!

This was one of my fav moves:

Might it be possible that the nature of the family should be given the same consideration as say the ecosystem? Could changes to the family structure have the same sort of unintended consequences in the lives of children as say changes in the ozone layer have in the atmosphere?

Could we perhaps consider replacing Reduce, Reuse, Recycle with Chastity, Fidelity, Self-Sacrifice in the interest of saving the human family?

I can see it plastered all over canvas diaper bags both large and small:

Chastity, Fidelity, Self-Sacrifice – Love Your Spouse & Children - Do Your Part For Humanity Today!!!!

Lord, forgive your irascible servant, and hear my prayers for those who persecute me. Amen.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Am the Light of the World

Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12

Our Pastor is back in town after ditching us, er, I mean, taking a well-deserved two-week break and that means Adoration is back on the schedule. I was so excited I could hardly wait. As is the kid’s custom he served Mass and after changing out of his Alb joined me in the pew whereupon he hits me with this.

“The Host was glowing. After the Lamb of God as I was turning around I looked up and I could see the Host glowing so I blessed myself real quick.”

“Were all the Hosts glowing?”

“No, just the big one that Fr. Dave holds up. I saw the glory of God.”


I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Joel 20:28

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful and enkindle in us the fire of your love. Amen.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Once a Month Cooking

Seams like such a good idea. I saw it in Kimberly Hahn’s home schooling book when I began doing research. Yet, I find the whole affair somewhat overwhelming. I love the idea, the convenience, and the savings vs. eating out or grab and go fast food, but putting it all together, OY VY. Even stringing together three weeks worth of dinner menus I’m finding daunting.

I’m using Google calendar and working to put together a Mother's Rule of Life using Holly Pierlot’s book by the same title. I love the book, I love the idea of scheduled times for prayer first and other daily tasks, I love getting our boy more involved in the occupation of daily living from food prep & laundry to property maintenance and reading company P&Ls, but the dinner thing, this is challenging me? What the heck?

I’m in hyper organization mode as I’m looking ahead to full time mothering, academic coaching, and of course continuing to run the admin side of our businesses. Hubby is predicting that the boy and I will be a loggerheads before long, and it’s true that he can get into a push the envelop mode with me that he generally does not with his Dad, but I believe our first few weeks trial run have been pretty good. He likes his on line Catechism Class at the CLAA. I’m enthusiastic about having direct oversight of his studies, while at the same time allowing him the space to work through the lesson himself. I’m very hopeful about this model and about adding additional classes shortly.

So with all this on the plate, I’m looking for a way to simplify the dinner thing, but it just doesn’t really seam all that simple, and I don’t know why. I’m finding my effort at extra planning requires extra cooking as I attempt to make more of our meals from scratch. All the chopping and sautéing is exhausting, and that’s just to get the various ingredients ready for any given dish, and I don’t really pick sophisticated dishes. I keep thinking that all the work the last few days will pay off over the next three weeks or so when I can just check the calendar and grab the day’s menu from the freezer, but right now it just feels like a marathon, and I’m wondering how to sort out next month in a more graceful way.

Any suggestions would be most welcome.

St. Martha & St. Anne, pray for me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Harvest Time Hazards

The F150 Did Not Make It Out Alive

Fortunatly The Farmer Did

Farmer's Log - The Year of Our Lord, 2010: Do Not Jump Into The Truck When It Has Ignited The Straw, And DO NOT Park On The Field Next Year.

You know it’s going to be bad when you get this call at work from your neighbor. “What do you want us to get out of the barn, the truck just exploded and the fire is moving fast. We called 911, but they aren’t here yet.”

Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time we’ve had a wheat field in flames.

We’ve been told the farmer left his truck running in the field and it ignited the un-bailed straw, which then ignited the truck blowing out the tires first and exploding the entire truck once it hit the gas tank.

The tire blow out was a huge blessing, apparently the farmer thought he could just drive the truck off the fire, but changed his mind when the tires exploded, at which point he beat a hasty retreat. He’s ok, but if he had been inside when the whole thing blew up it could have been a very different outcome.

Not sure if the event made the rounds over at the grange or over the scanners, but we have looky loos up and down the road all evening. It seams to be the high point of drama in the County today.

Must be my 15 minutes of fame, hee, haw style.
St. Isadore, Patron of Farmers, Pray For Us.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

You are a Priest on the Order of Melchizedek

Random musings on our Deacon’s ordination Mass last evening, some spoken out loud, some just rollin round my head.

Weeks ago: “Ok son, you would like to go, we’ll see.”

As we were departing: “Oh man NASCAR at MIS this weekend, how in the world are we going to get through this snarl of humanity to get to the cathedral?”

Once we arrived at the cathedral & through out the evening: “Protesters, oh brother, “Jesus was inclusive, women’s ordination now!!!” is that what that sign said?”

“Oh look the Adrian Dominicans are here.” Ok, sorry about that one Lord, this is better. “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.” “AVE MARIA, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.”

“Cool, I won’t be the only one wearing a mantilla, that should drive the woman’s ordination crowd nuts.”

“Oh, look, fellow Holly Land Pilgrims, how are you, long time no see.”

“Are you nervous Deacon Tom?”

“Yes, this pew is very full, but I believe my husband and son have saved a bit of room for me there in the middle, thanks.”

“We need to take up a collection for better AC in our cathedral.”

“This is the most enormous procession of priests I have ever seen in my life.”

“Is he pouring that Chrism from a jug like water?” “Wow, that’s a LOT of holy oil.”

“We have new priests, and one will be at our Parish. Whoot, whoot.”

Consecration prayers recited by over one hundred men at once felt more like a force, a wall of energy, light, Truth, beauty, love. It felt more like a physical wave than an auditory recitation of prayers and even my wandering brain was speechless.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray For These Men, Hide Them In The Folds of Your Mantle. Amen.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Homeschooling – This Year We Take the Plunge

Yikes!!!! Saxon, Sonlight, Singapore and Seaton, oh my. Kolbe, Our Lady of Grace, and Catholic Heritage, oh my. Regina Coeli, Our Lady of the Rosary, Angelicum, and A Becka oh my. Conferences, and co-ops, and Charlotte Mason, well you get the picture.

June 8th will mark the 2nd anniversary of the day we met our son, twenty-four months. What a lot of ground we’ve all covered in that time, and now it’s come to this. We considered doing it last year, but this year we bring him home full time. Well more accurately we will be office schooling we’ve set up school space for him in our office.

My plan is to have the beginning of our days remain as they are with the exception that he will come to Mass with me and then to the office rather than dropping him at school while I run off.

As I did when deciding which school to attend I’ve made a mini mission of researching curriculums, educational philosophies, interviewing every home school mom and dad I can find, including inquiring with blogging friends.

I’ve found that it’s popular with moms to build a curriculum from scratch and it must work because all the moms I spoken with all appear very relaxed with this option. Frankly my dear the very notion freaks me out for two reasons.

1 Hubby thinks our son is my kryptonite and he will run me ragged.

Hubby is often a remarkably insightful man and I’m taking his concerns here seriously. Fortunately, he and I work in the same office and our son will be working in line of site of dad’s office should the need for correction arise.

2 We are still getting to know our boy, it’s only been twenty-four months, and I’ve never home schooled anyone other than my puppies!!!! Build a curriculum, are you kidding!! Furthermore, this kid has a very difficult history much of which revolves around academics and his birth fathers idea of educational “assistance”. Suffice it to say the man’s ideas were the worst possible kind of unorthodox, ultimately landing the man in prison. While our son no longer shakes like a leaf and hyperventilates to the point of falling out of his chair as we work with him on academics, it’s still a very tender mine field, and this fact alone has me offering up rosary after rosary and requesting guidance and prayers from the entire Communion of Saints especially his guardian angel, Don Bosco who also worked with boys from difficult backgrounds & St. Thomas More patron of adopted children, as we make choices for next school year.

So what’s best for our son, what have we discovered in our twenty-four months together? Well the kid has some brainpower. In all things Catholic, an area with no history or background in his life, he learns with remarkable ease, has genuine interest, understanding, and inclination. In other academic areas he does decently sporting a B average, but again, there is a lot of baggage that clouds the process. All the brainpower in the world comes to naught if one’s emotions overpower one’s ability to think. He has some other challenges that come with concupiscence, but I won’t go there in the interests of Charity.

So what are we looking for in a curriculum?

1 Solidly Catholic – it’s a comfortable area for him, and more importantly, the condition of our soul, our orientation to God, keeping our eyes on Jesus, and our hearts longing for our final destination, longing for truth, trumps all other considerations.

2 Highly Structured – to control for the Kryptonite factor, and because structure brings order to our lives.

3 Rigorous – He’s a bright child, he does not need to be fed pabulum, I need to keep a sharp eye on his emotional condition, but that does not mean lowering the bar, no it means I care for him, I mother him, but that we challenge him never the less. His education must train his mind, as his mother I will nurture his emotions.

4 Ideally He Will be Able to Work Independently – It’s most comfortable for him, and I’m hoping to find a curriculum that will allow me to weave his education into the mix of my workday.

And the winner is Classical Liberal Arts Academy. I’ve read several parents comments both positive and negative, and by happy coincidence one of our fellow pilgrims to the Holy Land has three of his kids enrolled in CLAA.

His assessment: It’s hard, it’s different than any other curriculum out there, and his kid’s scores on standardized testing have dropped this year. Nevertheless he concludes they have had a good year academically. Furthermore he is of the opinion that high school grades may require a blend of CLAA and other classes in disciplines not covered by CLAA such as science or technical mathematics. He was clear that he and his wife have their own opinion on this matter and that Bill Michaels, founder of CLAA would disagree, as he is a purist on matters of education. Finally, he is of the opinion that the CLAA curriculum is best suited for those entering seminary or religious life.

Well our son does bring up Holy Orders from time to time, he posts “I love the Eucharist” on his facebook page and literally gives his Our Lady of Grace statue little hugs on occasion so who knows, God may call him to the Priesthood. Of course if he does not I believe learning Latin and Greek, and the Catechism, as well as the other subjects offered by CLAA will only strengthen his mind for whatever the Lord asks of this child, so for this reason we will be starting with CLAA for the 2010/2011 school year.

St. John Bosco, patron of young people and students, pray for us.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

On The Real Presence & Our Lady from a Child's Perspective

On Sunday at a friend's first communion The Boy leaned into me after communion and said.

"I think God is showing me that his body and blood are real".

Ok, I think to myself. Typically I shut down his occasional post communion jabber, but that was an attention grabber.


"Because I had a little bit of the host stuck in my teeth so I was getting it out and when I looked at it it looked like flesh not bread." "Did you put it back in your mouth and eat it?" "Yea". "Ok, good, you need to keep the host in your mouth not take it out for a peek, ." "OK".

Sometimes I wonder if God put this child in our family because he wanted the kid on the Catholic path to heaven.

Yesterday he tells me one of his spelling words this week was Immaculate and that he used it in a sentence as follows.

"Mary is the Immaculate Conception".

His teacher said that in all her years teaching he is the only kid who used the word that way, not surprising since it's a Protestant school, but what is surprising is the teacher tells him she agrees that Mary is the Immaculate Conception.

Notes from the life of a young Catholic on the front lines.

Lord, help us to raise young warriors for your Kingdom. Amen.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Total Consecration – In the Way of St. Louis de Monfort

Day Fourteen

Do not fear to resign yourself entirely to the will of others. But what great matter is this, if you who are but dust and a mere nothing submit yourself to man for God’s sake, when I the Almighty, and the most High, Who created all things out of nothing for thy sake, humbly subjected Myself to man.

Imitation: Of the obedience of a humble heart; after the example of Jesus Christ

I became the most humble and the most abject of all men, that you might overcome your pride. Learn O dust, to obey; learn to humble yourself, and how to bow under the feet of all. Learn to break your own will, and yield yourself up to all subjection.

I wonder how to reconcile this attitude with the need to address the issues of our day. How to submit humbly to the authority God has placed over our nation and the world, as Christ did to Pilate, while at the same time working to address the injustices suffered by the innocent under this same authority?

It seams a strange paradox to submit to evil while simultaneously fighting that same evil.

Our Lady, Help of Christians, Pray for Us

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Well Regulated Militia….

Being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Like most of the world I had never heard of Hutaree, a Christian militia group until this weekend. Even though these folks are my neighbors, and like any small town there are the usual connections. This person when to school with one of the guys, that other guy lined up next to us every year for the Figure 8 at the fair, the usual 2 degrees of separation of small town living.

I’ve watched a bit of the news, but I don’t personally know any of the facts. I’ve not read the entire Indictment, but as I understand the situation they are charged with Seditious Conspiracy to levy war against the United States, to oppose by force the authority of the Government of the United States, and to prevent, hinder, and delay by force the execution of any United States law, a crime which carries a mandatory life sentence if convicted.

I found an interesting analysis of these charges at a blog named Constitutionalism.

As I consider the plight of my neighbors the following comes to mind.

1) My county, in fact my entire State, is in an economic depression.

When people are stuck between a rock and a hard place they do things they may not otherwise do. Like my co-worker who’s going to do time on Federal weed charges.

2) What a blessing our Holy Mother Church.

Who teaches us that we have been living in the end times since Jesus walked the earth, and is ever so careful to help us remember that no one knows the time of Jesus return, and just to make sure the point isn’t lost venerates the sacrifice of Christian martyrs with feast days through out the year, even going so far as to remind us that the Church is built on the blood of the martyrs.

3) Criminal charges are nothing more than claims – innocence is supposed to be assumed until proven otherwise by hard evidence. But that’s not the way it works in the media, where any claim is taken as gospel and guilt is assumed.

Would our government use this fact as a point of intimidation against us right leaning, fly over, Middle Americans? You know the red-necked, hillbilly, used to be hard working, Tea Party types.

I can’t help but wonder if this extremely well publicized multi-State Federal sweep to capture six wild eyed Christians accused of being hell bent on bringing down the Government of the United States of America might be all about.

Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Pray for Us.

Monday, March 22, 2010

100 lbs of Weed & A Dad We Laid Off a Year Ago

I have a blog post today, not about health “care” reform, but about the impact of recession on one dude I know. I’m running payroll today, and I just came across his name. This 30ish guy has worked with us off and on for almost a decade. He has a common law wife and five kids of his own and a nephew living with them as well. He’s a good worker, not the brightest of the bunch, but overall responsible, generally level headed and does a good job in the shop.

He looks like a cholo, like any one of these guys, a bit scary if you don’t know him, you might not want to meet up with him in a dark alley. We’ve had quite a few guys like these working with us over the years, shop workers generally aren’t the same guys you find working in offices, and sometimes they look a bit rough around the edges.

Two years ago we had fifty people on payroll, today we have five full time and two part time workers. This dude is one of the part timers. When it first became obvious about a year ago, that something was drastically wrong and we needed to radically reorganize to keep from losing everything, laying off people was very hard. I would hear platitudes like, “folks will bounce back, and there are other options out there.” But where I live there aren’t other options out there, for anyone, not just for cholitos.

So when we read about this dude last Friday being busted for moving 100 pounds of weed from Texas, my husband took it kinda hard. We know we had no choice but to lay him off, and when we brought him back it was very part time, and we know that he didn’t have to choose to move weed between Texas and Michigan, but we also know that truly there are no options for work in our county. Mr. Cholo had the dream of becoming a General Contractor, but with the crash that dream died too. No one is building, period. No one is hiring, period. Businesses are running over our southern boarder to Ohio as fast as they can. Thanks Jenny, I thought DC was going to call you up. Excuse me Mr. President, don’t you need another dream killer in DC? Don’t over look us in Michigan, Jennifer Granholm is available to kill dreams too, don’t pass this opportunity by. Don’t you see what wonderful work she has done?


We must or our nation is toast. I’ve had it with the BS that business owners are money grubbing, self centered a-holes. We are the people who provide the opportunity for families to live a stable life. We offer people the opportunity to earn a living, working hard yes, but keeping a roof over their head. When decent, hard working people have to turn to a life of crime to keep their family fed we are coming unglued as a society. I’ve known this man for a decade. He’s not a criminal. I know because we’ve employed criminals, including ex-felons. He’s not a criminal, what he did was criminal, but he did it because he’s a dude between a rock and seven mouths to feed, and now they won’t have him for a long time. That sucks, end of rant.

St. Joseph the Worker, Pray for Us.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Homosexual Marriage – A Debate with My College Roommate

My roommate from Michigan and I have stayed in touch over the years. She went on to Veterinary school at OSU, and worked at a major university in research for many years. I moved to LA and got an MPA from USC. We both got married, and have stayed married to the same men. She has two girls and we have one son. Our lives have unfolded along similar lines, and yet she veered left and I pulled hard to the right. She stayed in academia and I’m in the private sector. That will influence a soul along the way, so when I saw a link on her facebook page in support of gay marriage I decided to ask her about it.

It’s a divisive topic of course, and it’s difficult to have a discussion without falling into sound bite simplicities. I know this woman personally, I know she is intelligent so I really want to know how she had reasoned her way to her position.

From the Right Side of the Fence

The germ of my argument against same sex marriage rests on the possibility of adverse impact on children. I argue that children are, by virtue of biological necessity, the exclusive byproduct of relationships between men and women and are historically the main beneficiaries of marriage. Furthermore, that the deterioration of family life over the last forty years has had a profound damaging effect on children. I argue that gay marriage could add fuel to the flames rather than help put out the fires and that arguments in favor of gay marriage such as property transference or medical decisions regarding an ailing partner can be managed via other contractual mechanisms such as wills, trusts, power of attorney documentation etc. In any case, the needs of the most vulnerable, our societies children, should trump the interests of adults in same sex relationships.

From the Left Side of the Fence

Her argument revolved around same sex attraction as occurring in the animal kingdom, and therefore biologically natural. That same sex partners should be afforded all rights granted other members of society so as to not be excluded. She drew parallels with the civil rights struggles of blacks and oppression of Jews as comparably problematic issues in human history.

From the Right Side of the Fence

I countered that marriage does not include or exclude individuals from participation in any area of society and that same sex attraction as a naturally occurring condition does not necessitate it’s codification into the law of the land as the basis for a marriage between two people.

From the Left Side of the Fence

She was busy and would talk about it later.

The Take Away

I find it troublesome that the most vulnerable appear to be disregarded in this argument from the left. When one individuals needs are deemed greater than another’s, who speaks for the weakest in the equation?

I ask this question, I think about the issues impacting children in our society, because I have contact with the most vulnerable. Not daily like the caseworkers, but regularly when I ask about adopting kids from foster care. I find out about them, about their histories, about their needs about what happened to them before they came into the system. I see how they are often un-tethered from birth, how every few years they have new “parents” as the biological parents hop from one relationship to the next. I see the devastation, the complete destruction of these, the most vulnerable among us.

Like nine year old Sara. A cute little girl with big brown doe eyes. Our caseworker told me all about her last week. How she is improving in residential treatment. How her outbursts are fewer as time goes on. How seven men sexually abused her and that with a boy so close in age they don’t feel our home would be a good placement for this child.

It’s difficult to listen to, difficult to hear about a nine year old child that has been treated so brutally. Difficult to imagine the living hell she has gone through, but I know how it happened. Family life is disintegrating, and children are vulnerable. Now is not the time to take any steps that could add fuel to that fire. Now is the time to exercise some common sense and put the needs of the most vulnerable first.

St. Joseph, Patron of Fathers, Pray For Us.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Serving Mass in Jeresalem

Photo taken by one of our fellow Pilgrims at our last Mass in the Holy Land. Can't help myself, he's just too cute.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Walking in the Footprints of God – Part Two –Israel & Her People

Being in Israel was like being in Church, mundane everyday activities taking place in a portal between heaven and earth. The Holy Land, like the Mass, is the very thinnest of places, a place you don’t see so much as you feel.

My first impressions of Israel one of self-assurance; by contrast our emphasis on consumerism feels very shallow. Shopping malls, so carefully planned, manicured and attended to are the pinnacle of American attention. Malls are our temples, and we worship shiny things as if they could bring meaning to our lives. Israel appeared to have no such delusion. Our tour guides tell us that most of Israel’s people are atheists or at least secular. Nevertheless, the country has a presence, not an arrogance; a presence that lets you know this is a place of substance, a place with a sense of both history and destiny, a place of unquestionable significance on the world stage. Perhaps even a place where the battle of good and evil is being played out in both mundane and supernatural ways. Our hyper focus on appearances feels simplistic, a bit adolescent, an empty endeavor held up against such a backdrop, but the backdrop of Israel’s people is fragmented like looking in a broken mirror and not quite being able to make out a clear reflection in the jagged pieces.

The nation has a unique blend of peoples and each seamed to have it’s own distinct personality. My quickie impressions:

Israel is a nation that loves children!!

Our son was genuinely welcomed everywhere we went. Folks wanted to know how many siblings he had back at home and when we said he’s our only one I was asked why the factory was closed. As an infertile woman that question would have brought tears not to long ago, but being a Mom changes everything and the question was asked in the spirit of a love for children and family, a decidedly Catholic position, so it didn’t sting. All of the people we met were very open to children, never once did anyone we encountered react with distain or recoil as if an unpleasant smell was in the air as sometimes happens here in the States when a child is present.

The Christians:

A very small minority, but devout and almost exclusively Catholic or Greek Orthodox. Primarily Arab descendants whose families converted at the first Pentecost. Imagine living two thousand years in one region; imagine a Christian lineage two thousand years old. Meeting these people was like reaching through time and touching a little bit of that day when the disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit. You could almost hear Peter’s voice.

The Jews:

Vast majority, mostly secular but with pockets of devout orthodoxy. Pleasant people overall, not intrusive but very friendly and helpful when approached. Orthodox Jews are very committed to family and tend to have a lot of children, and they travel with their kids. El Al’s planes are equipped with bulkhead cribs and each flight was full of children. Orthodox men won’t speak to women and would ask to be moved if seated next to a woman other than their spouse, and of course they pray no matter where they are.

The Druze:

A quirky minority of Arab heritage practicing a mysterious religion that’s largely unknown because converts aren’t permitted. It’s believed to be a mix of the three monotheistic religions, but apparently includes reincarnation and amazingly the belief that the Messiah will be born of a man. To wit the men wear pants that look like a throw back to an MC Hammer video from the 80’s, just in case they need the room should they be the one the Messiah will choose. At least that’s what we were told about the pants. I did see the parachute pants, but didn’t get an explanation from the locals.

The Druze were very warm and friendly. We visited their village for lunch and it was a very comfortable place to enjoy a meal. Very inviting, very pleasant, a nice place to visit. Our son was treated like a prince and spoiled rotten with baklava for desert. We were all treated very well, but we didn’t all get baklava!!!

The Bedouin:

Another quirky minority of Arab heritage who make their home in the desert. These are nomadic people who live with their flocks in an area so dry it looks like living on the moon. We didn’t meet any Bedouins so I don’t have any sense of their personality as a people, but we saw their encampments and it looks like they live as monastics but without all the comforts of shelter etc. Very, very remote with no appearance of anything but temporary sheds and flocks. Seeing their encampments felt like looking at the tribes of Israel wandering around in the desert for the forty years.

The Muslims:

Of Arab decent and truly some of the nastiest people I have ever met. They make up the largest minority of the Israel population and they are a miserable people. There simply isn’t any softer way to state the facts. The Palestinian areas they control such as Bethlehem and Jericho are filthy dirty. If you’ve seen video of the poorest of the poor in Mexico living in the trash dumps, think that kind of filthy, but these people didn’t move to a dump to survive, it’s what they’ve done with where they live. Not only are the public areas filthy and uncared for, but private residences as well.

The street vendors and the shopkeepers are absurdly intrusive, apparently believing that a glance at their merchandize constitutes a contractual obligation to buy, and that shoving their wares in your face is the best way to secure that first glance. At one point in the old city of Jerusalem my path out of a shop was blockaded by the shopkeeper and I needed to be rescued by my husband and another of the men we were traveling with and in that same outing his wife was chased out of a store with the keeper screaming at her about wasting his time.

Shopping travails notwithstanding, the Muslims we encountered were extraordinarily hostile. Glaring as you walk down the street toward the Holy sites, in fact there is a Muslim billboard on the road to the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, which pretty much states, “The Koran Says You Are Going to Hell."

Notice the speakers above the billboard.

In the old city of Jerusalem the Muslims have bricked up the Golden Gate because according to our guides as described also in Wiki. In Jewish tradition, this is the gate through which the Messiah will enter Jerusalem. Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I sealed off the Golden Gate in 1541 to prevent the Messiah's entrance. The Muslims also built a cemetery in front of the gate, in the belief that the precursor to the Messiah, Elijah, would not be able to pass through, since he is a Kohen.

We were told that the Muslims make it a point to situate their Mosques as close to churches as possible, and to buy up as much land around Christian sites and homes as they can. Believable in that they have attempted to prevent the coming of the Messiah into Jerusalem by bricking up a gate and planting a cemetery to prevent his passage.

Our visit to the Church of the Annunciation gave us some insight to the Muslim’s strategy. Mass that day was in the Grotto of the Annunciation, a small chapel in front of the cave where the angel Gabriel came to Our Lady, and the word became flesh. As we prayed the decade of the annunciation at the end of Mass the Muslim call to prayer blasted from the minarets on the Mosque outside the Church. You can see the speakers in the photo of the billboard above.

It was surreal, otherworldly. As our small group of pilgrims prayed, the sound outside the Church was deafening and reminded me of a war time psych op strategy designed to weaken an enemy. On a supernatural level it felt like being surrounded by demons screeching and wailing as they looked in at the Heaven they weren’t permitted to enter.

Am I reading more into this experience than was there? Sure it’s possible, but why blast your call to prayer into a Christian church, particularly the Church marking the exact spot where God came to earth, the very dot on the planet where the rift between heaven and earth, the chasm separating God and man, began to be bridged? Nazareth is a big town, why make sure every Christian pilgrim to the site of the incarnation passes a sign that denigrates Christianity?

I recall hearing in the wake of the 911 attacks that Islam is a religion of peace. I’m a 911 convert. In an instant as I watched the towers fall I knew in the depths of my tarnished soul that good and evil existed and as I searched for the good I ran headlong into the arms of Jesus like millions of prodigals who’ve come before me.

I don’t have much personal experience with Muslims aside from my few days in the Holy Land, but this personal experience shows me not a religion of peace, but one of hatred and distain. What other motivation could there be for bullying and harassing another group of people? Bullying and harassing are not agents of peace, walling up gates in an effort to control isn’t peace. Islam does not engender peace in her followers. Muslims are not a people at peace, but they are a people with an agenda of destruction. You see it in their communities, you see it in the way they treat others.

Not a particularly subtle or sufficiently nuanced take on the Muslim position? A bit hard to take for our PC society? I suppose, but it seams that Jesus isn’t terribly nuanced when he said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.”

These people hate. Not because we are American. No they just hate. We would do well to take note.

Lord Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, Have Mercy On Us!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Walking in the Footprints of God – Part One – Traveling to the Holy Land

Our parish went on a Steve Ray Pilgrimage to the Holy Land this month so we decided to blow some of the retirement fund and take the boy out of classes for two weeks to walk in the land touched by God.

Israel is a land unlike any I’ve visited. Even the plane ride over was different. In the middle of the night as we all slept, a dozen or so men harkening a call none of the rest of us heard, strapped on unusual leather gear, covered themselves with shawls, got up in the middle of the plane, in a row, side by side, so that none of us could pass, faced the front of the plane and began to bow up and down while issuing forth incomprehensible uttering in a rather loud voice.

This was an unusual way to wake on a plane, groggy, disoriented, with a dozen men facing the cockpit bouncing up and down chanting in a row. One’s first inclination is Oh S---!! However, as the sleep induced fog lifts it is very comforting to recall that one is flying El Al, the safest airline in the world, and since everyone else on the plane appears quite calm it must be that what I’m witnessing is a brand of Judaism slightly more devout than that practiced by my In-Laws.

With the entire cabin roused from slumber we tried to move around, to the rest rooms, to avoid deep vein thrombosis on the fourteen-hour plane ride, to re-hydrate, anything to pass the time. Not happening, the dipping and bobbing line would not be moved. If you were ahead, you stayed ahead, if you were aft the line well that’s where you stayed.

One of our fellow pilgrims was passing the time listening to her MP3 and we were all a bit startled when she began to belt out the LOH at the top of her lungs. I mean the top, I was at the opposite side of the huge jumbo jet and I could hear her clear as a bell. Her chant was beautiful, but I’m thinking, “Barbara, come on, I understand getting into the spirit of the thing and all, but these guys look pretty serious, and I’m not to sure they are going to take kindly to your efforts here, and it is their airline after all and there’s no need to start a brawl at 30,000 feet so perhaps a bit more quietly, what do you think?”

All was well, no one got jumped, and when we asked her about it later in the trip she claimed she didn’t know she was singing out loud. She was. Our Priest was seated behind her and even he was a bit concerned about starting the trip off with an international incident.

It takes twenty four full traveling hours to get to Israel from the Midwest, not with any accounting for time change, no twenty four full travel hours there and back, and it was worth every moment spent in the car, the airport, the airplane, the bus. Worth every moment.

I’ve been turning the trip over in my mind since we’ve been home and I hope to write a post for each day of the pilgrimage. Next stop the Sea of Galilee.

For anyone interested video of our pilgrimage is on Steve’s blog at the link above. He has video of each day. Our son is the rather cute alter server, actually he’s the only child on the trip so you can’t miss him.

Thank you Lord for the gift of this pilgrimage, may you bless us all. Amen.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I’m On A Big Ol’ Latin Kick

Latin? OK........

Well it is the language of the Church, but still. I’ve been to one Latin Mass, and it was OK, but I’m not in a big hurry to go again, so I can’t really splain the Latin kick, but learning the prayers of the rosary in Latin has come to consume my every available moment of free time.

I’ve got the Ave Maria down, but it took me a while.

So now I can pray with any other Catholic in the world who knows The Angelic Salutation in Latin.

Cool, but I’m still a bit baffled by the urgency I’m feeling to learn the basic Catholic prayers in Latin. I mean it’s not like we have to celebrate the Mass in secret, in our basements, under cover, or need to pray secretly with others who may not speak English. Yet.

So I found this really cool site with Pope JP II praying the rosary in Latin. For your consideration should anyone also become seized with the overwhelming urge to learn the rosary in Latin.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Detroit – 40+ Years of Entitlement Leadership – A Legacy of Pain

Crowder on Detroit
Newt on Detroit
(must learn to embed videos!)

I grew up in a Detroit suburb. Most of my family still lives in Grosse Pointe; my Father lives in downtown Detroit. I know this city, and it’s not pretty. As a kid the phrase on everyone's lips, “the last one out of Detroit, turn off the lights,” defined conditions in the decades that followed the 67’ riots.

Newt & Crowder capture the ruin and destruction that flows in the wake of entitlement leadership. Detroit is in shambles, and has been all of my life. To be in Detroit is to feel the corruption, hopelessness, and desolation, truly the evil that permeates the city.

We can’t let this happen to our Nation. We simply can’t. There isn’t any place on the planet left to go.

Bl. Solanis Casey, Ora Pro Nobis

Friday, December 11, 2009

Who Ya Gonna Reflect: Jesus or the IRS?

Several weeks ago I felt called to increase my devotion to the Chaplet of Devine Mercy. I’ve been playing my CD in the afternoons as the boy and I go about our daily tasks. We haven’t stopped to pray it so much as have the prayer sung as the backdrop to our lives.

These last few days I believe I’ve come to understand this prompting of the Holy Spirit to draw closer to this devotion.

As Christmas Eve approaches, and along with it the second anniversary of the attack against our son that changed his life forever, an attack so violent it landed our son in the hospital for a week and his birth father in prison for several years, his behavior has been a bit challenging. He’s been acting out and we’ve seen some regression in areas that had been going well. Bottom line as anyone who’s every had a child that’s acting out can attest, it’s a pain in the backside to set boundaries, and keep them intact as a kid continues to push up against them in various and often sneaky ways. We all have an extra year under our collective belts as a family and that it helping, but I’m also leaning heavily on the message of Devine Mercy.

As we are meting out consequences for his behavior, I have worked very hard at tempering those consequences with a heavy dose of mercy. I’ve worked very hard at collecting myself and containing my anger as I discover his transgressions, prior to even discussing the matter with him or my husband. I’ve reminded myself often of the unmerited mercy I’ve received and it’s a big help in shaping my interactions with our son.

Believe me, this is not in any way the same thing as going soft and simply ignoring or condoning bad behavior. I think of it as having steel fences in place, covered over in a soft foam cushion, wrapped in a warm fluffily fleece. The fence (behavior boundary) is still intact, but the bumping up against it is tempered with love.

In the end it seams to me the question in dealing with this erring child really is:

Who Ya Gonna Reflect: Jesus or the IRS?

For the sake of His sorrowful passion; have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

3 Day Novena to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Oh, most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven.

Blessed Mother of the Son of God; Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity.

Oh, Star of the Sea, help me and show me you are my Mother.

Oh, Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succour me in my necessity. (Mention your request here).

There are none that can withstand your power.

Oh, Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. (3x).

Holy Mary, I place this prayer in your hands. (3x). Amen.

Say this prayer for 3 consecutive days and then you must publish it and it will be granted to you.

Praying for guidance for our family & healing for friends.