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Showing posts from December, 2009

Give This Christmas Away

While shopping at a local Christian bookstore recently, I picked up a little inspirational book titled 101 Simple & Thoughtful Ways to Give This Christmas Away by Matthew West . This small, hardback book offers inspirational, out of the box ideas of how to have a better Christmas. It is a quick and easy read - I sat and read it while waiting for my daughter at choir practice. You may want to dog ear pages or highlight suggestions as you go. It didn't take me long to read one that really hit home for me. #4 is "Write a Letter". The author encourages you to write a real letter, not text message or email, but an old-fashioned pen and paper letter to tell someone how much they mean to you. His mentions that after his grandmother passed away, he regretted that he didn't write her often enough when her health was fading. As I read this one, my eyes welled up. My husband's grandmother has been in the hospital ICU this last week with heart trouble. And now t

Are you Ready?

In our family celebrating Christmas begins on Christmas Eve, which makes today the Eve before Christmas Eve. My last day of work (the day job) ended yesterday in a flurry of minutia cleaning off my desk, and leaving myself to-do notes about what tasks need to be resumed in January. Last night bustled with making grocery lists and planning meals for the coming days. Today will be spent largely in the kitchen. Then, this morning I awoke with a sense of calmness. My younger daughter joined me in the kitchen and pulled open the window blinds revealing a beautiful sunrise. She climbed into my lap as I sat with my coffee, taking advantage of a quiet moment to read The Word Among Us . Together we read aloud the day’s readings and the meditation . As we read, the sun rose, spreading light across the room. We’ve been so busy this Advent, running around preparing for meals, preparing for our gift-giving, preparing for parties, preparing for travel, that this morning was a welcome reminder of

Little Moments: The Christmas Sweater

Over the last few years, watching and reading The Polar Express has become part of our Christmas family traditions.  This year, I picked up a new book that I thought we could add to that tradition.  The Christmas Sweater: A Picture Book , by Glenn Beck was released this year just in time for the holidays.  I'll admit that I own The Christmas Sweater , the novel on which the picture book is based, released in 2008, but I have not read it yet.  So when I sat down to read the book to the kids, the story of The Christmas Sweater was a surprise for all of us. This very warm family-oriented tale incorporates the true spirit of Christmas through heartfelt storytelling.  My kids were memorized with not only the words, but also the wonderful illustrations, with colors and details that fit just perfectly with the style.  As I'm reading aloud I came to the line, "See, when a gift is made by hand, all of that person's love is captured in it. Once they give it to you, that love

The Pursuit of Happiness

Earlier this week when Lisa and I talked about our blog posts for this week, we both mentioned that we’d been working on a post about Joy. She started hers after listening to Deacon Tom & Dee talk about Vitamin J “Joy” on their podcast Catholic Vitamins last month. I started mine shortly after Gaudete Sunday Mass. Throughout our daily lives we seek happiness, but what defines happiness? What makes us happy? Getting the Christmas presents wrapped, a hot peppermint mocha, recognition from our peers, the latest technology gadget, the coveted perfect parking spot? These things are material and only provide a temporary fix. All around us we see people deprived of happiness, even in this land of plenty. People have so much in this world, but are not happy. Once the temporary happiness wears away, we are still looking for the next better thing. This lack of happiness is demonstrated in frustration all around us. What good is all that we have physically if we can’t find our true happ

Good Deed Beads

Good Deed Beads with the Little Flower Over a year ago, I added a beautiful beaded bracelet to my limited jewelry collection that people ask me about often. The silver beads have little crystals in the center of flowers strung together with black cording and a charm of St. Therese and a crucifix dangling at the clasp. They are called Good Deed Beads and I first heard about them from Catholic Moments with Lisa Hendey almost 2 years ago. The description that comes with your beads states: Your “Good Deed Beads” are a string of ten beads, which can be pulled from side to side and will remain in place. As a child, St. Therese of Lisieux used similar beads to count the “gifts” she offered to God each day. Use the beads to count the times a temptation, such as showing impatience, or anger, or eating without being hungry is rejected. These sacrifices can in turn be offered to God for a predetermined intention, such as the health of a friend or your own growth in virtue.

Discussing Differences

Last night a discussion on my FaceBook page brought up the rule of etiquette that says one should never discuss the controversial topics of politics or religion in mixed company.  One friend commented that the two topics cannot be discussed with creating disharmony and a lack of respect.  Personally, I subscribe to the belief set forth by Matthew Warner at Fallible Blogma - Always Talk Religion and Politics.   These things are two of the most important issues affecting our lives.  Why should we avoid them?  Maybe if we discussed them more often we would learn how to discuss them with respect and learn from each other.   If we do not talk about religion and politics except among like minded individuals, how are we to put a human face on those people who are different or disagree with our beliefs? If we only talk amongst ourselves, how are we going to learn about others?  Only from what we read in books or observe in the media?  If we only rely on those mediums, then we must accept th

This is Not a Baby

The courageous young men and women over at Live Action are at it again.  This group, started by UCLA college student, Lila Rose , goes into Planned Parenthood centers undercover across the country to show the world what really goes on behind their closed doors.  Previously, Ms. Rose has exposed numerous Planned Parenthood clinics violating reporting laws by concealing sexual abuse of minors, thus prompting state investigations into those operations. This new undercover Planned Parenthood video from Wisconsin, the first in Live Action's "Rosa Acuna" Project , shows a woman being counseled by a doctor that having an abortion is actually safer than having a baby. As she asks questions, over and over the nurse and doctor tell this young woman that an abortion gets rid of the pregnancy, that there is not a baby .  According to the nurse, there is no heartbeat for a fetus until around 18 weeks and its not a baby until birth. Watching this video affirms recent statements b

Diary of God's Love: Let It Snow

As a native Houstonian, snow is a novelty.  To say the least, I was skeptical when our local meteorologists began predicting snow for last Friday. As rare as snow is in Houston, it has never snowed so early as December 4.  Imagine my surprise when my husband called me from the elementary school carpool line to say it really was snowing!  I glanced out the window, saw mostly sleet and blew it off.  About an hour later, we had undeniable flurries outside the window. I turned on the news and dire predictions of rain and snow, followed by freezing icy conditions by the afternoon filled the screen.  As the listing of early school closures for possible ice (remember, this is Houston) started scrolling across the screen, my mind immediately went to my son's birthday party taking place at our house that night.  Was it safe to have the party after dark in freezing weather with ice on the roads?  Would anyone show up?  As I got on the phone to call parents for their opinion, the "flur

Update on Abortion Funding in the Senate Health Care Bill

Tuesday, December 8th, the Senate voted 54-45 to defeate a bipartisan Amendment that would have stripped mandated abortion funding from the Senate Health Care Bill. This Amendment 's language tracked closely to the Stupak Amendment passed earlier in the House of Representatives to preserve the status quo of no public funding of abortion. The defeat of the Senate Amendment means that the Senate Health Care bill retains provisions requiring participants to pay a monthly abortion fee to the government and results in an unprecedented expansion of federally funded abortions. Matt Warner, at Fallible Blogma , has compiled a list of the 15 Catholic Senators who voted for the public to fund abortion in the health care bill . He asks that you share his list with others as we all work to vote these Senators out of office in their next election. Meanwhile, Thomas Peters at American Papist shares the recent shocking comments of three pro-abortion Senators, including that of Senator Feinst

Come, follow me

Every morning I get the Daily Readings from my FlockNote subscription . I'll be honest - there are some mornings I'm already too rushed, too busy to read them and give them the thought they deserve. But this morning I opened the email and while reading the scripture, a song just popped into my head. I found myself singing while reading. Has that ever happened to anyone else or am I just weird. (Hmm, don't answer that.) The reading was Isaiah 40:25-31 Of course I encourage you to read the entire beautiful selection, but I'm only quote the relevant part. ...but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength, they put out wings like eagles. They run and do not grow weary, walk and never tire. I'm reading these last lines and without even thinking about it I'm singing the refrain from We Will Rise Again by David Haas : We will run and not grow weary, for our God will be our strength, and we will fly like the eagle, we will rise again. The more popular, reco

Going Paperless

Yesterday morning I looked forward to sitting down and composing a post honoring the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. My original idea was to gather quotes from eyewitnesses to the attack utilizing a specific book. The University of North Texas Oral History Program has collected oral history interviews from over 350 survivors, compiling them into a great resource titled, Remembering Pearl Harbor: Eyewitness Accounts by U.S. Military Men and Women, by Dr. Ronald Marcello and Dr. Robert LaForte. I work in a library, which is a true joy - having so many reference books and services literally at your fingertips. I have the book I wanted at home, but didn’t think about getting it out before I came to the office. Yesterday I learned that my library doesn’t have a physical copy of the book; it’s only available as an eBook. Meaning that while I’m standing at a computer terminal surrounded by thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of academic research books, I have to go back to my office and sta

December 7, 1941

The instant I awoke this morning I realized it was Pearl Harbor Day. I don’t know exactly what Pearl Harbor means to most people anymore. How aware are they of the significance of that day? That thought led me to wonder whether in 68 years there will be young adults, teenagers, and children for whom Ground Zero is just a memorial in New York City representing some event one day in the distant past. I visited Pearl Harbor in 1988; rode the ferry over to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial and stood in awe of the immensity of the attack. Tourists from all over the world joined me in hushed silence as we looked across Battleship Row and paid respect to those thousands who died in the attack. On that fateful Sunday morning in 1941, there were ninety-four American warships anchored off the coast of Oahu in the US Territory of the Hawaiian Islands. At 6:30 a.m. American patrol planes sighted the first of two midget submarines trying to sneak into the harbor. A little after 7 a.m., a soldier at

Bringing Beauty to the World

A few weeks ago, we taught our CCE students that God reveals Himself to us through Divine Revelation using Creation, People, and Jesus. By revealing Himself through Creation, God surrounds us with Beauty. You know that moment where you find yourself looking at a scene that leaves you breathless: the mist rising from a warm bayou in the cold stillness of an early morning, sun breaking through dark clouds after a thunderstorm, the brilliance of a clear blue sky in Fall - those are the moments when you realize that God created this world. God also uses people to do His works and reveal His truth when we share our special God-given talents with others or perform selfless acts of love toward each other. On the tenth anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Artists , Pope Benedict XVI hosted artists from around the world in the Sistene Chapel, where he expressed his interest in renewing “ the Church’s friendship with the world of art .” The Holy Father told the crowd of over 250 artis

Advent - Preparation for a Mom

Advent – the season of preparing for Christ’s birth – arrived on Sunday.  Our priest reminded us that it’s like being a child waiting to go on a big vacation, all excitement and bustle.  In the same way we might prepare for a vacation or birthday or other big event, we now prepare our home, our families, and ourselves for Christ. For most of us, preparing as a child is all about the excitement and waiting.  As adults, the word prepare, takes on a whole new meaning: Christmas cards, Christmas shopping, Christmas dinner, Christmas parties.  And as the adults, the work falls squarely on our shoulders. So is it any wonder that I’m sitting up at almost 1 a.m. with so much on my mind that I can’t sleep.  It’s not just preparing for the Christmas season in my house, there are also school functions, parties, two birthdays and lots of extras on my “to do” list.  This year I’m also responsible for  room mom duties at both the preschool and kindergarten classes, contract work that needs to be

Pro Life America, but a Pro Abortion Congress

While on the treadmill one morning, a news headline on the television caught my eye, " New Poll shows 61% of Americans oppose public funding of abortions. "  CNN continued on to say that  in addition,  51% of all Americans think women should pay for abortions out of their own pockets, even if they have private health insurance and no federal funds are involved. Couple this new information with the two earlier polls this year showing that a majority of Americans now label themselves pro-life and you have to wonder who Congress is listening to while writing the Health care Reform bills.  While the Stupak Amendment prohibiting federal dollars paying for abortions barely passed in the House, House majority leaders announced the same week that they will work to strip the Stupak Amendment from the final version of the bill during conference committee. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has created a monthly Abortion Fee on all Americans in the Senate Bill for a new