Wednesday, December 29, 2004

My True Self for 2005

It sounds so vague, to resolve to be my true self in 2005. However, this statement means much more than just saying that I resolve to lose weight, pray more, floss daily, exercise, or spend more quality time with my children.

When I fail in my efforts towards health or holiness, I often use the excuse "that's just not ME". It isn't in my personality to enjoy exercise. The person I am LOVES to eat, and eat a lot. I just can't "find it in me" to have a disciplined prayer life. When I make the effort to do something to improve myself, I often fail and use the excuse "I feel so fake."

I had a priest tell me one time that the statement "I feel so fake", is one of the biggest lies Satan attacks us with on our spiritual journey. When something doesn't come naturally, we tend to assume that it means we aren't supposed to do it. Nothing could be more wrong.

When we strive towards perfection, and struggle to improve ourselves, we are actually utilizing the gifts and graces God has given us to become closer to our true selves. We are not supposed to remain our base selves that come so easily. We have tendencies and vices that come naturally, but forget that God always intended for us to be supernatural beings. " the image of God he created them..." Genesis 1:27.

That "fake" feeling we experience is more than mere discomfort at doing something new. It is Satan's manipulation in us so that we will cease in our journey toward Heaven. Recognizing that is the first step in overcoming it.

So, my resolution is that when I don't feel like getting up and exercising in the morning, I will remeber that my true self is someone who desires to be healthy and take care of my body. When I can't seem to enter into any prayertime, I will try and re-focus and go to God as I truly am, even if I can only muster up a heartfelt "God, I don't feel like praying. Please draw me closer to you." When I think about how I would rather do adult things and take care of household things rather than play Candyland with my kids, I will remember that my true self is a mother who wants her children to feel valued and important.

And when I feel too lazy to floss before bedtime, I will remember that my true self has beautiful, clean, white teeth!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Death Meme

Thanks to Julie M. for assigning me this task under threat of painful death!

Three names you go by:
Apples (a nickname from dh because he likes my cheekbones)

Three screennames you have:
Philothea Rose
TheChosenOne47 (on the Alias boards I go to)

Three things you like about yourself:
I'm loyal
I feel passionate about standing up for what is right
I never cheat

Three things you hate/dislike about yourself:
I like soap operas (but have been trying to give them up)
I have a hard time forgiving people who have hurt me
I tend to ramble when I talk

Three parts of your heritage:
Beer and motorcycles

Three things that scare you:
serial killers
the thought of something violent or evil happening to my children, my dh, or me

Three of your everyday essentials:
tea (preferably iced tea)
deoderant (everyone should have put this, for the sake of those around them!)
my dh

Three things you are wearing right now:
Sacramento Kings hat
favorite tennis shoes
my jacket (I forgot to take it off when I got home)

Three of your favorite bands/artists (at the moment):
ABBA (a permanent favorite)
Maroon 5

Three of your favorite songs at present:
Somebody Told Me (The Killers)
1985 (by ??)
Summer Night City (ABBA)

Three things you want to try in the next 12 months:
lose 30 pounds
clean my mini blinds
finish reading a book called Dawson's Gift by a friend of mine, Andrea Bell.

Three things you want in a relationship (love is a given):

Two truths and a lie:
I am slightly afraid of dogs after being bitten by one a few years ago.
I am 5'8"
My dh proposed to me 2 days before I turned 18.

Three physical things about the opposite (or same) that appeals to you:
great smiles
penetrating (but genuine) eyes

Three things you just can't do:
I can't roll my "r"'s, like you do when speaking spanish
eat olives
swim fast

Three of your favorite hobbies:
anything Alias
yard sale-ing/bargain hunting

Three things you want to do really badly right now:
drink a glass of ice tea
be OUT of phase 2 (anyone doing STM of NFP knows what I am talking about)
lose 30 pounds

Three careers you're considering:

Three places you want to go on vacation:
New York City
New Orleans

Three kids names:
Stephen (what we'll name our next boy)
Patrice (what I want to name our next girl)
Pentecost (a name my husband has actually considered naming one of our boys because "it's a great name for a linebacker")

Three things you want to do before you die:
go to confession
receive the Eucharist
tell my dh how much I love him, and kids how much I love them (everything else seems unimportant)

Three people who have to take this quiz now or die painful death:
John at Catholic Packer Fan
Veronica on the Verge
Marry Poppins NOT

Friday, December 17, 2004

A Discouraging Advent

As I do every year, I end my liturgical year with resolutions to have a holy, Spirit-filled Advent. I plan on lighting my Advent wreath every evening in family prayer. I intend to set aside much time to pray everyday, and I promise to be at peace and leisure in my preparations for Christmas. No stress, no chaos, just prayer and peaceful discernment before the coming of Our Lord.

Of course, like secular New Year's resolutions, my Advent ones are usually broken. Truthfully, my Advent has been incredibly discouraging, and I have noticed the same effect on many people surrounding me. It just seems that all these roadblocks to my peaceful Advent keep popping up, and these roadblocks seem to have sucked all the prayerful-peaceful-leisurly spirit out of me.

My motivation to pray has been clouded over by school parties, and days of everything-going-wrong while putting up our decorations and lights (since when did Murphy's law apply to Christmas trees?). I haven't even begun my Christmas letters yet, nor have I finished Christmas shopping, so the weekend will be jam packed with stressful obligations. There have been so many well-intentioned, charitable requests from the moms club I'm in, the religious education program, the parish giving tree, my oldest son's elementary school, and my husband's staff at work, but we haven't done anything for any of them because I was too overwhelmed by all the requests. Of course, if I had my life and home in order the way I should have, then I could've foregone the overwhelmed feelings and truly experienced the giving nature of Christmas.

Discouraging. Frustrating. Stressful. Overwhelmed. Despairing. Advent is supposed to be a time of praying in preparation for Christmas, not praying for it to just be over.

I turn my eyes upward to the sky and vent, "Lord, I'm trying to be part of a "good Catholic family" this year. Why does is seem that everything is going wrong?"

Then my thoughts turn to the Holy Family. What were they experiencing during their Advent?

And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Matthew 2:4-7

So here we have a pregnant mama who has to pack everything up and set out on a donkey (of all ways to travel) with her husband walking beside her to go be enrolled in a census. A census? I would be saying, "Lord, the most important moment in history, as well as in my life, is about to occur and I have to deal with a census?!"

Then to top it off, they get to this little hole-in-the-wall town and can't get a hotel room. Of course this is the perfect time for mama to go into labor. When a place is found, it's where the rest of the people, all nice and cozy in their hotel rooms, keep their animals (you mean more time with the donkey?)

Discouraging. Frustrating. Stressful. Overwhelmed. Sound familiar? One difference: no despairing.

Here is where I am different from our blessed pregnant mama. Mary didn't allow her discouragment and stress to overcome her. She didn't lose a virtuous bone in her body as a result of too many obstacles. She didn't throw her hands up in the air, complain, or whine and pout that the birth of her first baby has been ruined. In fact, did she say anything at all? Or was enough said when she brought forth Jesus into this world?

Most good things come after a time of struggle. Why do I keep getting it in my head that Christmas is any different? What made me think that the way to prepare for Christmas was to rest, relax, light my candles, and easily pen out my Christmas cards while Christmas music plays softly in the background, and my children color Christmas pictures quietly all snug in pajamas and slippers? Why did I think my prayer-time should come easy, with no effort? Why did I think that in order for me to achieve peace, it meant my life and all it's happenings would just stop?

And not that these stressful activities I have been experienceing are the struggles that are necessary for us during Advent. On the contrary, the struggle we should be experiencing is the climbing over these roadblocks with a disciplined prayer-life and quiet focus, just as Mary and Joseph did. We should not let the complications cloud our vision of what we are intended to do- bring Jesus into the world.

Advent is a time for preparation. It's supposed to be a struggle to get to the joy of Christmas. The Holy Family demonstrated that very clearly to us. I hope that in this last week of Advent, I can unite my struggles and frustrations to the ones they experienced before Jesus came. I hope to use the virtues Mary and Joseph possessed to overcome the roadblocks and to persevere in prayer. As a result, on Christmas morning, I hope I am not merely glad that the holidays are soon to be over, but that I am truly rejoicing that Jesus has been borne into the world, in my home, and in my heart.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Purging Toys Before Christmas

John at Catholic Packer Fan has a post up about purging toys before Christmas. This subject (the one of purging toys) is very near and dear to my heart. I hate unnecessary messes, and I refuse to clean up the ones my kids make. So, if they whine and complain about cleaning up, my theory is that it means they MUST have too many toys and that I need to start flinging. This either gets them in a mad rush to clean up, (and clean up right, not shoving everything in the shelf and under the beds)or they actually assent to my purging. Sometimes I think even children know when they have too much.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Christmas Questions

Christmas Survey
1. Egg nog - yum or yuck?
Yum! Now, why don't we drink it all year long?

2. Stay up until midnight on New Years?

3. Prefer white or colored lights?
Colored- we have colored icicles and swags on our house.

4. Favorite holiday song.
Do you hear what I hear?

5. What is your tackiest holiday decoration?
A snowman figurine

6. Do your kids have too much and you wonder just WHY you are getting more??
No, because I do Flylady and throw out/give away any toy I deem as wasted space.

7. If you celebrate Christmas, when does your tree go up and come down?
2 weeks before Christmas and Epiphany/or when I get tired of vacuuming pine needles.

8. Christmas again - open presents on Christmas eve, morning, or other?
One on Christmas Eve, the rest in the morning.

9. Favorite holiday tradition?
Eating, eating, eating...

10. What do YOU want for Christmas?
Time alone.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Are You a Natalist? I think I am.

I read this commentary off the AP commentary wire, which was posted by a friend at Catholic Mom Community. I was wondering if there were more people out there like me, and now I realize, THEY ARE IN COLORADO!

c.2004 New York Times News Service|
There is a little-known movement sweeping across the United States. The movement is ‘‘natalism.’’
All across the industrialized world, birthrates are falling — in Western Europe, in Canada and in many regions of the United States. People are marrying later and having fewer kids. But spread around this country, and concentrated in certain areas, the natalists defy these trends.
They are having three, four or more kids. Their personal identity is defined by parenthood. They are more spiritually, emotionally and physically invested in their homes than in any other sphere of life, having concluded that parenthood is the most enriching and elevating thing they can do. Very often they have sacrificed pleasures like sophisticated movies, restaurant dining and foreign travel, let alone competitive careers and disposable income, for the sake of their parental calling.
In a world that often makes it hard to raise large families, many are willing to move to find places that are congenial to natalist values. The fastest-growing regions of the country tend to have the highest concentrations of children. Young families move away from what they perceive as disorder, vulgarity and danger and move to places like Douglas County in Colorado (which is the fastest-growing county in the country and has one of the highest concentrations of kids). Some people see these exurbs as sprawling, materialistic wastelands, but many natalists see them as clean, orderly and affordable places where they can nurture children.
If you wanted a one-sentence explanation for the explosive growth of far-flung suburbs, it would be that when people get money, one of the first things they do is use it to try to protect their children from bad influences.
So there are significant fertility inequalities across regions. People on the Great Plains and in the Southwest are much more fertile than people in New England or on the Pacific coast.
You can see surprising political correlations. As Steve Sailer pointed out in The American Conservative, George Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility rates, and 25 out of the top 26. John Kerry got the 16 states with the lowest rates.
In The New Republic Online, Joel Kotkin and William Frey observe, ‘‘Democrats swept the largely childless cities — true blue locales like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boston and Manhattan have the lowest percentages of children in the nation — but generally had poor showings in those places where families are settling down, notably the Sun Belt cities, exurbs and outer suburbs of older metropolitan areas.’’
Politicians will try to pander to this group. They should know this is a spiritual movement, not a political one. The people who are having big families are explicitly rejecting materialistic incentives and hyperindividualism. It costs a middle-class family upward of $200,000 to raise a child. These people are saying money and ambition will not be their gods.
Natalists resist the declining fertility trends not because of income, education or other socioeconomic characteristics. It’s attitudes. People with larger families tend to attend religious services more often, and tend to have more traditional gender roles.
I draw attention to natalists because they’re an important feature of our national life. Because of them, the United States stands out in all sorts of demographic and cultural categories. But I do it also because when we talk about the divide on values in this country, caricatured in the red and blue maps, it’s important that we understand the true motive forces behind it.
Natalists are associated with red America, but they’re not launching a jihad. The differences between them and people on the other side of the cultural or political divide are differences of degree, not kind. Like most Americans, but perhaps more anxiously, they try to shepherd their kids through supermarket checkouts lined with screaming Cosmo or Maxim cover lines. Like most Americans, but maybe more so, they suspect that we won’t solve our social problems or see improvements in our schools as long as many kids are growing up in barely functioning families.
Like most Americans, and maybe more so because they tend to marry earlier, they find themselves confronting the consequences of divorce. Like most Americans, they wonder how we can be tolerant of diverse lifestyles while still preserving the family institutions that are under threat.
What they cherish, like most Americans, is the self-sacrificial love of parents. People who have enough kids for a basketball team are too busy to fight a culture war.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Sara Fox Peterson: An Excellent Resource for NFP Users

For those of you who frequent the website or the Catholic Mom Community message boards, the name Sara Fox Peterson is not new to you. But for those of you who don't and who want support in your Natural Family Planning use (or want to learn more about it), then this woman is for you!

Practicing and learning Natural Family Planning has a lot more to it than merely abandoning contraception and picking up a book on the subject. Some of us have questions about NFP that we don't feel anyone has the answer for. Some of us have not yet begun practicing NFP because of fear or doubts, but would be open to it if those issues were addressed. Peterson's columns at and posts on the Catholic Mom Community message boards address some of the more personal aspects of NFP, and also give creedence to the spiritual sacrifices and struggles associated with it.

Do you find the period of abstinence difficult and frustrating?

Do you and your spouse differ on whether or not to use NFP or contraception?

Do you often wonder why NFP is the only method of family planning the Church allows?

Do any of you experience fear in surrendering yourselves to NFP versus using contaception?

What about medical reasons? Do you wonder if there is ever a reason to use contraception?

These are just a few of the issues Peterson addresses in her columns at I have found her to be so full of information, and so generous in giving it. And she writes about her topics in ways that I can understand, and with many thoughts or perspectives that had not previously occurred to me. She is 100% in-line with Catholic teaching and her information is trustworthy and complete. And best of all, she offers her words with the hand of friendship and love.

Anyone interested in Natural Family Planning or anything related to women's health (for she seems to know a lot about this as well), should check out her columns at, or checkout the NFP forums on the message boards. I know she would be of benefit to others as much as she has been to me.

Check out Sara Fox Peterson's columns at

Natural Family Planning forum on Catholic Mom Community message boards

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Paranoia Becomes Reality Concerning Euthanasia

When some would say that the issue of euthanasia would become a slippery slope, many thought we were paranoid. The thought of "mercy killings" escalating into the termination of innocents considered "undesirable" was outrageous. Oh really....

This is a story from AP today (12/01/2004)

Amsterdam, Netherlands-A hospital in the Netherlands-the first nation to permit euthanasia-recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carry out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives.The announcement by the Groningen Academic Hospital came amid a growing discussion in Holland on whether to legalize euthanasia on people incapable of deciding for themselves whether they want to end their lives-a prospect viewed with horror by euthanasia opponents.Three years ago, the Dutch parliament made it legal for doctors to inject a sedative and a lethal dose of muscle relaxant at the request of adult patients suffering great pain with not hope of relief.The Groningen Protocol, as the hospital's guidelines have come to be known, says euthanasia is acceptable when the child's medical team and independent doctors agree the pain cannot be eased and there is no prospect for improvement, and when parents think it's best.The hospital revealed it carried out four such mercy killings in 2003, and reported all cases to government prosecutors. There have been no legal proceedings against the hospital or the doctors.Roman Catholic organizations and the Vatican have reacted with outrage to the announcement, and U.S. euthanasia opponents contend the proposal shows the Dutch have lost their moral compass."The slippery slope in the Netherlands has descended into a vertical cliff," said Wesley J. Smith, a prominent California-based critic, in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

I have long heard of the secularization of Europe and an abandonment of Chrisitan ideals, but I am lead to question whether or not they are in fact becoming monsters. The culture of death we currently live in is warping and perverting basic ethics, and so many are falling into the trap of believing that only "productive" lives possess dignity, quality, or value. And to make this decision for those who cannot speak for themselves is purely unfathomable to me.

OK, Lord, you can come back and get us all now! I'm not sure how much worse it can get.

"A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more." Matthew 2:18