Monday, April 14, 2014

The Donkey

Our priest shared this poem by G. K. Chesterton in the newsletter for Palm Sunday.

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Five years ago, my family was received into the Catholic Church. I remember everything with the greatest clarity. On Palm Sunday, after reading through the Passion, those of us who were preparing to enter the Church were dismissed for prayer and reflection. We blithely say, "He suffered and died for us." But the enormity, the sheer incomprehensibility of all this hit me in the stomach. I saw myself in all the characters of the Passiontide. I was Peter. I was the woman who accused Peter. I was Judas. I was Caiphas. I was Pilate. I was the crowd, singing Hosanna one moment and "crucify Him" the next. I did not feel worthy. I still don't but my Lord has given me His Body and poured out His Precious Blood for me. Oh, how it makes me want to be good and still, I don't do the good that I want to, but do the bad things I don't want to. St. Paul speaks of this in his letter to the Romans. And so it gives me courage to go on, by His grace, becoming the person God created me to be. Thank God He never stopped loving me, never stopped gazing upon me, never stopped calling me home.

All ye angels and saints, pray for us to the Lord our God. Wishing you all a most blessed Holy Week.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Rich Gift of Love is Spurned

Please say a prayer for Sister Jane.
 May she not be persecuted for speaking the truth.
Several weeks ago, we had the great pleasure of attending a lecture on Masculinity and Femininity: Difference and Gift by Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, a professor of theology at Aquinas College. My husband has been studying the Theology of the Body, the series of Wednesday homilies given by Blessed Pope John Paul II. I found the book rather dense and instead studied the more accessible writings of Christopher West, and here comes Sister Jane with an online course presented by Aquinas College. It has been a great gift to us because the more we understand how and why we are made, the better we can share and discuss this knowledge with our children.

Sister Jane's lecture sparked much discussion at home about what it means to be male and female, about being created in His image, about women being the stitchers of standards, about men called to love and protect, about how Satan attacks, and much, much more.

So imagine my surprise and dismay when there was news of a group of parents and students at a Catholic school in NC being upset. Their feelings were hurt because they perceived the lecture to be anti-gay and anti-divorce. Whoa! Judge for yourself. Watch the online course with your families and teenaged children. It is broken up into 20-min segments so any family can fit this into their busy life. What you will see is a clear presentation of Catholic doctrine. Imagine learning Catholic doctrine at a Catholic school! We are always told to hate the sin, but love the sinner.

Alas, in today's climate, sin is a figment of the imagination. However, you are immediately labeled a bigot if you disapprove of same-sex marriage. The sexual revolution opened the door to premarital sex, extramarital sex, abortion, divorce, and breakdown of the family. I didn't think there was anything else left, but destroying the distinction between men and women is the last step towards destroying any sense of who we are. Human. Male and female. Created in the image of God.

Michelangelo's Creation of Adam

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Very Rational Argument Against Abortion Delivered by a Child

My sister, who volunteers at Agape, a Crisis Pregnancy Center, just sent me this video. What an articulate child! I think whether or not children know the mechanics of abortion, they instinctively know how wrong it is to kill a child. They are powerless and vulnerable, and much closer to babies than what we can imagine. I believe they are missing their brothers, sisters, classmates, spouses, and the children and grandchildren who will never live on this earth.

I especially liked her thoughts on rights and responsibilities as well as the last quote by Horton.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Conference Tidbits and Inspiration

One of the drawbacks of teaching at a conference is that you miss all the other lectures. However, I did have the pleasure of listening to these inspiring keynotes.

Torry Martin is a funny guy. Until this weekend I didn't know who he was since I'm that out of the loop with TV and popular culture. His faith journey is tied to his career, and now he is writing sketches based upon a character much like him: distracted, awkward, crazy, gullible. He said, "Wow! I was given four compliments in just one sentence!" The best humor cuts close to being vulnerable.

His talk is giving me the courage to write a book an editor has asked me to write. I can't say anything more ...

Something he said that really resonated: Our God is BIG! Let Him use you in the way He wants. Also, don't let your past stop you from doing what God is calling you to do. Step out in faith. Trust in God.

Every detail in your life has a purpose. God made you the way you are for a purpose. Dedicate your gift to the Lord.

Bill Reeves
Bill Reeves spoke about dreams, how God puts dreams upon our hearts. He was just 15 years old when he knew that God was calling him to get engaged in the culture through entertainment and bring Christ to people through the media. It's never too early and never too late to say yes.

I heard a lot of AMENS!!!

He warned about being careful of dreams, to not be deceived into thinking something is God's plan when you are only satisfying your own selfish desires.

Amen!!! Here is a wonderful article on the six principles of discernment.

The best part was spending some time with old friends and getting to make new ones. Here's my room-mate Kim Peterson with Nancy Lohr, editor at Journey Forth Books.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Write 2 Ignite Conference

How quickly the time flies ... a quarter of the year is finished and this weekend we have Write 2 Ignite conference. How this snuck up on me, even though it's been on my calendar since last fall. But it couldn't come at a better time for me, personally. After a very busy start to the New Year with my childrens' extracurricular activities, followed by illness and disappointments, I am finally better (thanks and praise to God!) and ready to tackle the bigger projects on my plate.

But before I do that, what a gift to be able to spend a weekend with my tribe of writing buddies. I'm looking forward to teaching and soaking up wisdom from others. This conference takes place on the beautiful campus of Northern Greenville University in Tigerville, SC and if you are interested in writing fiction and nonfiction that reflects the Christian worldview for children, this conference is a must. It's a very affordable conference, with scholarships available. I hope to see some of you there, if not this year, then next.

The enforced downtime was not entirely wasted. In fact, it was a blessing. I scribbled a lot in my journal and wrote up drafts of a couple of new picture books. Never mind they have nothing to do either with my revision or the work-for-hire projects that I'm supposed to be working on ... but writers need this time to just play around. So many things that are published began just as fun little things I was playing with. I cannot stress this enough ... the time and space to daydream and play and write without worrying about other things is essential for a writing life.

And here's a great video by John Cleese on Creativity. It is well worth the 36 minutes just for the laughs.

For a shorter, sensible talk listen to this:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Happy St. Joseph's Day

St Joseph Icon
The more I grow in my faith, the more I begin to rely upon St. Joseph. The Bible doesn't say much about him, but we know he was obedient to God by providing for and protecting Mary and Jesus. And of course, our blessed Lord learned His trade from his earthly father and so much more. I have often tried to imagine the life of the Holy Family, but it is in reading St. Anne Catherine Emmerich's visions that have created a fuller picture for me. No one is required to believe this, of course, it being a private revelation, but I have found it has greatly enhanced the reading of the Bible for me.

Tim Drake gives a most touching tribute to St. Joseph. He ends with this: we would do well to spend time in reflection and prayer on good St. Joseph. Our culture faces a crisis of fatherhood — too many weak fathers, distant fathers, absent fathers — unlike anything we’ve previously experienced.

Ask St. Joseph to bless and guide and protect your family. Take some time to contemplate what Joseph did, and ask for his intercession in your life and work. You’ll be thankful you did. St. Joseph, pray for us!

To all men, especially fathers, a happy day to you! May St. Joseph pray for all your intentions. Below is my favorite dad with my favorite kids, when they were little!!! I am so thankful Michael keeps the children close to him even now.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Perhaps it's the rain, or perhaps it's because it's the feast day of our favorite saints, St. Patrick, but I found myself singing this hymn, a translation of St. Patrick's breastplate, most beautifully sung by the Corpus Christi Male Chorale. It might be the best 5 minutes you spend today! A happy day to you!

Saint PatrickI bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility.

 I bind to me these holy powers.
Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Words by Cecil F. Alexander (1818-1895); Music by Charles V. Stanford (1852-1924)