Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
And where am I? Oh here I am. I am melting. The wicked witch is melting. I guess that is what it is taking for me. For the wicked witch in me to die, to melt away. Oh no, she's not gone yet, but she is slowly dying. My self pre-occupations, my petty attractions, distractions and attachments, my sloth, my lofty opinions and ideas. Yes, here under this house, a part of me is dying. I am dying and it hurts. Sometimes, it hurts a lot.
However, the wicked witch must die. She must go, for there is no room for her in this house. The more this witch is purged, the lighter the weight of the house. The witch cannot lift the house; she can only be buried and burdened by it. That is all the witch can see of the house; she can only see the burden that it brings to her, for her thoughts are only of herself. The more the witch is concerned with the weight, the heavier is the burden.
The witch begins to melt when the waters of truth and light, of beauty, love and forgiveness are poured out. The thing is, this water is only poured out from above. As Saint Paul tells us in the New Testament book of Colossians,
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
And as the witch melts, the burdens lighten. Perhaps someday we can rejoice that the wicked witch is dead; she's finally dead. AMEN.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Please remember that there are many, many families right here in the states who do not have access to healthcare. families who would be bankrupt and lose their homes if they had to pay for the birth of another child.not everyone in our country is "spoiled."
I received the above response to Putting It In Perspective and thought I'd comment on it. In no way was my post meant to suggest that those who are struggling financially or otherwise in this country are nonetheless spoiled by virtue of being American. I know families truly do have hardships of all kinds and that require compassion and assistance.
However, my original intent was to highlight the hardship of those who do not even have the remotest expectation of acquiring things we see as necessary in our country. For instance, health care, as the commenter made reference to, is not an option for some, as there are no doctors, midwives, or medicines even available in their communities. So, in the American mindset, the thinking may go, "we can't have another baby because the doctor bill would crush us." Those in other places and times would not have this sort of thinking at all, as there is no doctor available in the first place. This is what I mean by putting it in perspective. Think tee-pee versus humblest of American homes -- dirt floor, no heating or cooling, extremely limited food and clothing options, health care that consists of gathered herbal remedies, etc. Now picture an impoverished American lifestyle, if all else is equal, the family would have a much higher standard of living than most of humanity could even imagine. The Bible says that the Abraham of the Old Testament was wealthy, yet he was nomadic and lived in a tent. Jesus was raised in a relative hut and born in a stable -- no hospital to pay for there.
God help us to open all of our eyes to this fact. We are called to be joyful and generous no matter what our circumstances. Sometimes it helps to do this if we look past the modern day lifestyle expectations we have developed.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
"In today's world, where the number of children cannot be very high given living
conditions and other factors, it's very easy to understand." (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium. An Interview with Peter Seewald. Ignatius Press, p.200)
Dr. Popcak says he does not agree with this quote, and nor do I. However, I really wonder what this future pope of ours meant by this quote, as there is no context provided and I do not have the book to reference. Surely Cardinal Ratzinger was not referring to the living conditions in the Western World. How could it be that in today's world, it is not easy to raise a large family given our living conditions. Surely he is not addressing the average American's access to health care, education, clean water, safe streets, sufficient clothing and housing. Even what is considered to be living in poverty in America, much of the current world, and most of the historical world, would be grateful for.
I cannot imagine that I have it so tough, even with all these kids, when I have a comfortable climate controlled home, can wash the families clothes and dishes with the touch of a few buttons, have access to healthy, convenient food, have top doctors a phone call away, plenty of books to learn from, and clean water that pours in whenever I want it with the flip of a faucet. I mean, really, we Americans are so spoiled if we entertain the idea for a second that it is too tough to raise a large family. In most cases, it is considered too tough because we like to keep ourselves comfortable. It is our devotion to the easy life, that gets in the way, not our actual living conditions.
Even today, there are happy families giving glory to God who eat cornmeal for every meal, who carry water from wells a good distance away, who are barely literate and have little access to even the most basic health care, who wash their clothes in rivers and cook over fire pits. I am certainly not advocating that this is God's ideal lifestyle for humans, just putting our own American lifestyle and expectations in perspective.
When considering if we can provide for one more soul in our family, perhaps we should look beyond what the neighbors have and give to their children, and consider all the blessing we really do have to share.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
"I would agree that you cannot do AP without going to the nuthouse if you have
another child every year. But the AP response would be that, unless God
has somehow specifically called a person to act in a manner that is contrary to
what he created the child's body to need (which would be remarkable considering
Pope Benedict's assertion at Ravensburg that the Christian God
is a God of order and reason who does not contradict the laws of his
own creation) then it is imperative to the bonding process and the health
of the mother that children be spaced about 2.5 to 3 years apart (give or
This is in reference to what has turned into a debate at HMS and at Danielle Bean's blog about parenting a large family and attachment parenting principles. I pulled the above quote because I think it contains a fundamental part of the argument.
First, no where in this debate has anyone really laid out what attachment parenting is. Looking back, I was a rabid adherent to Attachment Parenting philosophy and practices when I began my mothering career fifteen years ago. Now with baby #9 due to arrive next month, I have gained much wisdom and experience regarding parenting methods and philosophies. I would still call myself an attached and attentive parent, but I would not embrace Attachment Parenting as a philosophy any more. Why? Because family life and mothering is much too complicated. I would not suggest that one must or must not follow an arbitrary set of rules to be a good parent -- beyond the "rules" of our faith. Can a mother be an attached and loving parent and use a pacifier, or a crib, or wean at 18 months? Can a child be healthy and whole, physically and psychologically, and be attended to by older siblings, strapped in a high chair at meals, or attend pre-school? Wouldn't some of these violate the tenants of Attachment Parenting?
Even so, I would still advocate for the benefits of natural birth, breastfeeding, a mother's presence, and homeschooling, but see these more as goals and ideals than absolute mandates for everyone in all situations.
I would argue that loving parents can depart from AP methods and still be attached. Just as adoptive parents can still lovingly bond through bottlefeeding. It is donating yourself to your parenting vocation that makes a good parent, not a set of methods. Sure, breastfeeding and co-sleeping may help the process, but are not required. In some instances, AP methods could even interfere with loving parenting; I have seen it happen. We all have different circumstances.
Now to specifically address Dr. Popcak's assertion that "it is imperative to the bonding process and the health of the mother that children be spaced about 2.5 to 3 years apart (give or take)." I totally disagree with this statement. Children can be loved and well parented, healthy and happy, and grow up in a large family with closely spaced children. My vocation as the mother of one such family requires much of me, and many nights I go to bed exhausted emotionally, spiritually and physically. This is my path to heaven, and this is what God has created for me and our family. Yes, this is what God has done in my family, and as was mentioned above, God does not contradict the laws of his own creation.
Additionally, the burden does not entirely fall upon my husband and I to ensure that we only have children spaced an arbitrary number of months apart in order to never have to use a pacifier or because of some parenting method. God has given some couples abundant fertility. Our families may not fit neatly into a philosophy or look like the perfectly "planned" NFP family. Just as God permits infertility, infertility that can lead to pain, desperation, or can lead to spiritual growth and other avenues of charitable living. Couples who are very fertile have our own avenue of charitable living and a unique burden that can lead to disorder and pain or to spiritual growth. Infertile couples or small families are not necessarily less married or less Catholic then large families. Large families are not necessarily less attached, loving, or healthy than small families. I say necessarily, because families of any size can allow their struggles and challenges to get in the way of their path to holiness or they can use these struggles and challenges as their avenue to holiness.
Let's all be careful how we judge families of different shapes and sizes and not create burdens for each other that God never intended.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Friday, September 7, 2007
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I was recently asked by a friend for some time to sit and talk about homeschooling. She wanted some advice. I came up with three things that have really worked for me in organizing our homeschooling effort that I thought I would share with you.
1. Incorporate some structure in your day. The amount of structure and the timing for things will look different in each family, but having a plan for when meals are, a time for naps, a period for school, work and play, and a time for getting up and getting to bed, are very helpful. A routine allows the children to understand that there is a time for everything. If the important things of the day follow a logical and anticipated routine, it cuts out a lot of nagging and arguing. The kids and I know what to do when and they know if they are responsible with their work they can enjoy their free time later.
2. Have your lessons written down in advance. I found that when the kids had to come to me for what to do next through the day, and I had to figure it out, it was just not working. Having the lessons written out ahead of time allows the children to see exactly what they need to accomplish before the school day is considered done. With their lesson planners, they have been able to learn how to budget their time, and plan ahead for big projects. I give them some flexibility, and the responsibility, for taking charge of their work. They have learned to be independent and self-motivated students.
3. Focus on the basics. The classic reading and writing, 'rithmatic and religion should form the foundation of your curriculum. If you do not have these subjects well established, then there is no use going off on elaborate unit studies in history and science, or anything else, that is unless the lessons incorporate a lot of reading and writing.
So, hopefully, some of these suggestions can inspire you to another successful year of homeschooling. If you are not homeschooling, may you and your children enjoy a good year. I still can't believe another summer has passed us by (almost!).
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
A recent poll of married couples suggests that children are perceived as irrelevant to finding happiness in marriage. It is now completely common, accepted, and expected for people who are not married to have babies and for people who are married to choose to avoid having babies. Further, our separation of marriage, sex and babies has resulted in "valid" marriages of same sexed persons, and conceptions without sex (in vitro fertilization, donor eggs, surrogate mothers, and cloning). Perhaps you agree with these cultural shifts, perhaps you do not, but one thing follows another, and the point is that contraception works. We have effectively separated what was meant to be intrinsically joined.
"What God has joined, let no man separate," we hear in the traditional wedding as man and woman are joined as husband and wife. God joins a man and a woman in marriage, with the resultant sex and babies. This is God's design, but in our limited human thinking, we have separated all of the above so that today our cultural understandings of marriage, family, husband, wife, mother and father are confused.
This is not about married couples who do not have children or have smaller families, due to their God given vocations, or because of infertility. This is about the confused, shocked, and dismayed reactions that confront couples in loving marriages when they announce that *surprise* they are having a baby!
For some reason, even faithful Catholics seem to think that married couples who are having babies are simply making a lifestyle choice. The idea is that couples who have been blessed with many children are doing it because...they always wanted a big family...they love kids...they are really organized and hard working...they are trying to "prove" something...they are trying to keep up with the big family down the block...et cetera. There is always some planned reason that must be attached to the excessive procreation in some families, reasons that ignore the simple connection between marriage, sex and babies.
Those who choose to simply follow God's plan for marriage, as the Church so beautifully describes, may find that the babies just come. It really is as simple as that, no further explanation needed.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Sunday, July 1, 2007
It is true that women have been oppressed and demeaned in every time and place, that is nothing new. The sad thing today is hearing those who would consider themselves enlightened disregarding the indispensable role women have in their families. In many places and times, a woman's role in her family is her only source of power and esteem, and some would take even this from her.
I am certain some would consider me likewise, as little more than a servant and baby maker. It is true, I do little more than serve my family and care for my children. But, to consider me "little more than" this is judgemental and demeaning. In fact, it demeans the contributions of many strong, intelligent and virtuous women who have persevered in many cultures, places, and times through history doing the significant and timeless work of raising the next generation.
Can you imagine the phrase being applied to a person in another vocation? He was little more than a janitor. She was little more than a police officer. He was little more than a teacher. She was little more than an author.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
My first year of marriage was spent learning Natural Family Planning through the Couple to Couple League. That and my year working in a natural/health food store convinced me of the importance of breastfeeding. The Womanly Art, though, gave me specific and convincing facts as to why breastfeeding is so crucial to mother and baby, and gave the information I needed to succeed. This book helped to develop my framework for all the other pregnancy and parenting books I read thereafter, because I determined that if following some bit of advice would jeopardize my breastfeeding relationship, the advice probably wasn't so great. The book encouraged me to see pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding as part of a continuum of baby care, and that my choices regarding my pregnancy and birth could impact the health of me and my baby, and my ability to breastfeed. The Womanly Art even gives guidance for healthy eating for the whole family, for it's natural to desire to feed ourselves and our babies well while we're breastfeeding and as baby weans from the breast.
So, Happy Anniversary to The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding! May many more mothers, babies, and families grow and learn from your sage words.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
My kids have had their curiously piqued. My 6th grade daughter, studying Egyptian history next year, can't wait to get into it. My 3rd grade son, studying American history, has excitement about seeing things he will be reading about. My 9th grade son, who has Thomas Paine's Common Sense on his reading list, as well as many other books relating to our nation's founding, wants to start his reading early. All good, and make the trip worth its cost.
However, the kicker was my newly minted three year old showing off her well developed lungs for half an hour, in a room with, like, 100 foot ceilings (think echoes). It was so bad a security guard checked on us and we drew a crowd -- B.A.D, bad. At the end of it -- my twelve year old son gave her gum (that's what worked?), and she stopped screaming, but then I was crying. My husband was really stressed, and got impatient with my fourteen year old, who then started moping about as only a fourteen year old can. Fourteen year old then kicked the six year little brother who was being annoying as only a six year old little brother can be. Little brother got mad and it went on. Dominoes.
I know others look at us and think how perfectly behaved, how beautiful, and if only they had the patience or the (fill in the blank) they would do it too. I know this because people say it all the time. Obviously, we didn't get those comments Saturday at the museum, though. But people suggest that it takes some special sort to care for a big family, or that the family is a special sort that it makes it easy to care for. I would say it doesn't take anything special. God is the one who makes it special, we're just following his call. So, if you feel God's tug on your heart for just one more, think about it. It's not always easy, and it doesn't take a superhuman, but God will use it, all the good days and the bad, to get you to heaven.