Monday, March 30, 2009

Defending life in the Culture of Death

I'm posting this at nearly 11 pm on Tuesday, March 31, despite what it says here. Weird.

Today is Day 35 in the Spring 40 Days for Life campaign. This grassroots effort began a few years ago in College Station, Texas with a small group of pro-lifers fasting and praying for an end to abortion. It has since expanded to cities all over the United States and even overseas. The current campaign began on Ash Wednesday and ends on Palm Sunday. According to the 40 Days for Life blog, 297 babies have been spared the horror of abortion. This means that there will be 297 more children in our world than there might otherwise have been! Is this cause for celebration or what?

Yesterday I joined a group of women from my parish and drove to an abortion facility about an hour away to pray for the women and their babies, as well as the abortionist and the clinic workers for their conversion. (Thank God there are no abortion mills where I live!) When we arrived, there were two people praying on the sidewalk already. They told us that Mondays were pretty uneventful at this particular clinic because it was the employees' day to do paperwork and no abortions were likely to be scheduled. We found a spot near the clinic's driveway and began to pray the Rosary. By the time all the members of our group arrived, there were eight or nine of us altogether, some of whom had their small children with them. I'm sure we were quite a sight, and quite a few motorists turned their heads for a second look at us as they drove by.

We were scheduled to pray at the clinic for an hour. About fifteen minutes before we planned to head back to our cars, a young couple stopped and parked on the opposite side of the street. They seemed particularly interested in us, and the young woman even took out her cell phone to snap a picture. They stayed in the car for several minutes, smoking, talking, and laughing, and seemed to be getting a kick out of the whole thing. After a while the young woman got out of the car and began walking toward us. My heart began to speed up as I said a prayer of thanks to God that I wasn't standing there all by myself.

"What exactly are you all doing here?" I expected a hostile confrontation, but she seemed pleasant enough and genuinely perplexed at our little spectacle (that is, if you consider a group of women and children quietly praying together a "spectacle"). My friend Barb (I was thanking God for her right about then) explained that we were here to pray for the mothers who come here seeking abortions, that they would choose to give their children life; and that the women who opt for abortion would find healing and peace through Jesus.

"Why do you have to get in their face? Don't you think seeing all of you here with these beautiful children would be intimidating?" Thus began a dialogue with this young woman and her friend (we didn't know if the young man with her was her boyfriend, her brother, or what) that lasted well over forty-five minutes. They wanted to know why women shouldn't have a right to choose what do do with their own bodies (she used dyeing your hair and getting a tattoo as a comparison to abortion), and we explained that a baby in the womb is not just her body; it's a whole other person. One of the women works at a pregnancy resource center, and she talked to them about the work that they do to provide whatever assistance is needed to women facing unplanned pregnancies. We assured her that we would never harass or even confront anyone who might come to the clinic for an abortion, but that we would pray for her and if she wanted to talk to us, we would offer other choices she could make. During the course of the conversation we learned that the young woman had given birth to a child at age fifteen, and that some of her friends work at that very clinic.

The couple asked some thought provoking questions of us. Would any of us be willing to take a pregnant woman into our homes if she needed a place to stay? (Possibly; that would depend on her situation and how willing she is to help herself. Personally that would be a difficult one for me having fairly young kids, taking in someone I don't know.) How did we feel about gun control? The death penalty? Animal rights? (We all have different opinions on these issues, but we all agree that killing an unborn baby is morally wrong.) What would we do if our daughter were pregnant and chose to abort her baby? Would we still oppose abortion? (Of course we would still stand up for the unborn. We would do everything we could to help our daughter make the right decision, but if she chose abortion we would still love and forgive her just as God loves and offers forgiveness to all women who have abortions.) What if she wanted us to come with her to the clinic for support? (This was an interesting question; we all agreed that while we would give our daughter all the love and support she needed, we would not drive or accompany her to the abortion.)

When the couple finally felt satisfied and were preparing to depart, we thanked them for stopping by and that we would pray for her friends who work in the clinic. After they left we all said a prayer for them and for their friends. Maybe a seed was planted in their hearts, and they will come to recognize the sacredness of human life. After all, I used to be pro-choice.

They are asking for parishioners from my church to pray at another clinic on Saturday. I really want to go. I'm already leaving my husband for part of the day, and he'll be schlepping the kids to their flag football games (and coaching one of them). I'm not sure if I'll be attending that vigil, but I will definitely be there in spirit if not in person.

Please pray for the two young people my friends and I had the privilege of speaking with about the beauty of human life.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Praise God!!

I think it was Jennifer from My Chocolate Heart who started a series of blogs with this title. I have so many things to praise God for! Here are just a few:

1. Praise God that I have a wonderful husband who loves me no matter how much stuff I have piled on the dining-room table AGAIN;

2. Praise God that all of my children are healthy and active (and intelligent, if I may say so);

3. Praise God for my parents and in-laws, all of whom are alive and healthy, and they love our children like crazy;

4. Praise God that we have a roof over our heads and an abundance food in the pantry;

5. Praise God that come July we will be aunt/uncle/cousins to a little girl, after a string of boys crossing two generations on my husband's side.

I have many, many more blessings in my life. I am working on putting together my conversion story (I'll try not to make it too long!); I can't wait to tell you how my parent's planted the seeds of God's love in my life, and how they grew into a deep love for God through my own Baptist faith and ultimately, through the Catholic Church.

I was planning on posting that tonight, actually, but I spent too much time playing that darn Word Twist on Facebook. I want to talk about lots of other things, too, like how I officially started my container garden today, and about my amazing CCD class that I teach.

So send a reply, post on your blog: What do you praise God for today?

(I'll take a look at that Mr. Linky thing that Jennifer has on her blog, and get it up and running for next time!)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Random Thoughts #1: Life, Compassion, and Socks

I've been spending a lot of time lately reading other blogs, adding them to my list, and adding myself to their lists of followers. I've had a lot on my mind that I've wanted to share this week, so here's a brief run-down of my recent random musings: 1. The things I've heard on the news make it difficult to be optimistic. On Monday, President Obama signed an executive order to reverse Bush's policies restricting embryonic stem cell research. Here's what I don't get: From what I've read and heard, there hasn't really been any promising evidence that using embryos to harvest stem cells actually works. So far, it seems that they've only been able to grow tumors. Adult stem cells have been very successful. Why doesn't Mr. Obama and others (don't get me started on Michael J. Fox) choose to ignore the evidence? Last night on EWTN's The World Over with Raymond Arroyo, Fr. Tad Pacholczyk from the National Catholic Bioethics center remarked that it's probably due to a pro-abortion agenda: if we protected embryos from destruction, wouldn't we be expected to protect unborn children from abortion? This is a scary thought; to me it seems we're heading down the path of "anything goes, we won't let the truth stand in our way." Check out this article from the U.S. News and World report website: (I can't for the life of me figure out how to add links. I tried following the instructions, but I'm clueless. I apologize for making you copy and paste!) In just the last couple of days I've heard that President Obama plans to lift the conscience clause that would allow health care providers to opt out of performing abortions and/or providing contraception if they choose. Some fear that Catholic hospitals will be forced to either provide abortion "services" or close. If this were to happen, I'm sure there are many non-Catholic Christian hospitals and clinics that would be faced with the same dilemma. 2. My fascination with socks led me to the blog, Yes, They are All Mine by Gramma 2 Many. Again, I don't quite know how to post a link (yet), but you can find her on my blog list. She's giving away a pair of hand-knitted socks to celebrate her 200th post! Check it out if you haven't already. Here are some of the funny-looking socks that cause my children (and maybe my husband, too) to be embarrassed to be seen with me: Gramma has a picture of the socks she's knitting on her blog; they're much prettier than these. 3. I've been praying for a more generous spirit, and for Mother Theresa's attitude of "Give until it hurts." Now I'm finding myself wanting to backpedal on that one (When I mentioned this to the priest today at confession, he said that God would definitely help me out with this. Now I'm REALLY scared.) Our children's school is participating in "Pennies for Peace," a program supported by the Central Asia Institute founded by Greg Mortenson ( Recommended Reading: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Greg has done great work bringing education to children of Pakistan and Afghanistan, particularly girls.) My oldest son wants to organize a yard sale to raise money for this great cause. We've done this before; there's a little organization called "Amman Imman: Water is Life" ('ve added it to my website list) whose sole purpose is to dig deep-water wells in the dry Azawak Valley in Niger. A couple of years ago, we organized a sale for this organization. We raised close to $500, a big success. It was a lot of work, though; we collected gently used toys and books from families in the school, sorted them, put price tags on all of them, got Starbucks to donate coffee, and recruited volunteer parents and students to come out to the school early on a Saturday to conduct the sale. We had a lot of help from the school community, (especially from my friend Maureen, who follows this blog--thanks, chica!) and the kids felt great knowing they made a difference. The thought of doing all this again doesn't excite me very much, but I'm really trying to be supportive and encourage my kids to put the needs of others ahead of themselves. I blogged in January about my trip to the March for Life with my middle son. The pro-life cause is very important to him, and he shows great interest in issues pertaining to the sanctity of life. The other day he announced to me that he wanted to start his own pro-life organization for kids, to get boys and girls his own age excited about protecting human life. I am proud of him for wanting to do this, and I am praying that God will give me the strength and enthusiasm to help him make it happen. It's almost Sunday! Have a great week! I'll work on getting those links added; maybe I'll have it figured out in time for my next post.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Making the Most of Lent

First of all, I want to say "Thanks" to everyone who is reading and following my new blog! I've added some new features, including links to some of my favorite websites and blogs. Some of the links on my website list don't seem to work, and I apologize for that; I'm going to try to fix that problem in the next couple of days, hopefully. At the risk of looking like a name dropper, I want to say "Thanks!" to Patrick Madrid for suggesting the "share this" button. (Check out his blog; it's on the list.) I even figured out how to add this feature all by myself, without asking my husband for help! He's the one I usually turn to for computer issues. This page is a work in progress, and I'm enjoying every minute of it!

We're more than a week into Lent. I must admit, this has never been my favorite time of year. I don't mind abstaining from meat on Fridays, or even giving up something I enjoy. (Although, when the rest of the family is wolfing down Girl Scout cookies while I stand by and watch, it's not always easy!) It's the fasting part that I can't stand. I know, it's only Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and I've learned to space out the times when I do eat on those days so I don't end up crabby in the evening. The first couple of years after I became Catholic, I used to eat a teeny-tiny breakfast and a teeny-tiny lunch; by dinnertime I was so famished and cranky I was biting everyone's head off. Nowadays I will have a small breakfast (more like a snack) of maybe a little fruit and cheese late in the morning, and eat a regular-sized lunch in the afternoon. By dinnertime I'm hungry, but I can eat just a little bit and still be in a good mood. Why am I telling you this? Because I have decided that this year for Lent, I am fasting at least one day a week. If I'm going to make sacrifices, that would certainly be a good one for me!

Recently, someone encouraged me to have the best Lent I've ever had. I don't know if it was something I heard on the radio, or our parish priest during his homily; but I decided to take that advice. Last week on The Catholic Guy radio show (heard on the Catholic Channel, on Sirius 159 and XM 117), host Lino Rulli admitted that sometimes when a priest friend would ask him, "Are you having a good Lent?" he would answer in the affirmative, but he would be lying. I've read several blogs in the last couple of days where authors admit that they dread Lent. I'm not alone; and this year, if anyone asks me, "How is your Lent going?'' I hope to be able to answer truthfully, "Great! I love the season of Lent!"

Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert at the beginning of his ministry. Lent is a time to reflect on His sacrifices that He made for us, and to remember the ultimate sacrifice He made, His death on the cross at Calvary. Surely we can make some small sacrifices for the 40 days leading up to Good Friday, and hopefully they will help us grow closer to Him.

Besides my once-a-week fast (hopefully more, if I can, but I'm not going to beat myself up if I find I can't do it more often than that), I'm trying to get up a little earlier in the morning to spend more time in prayer. There was a time when I got up every morning before the sun, even on weekends, read the Mass readings for the day, and prayed the Rosary. I also had a list of intentions for friends and family that I asked certain saints to pray for. I really treasured that quiet time with Jesus, and I felt very close to Him. I'm also doing more spiritual reading; right now I'm reading Scott Hahn's The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth. I also picked up a little book called Lent and Easter: Wisdom from G.K. Chesterton; every day there is a quote from one of Chesterton's works, a scripture passage, and a Lenten challenge for the day. (A couple of years ago I read a similar book, Lent and Easter: Wisdom from Pope John Paul II. Both books are published by Liguori Publications in Liguori, MO. For more info, go to and search "lent and easter wisdom.")

The Church also asks us to make a special effort to help those in need during Lent. Many of us make extra donations to the charities we like, and many dioceses have special Lenten fundraisers. I personally would LOVE to begin spending more time volunteering for local organizations that help the poor, and Lent is a great time to get started. (Now maybe I'll practice what I preach...) Last fall I learned about a new pro-life campaign called "40 Days for Life," and all over the United States people prayed and fasted for the unborn, and organized prayer vigils at abortion mills. I had the privilege of accompanying a few friends from my parish to a clinic one morning and spending an hour in prayer there. Another 40 days of prayer and fasting for the most vulnerable of us began on Ash Wednesday and will continue through Palm Sunday. I pray daily for the end to Roe v. Wade and for women facing unplanned pregnancies, and I hope I will get a chance to pray at an abortion clinic again. (Visit I'm working on getting that link fixed.)

What are YOU doing for Lent? Do you struggle with fasting as much as I do? Is there anything unusual you are giving up this year? I have a friend who puts Tabasco on everything; one year she gave up hot sauce. Several years ago I gave up anything made with white flour; I only ate whole grains. That ruled out a lot of desserts and snacks I often crave!

Give me a holler, and meanwhile, have a fantastic Lent.
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