Friday, January 28, 2011

7 Quick Takes: March for Life Reflections and a Slice of Humble Pie


What was the highlight of my week? Why, the March for Life, of course! The boys and I headed out the door before dawn to board the bus that was waiting for us at church. Of course, once we were several miles up the road I realized I had left my camera in the car (I had my telephoto lens, though, for all the good it would have done!) After a few seconds of being disappointed and ticked off at myself for forgetting it, I decided NOT to let the lack of my camera ruin my whole day.


Our first stop was the Verizon Center for the Youth Rally and Mass. When we walked into the arena I heard our youth minister, Mr. C, exclaim excitedly, "COOL!! It's Steve Angrisano!!" I'd never heard of him. Mr. C explained that he's quite well-known among young Catholics, and he's even played at World Youth Day events. (Check out Steve's Facebook fan page here.) He provided some wonderful music for the rally and the Mass, and I think I just might have to try and download some of his stuff to my Ipad! Here's a small sampling of the beautiful crowds of young folks and Steve's rockin' Jesus music:


I don't think I've ever seen so many priests (or bishops, for that matter) in one place in my entire life. The mass was beautiful and moving, and Father Mark Ivaney gave a wonderful homily that brought many people to tears. (You can read a transcript of it here.)

As we were watching the coverage we had taped from EWTN the other day, I spotted Father Leo Patalinghug walking across the TV screen during the procession. (I guess I wasn't looking at the Jumbotron when he walked by.) Had I known he was there I might have gone looking for him, possibly making a complete fool of myself.

I snapped this photo with my phone at the end of the Mass, after just about everyone had received Communion.


We walked down to Constitution Avenue for the March, and instead of heading to the Mall where the rally was happening, our Hostess with the Mostest Sister F. wanted to put our group in a good position to join the March once it started. (I think that was the right call, since it was difficult enough keeping everyone together.) It was cold, but thankfully our church had provided hand- and foot-warmers for everyone. The March itself got started a little late, and many people along the route actually started marching ahead of the banner that traditionally is carried in front. After a few minutes of discussion among the adults in the group, we decided to begin marching as well since it was a little unclear at that point whether or not the March had officially started. (Personally, I would have liked to wait a few more minutes and try and get behind the banner. But that was OK.)

A couple of photos I managed to get with my phone:

The start of the March, the part we accidentally missed.

Needless to say, we finished a little earlier than we expected, and we were able to get home before dark. The boys unanimously said they DEFINITELY wanted to attend the March again next year, and ESPECIALLY if they could go to the Youth Rally and Mass beforehand!


We've had two more snow days this week. I don't know if we'll get much of a Spring Break this year. Today I have some unexpected free time (which is why I can actually post this today), and I'm hoping to get some housework done as well so I'll have less to do tomorrow. I'm also planning to curl up with my iPad and read my current e-book, Our Lady of Kibeho by Immaculee Ilibagiza, and maybe I'll read some of Peggy Bowes' The Rosary Workout too; and possibly get started with the actual working out part this weekend. Heck, I might even work a little bit on my other blog, Cooking Nick's Books. (check out my latest post here.)


I almost didn't tell you about this. If you saw my last post, you might have seen a discussion I had with a pro-choice friend about the poor choice of words I used on my blog recently. There's been a lot of talk about "civility" lately, and as much as we all try and take that to heart, sometimes we say things we shouldn't. My friend reminded me of that this week. I find myself wondering if an anonymous person had expressed those same feelings to me, would I have ignored them, and dismissed them as angry rants from someone on the other side? I certainly hope not; and as sorry as I feel for hurting my friend's feelings (even though my thoughts weren't directed at her, just the pro-choice movement in general), she made me realize how easy it is to get caught up in our own causes and forget the feelings of those who disagree with us.

Here's a video I saw the other day of a woman angrily lashing out against pro-life activists.

The person who posted the video made this point: Just look at the violence of the pro-choicers. See how uncouth and rude and unclassy they are? I got a different impression from it, however. The woman in the video is visibly upset. Her voice is shaking. Is she crying? It's hard to tell. How do we know that (and I'm not rushing to judgment in any way here) there isn't an abortion in her past, and she's hurting inside because of it? Or maybe someone she loves had an abortion, and she is standing up for women that seek them, feeling like we pro-lifers want to condemn these women. I don't feel inclined to condemn this woman for her behavior; maybe she just needs us to listen to her and love her and let her know how much God loves her, too.

I think we all need to work a little harder to listen to our pro-choice friends, while continuing to persevere in our efforts to promote a culture of life.
For more Quick Takes, see Jennifer at Conversion Diary!

Friday, January 21, 2011

7 Takes, 7 Choices

Today is "Blog for Choice" Day over at NARAL. Thanks to Jill Stanek for hosting and inviting pro-life bloggers to participate in "Ask Them What They Mean by Choice" Day. I am happy to oblige. Hopefully, today Twitter and Facebook and Blogger and WordPress will be inundated with the question: What exactly do you mean when you say "choice?" (click here to read more about Jill's fabulous project. ) I decided to use Jen's "7 Quick Takes" meme to ask these important questions:


Actual quote from a former abortion provider: "This patient was a little overweight and proved to be a little farther along than anticipatted. This was not an uncommon mistake before ultrasound was readily available to confirm the gestational age. Initially, the abortion proceeded normally. The water broke, but then nothing more would come out. When I withdrew the curette, I saw that it was plugged up with the leg of the baby which had been torn off. I then changed techniques and used ring forceps to dismember the 13 or 14 week size baby. Inside the remains of the rib cage I found a tiny, beating heart. I was finally able to remove the head and looked squarely into the face of a human being--a human being that I had just killed...." (source)

Is THIS what you mean by "choice?"


Just this past week, Dr. Kermit Gosnell was charged with murder after the death of a 41-year-old mother who came to him for an abortion. She died after she was given too much Demerol. Another mother died after he punctured her uterus, and then sewed it up without telling her what had happened. He's also charged with murdering seven babies who were born alive in his "clinic," by stabbing them in the neck with scissors and cutting their spinal cords. He kept little bodies and body parts in bags and bottles all over his killing center, and the place was filthy. This was no back-alley abortionist; this was worse.

Oh, and get this: " 'White women from the suburbs were ushered into a separate, slightly cleaner area because Gosnell believed they were more likely to file complaints, ' [District Attorney Seth] Williams said." Disgusting. (source)

(Click here and here to read more about this sickening story.)

I'm fairly certain that THIS isn't what you mean by "choice."


Women who have had abortions have a 30% greater risk for breast cancer than other women. That means, according to one expert, that 300,000 additional women have died from breast cancer since Roe v. Wade. If abortion was illegal, those 300,000 women might still be alive today. I'm pretty sure most people, prolife and prochoice would want to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths. Instead we ignore the statistics and continue to put women's health and lives at risk. (source)

Is THIS what you mean by "choice?"


Here's another quote from an abortion clinic worker: "Dr. Johnson handed the suction tube back to Leslie and once again used forceps to probe for the head. I saw the muscles of his right arm tighten and knew what that meant: He had located the head and was crushing it. Harvey used to joke about getting tennis elbow from this technique, and his right arm was actually slightly bigger than his left." (source)

Tennis elbow. From repeatedly crushing little babies' heads.

Is THIS what you mean by "choice?"


In Indiana, a young woman enters an abortion clinic, tells the worker she is 13 pregnant with the child of a 31-year-old man. Instead of reporting the situation to Child Protective Services, as she is required to do, she sends the girl to an out-of-state clinic for her abortion, coaching her not to tell anyone the age of the child's father.(This worker was fired, thank goodness.)

In another clinic in Tennessee, the same young woman tells the clinic worker a similar story. This employee tells her that even though she's supposed to report it, she won't; and in order to bypass the parental notification laws, she needs to have a consent form signed by a judge. She instructs the young woman to tell the judge that her boyfriend is 17 years old.

This is happening in abortion clinics all over the United States. Whether you are prolife or prochoice, if your teenage daughter were having sex with an older man, you would want that man thrown in jail. Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry doesn't care about that. They just want her money. And who knows? Maybe that same man will impregnate her again, and she'll come back for another abortion. More profit for the abortionists.

Is THIS what you mean by "choice?"

(The young woman in both of these scenarios is Lila Rose, and she and her colleagues at Live Action are working hard to expose the hypocrisy of the abortion industry. To see more stories like these, click here.)


Lila Rose conducted another investigation where she asked abortion clinic workers and doctors about her baby she was about to abort. They told her all kinds of things that just weren't true: that the thing growing inside her is not a baby, that her 10-week-old baby doesn't have a heartbeat, that having an abortion is safer than giving birth. (Click here to see a small sampling of the many women who have died from supposedly safe abortions.)

If we want women to make informed choices, then they deserve to know the truth about their babies, and about what abortion can do to them and what it does to the babies. Instead the abortion industry feeds them lies and covers up the truth. The less they know, the better the chances that they'll have the abortions.
Is THIS what you mean by "choice?"


As prolifers, we have a choice too. We can choose to quietly pray for an end to abortion without speaking out against this terrible evil. This is what I did for years. This was safe, and no one was angry with me. We can also choose to treat pro-choicers and abortion doctors as though they were our enemies, even the very scum of the earth. This is not an acceptable choice either. My pro-choice friends, who have at times been upset by my speaking out for life, are wonderfully compassionate and caring people. I heard Abby Johnson last week, right before the release of her book UnPlanned, say that we need to pray for the abortion doctors and the clinic workers, and speak kindly and lovingly with them. She should know; she was once a Planned Parenthood clinic director and Employee of the Year. It was a combination of knowing the truth about abortion and the persistent prayers of pro-lifers, that she was finally converted. (In fact, I saw one website--I wish I could remember where--that listed Abby as the Number One enemy of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. I've never heard one mean thing come out of Abby's mouth; only the truth spoken with love. Lila Rose and Jill Stanek were also on that list.)

When well-meaning people speak out for "choice," let's keep asking them, kindly and patiently, "What exactly do you mean?" We need to keep the dialogue alive if we ever want to see an end to abortion.
Be sure to visit Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ask Them What They Mean By Choice: Jan. 21

I've already posted something today (so much for sticking to two posts per week between my two blogs) but I wanted to share this with you. On Friday, January 21, the eve of the 38th anniversary of the notorious Roe v. Wade decision, NARAL is hosting a "Blog For Choice Day," encouraging pro-choice bloggers to argue to their readers that killing unborn babies is acceptable. Jill Stanek came up with a great way to counter this lie--to use that day to ask the prochoice bloggers who participate, "Just what exactly do you mean by choice?" Here's a little of what Jill had to say about this:

"The idea is simple. Any time any of us reads pro-aborts spouting their obscure “choice” rhetoric on a blog, website, Facebook, or Twitter, we call them out on it. We ask them to explain what the “choice” is.

Is it to eat carrots rather than broccoli? To wear red instead of blue? No, of course “choice” is code for killing babies. What’s their problem with the A-word?"

On Friday (or thereabouts, I'll do my best), look for a blog post here that asks prochoicers this very question. It's time the defenders of "choice" told the truth: Choice is the taking of innocent human lives. I'll try and refrain from using any graphic images; this is one case where that might be justified.
How about it, all you prolife bloggers? Are you in?

Every Day is a Gift

Today we woke up to learn that school had been cancelled for the day. No dragging the kids out of bed and rushing them through breakfast and out the door. No running off to teach a room full of preschoolers. Curly is supposed to have a basketball game tonight, and I'm waiting to hear whether or not it will be cancelled too. I've been given a gift of a day with no place to be, at least for a while, and hours that to do what I choose.

I made a long to-do list. (Yes, I made sure I wrote down "Blog" as one of the items.) I've been puttering around this morning--I made some banana muffins for breakfast, threw a load of sheets in the wash, hung up some clothes, and wandered around outside snapping photos like these:

What does the rest of the day have in store? If the kids don't kill each other, we'll spend some time cleaning the house and maybe play a board game together. I have some catching up to do with my preschool and Religious Education planning. I might even take a nap. I'll wash and fold some more laundry, and maybe iron some of Joe's shirts. Even if Curly's game goes on as scheduled, there will be much less of a rush to get him there and get everyone fed before they all go to Tae Kwon Do.

This past weekend I was reminded of how precious each day is. I left Joe at home with the kids and drove to North Carolina for my cousin Greg's funeral. Greg was my Dad's nephew, his sister's only son. During the service at the Mormon church he and his family attended (By the way, no matter how much you might disagree with certain Mormon teachings, one thing is true--and I already knew this--our Mormon brothers and sisters sure do love Jesus. I may share some thoughts about this in a future post.) friends and family members stood up one by one and shared their memories of the time they had spent with Greg. His sister reminded everyone in the congregation that every moment you spend with someone you love, every conversation you have with them, could be your last. We need to cherish every moment of every day, and always let our friends and family know that we love them. We often tend to take people for granted.

I spent the weekend with people who I've known for a long time and I don't get to see very often. Over the years new family members have been added by birth and by marriage, and it's always a blessing to get to know them each a little better every time I see them. Greg has left us, but I still have my other cousins, and their children and grandchildren. I'm looking forward to seeing Greg's widow and their sons again, and getting to know their families better as well. On my mother's side I have relatives who I see even less often, and I pray that I'll have a chance to get together with them again soon as well (although, preferably not because of a death in the family, thank you very much). I still have my parents, Joe's parents, our brothers and sisters-in-law and our niece and nephew. I have aunts and uncles still with me. I have my husband and our three boys, who are growing up before our eyes. I thank God for them all, every day.

My Dad sang a beautiful solo:

I walked today where Jesus walked,
In days of long ago.
I wandered down each path He knew,
With reverent step and slow.

Those little lanes, they have not changed,
A sweet peace fills the air.
I walked today where Jesus walked,
And felt Him close to me.

My pathway led through Bethlehem,
A memory's ever sweet.
The little hills of Galilee,
That knew His childish feet.

The Mount of Olives, hallowed scenes,
That Jesus knew before
I saw the mighty Jordan row,
As in the days of yore.

I knelt today where Jesus knelt,
Where all alone he prayed.
The Garden of Gethsemane,
My heart felt unafraid.

I picked my heavy burden up,
And with Him at my side,
I climbed the Hill of Calvary,
I climbed the Hill of Calvary,
I climbed the Hill of Calvary,
Where on the Cross He died!

I walked today where Jesus walked,
And felt Him close to me.


Dad doesn't sing much in public any more. At seventy-five, his voice isn't as strong as it used to be. But as I sat and watched and listened to him, my eyes filled with tears as I thanked God for the gift he'd just given me--another chance to hear my Dad sing in his clear, sweet voice. I hadn't heard those beautiful lyrics in years and years, but now I think it will forever be one of my favorite gospel songs.

Greg's wife shared that their marriage wasn't always a bed of roses, and they had recently spent a year living apart. These last eight months, she said, ever since they decided that their marriage was worth saving and began living together again, has been one of the best gifts God has given her, right up there with the births of their children and grandchildren.

Cherish each moment of every day. They are gifts that can never be replaced.

Now I must leave you and go vacuum some rugs and do some more laundry and put away the rest of the Christmas decorations. I'm hoping to share our favorite barbecue recipe later on Cooking Nick's Books, A Sparks Fan's Food Blog, so stay tuned for that as well.

The ice is already melting off of the trees. Tomorrow we'll be back to our regular busy routine. No matter how rushed I feel, I hope I will thank God for each moment--today, tomorrow, and every day.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Discipline and Diets and Dreams


Wednesday night I was up until past midnight finishing up this post on Cooking Nick's Books: A Sparks Fan's Food Blog. That in itself was probably unwise, since I get up at 5 am to get myself and my kids ready for school, and I really should be well-rested before facing a room full of three-year-olds. What made it worse was deciding to make myself a nice strong cup of chai at 9 pm and drink the whole thing. I felt surprisingly good on Thursday, considering I was awake almost all night, although the next time I'm in the mood for chai tea at night I'll have decaffeinated cinnamon apple spice instead.


When I finally got up at 3:30 am to start my day, I made a list of things I need to get done BEFORE I do any more blogging:

--Finish writing the thank-you notes to friends and family for my Christmas gifts
--Do some real long-term planning for my preschool class; and
--Make plans for the next few weeks in my CCD class, and try and plan some activities that are more fun than what's in the textbook and the teacher's manual.

I told myself I could post this blog when I'm finished with my thank-you notes. Guess what? I'm not finished with them. I'll get them in the mail on Saturday. I hope.


I think I've picked my New Year's resolution: to finally go gluten-free, or at least mostly so. When I was little I was diagnosed with celiac disease, and there were many things I couldn't tolerate, gluten being just one of them. I couldn't eat anything with sugar in it, although honey and molasses were fine. I also couldn't tolerate animal fat; I couldn't eat bacon (how did I survive?) and my mother had to trim the fat off of every piece of meat she bought. Forget about going to McDonald's. Mom tells a story about how her mother-in-law thought she was being overprotective of me, and all this talk about me not being able to eat all this stuff was just ludicrous. When I got violently ill from eating cornbread my grandmother had cooked with lard, she was finally convinced my intolerances were real.

Anyway, for years I've been eating anything and everything with no ill effects. I've known in the back of my mind that celiac would eventually return, but so far it hasn't seemed to. My parents send me links about celiac all the time, and I read them and ponder what the experts are saying about it, and put them in the back of my mind. But the truth is that even though I feel just fine, I could be damaging my system and could wind up with osteoporosis and all kinds of other problems.

If anyone out there has any advice, recipes, or recommendations on gluten-free foods that taste good, I'd love to hear from you! I like Amy's Organic Rice Mac & cheese, and the other day I decided to try Glutino spinach and feta pizza (thinking it would probably taste like cardboard) and you know what? It's pretty good, as long as I eat the whole thing. (The slice I reheated today for lunch wound up in the garbage.) And last week I bought a small box of gluten-free Bisquick, although I haven't been brave enough to try making anything with it. I'm thinking of this as an adventure of sorts.


So I suppose the next part of my resolution for 2011 (besides getting more exercise) should be to get myself to a specialist for some sort of testing and real expert advice. Maybe they'll tell me I'm doing just fine and I can eat whatever I want.


If and when I'm mostly gluten-free, do you know what I will miss most? If you said "bread," you're wrong. Oh, sure, I will be plenty tempted when I pull a fresh steaming loaf from the bread machine to cut myself a big hunk and slather it with butter and eat it. But at the end of a long day when I want to pop open a cold one and I can't? I just might cry.

And when I make this banana cake for Larry's fourteenth (Fourteenth!!) birthday, I know I'll just HAVE to try a slice. Just a small one. And the Body of Christ? I'm not planning on giving that up.


On Thursday afternoon Curly's basketball team had an away game at a Catholic school about thirty minutes away. The church was open, so while we were waiting for the game to start, I decided to wander over to take some photos for a Get Thee to the Church post. The Church was beautifully decorated for Christmas, and there was a beautiful creche right in the vestibule. There were a couple of people quietly sitting in the pews, and I hoped it wouldn't bother them if I walked around for a minute or two and took some pictures. I noticed the Easter candle right in front, and wondered why it wasn't off to the side. I figured that maybe there had been a funeral earlier in the day. Just as I was pulling my camera out of its case, some people began bringing wreaths of flowers into the church, and other people all dressed in black began to trickle in as well. I put my camera away and slunk out of the church feeling out-of-place and tacky. So I won't have a Get Thee to the Church post this week, although I was able to snap a picture of their outdoor shrine for Our Blessed Mother before it got dark.

I only wished I had some fresh roses with me to help cheer up those sad-looking ones.


I don't often tell people about my dreams, mostly because I don't remember them. There was one I had earlier this week that stuck with me, though:

I'm in a room--in a school, I think--and a tiny girl toddles past the doorway wearing a white dress. I step into the hallway, and notice that behind her is a seemingly endless stream of people; a procession of some kind. In front are little children, some so young they're just learning to walk. As the parade passes, the people in it are steadily older: young children, then teenagers, then adults; and the last people to walk past are elderly and need to lean on one another for support. Some appear to be married couples and are holding hands. Some are carrying flags, and all seem very excited about wherever they were going. Everyone is smiling, some are singing, others are talking excitedly among themselves. All of the people in the procession, from the little toddlers to the senior citizens, have Down's Syndrome.

It was both strange and beautiful-- I don't think my dreams mean anything most of the time, but I'm wondering if there was a message in this one. Any thoughts?

Last night I dreamed a big production company asked me to audition to play Nellie in South Pacific. I have no acting experience, mind you. I showed up and wowed everyone with a fabulous rendition of "Honey Bun" and they instantly loved me.

Check out Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Get Thee To the Church: The Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Atlanta

Happy New Year! I hope you've had a blessed Christmas, and many joys in 2011. Tomorrow (well, today, since I'm writing this at midnight) after Mass--and maybe before--it's time to take down the Christmas decorations and concentrate on getting back into our regular routines. I've put a lot of things off until the last minute, an methinks I shall be up late tomorrow night with the many tasks I should have completed this week.

We spent Christmas with family in Atlanta this year (see my last post for more), and attended Christmas Eve Mass at Sacred Heart Basilica downtown. We've been to this church before--it's where our niece and nephew were both baptized--and I was surprised when we arrived this time around to see the title "Basilica" on their signage. Turns out that it was given this distinction only this past February. What an honor! This gem of a church deserves it. I've met the priests and the deacon here, and as far as I'm concerned they deserve it too (even though it has nothing to do with them, of course).

On Sacred Heart Basilica's website there are some fascinating descriptions of the objects and images in the church, like the stained-glass windows and the statues. On either side of the crucifix are symbols of Christ's passion and death. Above it, the Hand of God reaches down toward Earth. Click here to read about these, and much more about this beautiful house of God.

I got this photo from a website for a wedding planning service. What a beautiful place to have a wedding! Perhaps either I'm Okay or Girly Girl (she really is a girly girl; you should have seen her toddling around the house Christmas morning with her new purse and shopping cart and doll stroller) will get married here someday.

At the 4:00 Christmas Eve Mass, Baby Jesus still hadn't been placed in the manger.

The little ones were very squirmy during Mass, which is to be expected. We had almost forgotten how much of struggle it can be to bring small children to church. Fortunately, there were plenty of family members here who could pass them around. Once I heard our little nephew exclaim "I'm Okay!" when he slid off the pew or something.
Little I'm Okay didn't want to say good night to us on Christmas evening, because he knew we wouldn't be there when he got up the next day. I'm glad we'll see them again in February when Larry celebrates Confirmation!
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