Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Marian Meditations

The Miles Christi priests loaned me a book from their library called "Meditations on Our Lady" by Rev. Tihamer Toth. Actually what I have is just a section of the book, but it is full of so many fabulous insights on Our Lady that I walk away each morning with something new.

For example, the author put forth the image of Mary being the gold setting that the diamond of Jesus Christ sets in. Or imagine an image of Mary with the face of Jesus shining forth where her heart should be. Beautiful imagery, to be sure.

Today's meditation was about the dignity of motherhood. Here is what Rev. Toth had to say:

"Today we need nothing so much as mothers who fulfill their tasks in an ideal family life. I would almost say: They will be the type of future feminine saintliness, because we have the greatest need of them. The holy women of the primitive Church came from the ranks of the martyrs, because at that time the Church had the greatest need of them: she needed the open declaration of their young Christian faith. Later the holy women came from the ranks of the virgins, because their voluntary renunciation was needed in opposition to the dissolute life of the world. And today? What is our greatest need today? Which Christian treasure is threatened with the most dreadful danger? Married life, Christian family life. Therefore in the mother who fulfills her marital duties ideally, we have the new type of holy woman for whom mankind, standing on the brink of destruction, so yearningly longs."
I was very moved to think about what a profound opportunity God is giving to us Christian mothers today. The author goes on to say, "Our need is for mothers whose pride it is to see well brought-up children, whose joy it is to bring a smile to the faces of their husbands returning home from work, and whose reward is the eternal blessing of the all-knowing God."

How far we are away from that ideal today, but how true his words are. Again, something for us all to strive for - the saintliness of Christian motherhood as exemplified by the Blessed Mother. Not too high a goal now, is it??


Monday, October 25, 2010

Play that Funky Music...

For most of the past 10 years, the majority of the music we have listened to has been either religious or country; quite an interesting combination, I know. Lately, as the kiddos get older, we've been branching out into other genres of music. For example, on Sunday mornings, my husband will put on the classical station. Not bad, until those men with the monotone voices start droning on and on about some piece of music.

Much to my horror :), he's also introduced the kids to Jazz! Ugh, and some of them even like it (nothing morally wrong with Jazz, mind you, I've just NEVER liked it. It clashes terribly with my sense of symmetry :) The latest direction, however, has been into that good ole' music that we grew up with - the great music from the 80's. I figure that it must be great if they're still playing it at dances and weddings 20+ years later.

At the same time that we've been becoming reacquainted with music from our youth, our children have been delving more into dancing. We've had many discussions about what is "real" dancing and what isn't. In their opinion, any body gyrations that would have gone along with our great 80's music is NOT dancing. The waltz, the fox trot, swing...now that, to them, is "real" dancing. I try to show them the kind of dancing we used to do and they all yell at me to stop. In fact yesterday, Mr. 10 yo said, "Mommy, some times you freak me out." Isn't that what moms are for???

After being at the Homecoming dance this past weekend, Ms 18 yo asked me if we danced to songs like "Play that Funky Music" and "A B C". That led to spending the next 2 hours on youtube listening to music from the past. To be certain, there were plenty of raised eyebrows (like watching some videos of Queen and Talking Heads) but overall we had a very entertaining time...until I tried to dance and then they kept yelling at me to stop :)

What a great way to spend a cloudy, Sunday afternoon and have some fun with the kids. I think it is fun to reminisce with them about when their father and I were young and hip - in fact it is good to remind them that there was a time when we were young and hip, and had big hair, and parachute pants...but I digress.



PS...I'm sorry if after reading this you find that song STUCK in your head...day and night...singing over and over...Play that funky music white boy, play that funky music right....


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Something to Aim For!

The Proverbs 31 Woman

10
When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.
11
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.
12
1 She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.
13
She obtains wool and flax and makes cloth with skillful hands.
14
2 Like merchant ships, she secures her provisions from afar.
15
She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household.
16
She picks out a field to purchase; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17
She is girt about with strength, and sturdy are her arms.
18
3 She enjoys the success of her dealings; at night her lamp is undimmed.
19
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle.
20
She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.
21
She fears not the snow for her household; all her charges are doubly clothed.
22
She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing.
23
Her husband is prominent at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land.
24
She makes garments and sells them, and stocks the merchants with belts.
25
4 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come.
26
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel.
27
She watches the conduct of her household, and eats not her food in idleness.
28
Her children rise up and praise her; her husband, too, extols her:
29
"Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all."
30
5 Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31
Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thoughts on Earning Income

Despite the fact that only 2 comments appeared on the previous post, I have had many conversations in person, over facebook and on the phone with people regarding the question I asked the other day. I have thought a lot about this issue and am very grateful to the people who have shared their opinions (some very passionately:) with me.

First, a little background. This is something I've been struggling with on and off for a number of years. I have found the Catholic homeschooling marketplace to be an incredibly difficult market to work in for a number of reasons.

The first is that most people have large families and are trying very hard to live off of one income which most of the time is barely adequate to take care of the needs of the family, let alone the wants. I know, I live it! For this reason, many of us in this market are always on the lookout for deals. Case in point - I shop at WalMart and thrift stores for pretty much everything. Shopping with this mentality most of the time makes it very hard to pay full price for things, especially things that are not "needs". (Note: while I know that this is the case in many markets right now, I am specifically looking at the Catholic market because that is where I am at.)

Second, we have the added issue of "ministry". Exactly what is a ministry? thefreedictionary.com defines it as such:

1. The act of serving; ministration. 2. The profession, duties, and services of a minister.

If I am to apply these definitions to myself, I pretty much have to throw out the 2nd one seeing as I am not a minister. This leaves me with the first - the act of serving. I've had to ask myself lately, "What is my ministry?" Is my ministry selling soap? Is it selling unit studies? Is it selling Reliv? Is it taking pictures? or is it more tied to raising and homeschooling my children? Running formation groups and helping with Evenings of Recollection for Miles Christi? Promoting retreats? Helping out at my church?

I think that it is easy sometimes to confuse selling a product to help provide for your family (especially if it is a faith-based product) with selling a product as a ministry. As a friend vehemently put it to me, "Selling soap is NOT a ministry!". I have to agree - at least it isn't for me.

When you put these two things together - a limited amount of money and the idea that anything a Catholic does could potentially be a ministry - it makes for a tough sale!

Again, I am not putting myself above this, as I know I, too, shop like this! I have to make these decisions every day - is what I am about to buy worth spending my husband's hard-earned money on? It is something that requires constant evaluation if I am to be a good steward...

So after all this I've concluded the following two things...

1. That the products and services that my husband and I are marketing are not our ministry, they are a means to help provide for our family and

2. That if someone has a hard time with the prices we charge, it is really their responsibility to ask the same question I must ask, "Is what I am about to buy worth spending our hard-earned money on?" Once they say yes, I can't feel bad about their decision.



Friday, October 15, 2010

I Have a Question...

And I would honestly appreciate sincere answers. I know you're out there, so don't be shy and please jump in with your opinion...

Is is alright for a Catholic person (and I specify Catholic because it seems that this issue is not as prevalent in the broader Christian market) who has a product, or even products to sell, to make a profit? Or, should anything she has to sell more or less be sold for really no profit and considered her ministry? Put another way, is she a less charitable person because she is making a profit? Is she a more charitable person because she wants to give her products away, because it is more important for people to have her products than for her to make a profit?

I won't say anything else right now, so hopefully the question is clear. I would appreciate any and all responses.




Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thank You Our Lady of Fatima!

This is so cool that I had to share this article. I don't have the original link, so here it is in its entirety:

Out of the Depths
The 33 miners who were trapped for nearly 70 days in a Chilean gold and copper mine are all alive and safe. They were freed today, on October 13, the day of Our Lady of Fatima. But there is more...

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome

=====================================

"De profúndis clamávi ad te, Dómine" ("Out of the depths I have cried unto thee, O Lord"). —Psalm 129, known as the Psalm "De Profundis" ("Out of the Depths"), from its first two Latin words
===============================
The Mystery of Prayer and Redemption
Prose is not adequate to describe what has just happened in Chile. It requires poetry -- like the poerty of the Psalms.
Thirty-three miners, caught in a mine cave-in hundreds of meters below the surface of the earth on August 5, 69 days ago, began to be brought up to the surface today, one by one.
The first man was rescued just after midnight, in the first moments of October 13, and as this is being written, a little after midnight in Rome, 28 miners are safe and the 29th miner is about to be brought to the surface, so it appears all will be brought out within one day.
[Just now, the 33rd miner has been brought up, so all the miners are safe. All were brought up in 22 hours. Here is a link to the BBC live news feed from Chile: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11489439]
All Lost, All Found
At the beginning, it was thought they were all lost, as there was no contact with them at all. Not a sound. Silence.
Then, after 17 days, they were all found to be alive, and safe in an underground cave. But it was still thought that the rescue operation would take many months, until Christmastime, perhaps, and that the men, confined in such a small space, might all go mad before they could be freed.

And now, today, in a feat of engineering worthy of all praise, they have all been brought up safe and in their right minds.

And the entire world has been able to watch as this drama has unfolded.
A Papal Gift
But there is a little known aspect to this amazing story, and that is an aspect related to Pope Benedict, and to the rosary.
The rosary the prayer par excellence of Our Lady, because in its traditional form, it contains 150 Hail Marys in 15 joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries -- the same number as the Book of Psalms.
Benedict offered public prayers for the miners on several occasions, but he also decided to send each of the miners a special gift: a rosary he himself had blessed.
The rosaries were brought to the miners personally by Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz of Santiago, Chile.
It is said that, to survive, the miners organized their life in a disciplined way, even creating a little chapel in the corner of their cave. Praying the rosary, according to a report, became a part of the trapped miners' daily ritual.
(Here is a Rome Reports video which describes this gift of rosaries; it is located at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aH5azcuEL_Y&feature=channel)

And now, on October 13 -- the anniversary of the last appearance of the Virgin Mary to the three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal -- the miners are safe.
The Prayer in Westminster
October 13 is also the feast day of Saint Edward the Confessor, in the United Kingdom.

The drilling to free the miners started on September 17.

The Pope was in London on that day, the second day of his trip to Scotland and England.
At the service on September 17 at Westminster Abbey, Pope Benedict and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, prayed before the tomb of Saint Edward the Confessor.
On October 13, Saint Edward's feast day, the miners are free.
A Sign of Redemption

At a Mass in Chile that began just after near midnight on October 13, as the first miner was being brought to the surface, Santiago Auxiliary Bishop Cristian Contreras Villarroel, speaking in El Sagrario chapel next to Santiago's Metropolitan Cathedral, said the lives of the 33 miners should be seen as a sign of the need all people have for redemption.

And the bishop echoed the words of Psalm 129, where it says, "If thou, O Lord, shalt observe our iniquities, Lord, who can stand?"

"There is no saint without a past, nor sinner without a future," the bishop said.

"Out of the depths, O Lord, I cried unto Thee"

The most powerful single line in all the psalms -- arguably the supreme poetic monument of the Jewish, and of the Christian, religious-cultural tradition -- is this one: "Out of the depths, O Lord, I cried unto Thee."
The words sum up all the sorrow of a frail humanity, mortals doomed to inevitable defeat by the power of sin and death.
The words could have been spoken by Jonah in the belly of the whale, by Job from the ash heap in his sufferings, by David surrounded by enemies seeking his life, by Jesus when he was raised, to all outward appearance totally powerless, onto the cross, then laid, limp and cold, in his tomb.
Psalm 129 is part of the Vespers liturgy for the dead, and expresses the hope that the one who has fallen into shadow and darkness, the one who has been overcome by death, will yet be saved, and come again into the light.

Here is moving text of Psalm 129, first in Latin, then in English, which seems to express the prayer of the miners, caught in the dark under half a mile of rock for 70 days:
De profúndis clamávi ad te, Dómine: Dómine, exáudi vocem meam:
2 Fiant aures tuæ intendéntes: in vocem deprecatiónis meæ.
3 Si iniquitátes observáveris, Dómine: Dómine, quis sustinébit?
4 Quia apud te propitiátio est: et propter legem tuam sustínui te, Dómine.
5 Sustínuit ánima mea in verbo ejus: sperávit ánima mea in Dómino.
6 A custódia matutína usque ad noctem: speret Israël in Dómino.
7 Quia apud Dóminum misericórdia: et copiósa apud eum redémptio.
8 Et ipse rédimet Israël: ex ómnibus iniquitátibus ejus.
9 Réquiem ætérnam dona eis, Dómine.
10 Et lux perpétua lúceat eis.


Out of the depths I have cried unto thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.
2 O let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
3 If thou, O Lord, shalt observe our iniquities, Lord, who can stand?
4 For with thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of thy law, I have waited for thee, O Lord.
5 My soul hath relied on his word my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
6 From the morning watch even until night: let Israel hope in the Lord.
7 Because with the Lord there is mercy, and with him plentiful redemption.
8 And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
9 Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
10 And let perpetual light shine upon them.

===============================================

The Stone Was Rolled Back

In front of the whole world, on this October 13, for these miners, and for all of us as well, who are witnesses of it, the stone has been rolled back.


Praise God and His Blessed Mother!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Simple Life

Early this morning Ms 14 yo heard Ms 7 yo talking in her sleep. This is what she said:

"Sunshine, play material, zoo animals and an elephant are all I need."

Ah, to live such a simple life - I think. Not sure how the elephant fits in, though.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

What I Love About Homeschooling

After homeschooling for the past 13 years, it never ceases to amaze me that I can still love it! Yes, sure there are days where I get supremely frustrated and wonder why on earth God ever called ME to this lifestyle. But then I see moments like the following and it renews my commitment all over again.

Lately there has been a lot of yarn flying in this house...knitting and crotchet needles have been making appearances again as the older two girls get back into the swing of one of their cold weather past times. What caught my attention this time was when Ms 7 yo joined in the fun. Seeing her sisters working towards a goal, she wanted to join them. Here is what she came up with:

I think they are little yarn dolls. Of course, the pointy toothpicks aren't the best, but I love her ingenuity. She sat on the couch next to her sisters, yarn flying as she wound it around the toothpicks to make her little yarn people. We had to convince her to stop when we started running our of toothpicks :)

A few days later we were driving around when one of the little kids noticed the swirling corn husks in a field we were passing. It looked like a small tornado which prompted the kids to ask some questions. Well, before I knew it, Ms 14 yo was teaching an impromptu lesson on tornadoes and hurricanes that lasted all the way to our destination. She was drawing pictures and asking questions and the other kids were responding and remembering! It was all very informative and quite entertaining.

And that is why I love homeschooling...because we can spend time together and learn from each other at any hour of the day...because the children are learning from people who love them more than anyone else in the world...because we seize these moments when they happen and grow in love and respect for the other members of our family, our nearest neighbors.

I thank God when He sends these little moments into our day to remind me that this truly is the best path for our family.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Envy

Not too long ago I was at a talk given by a priest and he talked about the fact that one of the least confessed sins are sins of envy. He pointed out that it is very infrequently that he hears anyone come into the confessional and confess that they were envious of their neighbor or a family member. I've tried to remember this ever since that talk and now I must confess that yesterday I had....Hair Envy.

Let me explain. We went to a lovely wedding yesterday and after admiring the beauty of the couple and the joy of their parents, I started looking around at how nice everyone else looked, since it isn't often that we all get together and take that extra special care in dressing up. It was then that it hit me: Most of my friends have beautiful hair. They have thick, long, beautiful hair. Some curly, some straight. Doesn't matter...they have nice hair and, well, I don't.

Now I used to have nice, thick hair, but years of birthing babies and thyroid medication misinformation have taken their toll. The hair on top of my head is very thin and I'm afraid to color it or perm it or basically do anything to it. In fact, the best my hair stylist can come up with is a hair cut that makes me look like my mom. Don't get me wrong, I love my mother dearly, I just am not quite ready to look like her.

So there I sat throughout the course of the evening wishing I had nice hair. (Sounds pathetic, I know, but I was still recuperating from a cold and my husband wasn't there with me so I had little to distract me :) When I feel like this, I try to console myself with the fact that my children all have nice, thick hair and that they each have a little bit of me on top of their heads.

I also try to think of the Blessed Mother and how she would deal with something like this. I've decided maybe a veil might be in order, then I don't have to worry about what my hair looks like. I suppose, however, that confession probably is the best medicine...Forgive me Father for I have sinned, I have coveted my neighbors' hair :) Wonder if they've ever heard that one before???


Friday, October 1, 2010

7 Quick Takes


Click on the image above to join in the fun!

1.

So I write a unit study and in the introduction I make sure and point out that the great thing about unit studies is that you can tailor them to fit your family's needs. I even go so far as to say "However, I also don't want this structure to box anyone in." Can you believe that last week, while doing our unit study, I found that I was boxing myself in! The old me, the one that panics when it is Thursday (day 4) and we are still on day 2 activities, reared its' ugly head! Fortunately after a good slapping around, I came to my senses.

2.

Since then, we've been taking our time and enjoying all of the activities. Who cares if it takes us 8 weeks to do a 4 week unit study (as long, of course, as we are actually involved in learning and not just screwing around :) We're taking the time to really dig into some of the great topics and also really spend time on the basics of math, grammar, spelling...you know, going back to lay that really solid foundation. So far, a great first month of school!

3.

I would ask you all to keep the men who will be attending the Miles Christi men's retreat this weekend in your prayers. These retreats can be very fruitful, so any extra prayers are always a benefit.

4.

Ms 7 yo sure is excited about her big sister coming home for the weekend. I know she's only been gone a week, but Ms 7 yo is making pictures for her and she even wrote in her school planner that her big sister is coming home! Very touching.

5.

Our entire family has been taking Reliv products for the past two months and we recently became Independent Reliv Distributors. It's another business to add to our menagerie, but one that we are very excited about. We've seen great results so far with these nutritional supplements. They have given us all more energy, clearer thinking, less mood swings and in some of us, some great cognitive improvements. Hard to believe a supplement can do all that in such a short period of time, but from what I've seen and the people I've talked with, this stuff is amazing!

6.

Therefore, with winter fast approaching, I've decided that our approach to the cold and flu season is going to be this:

Every day everyone will take: 2 Reliv shakes (one after breakfast and one before dinner), Vitamin D3 drops and probiotics. Add to that raw honey and kombucha tea on an as needed basis and I think we have the makings of a healthy winter. At least that is my plan...we'll see what happens.

7.

Mr 5 yo came home from an outing with his dad last weekend all excited. "Mom, that man owns 1/2 the bottom of the lake," he told me. "Wow," I responded, "Who owns the top of the lake?" After a few moments of thought, he kind of slapped me on the leg and said in that 5 year old matter-of-fact voice, "God does! It's His water!" Smart boy!

Have a great weekend!