Friday, November 30

Spe Salvi:Not Just for Catholics!

Our Holy Father has written another encyclical.

Did you know that these are not meant only for clergy, or, really, even only for Catholics? It is address as thus:


And it opens with this:


1. “SPE SALVI facti sumus”—in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). According to the Christian faith, “redemption”—salvation—is not simply a given. Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey. Now the question immediately arises: what sort of hope could ever justify the statement that, on the basis of that hope and simply because it exists, we are redeemed? And what sort of certainty is involved here?

Faith is Hope

2. Before turning our attention to these timely questions, we must listen a little more closely to the Bible's testimony on hope. “Hope”, in fact, is a key word in Biblical faith—so much so that in several passages the words “faith” and “hope” seem interchangeable. Thus the Letter to the Hebrews closely links the “fullness of faith” (10:22) to “the confession of our hope without wavering” (10:23). Likewise, when the First Letter of Peter exhorts Christians to be always ready to give an answer concerning the logos—the meaning and the reason—of their hope (cf. 3:15), “hope” is equivalent to “faith”. We see how decisively the self-understanding of the early Christians was shaped by their having received the gift of a trustworthy hope, when we compare the Christian life with life prior to faith, or with the situation of the followers of other religions. Paul reminds the Ephesians that before their encounter with Christ they were “without hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12). Of course he knew they had had gods, he knew they had had a religion, but their gods had proved questionable, and no hope emerged from their contradictory myths. Notwithstanding their gods, they were “without God” and consequently found themselves in a dark world, facing a dark future. In nihil ab nihilo quam cito recidimus (How quickly we fall back from nothing to nothing): (1) so says an epitaph of that period. In this phrase we see in no uncertain terms the point Paul was making. In the same vein he says to the Thessalonians: you must not “grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Th 4:13). Here too we see as a distinguishing mark of Christians the fact that they have a future: it is not that they know the details of what awaits them, but they know in general terms that their life will not end in emptiness. Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live the present as well. So now we can say: Christianity was not only “good news”—the communication of a hitherto unknown content. In our language we would say: the Christian message was not only “informative” but “performative”. That means: the Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known—it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing. The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.

For those of you who read this blog and aren't Catholic, this looks to be an excellent time for you to learn more on what Catholics mean when they speak of the "Hope of Salvation". (Come to think of it, it's a good time for Catholics to do that, too.)

Much of our disagreement with our separated brethren (i.e. Protestants) is a difference in how we define many of the words we have in common. I will be reading the encyclical carefully and taking notes for myself to see what new things our great pope, wonderful teacher and scholar that he is, can teach me. (I'm sure it's plenty!)

You can read the entire thing for yourself (or print it off to read later) at the Vatican website. Oh, and you can see his end notes at the link above, as well.

Thursday, November 29

Playing with the Template (Again)

Soccer Dad is getting a new blog ready (he'll announce that later), and I created a header for him. It turned out so nicely that I thought I'd make a new one for this blog, too.

If you can, come on over to the blog (if you're reading on Bloglines or some such service) and let me know what you think.


Feliz Navi-Toss!

It's a new holiday, just for the retailers with "Holiday" catalogs that come out in November and December!

Hat tip to Red Neck Woman for pointing out this video clip.

And remember:

Answered Prayers

I saw this post at Kristine Franklin's blog, and I decided to make a board for answered prayers.

Mind you, I'm doing this when it seems that our prayers for my aunt to be cured are being answered with "no," but I know that God answers our prayers with "yes," too. Lots of times.

So I got a small corkboard at Wal Mart, found a piece of red felt that I hadn't used for art, and took some ribbon that was just laying around.

I also made a small sign for the top of the milagro board with the after meals blessing. (Even though it's for after a meal, it's still very nice as an every day prayer of thanks, as well.)

The only thing left to do is find some nice pushpins and start putting things up. First thing I'm putting up is about my friend who helped us when the car broke down* and Soccer Dad was out of town.
(*Oh, and by the way, it was the water pump. The coolant reservoir has an automatic overflow valve for when it has the most antifreeze it's supposed to hold.)

Please browse my eBay items. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 28

Golden Compass Conversations

Oh, there have been plenty! But Mark Shea has had some really good stuff on it, including this post from today, where he lets us in on how Pullman, anti-Christian and fervant atheist, could wind up with certain Christian themes sneaking into his novels, such as the beautiful nature of sacrificial love.

In the Harry Potter novels, Christian elements and images are found everywhere, because the author had every intention of telling a fundamentally Christian story. She was trying, for all her faults as a writer or philosopher, to cooperate with grace. In His Dark Materials, Christian elements creep in only because Pullman could not successfully block out the light of Christ completely, despite his best efforts to do so. By way of analogy, Satan cannot rid himself of his own being, intelligence and will (all gifts of God and testimonies to His glory) without ceasing to be altogether. This hardly means that Satan "means well". Evil is *always* parasitic on good and must always, to some degree, pay tribute to it. Pullman's evil work is no exception. That does not mitigate the fact that it is evil.

That is one of the best explanations I've read on this! If I'm feeling better and stronger spiritually, I might pick up the books sometime just to see. But I make no plans on giving them to my children, as I think giving them such blatantly anti-Catholic books would only serve to confuse their young minds. (For the record, I'm not afraid of them hearing or reading things that are not Catholic, but I limit it severely right now, when they are still developing their consciences. When they are older and better equipt to deal with themes such as these, I see no reason to keep those ideas from them. After all, if I insulated them from anything non-Catholic, we'd rarely leave the house, and they certainly wouldn't be involved in most of their activities.)

One Last eBay Post ... Really!

I promise, this is the last dedicated post about eBay for a bit. But I did finally list the snow pants that Little Girl wore two winters ago. They are pristine, and I was trying to be creative when I wrote about them (as well as the coat you see in the pictures below).

Pass the word if you know someone in a cold climate who needs snowpants and/or a snow jacket. These are in excellent condition, and they are not too expensive, either.

Thanks, all. :)

Now I'm off to bake cookies from recipes discovered in this gem, found on the clearance table at Books-A-Million:

Wordless Wednesday

Another old picture. Soccer Dad dancing with Big Girl at my cousin's wedding, five years ago next month.


Tuesday, November 27

A Bit More About My Aunt

(NOTE: I am leaving this post at the top for easy access.)

I posted a very quick post the other day, and I wanted to elaborate a bit on it. I talked to my father on Friday afternoon, and he was extremely upset. He'd spoken to his youngest brother, who is visiting their sister in Texas. Uncle Gr**** said that the doctor gave my aunt only a few months to live. It was really the first concrete number I'd heard. He and the oldest son in the family were still in Texas, trying to offer support and prayers for the family.

Saturday, the second-oldest son in the family told my grandmother, who is just heartbroken.

Sunday, Mom and Dad spoke to Aunt Uncle's husband (who has been so gracious with the updates), and he told them the entire update.

They finally met with the doctor to review the MRI (details about that are here) on Friday. Nothing had changed at all, in spite of the agressive radiation and chemo. The doctor does not feel as though my aunt will live much more than three months, if that. My uncle feels that she might be able to hold on until the end of January, when their youngest son has his birthday. (I believe he'll be 16, since he was nearly two when Nathan and I were married in 1993.)

Obviously, this is not good news. My aunt's 53rd birthday is December 14th. Her first grandchild was born just recently. Her two youngest sons are both in high school. The family had just moved in the last year to be closer to my cousin and his wife.

It just seems so ... unfair in so many ways.

And yet, our family clings to it's faith. To the Faith. And I want to close this post with a note on that because I want you to know that there is still joy in this suffering.

The other day - I think just this past Saturday - my aunt and uncle were talking. He mentioned something about Heaven, and she replied that she was scared she wouldn't make it. They decided to call their pastor and meet him for Confession. They made their Confessions, and after Penances were finished, my aunt decided that she felt well enough to stay for Mass. There was still some time, so they sat near the back of the church and sat silent and praying.

Shortly, a few people came in to pray the Rosary before Mass, and so my aunt and uncle joined in. No one sat near them, but they could hear the prayers of the few people from across the church.

Suddenly, my uncle said that he smelled this incredibly strong smell of perfume. Figuring that someone was probably sitting behind them and he could just smell that, he pretty much ignored it.

Later, after Mass, my aunt asked him if he smelled the roses during the Rosary. No one was sitting near them, she said. But they both smelled it.

That small gift was such a great comfort to us. *

Please pray for our family, and please especially pray for my aunt. If you are someone who seeks the intercession of the Saints in Heaven, please ask Saint Joseph to intercede for my aunt that she has a good and happy death.

Also, I have an idea for her birthday. I'd like to send her a spiritual bouquet, and the perfect time for it is coming up. I know that an indulgence has been available in the past for fulfilling the requirements surrounding the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. If that indulgence is available again (and please let me know in the comments if it is), I'd like to know if anyone would be willing to offer their indulgence for my aunt. If you are, I can gather the intentions via my gmail account (gopsoccermom (at) gmail (dot) com) and then forward them to her for her birthday (December 14). If you participate in this, I will also forward her name to you privately, so you have a name to attach to the intentions.

For information on indulgences, please go here, here, or here. (The last link is one of a search of Catholic Answers on the topic.)

For information on the intercession of the Communion of Saints, please go here.

For information on the Immaculate Conception, please go here.

For the pope's prayer intentions for December, please go here.

And, finally, for information on what a spiritual bouquet is, please see Esther's wonderful post on the topic.

(* I wrote about my own experience with Our Lady in this way - though I didn't know it was her until very recently - in this long post about my pregnancies, my sterilization, and my reconcilliation to the Church's teachings on human sexuality. The post is very long, and the passage is very quick - and unexplained.)

Keeping my Florida Crackers Warm

Little Girl is not very little any more. Just a couple of winters ago, this was her:

But now that the coat is too small, I've done what Weird Al encouraged us all to do in this song:

Now, once I get those snowpants in that picture on the list, I'll be done for a few days. :)

Love Stories





Me, too. But I've got several up for sale.

Please browse my eBay items. Thank you.

Monday, November 26

Thomas Kinkade, Nicholas Sparks

More items on eBay. More Nicholas Sparks to come, as well.

Please browse my eBay items. Thank you.
(By the way...that Kinkade book? It retails for a lot more. This is quite the discount, and all you have to deal with is a small inscription.)

Mitford Books

I just listed the first two Mitford books on eBay this morning.

Please browse my eBay items. Thank you.

You Know You're Catholic When ...

... you're at a pizza place and see this from across the room and at an acute angle ...

... and at first glance, you wonder why they have an icon tapestry on the wall.

Posted by Picasa

Please browse my eBay items. Thank you.

Last Chance Deals on eBay

I've relisted a couple of items that I'll consider "Last Chance" items. If they don't sell this time, I'll either donate them or find a local consignment shop. Some are books, some are clothing.

Also, I'll be listing a few new items that might be of interest. Those, I'll highlight when I get them up.


Please browse my eBay items. Thank you.

Friday, November 23

Three Months

And Dad says she'd be lucky to get that far.

One of my uncles will be going to see my Nana tomorrow.

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Goodies for the Office

Soccer Dad asked me to make some goodies to bring to his office on the day before Thanksgiving, so I began my holiday baking earlier than usual. I made a double batch of Tollhouse cookies (but tripled the chips - you do realize that the dough is merely to hold together the chocolate, right?), some cinnamon-sugar knots, which I accidentally overcooked, and some fudge. Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge.

From Weight Watchers.

Soccer Dad was asked if it was a WW recipe, and he answered, "Are you kidding me? Not this stuff!" Poor dear, he had to admit his mistake today at work.

I decided to post the recipe here in case anyone wants to make some DEE-lish-us fudge that absolutely does not taste low-fat. Points value on this (if you're keeping track) is only two, and there are 36 sservings to this recipe. Though the piece of fudge comes out looking small, it packs a whallop of flavor, and if you're used to the WW points system anyway, it will wind up being enough. (I can't eat more than one serving of this at a time because it's so incredibly sweet.)


  • 1 2/3 cup sugar

  • 2/3 cup fat-free evaporated milk (one 12 ounce can gives you enough for two batches)

  • 2 TBSP reduced-calorie margarine

  • 12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups) (I used chocolate chips)

  • 14 large marshmallows


  1. Coat an 8x8 inch pan with cooking spray.

  2. Stir together sugar, evaporated milk, and margarine. Bring to a boil in a saucepan, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

  3. Stir in chocolate and marshmallows. Remove from heat and stif until smooth.

  4. Pour into pan and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Cut into 36 squares and serve. (Leave fudge in refrigerator or freezer for a firmer consistency.)

And that's it! This is very easy to do, and the girls helped me out with stirring and pouring things into the pot. As a matter of fact, as long as your children know kitchen safety, this is really something they can do almost completely by themselves.

If I had a blog, this would be a good day for me

Soccer Mom and I were watching "Chuck" on NBC the other night. It's a good show if you realize that it is a comedy first, and a spy thriller second (or maybe third). Just before the good guys manage to save the world from the bad guys, Chuck says "If I had a blog, this would be a good day for me". Soccer Mom spent the next 20 minutes cleaning up her pink lemonade.

How funny is it that busy / high content days now inspire us to blog?

Men and Women ARE Different

I got a call from the Soccer Mom today and she made a comment about the temperature. I happened to have a browser window open, so in a matter of seconds I had the correct temperature on the screen.

While we were chatting, I clicked on a link for "Top 10 Fashion Gifts For Women". Soccer Mom always looks good so I decided to test my knowledge of her fashion tastes. I was reading down through the list of "sleek trench coats", "stylish leather gloves", "cozy cashmere sweater", etc. when I came across "Metallic Clutch". My first thought was that clutches in cars already have a high metallic content in the pressure plate and my second thought was why would you buy a metallic clutch as a fashion gift - that would be more of a high performance / hot rod sort of gift. It was only as I was reading the item description that I realized that a clutch is also a purse.

This would also explain how I always wondered why women would wear mufflers in cold weather - the exhaust of a car is certainly hot, but there are surely cleaner and more fashionable ways to stay warm.

Wednesday, November 21

A Special Reminder for Holiday Shopping

For my take on this whole thing, see this post from last year.

Big Sister Loves Little Sister

(This is actually from the day Little Girl was born. Big Girl is signing "I love you" to her. My mother is holding her up on the side of the bassinet.)

Art Project Idea

Care for a little art project to beautify your home? You can make "stained glass" to put up on your windows with a printer (laser or ink jet), transparencies (made especially for using with a printer), markers (Sharpies work well, but so do regular kids' markers), and blackline pictures, which you can find all over the internet.

First, select a picture you'd like to use. Here are a couple, but you can just do a search for "coloring pages" in Google's image search and get tons of stuff.

Then, open up a Word document (if you don't have something like PrintShop or the like), and arrange one or two per page, depending on how large a picture you want. For younger children, I'd recommend a page that is about 5x7 or 4x6 to make it easier for them to finish. (Come to think of it, Windows-based computers can use the picture-printing wizard to help you if you save the picture to your hard drive first. For that, you can right-click the picture and select "Save As" from the menu.)

Once you're happy with the arrangement, put the transparencies in the printer (be careful of which side goes up!) and select "Print." Before you hit the final "Print" button, be sure you change the type of paper to "Transparancy" so the printer uses the right amount of ink.

Have the children color in the pictures, then trim off the excess and hang them on the window.


* The darker the markers used, the more beautiful the picture.

* Give them examples first. Use an image search to find stained glass windows on Google. Younger children, especially those who aren't blessed to go to an old-fashioned Catholic church building for Mass, need to see what the goal is.

* Have extras in case they mess up. I guarantee that they will, and if you've got one whose life is over because she can't fix the picture and it's messed up and I can't believe it and you can't hang that up I'm ruined life is over and I hate art and I'm no good at this... Well, you'll just want another so you can say, "It's okay, honey. Start again on this one."

* Either print one for yourself or just resist the urge to fix it for them. If the Prodigal Son has green skin and his father is a pale blue color, it's not a big deal. If Mary is fuschia because the only peach-colored marker is already being used and it's just time to do Mary's face, I'm sure she won't mind.

The big reason I liked this idea is that it seems more permanent than the tissue paper and construction paper ones I've done in the past. Plus, I have to say, it's MUCH easier to print the picture than it is to cut out shapes in the middle of the picture.
You can also frame the transparancy with black paper if you'd like to really make it pop.
(Note: Pictures to follow.)

Best. Children. Ever.

We have our Monday routine. Get ourselves back into the school week, get dinner in the crockpot, Little Girl goes to dance class from 6 to 7 while Big Girl and I go to the coffee shop and read together, then home for a late dinner and bed for the girls.

This week, Monday did not go as planned.

On the way to dance class, which we were barely going to be on time for, my car suddenly said, "BING!"

Fancy thing, that car.

Last time it said, "BING!" was when it wanted more air in the tires, which Soccer Dad kindly did for me with his handy, dandy air compressor. So when I looked at the dash to see the reason for the BING, I was expecting something little. Like, "Hey, lady, did you notice that you drove a lot today? Don't you think a fill-up would be nice?" or "Hey, lady, it's time to something about the low washer fluid." Something benign.

Not to be. On Monday, BING! meant, "WHOA, LADY!!!! I AM OVERHEATING ALL OF A SUDDEN HERE!!!"

This is not what I want my car to tell me. Ever.

I pulled into a parking lot and turned on the heat. (It was a little chilly, anyway, what with the sun going behind the mountains.) The guage went down a little, so I cautiously pulled back on the road, trying to remember where the hazard lights are in my car. (Why, oh why, can't the location of that thing be standard on all cars?) The guage stayed down for a little bit, but I kept my eye on it, and before I'd gone even 1/4 mile, it was up in the red again. I got ready to pull into another parking lot (with lights, thankyouverymuch) as it went, "BING!" again. I was VERY nervous, especially since the guage was right up at the top of the red by now. (Please, God, don't let the engine sieze! I thought desperately.)

I pulled under a light, cut the engine, and popped the hood. Reservoir tank...reservoir tank...where do they put that in this car???!!!??? Oh, next to the radiator. Brilliant!

No steam was coming from under the hood. I didn't smell antifreeze. Hmmmmm...

The girls and I sat in the car, a mere three miles from the dance studio, waiting for the engine to cool off a little again. Once it was below the half-way mark on the guage, I closed the hood and tried again.

I made it less than 1/4 mile before pulling into the next parking lot I could find. No lights whatsoever, but it was a parking lot as opposed to the shoulder of the road.

I looked at the girls, who were waiting quietly in the back of the car. "Little Girl, we are not going to make it to class tonight," I said.

"That's okay, Mommy. I know my dance for the show." What a sweet child!

I called my husband, thinking that maybe I could call the local Advance Auto Parts and see if someone could run some antifreeze to me. (I was less than two miles from the nearest store.) He was finished with his class in Boston, I knew, but he wasn't answering his phone! I left a message.

"Hi. Call me immediately." click.

I tried again, in case he just missed it. No answer. I left a text page with a callback number.

***-**** 911 911 click

I waited a couple of minutes, then turned the key to see what the guage said. It was still much too high, and I still didn't smell coolant. ARGH! I called again. No answer.

"Hi, it's me again, please call me as soon as you pick this up." click

Finally, I remembered something. I have friends!! Seriously, this is a relatively new concept to me. I have people who are my friends who will help me if I call them. When I lived in Florida near my family, I'd call them. "Daddy, I need help and Nathan is out of town!" Tah-dah! But I'm 700 miles away from my family.

I call a friend who lives only about half a mile from where I am (which also is, incidentally, about a mile and a half from my own home). She's home, and she's not busy! She comes to help us out by driving me to Advance Auto so I can buy antifreeze. Before she leaves with the girls and I, I pop the hood again and open the reservoir tank. With a little trepidation, I stick my nose right into the opening and sniff. No coolant smell. That is not good.

It's now been a little more than half an hour, and the girls have so far been sitting quietly, talking quietly, and reading together in the back of the car. They now buckle themselves into my friend's car and wait for me while politely talking to our friend.

After I put the hood back down, we go to Advance and get the antifreeze I need. Back we go to the car, and I add the coolant while Big Girl holds a flashlight and the cap for the reservoir tank. I start up the car, the girls buckle up again, and my good friend follows me down the road as I try to make it to the dealer, which is about three miles or so away. The car seems to be staying cooler, but then, about two miles up the road, it starts to spike again. I pull into the bank's parking lot and park under a light. When I try to add more coolant, it pours out of the bottom of the car. Now I panic - but not too much. This is why we have an extended warranty, I remind myself. The most I'll pay is $100 to fix this thing. I call the free towing available while the girls sit in the back of my friend's car. They are still quiet, reading books and waiting patiently.

I ask for an ETA. It's now 7:10, and we are usually on our way home to eat dinner. The chicken is in the crock. The girls are hungry. Little Girl's dance class is over and we still haven't gotten up to that point on this street. I am less than four miles from my home!

The nice man on the help line comes back and tells me the ETA is 60 minutes. Okay...

I tell my friend, and let her know that I'll have no ride home from the dealership, either. I hate to impose, but I still need her help. My first idea was that she could take the girls home and feed them, but since our small town rolls up the sidewalks at 8:00, and the dealership will be closed by the time we get there, I ask her if she can stand to be out longer and wait it out with us. She says absolutely. (I have to say right here that I am so grateful to God for friends like this. She had already been out with me for about 40 minutes, and we had at least another hour to go.)

Thank God, the bank is adjacent to Sonic. I lock the car, leave the hood up, and we go there for a quick dinner. I convince the girls to share the popcorn chicken and have water, and I eat their french fries and drink their soda. They agree, and eat neatly and (still) pretty quietly. They make polite conversation when we ask them things, and they basically let me talk to my friend with very few interruptions or interjections. Just before the hour is up, we pull back over to the bank and wait for the tow truck, which arrives just on time.

Again, the girls wait politely, and the only time I'm reminded of how old they are is when Big Girl decides to ask me a question while I'm trying to sign the paperwork for the tow. Then she hops right back into my friend's car. (I think the question was, "Mom, wouldn't it be so cool if we could ride in our car while it was on the flatbed truck?!?" I'm pretty sure I agreed it would. I've always wanted to ride in a vehicle being towed like that.)

Now the girls have been in the car (either ours or our friend's) for more than two hours.

We finally get the car to the dealership, fill out the paperwork, drop the keys, and my friend drives us home.

And still, the girls are well-behaved.

About a mile and a half from home, they get a little bit silly and start making pigeon noises and gargling with their water. I remind them that it's against the rules and that I'm not going to be happy if they spit water in the car. Big Girl says, "I'm sorry," (so does Little Girl) and then, "We are getting SLAPHAPPY!" They dissolve into giggles at this word, which sounds as silly as they feel.

Finally, about three hours after we left for dance class, we arrive home. I thank my friend again and again and again, the girls zip off into the house, and I realize that they have been amazingly well-behaved. No fits, no arguments, only that one admonishment about the water...they didn't even complain. (They "camped out" with a blanket for a while, they thought it was such an adventure!)

I thanked God right then for my friends, but also for the two wonderful children He blessed me with. I couldn't ask for two better girls than the ones I've got. And I made sure I told them so. And I keep telling them so.

They are the best. girls. ever.

Tuesday, November 20


It's time for the Catholic Carnival. Domini Sumus has a Thomistic theme to this week's posts. I'm hoping that by reading through things, I'll know exactly what that means. ;)

Enjoy, and have a blessed Thanksgiving!

The Question is, Will I Actually Do It?

For years, I've wanted to make a Jesse Tree. This year, I have actually printed off some templates for the activity from the Domestic Church website.

We'll see if I actually get around to it with the girls this year. Goodness knows it won't be as beautiful as anything Helen (Mary Vitamin) has been making for years, but it will be a start.

[image source]

Feasts and Holy Days

The Liturgical year is coming to a close, and that means lots of wonderful Feast Days!

This Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King. Our entire Liturgical year leads up to this point.

We begin the year in waiting, during Advent, for the coming of the King of kings. Then we celebrate His humble birth. Throughout the year, our readings at Mass concentrate on telling about His life (as we know of it). We prepare for His suffering and death on the Cross throughout Lent, mourn it on Good Friday, and celebrate the Resurrection on Easter. We celebrate again on the birthday of the Church - Pentecost - and learn more and more through the Mass readings about Christ Jesus and His mission for us.

We learn about how to be good disciples (from the Latin word for "students"). We learn how to get to Heaven, for God made us to show His goodness and for us to be happy with Him in Heaven forever. And we must know, love and serve God in this world to be happy with Him in the next. The Church takes great pains to teach us how to know, love, and serve God during the Mass. We come to know Him through the readings in Scripture - Old and New Testaments alike - and we learn of our salvation history. Through this knowledge, our love for Him deepens. (As the prayer says, "Jesus, I love You! Enflame my heart that I may love You more!") And then we serve Him out of love, not out of duty. (Jen at et tu? has a beautiful post that relates to that topic.)

Our Liturgical year, and our learning cycle about our Lord, finishes with a Feast Day that shows us just Whom we strive to know, love, and serve. It is Christ the King, the King of kings, Lord of lords. We have one True King, and it is our Lord Himself.

Because so many people focus so heavily on Christmas (skipping the Advent Season altogether, sometimes), we often overlook the beauty of the Liturgical cycle. We are ready for Advent - at least the candles and stuff - and we are busy shopping for Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas presents. We admonish stores for not wishing us Merry Christmas and dig out our Nativities. We put up the tree. We light the lights. We inflate a giant snowman on the front lawn.

But do we remember that the year isn't actually over here in the Church? Are we remembering that this Sunday, the last of the year, we are supposed to honor Christ the King? Do we jump ahead to the Babe in the manger, King of kings, and forget Christ in splendor and majesty in Heaven?

Don't forget Christ the King this week. Don't be in such a rush for Advent and Christmas and all that goes with it.
Be in the now. Celebrate Christ Triumphant, reigning in splendor and glory at the right hand of the Father.

Update on Aunt Uncle - Directly from Texas

No hearsay this time. Below is the most recent update on my aunt in Texas. For a reminder why I'm calling her "Aunt Uncle," please see this post.


Howdy, all.

Greetings from Texas. Time flies, partly because there's so much to do. There's a little to report on the "Aunt Uncle health" scene, so here goes...

Over ~6 weeks of home stay/outpatient rehab, Aunt Uncle was not doing so well. I think it largely resulted from the effects of radiation+chemo, radiation-affected sense of taste, and "round 1" of the second phase of chemo-only treatment. Basically, her nutrition, ability to keep food down, and appetite were affected to the extent that she lost about 22 pounds [ed: this is troubling to me, as she has always been very small; she only hit 100 pounds when she became pregnant with her oldest son], and as a result quite a bit of strength. To some extent associated with this, she became depressed.

She recognized that she would have a better opportunity to reverse all this if she was able to return to "inpatient" rehab status for a while, and a week ago today she was readmitted. I think things have worked out pretty well, at least on the physical side. She still has the uncertainty of cancer to deal with, but her appetite has increased and she's getting stronger as a result of the rehab they're doing with her. She will be discharged and return home (and transition to "outpatient rehab" status again) this coming Monday.

Yesterday she had an MRI. If you've never had one of these, they're tough for people who dislike close spaces. Imagine being slid inside a culvert and then having people bang on it. She had some medication to help her relax and it worked to the extent that she was extremely relaxed for the rest of the day (i.e., wiped out). We'd expected to meet with the neurosurgeon in the afternoon, but for some reason that appointment was canceled. This really bothered Uncle Aunt, because she'd hoped to learn something about the MRI results. Now we have to wait ??? to learn whether there's any evidence of the radiation and chemo treatments on the tumor.

I think a new appointment will be scheduled today and I'll send out an update after we have that meeting. I doubt the appointment will take place for several days because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

She finished the second 5-day round of chemo last Friday, and the absence of any related nausea is encouraging. Maybe we won’t have a weight loss – weight gain cycle and we’ll be able to make more progress on building Aunt Uncle's strength.

On other fronts, Aunt Uncle's mother [ed: my Nana] returned home yesterday after having spent a couple of months helping us out. What can I say? She's welcome back, any time at all.

K***** and C***** have a home at St. ********** High School. Their attendance there is truly a blessing, one of the real bright spots in our lives. Besides making K***** and C***** at home there, and "watching out" for them as a result of Aunt Uncle's illness, people at the school are taking care of us both spiritually (lots of prayers) and physically (food). Last night, we finished some lasagna that C****’s Latin teacher had made for us (dropped off by her husband, the principal) and next week we will begin receiving meals prepared by the school’s women’s group.

R***** and S***** are fine. They surprised Aunt Uncle last night by dropping in unannounced at rehab. They’d brought A***** with them, and what doesn’t go better with babies? K**** took the opportunity to grab a little shut-eye while the boys were out. A****’s still on a short-sleep schedule, so K**** has to grab sleep when she can.

Our Thanksgiving will be made more joyous by the company of Aunt Uncle’s brother A****, her brother Gr****, and Gr****’s wife (G******) and son (Br****). They’re flying in tomorrow, and we’re looking forward to seeing them. Thanksgiving is a “holiday” at rehab, so we’ll spring Aunt Uncle early in the morning and take her to either S**** and K****’s house our to ours. We have so much to be thankful for, and high on that list is the love, support, and prayers from all of you. I know we’re in a tough period now, and your prayers and cards are even more important. We will hold each of you in our hearts and pray that God sends His love and blessings upon you and your families on Thanksgiving and every day following. Please give one another a warm hug for us, OK?

B**** and the gang


Please continue to pray for my family, especially that my aunt is able to eat again. She has always been very small, and wasn't much more than 100 pounds. Losing 22 of them can't be a good thing at all.

Also, please renew prayers for my Nana. That trip took a huge toll on her, and the mental strain of watching her daughter suffer with this cancer and everything that is going with it has made her own health worse, as well. Now I'm more worried about her than before, as well. *sigh*

One thing that is good, I think, is that my father's family is forgetting their differences a bit, and estranged members seem to be coming back to the fold again. I know that has pained Nana, too, and it might be good for her heart to have her children around her - all six of them - at this awful time.

Thank you all, again, for the prayers.

Saint Peregrine, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Saint Jude, pray for us.

Saint Rita, pray for us.

Friday, November 16

A New CafePress Store (updated)

I just decided to make a new CafePress Store, which I've named "Artsy Photos by a Mom." (I have one here which I called simply "The Soccer Mom's Stuff," which has strictly Pro Life merchandise.)

If you follow the link embedded below, you'll see my new shop, which specializes in merchandise with my photography on it. I've displayed some of it here before, but some of it is new. I hope you like it. :) (If you want to look and just report back on what you thought of the pictures, that would be fine. Hint, hint.)

Support This Site

Thanks for taking a look!

(Update: I fixed the first link in the opening paragraph. To get to the second site, click on the banner above, please.)

Wednesday, November 14

Five to Nine Months

That's what my grandmother said my aunt is estimated to have left. Dad talked to her (Nana) earlier today and she said that my aunt is going into a nursing home to help her with therapy and such. That she only has five to nine months left.

Mind you, Dad wants to confirm this with my uncle, but it seems like perhaps we might not only ask Saint Peregrine for his prayers, but also Saint Joseph.

This is not the kind of thing anyone likes to think about. But I heard Mother Angelica say that to know your death is imminent is a gift. In that kind of situation, you can get your soul ready for death. And this is more important than anything else you will do in life.

Please pray for our family, and especially for my aunt. If she isn't to make a recovery, please pray for her to have a good death.

(oh i did not like typing that out it looks so final)


Today, my father-in-law received yet another piece of mail at our home. This time, it's not just a credit card offer, but a notification that his vehicle warranty is about to expire, and wouldn't he like to buy an extended warranty with this company (Warranty Activation Headquarters in St. Louis, MO)?

I don't remember the exact time he last bought a car, but it was not too long before he died in 1998.

So, yes, I'd guess that his warranty is definitely expired. But I don't think he really cares much about it.

Essays Written in Response to an Incident Last Night

Why Not to Lie (by Little Girl)

Because it's disobeying God, and Mommy, and Daddy. Also the Bibile says not to lie (I think.) because it's bad! I shuold tri not to lie ever again and to be like Mary. telling lies is so bad that it leaves a Mark on our souls. I hate telling lies!


Why Not to Lie (by Big Girl)

You should'nt lie because Jesus said not to fib about anything. Even if we want to. If you do, your parents will probably get angry ... VERY! So, please don't lie. Lying can be harmful, for exaple ... if you lie, it could spread a rumor. A rumor could be true, but true or not, don't spread rumors! A rumor can spread like hot water! It all comes from one tiny little LIE. So a little lie goes a long way. Next time, think of God. You reject God when you sin! So remember, next time, tell your mom about the broken vase. Don't lie because you'll lose grace

(Note from Mom: There was no broken vase. What happened was they told me that they'd cleaned something up and had not done it. Hence the essays. 50 words from Little Girl, 100 words from Big Girl.)

Please browse my eBay items. Thank you.

Potty Training?

I just listed our old copy of Once Upon a Potty on eBay. It's definitely worn, but it's still got all the pages intact and has some good years left to it.

I've also put up a couple of other books and things (including more jeans from Little Girl - that child is growing like a weed!!), so please, if you can, check them out. Included is a Chicken Soup book, one by Ezola Foster on America and race relations, and Rich DeVos' book Compassionate Capitalism.

So please check it out and pass the word if you know someone who might be interested! Thanks!

Newberry Award Winners

One of the items I listed on eBay this week was a boxed set of Newberry Award winning books. While I don't necessarily recommend them for elementary school, they might be useful if you have children who are a bit older. (They are all coming-of-age stories.)

No Longer Afraid

This is my first Wordless Wednesday. I hope to participate more often in the future.

Tuesday, November 13

Best. Husband. Ever. (Part 2)

Soccer Dad booked a hotel room for the nights surrounding the pope's Mass at the Washington Nationals' Stadium. He can't book his free nights (earned from all the business trips) just yet, which means he had to put the reservation down with a credit card, but he can change the reservations to be free later. His email to me read:


I can't book Reward Nights that far in advance. I should be able to change the reservation as we get closer.

DC hotels use about 2.5 times the points as podunk towns in the Carolinas!!!

This one has a free shuttle to the Van Dorn Metro station.

So basically, he is about to use up ALL of his points with this chain so our family can go to see our Holy Father.

Have I mentioned lately that I have the best. husband. ever. ??

'cuz I do. Really.
I am so happy about this that I could cry.


It's a real, honest-to-goodness dream come true.

If I were any happier, there'd be two of me. Or maybe more. Or I'd just explode. And the girls are just as excited. They were dancing around the house singing, "We're going to see the pope! We're going to see the pope!"

Catholic Carnival 145

Adam's Ale (which has a GREAT picture on its header!) is hosting this week's Catholic Carnival.

Thank you, Father, for hosting it for us!

If you're interested in being a part of the carnival, there is a handy online submission form you can use.

Paging Robert Plant

While listening to the climax of "Stairway to Heaven" on the radio*, Little Girl announced, "That guy has kind of a helium voice."

*Note: This Led Zepplin tune is actually mentioned in a live version of "The Window" by Trout Fishing in America, and that is part of why we turned it up and played it loud when it came on. That, and it's a really cool song.

Homeschool Blogger Awards

Marine Drill Teams

I wanted Soccer Dad to post these for me yesterday (when we were celebrating Veterans' Day), but he was a little busy getting ready for his latest business trip.

So I'm posting them now. Enjoy!

This last one explains the Silent Drills, too:

And this is the one that inspired us to look for the videos:

Please browse my eBay items. Thank you.

Which One Are You?

Big Girl and Little Girl are watching Fantasia while they eat their lunch. (Don't worry, it ties in with our Greek Mythology unit that we're doing. Eventually.)

They are playing a game throughout the movie, which is one they play while reading anything with pictures, too. It's the "I'm-that-one-you're-this-one" game.

In Fantasia, during the Nutcracker Suite section, there are little fairies that cause changes of seasons.

Throughout the piece, the girls continually commented on who was which fairy. No arguing. Just "You're that one, Big Girl, and I'm that other one. You're the one that came out first," and "I used to want to be the green one, but now I am that blue one. You are the yellow one."

Then they started again in this piece:

"You are the fish there, Little Girl."

"And you are that one because it keeps getting away from the other big fish."

I love this game of theirs. Any picture they see, they like to assign who is which character in the picture.

"In this picture, Mommy, you are this mouse and Daddy is this biggest mouse, and I am this one and Big Girl is that one."

"Mom, look! In this picture, Daddy is this big bear, and you are the small bunny, and Little Girl is this little bear and I am the tiny mouse."

It's so sweet, and I love that Big Girl still plays, even though she's nine and most girls her age have probably discarded such things. I love that their innocence is still so prevalent. That it's so on-the-surface.

It's one of the big pay-offs for me as a mother.


Please, someone tell me how to get tickets to the Mass!!!!!!

Please browse my eBay items. Thank you.

Monday, November 12

I've Been Remiss!

Forgot to post last week's Catholic Carnival!


Go read it here, at Organ-ic Chemist, and if you'd like to submit an article for this week's (due tonight and hosted at Adam's Ale), you can go here to do so online.

"Pray for Me to the Lord Our God"

This Sunday, we had a visiting priest. Our pastor (Father R.) switched with a pastor from Norfolk so that a wedding in Norfolk would be officiated by Father R.

Mass was really nice, too. It all started when our visiting priest had us say the Confiteor. Father R. rarely says this prayer during Mass, and yet it is one of my favorite prayers in the Mass to say. For my non-Catholic readers, let me first put the prayer down here.

I confess to Almighty God
And to you, my brothers and sisters,
That I have sinned through my own fault,
(strike breast here)
In my thoughts and in my words,
In what I have done and in what I have failed to do.
And I ask Blessed Mary, ever Virgin,
All the angels and saints,
And you, my brothers and sisters,
To pray for me to the Lord our God.

If you read the prayer carefully - and Catholics should do this every once in a while, too - you will notice that it is a truly beautiful prayer. Through saying it, we stand before God and our brethren and admit that we are sinners. We admit that we sin in many ways - including often-overlooked sins of omission - and ask the saints and angels to join with all of our brethren in praying for us.

Father R. tends to give an introduction to the contents of the day's Mass and then proceed with the "Lord, have mercy" prayer (Kyrie Eleison). Note:This is perfectly legitimate and not a liturgical abuse. But Father R. definitely seems to have a preference to use this form during most liturgical seasons. (I'm pretty sure that I recall correctly that we say the Confiteor during penitential seasons, i.e. Advent and Lent.) Usually, to be honest, Father has a long enough introduction to the Mass that I say this prayer to myself. I'm not trying to be contrary, nor do I draw attention to myself by striking my chest during the line that calls for it. I just want to say this prayer, to ask the saints and the Blessed Virgin to pray for me.

And so usually our parish does not say the prayer as a whole. When we say the Confiteor, we also say the Kyrie. We ask for God's mercy and forgiveness after admitting to everyone how very much we need it. The Confiteor sets up the reason for the Kyrie. It reminds us of why we are asking God for mercy - three times over, no less.

And there is also a great power that comes from all of us saying this together. When I whisper the prayer under my breath, no one else (that is, no one who isn't in Heaven) knows that I have asked for these prayers. (And God knows how very much I need them!) But when we all say the prayer together, everyone knows that we each have asked the others to pray for us. And some people even have the presence of mind to actually do that. (Need I say that it just occurred to me that I ought to immediately pray for my parish family at that moment?)

When the priest began the prayer, I was so happy and relieved! By the end of the prayer, I was in tears of joy. And then, when we were finished admitting our guilt and asking for the prayers of the parish, saints, angels, and Our Lady, we began the Kyrie.

And what depth of meaning was added to this prayer by the simplicity of saying the other!

By the end of the Kyrie, my tears hadn't stopped.

And then, it occurred to me just why the very next thing we do is sing the Gloria.

We have asked for prayers and received them. Then we asked for forgiveness, and God is ready to give that, too. And so now we sing praises and thanksgiving to Him Who forgives us all!

Glory to God in the Highest
And peace to His people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, Almighty God and Father;
We worship you, we give you thanks,
We praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Son of the Father.
Lord God, Lamb of God
You take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us;
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer.
For You alone are the Holy One,
You alone are the Lord,
You alone are the Most High Jesus Christ,
With the Holy Spirit in the Glory of God the Father. Amen.

What a wondrous thing the Mass is! What a perfection of worship and prayer we have in its order!

(For more information on the Mass, you can order a free CD from The Mary Foundation. They have several CD's that discuss and explain various aspects of the Catholic Faith, and the explanation of the Mass -given by Father Larry Richards - is excellent. As a matter of fact, the CD's and mp3's at the last link are also excellent and worth the small fee charged for them.)

[image source]

Who are your heros?


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