Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Living a Lenten Season with Kids

Each year Emily’s and Leo’s understanding of Lent takes deeper roots into their faith life. In the past we’ve helped them to realize Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for us through meaningful ways. Here are some of our favorite traditions to help the kids:

We start on Ash Wednesday. I love Ash Wednesday because it is such a great sign of hope and peace in the world. As a child, I remember feeling very self conscious about receiving ashes and going out in public so everyone important in the universe could see that I was a Christian! Gasp!! Last year Emily went around pushing up her bangs everywhere we went saying to anyone who would listen “can you see my cross? That means I love God!” I wish we could retain the innocence of small children forever! As an adult, so often I just want to blend in and not be noticed. (ok…ok…going around with 3 banshees isn’t exactly the best way to “blend”). Yet it’s amazing how many people are eager to receive the ashes and show an outward sign that they too are turning away from sin and returning to the Gospel.

Fasting--this year we’ve decided to fast from sugar. It’s important to note that this is not for a dietary reason, (as in, hey! Let’s give up sugar so we can all be skinny!), but rather because our favorite well deserved treats in this house are usually involving sugar. (no mom of the year award…but a m&m here and there ain’t gonna kill ya!) We like to take this sacrifice and offer it up for Jesus. This is great because it really teaches your little one self-control, patience, and how sacrifice is needed in a world of sin.

Sacrifice Tree
This is a tradition that we had in my house growing up which I always loved. You begin with a child selected bare branch and small tissue paper leaves. Not only do we fast during Lent, but also we can do small acts of kindness for each other. Each little sacrifice is signified with tying a leaf onto the tree--not to brag but to encourage the beauty of sacrifice. I love this idea because it plants the seeds of teaching the Theology of the Body at a very early age. Kids can clearly see that self-donation and self-sacrifice is awesome and necessary in a loving relationship.

Here's a picture from last year to get the idea:)

Stations of the Cross
Eli and I like to take the kids with us on Friday evenings to say the stations of the cross outdoors. Beforehand, they can color printouts of the stations, and match their paper to the station. Since we’re outside, they can really enjoy themselves as loudly as they’d like. Heehee. I also printed out a calendar for them that they can color one day at a time and really look forward to Fridays. http://catholicicing.com/2011/02/printable-lenten-calendar-for-kids/

I encourage you to make Lent more meaningful for your family. These are several ideas our family does, but we don’t do them everyday…the point is we *try.* Try This is such a great time to stop and reflect on how we’re living our life, and devote more time to God. Can you give Him 1% of your day? 24 minutes is not a lot considering He died on the cross for you. Maybe you could start by reading the Bible for a couple minutes during breakfast. Could you take half your lunch hour to go to daily mass? What about singing the Divine Mercy chaplet for 15 minutes at 3pm? If a rosary seems too hard a commitment with your spouse, how about a decade? How about 5 minutes on Sunday morning to read the gospel before you get to mass? The possibilities are endless…get started today!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Secrets Planned Parenthood are Keeping

Early prevention for breast cancer through mammograms is vital. Planned Parenthood only offers manual breast exams, not mammograms.

Free mammograms are available in your area, but NOT through Planned Parenthood.

What Planned Parenthood provides are artificial hormones (i.e., birth control) and abortions, which CAUSE breast cancer.

Take this opportunity to learn the truth. This is from Amber Pilkington of Dignity Women’s Center in San Antonio.

The World Health Organization lists combined oral contraceptives in the highest level of cancer-causing agents (Group 1). "Most combined oral contraceptives are taken orally, but they can also be delivered by injection, transdermal patch or vaginal ring." (Lancet Oncology 2005; 6:552-553)

A Mayo Clinic meta-analysis found the use of oral contraceptives before a first full term pregnancy increases the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer by 44%. (Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2006;81 (10): 1290-1302) .... this includes use by non-sexually active women who take the birth control pill because they believe it is the only way to help with painful periods, acne, etc. There are other options! Visit www.naprotechnology.com for more information. Don't put your daughter at risk.

Two studies in prominent medical journals have strongly linked use of oral contraceptives with aggressive, deadly, triple-negative breast cancer, which most often affects young women under age 50 and African Americans. (Cancer Research 2010;70 (2): 575-587 and Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 2009; 18(4) 1157-1166)

Extensive studies since 1957 document a connection between abortion and breast cancer.

Eight medical organizations recognize the link between abortion and breast cancer.

Patrick Carroll (Pension and Population Research Institute) in his study of eight European countries found that abortion is the "best predictor" of future breast cancer rates. (Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 2007; 12:72-78)

National Cancer Institute branch chief Louise Brinton, Ph.D., M.P.D. co-authored a study reporting a statistically significant 40% increased risk for women with induced abortions. (Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Preventions 2009; 18(4) 1157-1166.

"But the money Susan G Komen gave is not FOR abortions, it's for breast cancer screening."
Any money given to Planned Parenthood helps keep its doors open and supports all of its services. Likewise, former director of Planned Parenthood Abby Johnson has stated that Planned Parenthood does not even do mammograms, they must refer out. There are plenty of other clinics/organizations that could accept the money and use it for real screening who do not do abortions.

There are other organizations that provide research too: the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute (www.bcpinstitute.org).

Breast Cancer Prevention Institute - www.bcpinstitute.org
BCPI Fact Sheets - http://www.bcpinstitute.org/factshts.htm
BCPI Published Studies - http://www.bcpinstitute.org/publishedpapers.htm
Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer - www.abortionbreastcancer.com

Support Susan G Komen for making a stance. Email news@komen.org and say Thank you for Defunding Planned Parenthood.

Let's stand together to beat Breast Cancer. Get informed. Get Active. Get Real.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Get Informed. Get Active. Get Real

Each new day brings choices. Some easy subconscious choices, others tumultuous life-altering choices. Our family choices are different than friends, and that’s what makes humanity so great. We’re happy to be the home schooling, cloth diapering, NFP practicing, daily mass going Catholics. Most families choose alternative routes, but we don’t blow out their candles to make ours brighter. Without the fundamental freedom to choose different paths in life, we would suffocate. On a daily basis, each of us can stand up and defend our choices.

With the newest conscience law pending, Catholics are outraged to discover that their freedom to act morally according to their most dear belief system has been violated. Moreover, our hands will forced to succumb to what we see as the most serious violation. We know that Amish, Quakers, and Christian Scientists have exceptions to laws because of their beliefs, and Catholics need them too. For over 2000 years the Catholic Church has chosen to protect life, and there’s no chance we’re stopping now. Even if you’re not Catholic, please realize that this issue opens the door to so many other injustices and attacks on our constitutional rights. Please take the time to sign this petition: www.stophhs.com

Regardless of what our nation’s administration says, I think overall our nation chooses life. We’ve seen it in the recent Casey Anthony case--people across the board value life. We value justice, and will not tolerate murder. What is so startling is that that same poor soul in heaven could have been lawfully murdered in utero with the pop of a couple pills, and not many would have blinked. Because it’s legal, so therefore it must be ok. But it doesn’t have to be.

We all have the obligation to do our part in improving humanity. There are multiple ways the prolife movement needs help. First and most importantly, prayer is needed to change the laws and change the hearts. Aid at every stage of abortion is needed: pre-natal care, safe havens for pregnant mothers, prayer warriors to stand in peace before the abortion clinics, post-abortive care for women and men, and more.

Eli and I have chosen to help educate the pro-life youth, and are trying to change lives. We are blessed to be a part of planning San Antonio’s Get Real pro-life youth conference on March 25th. This year we’re thrilled to be hosting Dr. Janet Smith, an internationally renowned speaker on bioethics and pro-life teachings who has appeared on Fox Morning News, CNN, and EWTN. San Antonio Coalition for Life’s President Amy Vorhees will share what abortion clinics are keeping secret. We’ll be teaching students how to defend life and bring a Get Real pro-life club to their campus.

How can you help? Can you pray for the success of the conference? Could you pass along the conference information to a friend and help spread the word?
We all have different gifts, and we need to use them. Let's start TODAY.

Get Informed. Get Active. Get Real.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In a Quiet Stable in Bethlehem Town

Every year it's our family goal to quietly reflect on the true significance of Christmas during the preparation time of Advent. We have a few traditions to make more of an impact on the children of what a momentous event Christ's birth meant for all of history. Some of the favorite activities we did were so simple, though already Emily asks when we can do them again. For example, a simple countdown paper chain made of purple and pink strips added to our evening Advent prayer time. We have a small advent calendar, light our advent wreath candles, say a prayer, and sing "Oh Come oh Come Emmanuel". The kids get a bell and ring their little hearts out when singing the words REJOICE! They love it. We also have a stocking hung for Jesus in which the kids can give him presents--little love notes or treasures or mommy will write one of their sacrifices down and stuff it inside.

This year we were invited to do something a bit different for Christmas. We drove out to the tiny Texan to attend "Main Street Bethlehem" with a couple family friends. The town sets up a beautiful model of what Bethlehem looked like the day Christ was born. Volunteers from the city (of all different faiths!) dress up and reinact the town. It truly felt as if you walked into a time warp. As we moved through the small town, we saw how the people 2000 years ago lived. There were people in costume gathered around the fire cooking their dinner. Many praying and studying in the synagogue. Kids running around announcing the Messiah had been born. Tax collectors making a scene and dragging people off to jail. Jewlery makers, candle makers, market workers, and even a couple of camels. No one last-minute shopping for presents or stressing about decorations or complaining about visiting inlaws. Although it was packed, the crowd was so peaceful and respectful. They were there to see our the true meaning of Christmas.

There was quite a line. We were freezing and snuggling.
Emily loves her Nana!

We played games and ate popcorn to pass the time. (Leo loves the big boys!)

We finally made it inside to the first room and were taught how to make candles by alternating dipping a long cord into hot wax and water. Such patience and grace these ladies presented!

The townspeople were bursting with excitement that the Messiah had been born.

When we asked this carpenter if he had known Joseph, he replied in a thick Texan accent "y'all just mosey on 'round the corner and take a gander at 'there star." We had a good laugh.

We followed the star, saw the manger, and were blown away. There were thousands of people here, but it was silent. We had found the diamond in the ruff. Jesus, born in muck, next to stinky and loud donkeys, in scratchy hay, was beautiful.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011