This blog's mission is simple--to encourage moms who are married to non-Catholics and raising their children in the Faith. If you know a mom who needs a little encouragement in continuing her efforts, I would be delighted if you would share Kathleen's Catholic with her. Thank you!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

We Homeschooled BEFORE We Homeschooled

by Kathleen Blease

One day, the boys and I were watching old family videos. When they were little, I loved grabbing the old VHS camera and taped anything they might have been doing--from munching on graham crackers to finger painting to swimming in the pool. In the video, I could see that our kitchen wall was covered in drawings and paintings, papier mache crafts, and even puppets made out of paper plates.

Every day was an adventure. Story time at ten. A walk at eleven. Classical music during lunch time. Then after nap time, it was an afternoon of arts and crafts. We took trips to the public library every week, without fail, and lugged home a stack of picture story books that kept our imaginations flying. I loved them just as much as the boys did!

When our oldest turned five, it was time to send him to school. It never occurred to us to educate him in any other way. Off he went to Catholic school, and his little brother stayed home. We played mancala, Uno, checkers, and even chess to pass the time. We sorted, counted, added, named colors and created new ones. We dug in the dirt, blended paints, glued, and built with legos and made a contest out of who could make the craziest invention. We even competed over who could build something out of only yellow legos, or just red, or blue, and so on. Or using just onesie, twosies, and foursie legos.

Then our younger boy went to Kindergarten, and our time together was reduced to dinner and story time right before bed. By the time he was in first grade, and still refusing to read--and thus falling far behind his classmates, despite the school's special tutoring--it was obvious we needed to take our children's education into our own hands.

When we first started homeschooling, I had  plenty of anxieties about providing our children with a proper education. For the first week, my hand shook as I placed it over my heart and faced our classroom flag and recited the pledge of allegiance. Questions loomed over me: "What am I going to do with them today? Will my lesson plans work? What am I going to do with Mr. I-Won't-Read? Can I adequately teach the boys math and science?"

Little by little, I got to know our boys and their individual needs: Son-number-one needed academic challenges, while our little guy needed to take scholarly baby steps, each one well planned to get him to our goal of developing a love of reading and writing. I planned those steps myself, using only my mother's instincts and lots of prayers.

My baby is now beginning seventh grade, and his brother high school. Both are strong readers and writers. Never did I dream that my anti-book first grader would grow to love H.G. Wells, Jack London, and Mark Twain. Nor did I plan that my oldest would have his own blog and comic book.

Indeed, there is one thing I have to admit that I realized only in retrospect:  We've been homeschooling our children from the very beginning--since they were just a few months old and we played on the floor face-to-face. All the fingerpaintings, story time, arts and crafts, weekly trips to the library, and walks about town planted healthy seeds of learning!

If you ever wonder if you can homeschool, ask yourself  these simple questions: Do you play with your child? Have you been playing with your child ever since he was a tiny babe? Then you are a homeschooler. No one knows your child like you do. All those hours together have given you a very special insight that no other educator can possess, regardless of how skilled or experienced she is. Your parental instincts and pure intentions are priceless!

Parents are indeed the primary educators of their children. The Church agrees. The Pope agrees. In Deuteronomy, Moses instructs his people to teach their children...when they are at work, when they are rest, when they are at home, when they are away. He doesn't instruct the parents to be sure to find good teachers; he tells them to be the teachers themselves. And he assures them that their efforts will be blessed.

God bless.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Rosary Giveaway Link

Lamb of God beads handmade by Clay Rosary Girl, Sarah.

Another great link today...a rosary giveaway from two great blogs!

Clay Rosary Girl is giving away one handmade rosary to a lucky follower of Catholic Icing. Check it out and find out how to enter. Click here.  I purchased Sarah's Lamb of God choker necklace, and the details are amazing. Have fun! And good luck!

The Catholic Revolver: An Interview

I read a terrific interview with Jerry Weber, host of The Catholic Revolver with Jerry.  Jerry followed his calling to start a radio show, which you can follow on Facebook and Twitter. He explains how God has given him the resources to make it a successful yet small and intimate ministry.

Click here to  read his on-line chat with Peggy at Don't Know Much About the Rosary?.

God bless.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What Was I Supposed To Be?

This little video doesn't need comment. It's so eloquent and complete, put to Ray Boltz's song. Unborn babies who are aborted ask Our Lord in Heaven, "What was I suppose to be?" Thanks to my FB friend, Birgit, for sharing this with me.

God bless.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Envy At Mass Was Finally Put Away

by Kathleen Blease

Going it alone was hard, but the Lord gave me my solution.

I used to sit in Mass, in between my two boys, and look around and notice all the families. Moms and Dads flanking the kids. I envied them. When one child acted up, Dad was there with silent discipline. When the family prayed the Lord's Prayer, they were united with clasped hands. Kids could look to the left and see their mom, then look to the right and see their dad. When my children were little and hard to contain, I longed for my husband to attend Mass with us, but I knew I couldn't force it. Yet my longing turned into frustation and then into envy as I watched other families march to Holy Communion together.

Then one day, it hit me. It was so clear. It happened while I was teaching our boys about the Mass, how the gifts are taken to the altar. And when the bread, wine, and treasure are offered to the Lord, we should be putting ourselves there on the altar as well. We should offer Him everything, I told them. Offer your successes throughout the week, your failures, your fears, your celebrations...everything that is in your life and in your heart. Who knows you better than Our Lord? He will treasure what you give to Him.

Yes, there it was. All those years when I stewing in my envy I should have been offering the needs of my husband and putting them on the altar. At first, I offered his discernmnet of conversion, not sure there even was a discernment, but it didn't hurt to try. Then over time I decided to forget about what I wanted my husband to be, and I began to think about what my husband really needed on a daily basis. Even though he hadn't detailed his challenges in a list for me, as his wife I knew well what those were. So I offered them at the altar, right along side my own little successes and failures and needs and fears and wants. And, yes, even my envy. I finally gave it to the Lord. It was time to give it away for good.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Great Way to Start the Day

by Kathleen Blease

When you first open your eyes in the morning, make the sign of the cross and say a little prayer. I like to say, "Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation!" Say it silently if you must, so you don't disturb anyone, but say it with fervor in your heart. It feels so good.

Then before you get out bed, gently place your hand over your sweetheart's heart and silently ask the Holy Family and all the angels and saints to pray that his or her needs throughout the day will be met. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your spouse, and ask Him to guide you as well, so you both can live God's will by saying all the little yeses asked of you throughout the day. Seal it with a kiss.

God bless.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Anne Rice's Remarks: Reinvent the Truth to Fit the World

by Kathleen Blease


Pilate knew the truth, and he found a way to reinvent it to fit the world's desires.
Last winter, I read an article/interview about/with Anne Rice in a Catholic magazine, and I was thoroughly confused and dismayed by her remarks; and I was disappointed that the magazine (which I picked up in the vestibule of our church) would publish her story at all. The article put her child's homosexuality and her husband's atheism on the same plane as her re-discovered Catholicism--as though all three were simply a matter of choice in lifestyle, all equal and acceptable. How could a publication devoted to our Dear Savior allow such a story?

Worse yet, my husband, who is not Catholic (and who is the beneficiary of many prayers), read the story and was a little jilted and thoroughly confused. He wanted to know, Why do Catholics behave this way? And I could see that he really wanted no part of a church where people are allowed to profess one thing and do another. I tried to encourage him to remember that what Jesus gave to Peter would never change, regardless of what people try to do to reinvent it. And THIS is what our one true Faith is all about.

As someone who is in love with a nonCatholic, I can see how these types of public verbiage--indeed, a public reinvention of Christ's Bride--published in Catholic magazines and newspapers are quite damaging. They give individuals one more excuse to reject the One Truth and turn to the world for quick solutions and easy comforts. If only they knew how God aches for us to say Yes to His will! If only they knew that He loves us even when we turn away. If only they knew that each time we falter, He carries us. And when we drift--willingly--He is still waiting for us at the end of the road and will run to us as soon as He sees us approaching.

George Sipe at Convert Journal writes an excellent post on this very issue. He also cites The Anchoress (Elizabeth Scalia), who clearly explains the Catholic theology and doctrine, which would help us sort out these types of public proclamations made by high-profile individuals, ala Nancy Pelosi. There are answers. As Catholics, we needn't be jilted. The Church--the One Truth based on love and compassion--gives us answers that are complete. Many thanks to George for his courage in openly addressing this issue and sharing information from Scalia.

God bless.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Finding Her Joy After a Life of Career--Motherhood

I'm delighted to introduce to you a guest blogger, Stephanie Principe. Stephanie is devoted to the pro-life movement. She shares with us how she found her joy in becoming a mom later in life after a long career, and how she discovered the grace that Our Lord has granted her in her new role. Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing!

by Stephanie Principe

For as long as I could remember, I always had a love for babies and children, ever since my mother gave me my first baby doll to play with. I was only a small child, not even five years old, when my mother would catch me rocking my little baby doll and talking to her lovingly. I always seemed to have the desire or calling to be a mother.

The way that my life turned out for me, I received the gift of motherhood later in life. After being married for three years, my husband Jeff and I were wondering if becoming parents would ever happen. I had just turned forty years old. We had recently asked our small prayer group to pray for us. Of course, my husband and I had said many tear filled prayers of our own: "Please Lord make us parents."

After a few more months of our friends praying for us and some counsel from my OB/GYN doctor, I became pregnant. I remember taking an at-home pregnancy test and seeing the postive result. We could hardly believe it. Could I possibly, finally be pregnant? Has God answered my fervent pleas? "Please Lord, make me a mother!! I just want to have a child of my own, I want to know what it is like to carry and give birth to a child."

I made an appointment with my OB/GYN. My husband and I did not want to get our hopes up until we spoke to the doctor. I remember so well to this day what it was like waiting in the examination room at the doctor's office. My doctor walked in, holding in her hand a small piece of paper. She had just preformed an ultrasound exam to determine if I was indeed pregnant. With a big, sunny smile on her face, she handed me the piece of paper and said, "Congratulations, this is your first baby picture!!"

I can hardly put into words the feeling I had at that moment. I looked down at the small slip of paper that revealed the ultrasound of my baby. It was a black and white image. My baby looked like a miniature, abstract dot, like a small seedling, but to me it was the most beautiful image my eyes could ever see. It was as if I was looking at the most beautiful piece of artwork ever created, or the most breathtaking sunset on the beach.

The tiny image hardly looked like a baby, but I couldn't take my eyes off of her. The busy doctor had left the room, and I sat there staring at the tiny ultrasound image of my daughter. "My baby! Oh Lord how could I ever thank you enough!"

After our daughter was born, I would just sit holding her and rocking her--hour after hour. I would just look at her and be in awe with this thought in my heart, "This is my baby. This is the child that you Lord have chosen for me. From all Eternity, you chose her to be my child and I was chosen to be her mother." It was the most wonderful feeling. God created this tiny soul for me to care for. I would be entrusted with her life and soul. To raise her in the Faith. To teach her to love God. To teach and show her what it means to love and be loved. This is what God had appointed me to do.

I always knew that I wanted to be a mother. I always loved children. Unfortunately, growing up and attending a secular university I did not always have the most positive image of motherhood. I had grown to think that having a career came first. I thought that being a wife and a mother was somewhat of a subserviant role, a second class position in life. More or less you "give up " your life to do a lot of the thankless jobs that a man does not want or have the time to do. I used to hear from some of my mother's friends about how they had to sacrifice so much for their children. They all sounded so unhappy about this. It was as if they felt they were cheated in life--as if they ended up with the short end of the stick.

Despite all this, I knew when I married my husband, that I wanted to have a child.

But what I did not realize was how much joy it is to have a child. Carrying my baby was the biggest joy. There is really no greater joy in life. I really did not have true joy in my life like I have now. Is raising a child work? Is there a level of sacrifice? I like to call it self giving. Yes, you have to give of yourself. With being a mother there is an opening of your heart. It is in this, through prayer, God gives you His grace.

God tugs on your heart and you open your heart. This opening of the heart makes you want to give of yourself. You give of yourself to your child and to your husband out of love. As you give, as your heart opens, God in exchange fills it with His joy--His joy, His peace that you have never felt before, because you are loving your child. You are caring for your child and your husband, so you are living according to what God's will. You are doing what you were created to do. To be a mom!!

Then you have the most awesome realization that God--the God who designed the whole world, the same God who spoke the world into existence--has chosen you!! He has chosen you to be a mother of your child from before the world was made, from all eternity, from before the beginning of time.

I now know that being self-centered and living just for myself and being selfish--which is what the world tells us to do--can never make me happy. That can never bring me the same joy I now have, the precious, sweet, wonderful joy of being someone's mom.

You can connect with Stephanie Principe on Facebook, and join her in the joyful message of the pro-life movement. If you would like to read more about the pro-life movement, you can get started at Voices for Life.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Great Egret and others

Great Egret, the Black-crowned Night-Heron, a Muskrat in the pond, and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails (at this very moment, six of them are feasting on the zinnias in the bright sunshine).

(photo copyrighted by Max Blease)
Visit Kathleen's Bird and Nature Journal. Scroll down to photos of the Great Egret for all the nature write-ups.

God bless.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Catholic Writers Conference: A Day of Inspiration

by Kathleen Blease

My a.m. editorial meeting yesterday was a tough one. But eventually I prevailed!

Phew! A tough day at work!

Yesterday, I spent the day absorbing, reading, writing, and generally following up on the Catholic Writers Conference (outside Philadelphia) I attended on Thursday. There was no better way to start the day with a good cup of coffee and a couple of good friends who share my joy for good Catholic literature.

I promise you, Deacon Gaitley, this is not staged or posed. You might want to see our story about Honey Bun at Honey Bun and Friends. She is just drawn to good books.

The Catholic Writers Conference brought--just as its name implies--Catholic writers, editors, and publishers from all over the country. It was a deluge of hospitality, moral support, and Catholic Christian encouragement for all. A chapel set up for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confession brought an extra-special dimension to the place. Imagine talking with editors and writers (some of them, as my writer-friend called them, "Catholic calebs"), then talking with Christ one-on-one. Wow, what a way to do business!

I thought I'd share with you some of the goodies I brought home. All of them are gems, and I've been luxuriating in each one. Yet, I know that somehow I must put them down and set a priority list, deciding which one comes first, then which is second, and so on--to give each and every one a fare shake at a complete and careful read. Another tough job, but one I will be happy to undertake!

Here's my list of what I managed to lug home (in no particular order):

No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy by Donald H. Calloway, MIC. Father shares how he turned from drugs and the tough teenage years, converted to the faith, and became a priest. I heard Father Calloway speak. If you are looking for a speaker, here is one who will surely draw a crowd and fill the room with laughter and hope!

Rachel's Contrition by Michelle Buckman This is a novel that I'm already digging into--and I'm not usually into contemporary novels. I had a nice long talk with Michelle about homeschooling and motherhood. She is a southern doll and a breath of honest, fresh air. A great defender of the faith. Her novel is direct, honest, and a page-turner.

Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat (Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius) by Michael E. Gaitley, MIC A do-it-yourself retreat? You betcha. And I'm digging in. Deacon's writing is smooth sailing, making the spiritual journey very accessible. Afraid of heady, theological materials that would take you days just to analyze a sentence? Forget about it. You won't find that here. Deacon breaks down key concepts to holiness and makes them do-able. You might have already seen this at two blogs, Faith&Family Live and God and Chocolate. By the way, the Notes at the back of the book are thoroughly enjoyable!

 Deacon Gaitley, author of Consoling the Heart of Jesus, speaks with Catholic writer Celeste Behe, contributor to National Catholic Register and the Catholic News Agency.

The Da Vinci Code: The Church Responds... by Janson Media  (DVD) I can't wait to watch this! What else can I say?

The Mass: Four Encounters with Jesus That Will Change Your Life by Dr. Tom Curran Here's a study guide packaged as a simple paperback. You can use this as a group or on your own. A title on Confession is also part of the program. I brough home The Mass, while my friend brought home Confession. We are going to read, then trade.

Bless Me, Father, For I have Kids by Susie Lloyd. Susie gave me a signed mug, too. This is her follow-up to Please Don't Drink the Holy Water. Funny, funny, funny!! Homeschooling mom of seven, she has fifteen years of home-tested lessons under her belt, with another fifteen years to go--giving her plenty of fodder for the giggle mill. Oh, you think you're busy, huh?

Faith and Family: The Magazine of Catholic Living Years ago, I was searching for how to make my home more Catholic. At the time, I had no idea there was such a thing as the Domestic Church, but somehow the Holy Spirit kept me "in search of." Here's where I found my answers. Glossy, beautiful, well-written, and inspiring, Faith and Family will help you build your Domestic Church, too, from the ground up.

Liguorian: Proclaiming the Good News as Good News I haven't read this magazine yet, but it's certainly at the top of my reading list. This edition is a special issue all about Mary--one of my favorite topics.

The National Catholic Register Here's our very own national newspaper!

Well, there's my list. You can see I have my work cut out for me. If you would like to look into any of these titles, you can search Amazon without leaving this blog. Just find the Search Amazon Here box in the right column and type in the title you're interested in. To learn more about The Catholic Writers Guild, which hosted this conference, click here to visit there website.
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