O Sacrament Most Holy

O Sacrament most Holy,

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O Sacrament Divine,

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All praise and all thanksgiving,

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Be every moment Thine.

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 My dear Madeline, yesterday was the happiest and most important day of your spiritual life! Congratulations on making your First Communion. And remember this: As beautiful as the day was, your second, third, fourth, twentieth, hundredth, and beyond Communions are as special and as profound as the very first.

I have so many hopes and dreams for you. I hope you will have good health and heaps of happiness. I hope that if it is your desire as it was mine that you will someday be a wife and a mother, especially since you are so nurturing and such a relational person. I hope you will find a husband worthy of you. I hope you will lead a fun life and will set out, like our beloved Miss Rumphius, O Sacrament Most Holyto make the world a better place. But above all, I hope you will continue to feast at the Lord’s table and know how much He loves you and wants you in His life.

Yesterday clothed in white you looked like a princess. But even when life is not ball and you don’t feel like you look the part, you are always God’s beloved princess. You are my princess, too.

Be kind. Be faithful. Be grateful. Seek joy. Seek Him. And you will have your happily ever after.

I love you, Madeline!

Blessings Today and Always,

Mama

***

Now a word from Jesus:

When your friends go away, you often give them a gift or a keepsake to remember them by; when I returned to heaven, I left you my very self to remember me by. When you are separated from friends for extended periods, you occasionally make yourself present to them through letters and calls and emails; while I am reigning in heaven, I stay with you all the time in the Tabernacle. You may think that my love is kind of generic, because the Eucharist is so simple and ordinary, and because everyone gets the same kind of host. But that’s not how it is at all. I am fully present in every host. And each one of you receives me personally, from the hands of the priest, one-on-one. And don’t forget that I am God, so nothing limits my love – not time, not space, not tiredness, not bad moods, nothing: I love you as if you alone were lovable. When I come to you in Holy Communion, and when I wait for you in the Tabernacle, all my thought and all my desire is focused on you. I know it’s hard for you to understand this, but it’s true. Think about me waiting for you there in the Tabernacle, interceding for you, offering myself for you at every moment. For you. You never have to doubt my love again.

~Excerpted from The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer O Sacrament Most Holy

***

A special thanks to Catholic Family Gifts for generously giving Madeline the beautiful veil she wore on her special day.

Post-Race Humility

“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise, nor disgrace, because you know who you are. If you are blamed you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint you will not put yourself on a pedestal.”

– Mother Teresa of Calcutta as quoted in Donna-Marie Cooper O-Boyle’s Bringing Lent Home with Mother Teresa: Prayers, Reflections, and Activities for Families Post Race Humility

rae of champ 768x1024 Post Race HumilityMy little Rachel had a very exciting weekend. She and Madeline (with me running along with them as their cheerleader) ran their very first 1-mile fun run. Madeline ran ahead of us toward the end; the girl’s got long legs. Get this: She’s only 7, and I can already wear her shoes. I’m thinking she’s going to take after her tall Daddy rather than her shorty mama.

Rae’s legs aren’t so long, at least when she’s up against bigger and older kids and a racecourse that includes a killer hill. Yet, the girl would not stop. With firm determination, cheeks flushed, she kept on running. I told her several times that it was okay to walk if she was getting tired.

“I’m not tired!” she’d insist each time.

When the finish line was in sight, my 4-year-old started sprinting ahead. I didn’t tell her that that’s what you’re supposed to do at the end of race. She instinctively just did it. Her arms pumping, legs flashing forward, eyes set on the colorful flags flapping in the distance, she pushed ahead.

She finished the mile in a little over 10 minutes.

I was impressed, but I wasn’t surprised. My Rae is a lot like her mama: competitive, sensitive as well as her own worst critic.

What did surprise me was that she won first place for girls in her age group. Not only that, but the child closest to her was several minutes behind. My 4-year-old girl was fast.

Now before you dismiss this as a senseless post in which an obnoxious mother brags about her little speedster, there is a point to me sharing all of this. Bear with me, please.

She came home with a big trophy that’s still being displayed on the kitchen counter. She glances at it every now and then, smiles, and says, “I can’t believe I won first place.”

I was proud of her determination. I was proud of how she was excited but didn’t gloat over her triumph. She exhibited humility.

And so did her big sister.

Madeline is used to excelling at things. She’s our first child, a natural leader. Rae adores her big sister, but I’m sure it sometimes feels like Madeline has left a trail of pretty big (literally as mentioned above) footsteps to fill. I wasn’t sure how Madeline was going to react to her sister’s outshining her for the first time. But when we returned home, Rae clutching her flashy trophy in her hands, I saw both of my girls shine for their Daddy.

Rae showed Daddy her prize. Madeline stood behind her, grinning, and said, “She was so fast! She won first place. Isn’t it great?”

Indeed it was, but it was just as great to see a confident Madeline celebrating with her sister instead of feeling envious or feeling like she didn’t measure up.

It’s easy for me to forget that there are two sides to humility. I’ve always been decent at admitting when I was wrong. Sometimes I’ve been too focused on my wrongdoings, faults, and failings, in fact – so much so that my obsession with what I do wrong morphs into a false form of humility and keeps me from turning to God and believing in His unwavering love and mercy. Woe is me. I’m such a sinner. God will never want to be friends with me.

Being aware of our humanness and accepting our limitations is essential to being humble. However, there’s another side to real humility that hinges on our ability to not only accept our limitations but to also be grateful for our strengths as well as to joyfully celebrate those who may be stronger or more gifted than us.

My children don’t have to be less to be humble. They don’t have to be more or to win every race either. They just have to live up to their personal best, to be grateful for their accomplishments, and to appreciate the gifts and talents of others. And then to give all the glory – their own and their little sister’s – back to God.

When I see Rae’s mighty trophy, I smile because I feel like the real winner on race day was me, knowing that my two oldest girls are growing in virtue in spite of anything I do right and despite all that I do wrong.

7 Quick Takes: The “Of Breast & Women,” Discernment, & More Edition

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— 1 —

Thank you to everyone for your prayers on behalf of my mom. The recovery has been agonizing, but this was expected. My dad sent me a photo of her scar. It’s a nasty and Frankenstein-like. Yesterday I posted a photo of it onto Facebook. The image was really small on my phone, but the new time line format made it humongous. I apologize to anyone who caught a glimpse of the gruesome incision site. I removed it when I saw how big it was!

I beg for more prayers that the surgery was actually effective in curing her trigeminal neuralgia pain (it’s too early to tell) and if it wasn’t, that we can remember that Christ came to heal – not necessarily cure – the sick.

— 2 —

I’m thinking of changing the name of this blog to “Of Breast and Women.”

Not really, but I do find it fascinating that the two posts of mine to receive the most traffic have had to do with breasts. One listed my top 10 reasons for nursing a toddler. The other examined the Komen debacle. Crazier still, my most infamous freelance article to date discussed how I overcame my reluctance to nurse at Mass.

— 3 —

I haven’t been able to keep up with all of the Komen discussions, but a good friend of mine did have several Facebook friends argue, charitably I should add, against some of my points made in my post.

One such individual wrote (and also commented after the original post),

“I think the reason that Planned Parenthood is a necessary ‘middleman’ is because women go to the clinic for services (let’s just assume that they aren’t there for an abortion), receive a breast exam they might not otherwise have performed (either on themselves OR by another doctor), something abnormal is detected and they are then referred on to another location where they can receive a necessary mammogram (thereby benefiting from that Komen grant). Without the ‘middleman’ those women would probably not proceed directly to a mammogram clinic at all thereby making the Komen grant reach fewer women.”

Although she makes a valid point about the possibility of women going to Planned Parenthood and receiving a breast exam and then possibly being referred to a low-cost mammogram, she’s missing a big point* as did so many people when we thought Komen was definitely defunding Planned Parenthood. Komen is a non-profit with limited resources. It has the responsibility to be the best steward of its funds. I think we can all agree on that. So for now, let’s put my pro-life and others’ pro-choice (or pro-Planned Parenthood; that’s one in the same to me) beliefs aside and just look at this issue from a practical standpoint. Planned Parenthood primarily serves women of reproductive age; yet, screening mammograms are recommended to start at age 50 unless you have an increased risk of breast cancer. Thus, Planned Parenthood’s target population is not the women who really should be getting mammograms. Komen has limited resources, so doesn’t it simply make more fiscal sense to give grants to organizations that directly bring mammograms to the population that is most at risk for getting breast cancer such as mobile mammography units, charitable health clinics, and organizations that provide health fairs, etc.?

This doesn’t mean that Planned Parenthood doesn’t catch any breast cancer because maybe a manual breast exam performed there does lead to an early cancer diagnosis and a saved life, but how many more lives could be saved if the money was directed elsewhere?

Likewise, it should also be noted that the kind of manual breast exams offered at Planned Parenthood aren’t much different than the ones a woman can perform in the shower. An individual’s own self breast exam might be even more useful, in fact, because she gets to know her breasts and might notice subtle nuances a health professional might miss.

What’s more, some health agencies have argued manual breast exams are not effective in detecting breast cancer early. They can also lead to unnecessary testing. Maybe a health professional feels something unusual that’s actually not unusual for your breast and refers you for what proves to be an unnecessary mammogram. This drives up all of our health care costs.

Try to put your feelings – whatever they may be – about Planned Parenthood aside for a minute. Shouldn’t what Komen really have done is look at how many dollars it takes to catch a certain number of breast cancers supporting Planned Parenthood’s breast health care versus how many dollars it takes to catch a certain amount of breast cancers at an organization that is actually reaching the target audience that is most at risk for breast cancer? I’m betting less money would be spent and more lives would be saved if the grants were offered to places that actually served the people who need screening mammograms.

Pro-lifers have been accused of making this about our pro-life ideals. But not supporting Planned Parenthood has always been about our ideals (and thus political for us since the issue of abortion has been political ever since Roe. v. Wade). It’s the people who claimed they weren’t pushing their pro-choice agendas and insisted they were only angry at Komen because they didn’t want to deny women of life-saving breast exams who seemed to be being more furtive. Either they didn’t know the facts about how little Planned Parenthood actually does to detect breast cancer early and/or how there would be more fiscally responsible partnerships for Komen to pursue in an effort to save lives. Or they should have just come out and said this was really about their pushing their pro-choice agenda.

*After I shared a lot of the above with her, she left another comment agreeing that I’d made a good point about Planned Parenthood’s target audience not being the women who need life-saving breast cancer screenings the most. It’s been a good discussion for me, but I definitely started doing what I promised myself (for the sake of my kids and family) I wouldn’t do and started feeling like I had to answer every argument against my logic. I can’t do it anymore. Maybe some of my readers will make up for my slack. But I haven’t been as present as a mama as I aspire to be, and these kids entrusted to me are number one priority (and that husband of mine needs some TLC, too, after working over 80 hours in one week).

— 4 —

On another but related note, I turned in my request to leave the BlogHer Network on 2/2, and I received a very gracious note from one of the network’s managers in which she explained that the community needs a voice like mine because BlogHer really does strive to create a forum where we can talk about issues near and dear to us in a “healthy, intelligent way.”

Since then I’ve had many Catholic/Christian bloggers point out that I’m mostly preaching to the choir here on this blog, but that BlogHer might bring some people to this space who would never normally read the musings of a crazy, extended breastfeeding, passionately pro-life mama. I also had someone comment after my Komen post that they found me through BlogHer and that my blog has made her think twice [about abortion].

I’m not sure BlogHer needs my voice, but maybe those unborn babies do.

The manager also sent me two links from the BlogHer main site that offered a different point-of-view on the Komen situation, but neither was passionately pro-life. One was pro-Komen even though the woman was grateful for Planned Parenthood and the other was pointing out all the mistakes Komen made by waffling on its decicion. While the Network may have a diverse range of voices, I still feel the main site needs a more balanced approach to issues and that an email should not have gone out headlining a post that was clearly in support of Planned Parenthood.

Nevertheless, all of this has made me pause. How do I best serve God? And my family? Truth is, as much as my ambitious, little self would love to start a social media revolution and launch a pro-life publishing network or something like that, that wouldn’t be fair to my family or even possible given the other demands of my life.

Barbara Curtis left BlogHer and has never looked back. She encouraged me to be still and pray about this, so that’s what I’m trying to do. I really, really want to do put my personal agenda, feelings, pride, etc. aside and make the right decision. I don’t want to seem like a fickle, flip-flopper, but I have to ask myself: Am I giving the unborn more of a voice by making a stand and leaving BlogHer, or did I jump the (emotional) gun and would have more of an impact by remaining in a Network that gives voices who don’t share my ideals a bigger microphone over at their main blog? These are questions only I can answer. I have lots to ponder. Discernment has never been my strength.

At least I know I’m not alone in my confusion. Candace is pondering, too.

— 5 —

Whatever I decide, this whole experience made me aware of the number of women who do share my passionately pro-life position. I was blown away by the outpouring of support and solidarity from the online community, and I’m very grateful for all of the words of hope and encouragement I received. Let’s keep up the good fight! For LIFE!!!

— 6 —

 7 Quick Takes: The Of Breast & Women, Discernment, & More Edition 7 Quick Takes: The Of Breast & Women, Discernment, & More Edition

I just received my copy of Welcome Risen Jesus: Lenten and Easter Reflections for Families 7 Quick Takes: The Of Breast & Women, Discernment, & More Edition, which, ahem, was a good reminder that Lent is right around the corner. Reading Sarah Reinhard’s little book together is a simple but meaningful way for families to make the most of this beautiful, sanctifying season. And it’s only $1.99!!! That’s quite the steal for a book that just might help your children (and you!) grow closer to Christ this Lent.

If you’re still not sold, consider my 4-year-old’s glowing endorsement.

“What’s that, Mama?” she asked me as I pulled the book out of its packaging.

“It’s a book we’re going to read together during Lent. My friend wrote it!”

“Your friend wrote it?” she gasped. She flipped through it. “Wow! Your friend is a good writer-er.”

Word.

(I believe I used the phrase “true dat” in my last QTs post. My kids are consistently and simply stating some big truths.)

— 7 —

Well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t somehow marble Star Wars into this post.

My older brother drew this hilarious spoof of some of our family as Star Wars characters. My kids call my parents Gaba and Papa, so we have Gaba the Hutt and Chewpapa. Mary Elizabeth (also known as M.E.) is the “M”peroror (fitting since she bounces around here on a mission and doesn’t let anyone stop her). Madeline, of course, is Madeline Skywalker. Rae, our resident princess, makes a lovely Princess Raea. Thomas is a cute Yoda, but my favorite is our Darth Layla. Layla is our black Lab-Great Dane mix.

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I seriously wouldn’t be surprised if Madeline signed all of her valentines this year with “Yoda the one for me.”

Some of these “takes” weren’t so quick so if you’ve stuck with me for this long, you’re a real fan.

Have a wonderful weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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