Why I don’t use contraception

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*  Note, this is from a talk I gave last year on Natural Family Planning.

I became Catholic 21 years ago.  Converted from being an Episcopalian.   At that time, no one was talking about a war on a woman’s right to use birth control, and when I heard about the Catholic prohibition on birth control, I assumed that Catholic women followed the Church’s teaching.  When I began RCIA I was pregnant with my first child.  I asked the RCIA director at the time if I needed to stop using contraception after I delivered, and she said ”Don’t worry about that right now, after you come into the church you can use your conscience to decide what’s right for you.”  Still unclear about what the Church taught about contraception and seeking the truth,  I asked her again if once I had the baby If I should not use contraception and she said “you can decide that yourself, the Church leaves it up to you.”

That vague answer was both right and wrong.  Technically it’s correct, b/c the woman should make her own decision.  But that decision should be based on a well formed conscience.  And a well formed Catholic conscience knows that contraception works against God’s plan for marriage.

I still felt unsettled about her answer Continue reading “Why I don’t use contraception”

Goldilocks, Lenten Aspirations and How to bring God your gifts

goldilocks5 in the same way, all of us, though there are so many of us, make up one body in Christ, and as different parts we are all joined to one another.

6 Then since the gifts that we have differ according to the grace that was given to each of us: if it is a gift of prophecy, we should prophesy as much as our faith tells us;

7 if it is a gift of practical service, let us devote ourselves to serving; if it is teaching, to teaching;

8 if it is encouraging, to encouraging. When you give, you should give generously from the heart; if you are put in charge, you must be conscientious; if you do works of mercy, let it be because you enjoy doing them.

Romans 12:5-8

You are light for the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden.

15 No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house.

Matthew 5:14-15

It started in July of 2013.  My husband and I were on a trip to Santa Monica.  We love visiting Catholic churches while on vacation.  It is wonderful to see and experience what other churches have to offer.  We picked St. Monica’s church, which is right in Santa Monica on California Avenue.  We walked into the church, picked up the song sheets and then were approached by a sweet woman who asked if we would bring up the gifts.  I remarked to my husband that it’s interesting to ask visitors to bring up the gifts.  He thinks that many parishes do that.

The second time was in November of 2013 and I was on a lacrosse trip with my second son.  We were in Baltimore and on Sunday evening attended Corpus Christi in the Bolton Hill historic district.  It is a beautiful church and I was busy admiring the architecture as we walked in.  As we entered the main part of the sanctuary Continue reading “Goldilocks, Lenten Aspirations and How to bring God your gifts”

Serenity Prayer

Was thinking recently about the serenity prayer (one of my all time favorites) and happened to find this funny and true updated version from Fr James Martin:

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
which is pretty much everyone,
since I’m clearly not you, God.
At least not the last time I checked.

And while you’re at it, God,
please give me the courage
to change what I need to change about myself,
which is frankly a lot, since, once again,
I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.
It’s better for me to focus on changing myself
than to worry about changing other people,
who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying,
I can’t change anyway.

Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up
whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter
than everyone else in the room,
that no one knows what they’re talking about except me,
or that I alone have all the answers.

Basically, God,
grant me the wisdom
to remember that I’m
not you.

Amen

Cradled in the Palm of His Hand

Isaiah 49 15“See!  I will not forget you…I have carved you on the palm of my hand.”

Isaiah 49:15-16

When I was received into the Catholic Church at Easter in 1996 my sponsor gave me the small plaque pictured above.  I have always loved it and the message it conveys.  I remember during the time (about 9 months) we spent in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) feeling taken care of by God, feeling that He had his hands under me and was supporting me on the journey.

Recently I have been experiencing the same sense of just how much God is loving us, cradling us, and taking care of us – all the time.  Not only has He been protecting my children and keeping them safe in dangerous conditions, He has also placed me in a job that uses all of the gifts that He has given me. Continue reading “Cradled in the Palm of His Hand”

Cleaning House

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“If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.” John 20:23

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

An absolutely lovely benefit of going back to work is that our family agreed we need to get some cleaning help.  We haven’t had a cleaning service or person in 10 years.  I always felt like I should do it on my own since I wasn’t working outside the home.  Even when I was working as an interior decorator I could still get most of the house work done.  It was not really quality cleaning, but it was passable.

So, the new cleaning folks came this week (they are fantastic) and I now know that I am probably the worst house cleaner ever.  Apparently I either don’t see the dirt Continue reading “Cleaning House”

Under the Mercy

cross in the sky “The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Psalm 145:9

“Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.”            1 Corinthians 13:13

The last five days have been some of the hardest of my life as a parent.  I have felt so many emotions – fear, relief, sadness, anger, elation, disappointment, and mostly love.  Mostly love.  Love trumps all of the other emotions.

At first, when fear was running the show, I had a hard time seeing God’s hand in what had happened.  Fear is paralyzing, and it blinds us.  Fear is sometimes understandable, but it is not from God.  Fear is our enemy.  Trust is the way to peace.  Trusting that God has a plan even in the middle of circumstances that seem unimaginably hard, that is how we find peace in the middle of chaos.  Knowing in our hearts that He loves us more than we can imagine, that is what I have been clinging to in the last few days.

And then there is the window after a crisis happens, a window where we can clearly see that God’s hand was there guiding us, shaping us, caring for us in ways that we don’t understand.  God loves us so much that He forgives us and saves us even though we don’t deserve it.

Living under God’s Mercy is to live in His Grace, Continue reading “Under the Mercy”

The Weaver and His Tapestry

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”

Proverbs 3:5

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.”

Psalm 40:1

A good friend of mine is fond of talking about the Weaver and His Tapestry when she describes God and His plans for us.  I often think of God as a potter who is continually shaping the clay that is His people and their lives.  Over the last few months the Weaver has been busy weaving together various parts of my life that were dangling threads.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I felt called by God to go to work at my church.  But through an intense, prayerful, thoughtful discernment process, my family and I decided that the job was too big a time commitment for us.  There were just too many night and weekends involved.  I was deeply sad, and couldn’t understand why the pull felt so strong and all signs pointed to my being a good fit for what God needed, but then it was suddenly clear that I should not take the job.  Confusion ruled my heart.  I felt empty and alone, but understood God was with me.  I knew that God had a plan for me, and I trusted Him and shockingly for me, I waited.   I am not very good at waiting.  My husband often reminds me that wait is not a four letter word.   I thought I would be waiting for a couple more years before He called me to work for Him.

Then I got a phone call in mid-December that the church wanted to talk to me about a part-time version of the job.  Only one night a week.  The rest of the work could be done while my kids are in school.  I was shocked, and excited!  When we worked out the details it became clear that God had handed me exactly what would fit in our lives.  He is the Master Weaver.

The process was fruitful and inspirational for me and for my family.  All parties involved, my side and the church also, were praying and discerning and listening.  When everyone is listening for direction and trying to follow His Will, all things are possible.

We will see how I handle working again, how my family adjusts and how much I can stretch my brain.  I will be walking with people as they join my church.  I will be helping them to learn the teachings of the Church.  And hopefully I will be able to share my journey with those who wish to be Catholic,  and they will see how much God loves us, provides for us and wants to be in relationship with His people.  Thank you God for your great love and for being patient with me as I discerned.  Thank you for weaving together the pieces of my life into something beautiful.  Thank you for giving me my heart’s desire – Your Presence.

Listen to How He Loves by the David Crowder Band

Merry Christmas!

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Nativity at the Joseph Altar at Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 1:1-14

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Nativity in the Parish Hall at Cathedral of Christ the King

Creating space for God

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“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Matthew 1:23

Advent symbols float through our minds and lives this time of year.  Lights, stars, angels, evergreens, pink and purple candles, camels and wise men and mangers waiting for an infant.  Advent is about waiting and preparing.  Waiting for Immanuel and preparing ourselves for what it really means to have God with us.

Our world is a busy world.  We run, we hustle, we bustle, we use our smartphones and computers to do what?  To save time?  But then we run even harder.  Are we running from ourselves, from stress, from boredom, from emptiness?  We can get off of the treadmill of a harried life.  We can run straight into the arms of God.  He is waiting for us, for He is God with us. 

This year during Advent I have been trying to create space in my life, space in my mind and space in my heart  – for Jesus.  Only through moving ourselves and the parts of our lives we use to distract ourselves out of the way, can we find the still, quite place where God will fill us with himself.  God with us.

During the last two days before Christmas I will be thinking about and praying about Immanuel – God with us.  And how lucky are we that our God loves us so much that He became man and walked with us.  And how if that does not transform us, nothing will.  We need to stop, and breathe, and soak in the reality of God’s tremendous love for us.  And wonder at the beautiful mystery of Immanuel.  God with us. 

Listen to the Pentatonix sing Mary, did you know?

The loaves and fishes man

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 

Luke 9:16-17

I love working in Clyde’s Kitchen.  It is a place where Jesus lives.  Clyde, who cooks the food, runs the kitchen and is the boss, has been working there for 24 years.  He has a bunch of guys who help him every day and then volunteers who come to help round out the crew.  Clyde and his helpers get there before dawn, us helper folks arrive at 8:30am after a lot of the hard work has been done.  We get to show up and watch the miracles happen.

Every day before feeding 250 homeless Atlantans, Clyde says grace.  These prayers are moving, inspirational and uplifting.  Last week he opened with:

“Brothers and sisters, it’s a good day today.  You know why?  Because God woke me up today.  He woke me up and He gave me a little something to eat for breakfast and some juice.  I have a good meal for you all today.  So let’s give thanks to our Father God.”

I was struck by Clyde’s words.  God woke me up today.  How often do I give thanks to God for waking me up?  For my very life, for each breath.  It’s easy to take life for granted, but none of us has any guarantee that he will be here tomorrow.  So thank you God for today, for my health, for my safety, for waking me up,  for breathing, and for keeping my heart beating.

The other amazing thing that happens at Clyde’s kitchen is that he always has enough food.  Most of the food is donated to the kitchen.  Sometimes it’s just ingredients from restaurants, sometimes groups donate sandwiches, many grocery stores donate leftover  baked goods.  Clyde works with what he gets.  It’s fun to see what he does with what God provides.

Last week the day I was there was busy – we served over 225 guests.  It was a hot meal of chicken and rice casserole, soup, salad and dessert.  When we ran out of the chicken we served bag lunches made by a school group.  The children decorated the bags.  I was tickled by a bag with a drawing of Santa’s head.  It was labeled “floating Santa head.”  As we began to run out of the bagged lunches a volunteer came and told us we had another 15 people coming through.  We were down to 4 trays of food.  We quickly got out 11 more trays and loaded them with dessert and fruit, but where would the main dish come from?  One of the volunteers who has worked with Clyde for years leaned over and said “you watch, Clyde will come up with something for these folks to eat.  He always does. It’s like the loaves and fishes around here.  Miracles happen all the time.”

I was thinking the same thing about loaves and fishes and miracles when Clyde appeared with more sandwiches and some extra peanut butter crackers and peanuts.  He put together 11 extra meals in about 2 minutes.  Clyde is able to do all he does because he is focused on Jesus and he lets God work through him.  He doesn’t get flustered or irritated, he is loving and kind. He knows who is in control and who is not.  He knows that God is good and all is grace.   He is Jesus in action here in Atlanta.

I am humbled and thankful to be able to help out a little at Clyde’s kitchen, a place where the loaves and fishes man smiles at, welcomes in and feeds all who enter.

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For more information about Crossroads ministries click here.