A Memorable Weekend in Lots of Photos

We had a truly memorable weekend visiting family. Practically all the things of summer, in two days: Pool time, park time, ice cream, bubbles, a sprinkler, a sand box, squirt guns, pajama parties, movie night, a dance party, a cook out, and on, and on. Plus a moms’ night out.

Our hosts were just wonderful. Here’s a bit of a peek (I mean, a ton of photos):

DSC_0137 DSC_0143 DSC_0148 DSC_0152 DSC_0156 DSC_0163 DSC_0165 DSC_0167 DSC_0169 DSC_0173 DSC_0177 DSC_0182 DSC_0188 DSC_0193 DSC_0217 DSC_0225 DSC_0233

 

My kids kept asking why we weren’t staying for a whole week. They didn’t want to come home.

Posted in Family, Memories, Summer | Leave a comment

7QT About Nearly Dying by Getting Run Over by a Plane and/or Taking a Bike Ride

1. I took the girls to have their photos taken on Monday. I was excited because it was the first time for us to have them done outdoors. Our photographer suggested a cool nature preserve behind our small local airport for the setting. It was such a pretty spot. She got photos of the girls under a willow tree and near a pond. Then we walked out behind a little wedding chapel where there was a huge field. As we were walking out further and further into the field, I noticed a man yelling and gesticulating wildly from an area closer to the airport. I looked behind us, thinking he was screaming at someone else “over there.” I gesticulated back “Are. you. yelling. at. us?” He just kept screaming. I was finally able to understand his words:

Get off the runway!!!!! Get back! YOU’RE. ON. THE. RUNWAY!!!!!

It was a field. With pretty little flowers. Behind a little wedding chapel. There were no signs posted saying, “Danger! Stay off this field or you will be run over by a plane” or anything. But we got off the field/”runway” right smartly anyway. Just to be on the safe side, of course.

2. I am not a great fan of the “bike ride.” We’ve gone on two this week. The first was a total mess of complaining and whining and sweat. Some from me, some from my kids. Miss is finally getting really good at riding her bike. Lass is not so good/interested. And Sis of course, is utterly dependent on me to help her pedal/steer her tricycle.

So our first bike ride went something like this: Miss rode mostly independently. Lass stopped pedaling and couldn’t get going again, then steered into the grass after I got her started. Then she stopped and I had to get her started again. Then she steered into the grass again, and so on. I had to repeatedly place Sis’s feet on her pedals so they wouldn’t get stuck under her trike while I pushed her (yes, my plan was to push and steer her the whole way, I’m totally dumb). Each time I stopped pushing her to get Lass started again, she’d climb off the trike and try to push it herself, but of course without steering it, so it just went in circles. I’d get her back in her seat, get her feet on the pedals, and start to push her again right about the time Lass went into the grass again. This was all before we even got to the end of our driveway. It also happened to be on the hottest day of the summer so far. We barely made it to the next house on our street before the constant complaining plus the ridiculously slow movement and profuse sweating prompted me to say, “Great bike ride. Time to turn around!!”

I got less dumb for our second bike ride.

IMG_3227

IMG_3229

We made it all the way around to the end of the cul de sac behind our street and back, with no complaining or whining. Mom win.

3. Lass’s birthday is in August. She has declared that she wants to have a rubber ducky/fish-themed birthday party.

IMG_3233

Would it be wrong for me to gently try to persuade her to go with something else? Maybe something like an “Olaf in Summer” party, so I could totally steal all of the ideas from this post? I really want to make a Melted Olaf Snow Globe. I know. It’s not about me. But I’m pretty sure my kids would go nuts over the big ice-blocks-on-a-sled race.

4. I am so excited that the ladies in my Bible study and I are starting a Little Flowers Girls’ Club for our daughters. It’s kind of like Daisies or American Heritage Girls but Catholic.

Between us Bible-study ladies we have a gajillion daughters, and at least 10 of them are of the age to participate in the club right now (5-12). Super Friend and I are teaching/hosting the first meeting a week from Monday. Miss and I are both giddy with anticipation.

5. I’ve been having a bit of a lazy parenting week. Or maybe more of a lazy dinner-making week. We had our photo appointment/near-death experience on Monday in the late afternoon, so I asked my husband to order pizza. Tuesday he had a meeting, so I served up leftover pizza for dinner. Wednesday he had another meeting, so I indulged myself and picked up Taco Bell for myself and the girls. I haven’t had TB in years, and the girls have never eaten it. But it’s one of those things that I just really must eat when I’m in the mood. So, soft tacos all around.

IMG_3234

Except for me. MexiMelt. Yum.

IMG_3235

I just realized that last night my husband ate my last leftover MexiMelt along with most of the rest of the TacoBell leftovers. So. Busted.

6. I have started reading one of my favorite books of all time to my kids.

IMG_3069

Miss is the only one even remotely interested, but I just love sharing this lovely prose with them, even if they don’t get into the story too much yet.

IMG_3071

Reading to a captive audience at lunchtime always helps.

7. We’re going to Minnesota this weekend to visit family and have band practice for the Labor Day Party. There are plans for a park tour and cook out and even a moms’ night out. Plus lots of music of course. It might be epic. Photos may be forthcoming.

For more Quick Takes visit Conversion Diary.

Have a great weekend!

Posted in 7 Quick Takes Friday | 3 Comments

Five Favorites – You Must See This Fabulous Way of Cutting Grapes!

1. I know. That title sounds a little dramatic. But truly, this is my favorite new thing. A new, totally awesome way of cutting grapes in half (The video is only a few seconds long. Watch it. It could change your life):

I tried it today and it really works. BUT, because my grapes were really small, all the plates I have had too much of a lip on them so many of the grapes ended up with just barely the top shaved off. So. I improvised.

DSC_0134

I used two lids of the same size. Same technique. Perfectly cut grapes. Genius. I know this seems sad, but this just made my life so much easier.

2. Caterpillars.

DSC_0130My girls love “raising” butterflies. How awesome is it that you can buy caterpillars on the internet and have them delivered complete with food, ready to grow, metamorphose, and fly away?

DSC_0135

3. These DVDs.

DSC_0138I love Scholastic picture books and these DVDs are great. There are tons of them, and each DVD has four to six stories on it. Many of them are fully animated (not just pictures from the books flashed on the screen), and my girls really enjoy them.

I’ve had a set for a while now, but kind of forgot about them so we haven’t watched them lately. Then I got a “Diary of a Worm” easy reader book for Miss from the library and she asked me to watch the story DVD. We only have “Diary of a Spider,” but I was able to find “Diary of a Worm” at the library. We watched both of them tonight.

DSC_0142

Bonus that I don’t have to read the actual books. They are not my favorite to read.

4. The AbMat

It simultaneously makes sit ups easier and harder. They’re easier because I don’t need to hook my feet under something or struggle at all to complete the move. Plus, since giving birth to Lass (10 lbs, 7 oz), my tailbone sticks out in a weird way and it’s painful to do regular sit ups on the floor. Not with this thing. The sit ups are harder because you extend your stomach muscles farther and work them better. My stomach ends up super sore from doing these. In a good way.

5. This book.

DSC_0139I learned about this book from a friend, and I’m so glad I bought it. Miss (without prompting) composed a morning offering prayer that goes like this:

“Oh my Lord, I love You so much that I could give this day to You. Amen.”

So we say that every morning at breakfast (she’s very proud that we do her prayer every day), and I read the day’s devotion and we talk about it. They remind me if I forget, and they ask me to bring the book when we travel, so I think they like it too.

For more favorites, go here.

Posted in Cool Stuff, Miscellany, Tricks | 6 Comments

Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Volume 2 – The Pope

First of all, I want to say that, in writing this post (or any of the other posts in this series) I am not trying to disparage the beliefs of Protestants or anyone else. I just want to try to explain Catholicism a bit, because it seems there’s a lot of misunderstanding about it (most of which I had myself at one time or another). And I want to share why I chose to become Catholic myself.

That said, I’m kind of excited to write this post about the pope.

Don’t you just love Pope Francis?

I want to write about why there is a pope and why he has authority. But I realized that I couldn’t quite explain all that without getting into the Magisterium (had to look the word up to write this) and Sacred Tradition vs. sola Scriptura a bit too. Bear with me, please.

The reason I’m excited to write about all this is that learning about these things myself helped me gain a much deeper understanding of and appreciation for the Catholic Church. It just made so much sense once I understood it. It’s fascinating to me to think about how old the Church is. And frankly, I’m interested to see if I can write about all this in a coherent fashion. It was harder than I thought it would be, to be honest. You be the judge :)

One of the things that prompted my separation from religion was my observation that no one seems to agree on what the Bible really means. I found it so annoying that people could come up with a justification for almost anything, supposedly through interpreting Scripture. It seemed like the meaning of the Bible depended simply on whom you asked. I though it was a bunch of nonsense and considered it evidence that the Bible just didn’t mean anything.

When I began learning about Catholicism, I came across the phrase sola Scriptura, and learned that this was one of the main theological beliefs of the Reformation, a key point on which Protestants differ from Catholics. Sola Scriptura means, “by Scripture alone,” and is the idea that the Bible provides all the information necessary for salvation, that it is the only true source of Christian doctrine, and that it needs no interpretation, because it interprets itself. But this just didn’t make sense to me, largely for the reason mentioned above that everyone interprets the Bible differently.

The principle of sola Scriptura was introduced by Reformists as a way to reject the authority of the Catholic Church, and thus the pope, at the time of the Protestant Reformation. However, sola Scriptura isn’t actually taught anywhere in the Bible (according to many sources I have checked, both Catholic and Protestant. I certainly haven’t read the whole Bible yet to confirm this for myself).

Then I learned that the Catholic Church holds that Christian authority lies in both the Bible and Sacred Tradition. Sacred Tradition is the oral teachings of Jesus that He handed down to his apostles, and that they in turn handed down to their disciples, and so on.

I like to think of it like this: Imagine that the founding fathers of our country had written the Constitution and then simply said, “There you go! This is all you need. Go forth and govern thyselves!” That would have been dumb. Of course they didn’t do that. They were smart enough to know that if they did not provide us with a system of government to help us interpret and apply the Constitution, all heck would break loose and people would be using it for their own purposes all willy-nilly with no one agreeing on what the laws and ideals of our country actually are or how we should follow them.

Likewise, Jesus did not leave us with nothing but a Bible, for people to interpret for themselves all willy-nilly. That doesn’t make sense. Jesus left us the apostles and His Church and the Holy Spirit. And if you believe that the successors of the apostles were led by the Spirit to infallibly create the Bible, then it only makes sense that these same successors (the pope and bishops) would be capable of passing down Sacred Tradition through the authority given to them by Jesus and with the help of his Holy Spirit. If you don’t believe that the Church, and thus its leaders the pope and bishops, has this authority and ability to make infallible decisions, then you can’t really be certain that the Bible is infallible.

Jesus gave His apostles authority and instructed them to teach, and He gave them the Holy Spirit to help them do so. The Magisterium is the authority of the Church, primarily as it is exercised by the successors of Jesus’s apostles, namely the pope and the bishops.

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

In fact, when Jesus was still alive, He made Peter the head of His Church.

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

St. Peter was the first pope.

I was so excited when I learned this and then came to understand the idea of “apostolic succession,” that the popes throughout the history of the Church have succeeded, one after another, in a direct line from St. Peter!

Now, to be clear, the doctrine of papal infallibility does not mean that the pope is free from sin or error. It also doesn’t apply only to the pope, but also to the body of bishops as a whole, but only when they, in unity with the pope, are solemnly teaching a doctrine to be true. The pope and bishops are not infallible in all things. But they are the successors of Jesus’s apostles, to whom He said, “He who hears you hears me” (Luke 10:16) and “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matthew 18:18).

So, in a nutshell, Catholics believe in the authority of the Church, and in particular the pope and the bishops, because Jesus established the Church this way. He left His apostles with Sacred Tradition and the Holy Spirit, with the authority to build His Church and guide people in their faith. He appointed Peter to be the head of the Church, and the popes of history have succeed in a line from Peter. To say that we don’t need a pope or Sacred Tradition because the Bible is the inspired Word of God and is all we need, is to forget that the Bible was compiled by men of the Catholic Church, using Sacred Tradition and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to do so.

I know this is a clumsy explanation. As I said, this was harder to write about than I thought it would be. I hope it makes sense, but I’m happy to try to clear things up if I’ve left anything out or been unclear about something. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

*******

I have had a few questions come my way, so the next one I’ll take on  is this one from my friend Liz, “Do Catholics have a ‘priesthood?’ And if so, how is it used and who is given it?

 

Posted in Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Religion | 1 Comment

One Hot Mess – It’s a Jungle Out There

Admit it. Sometimes you just like to see other people’s messy. Or to drop your own out there and just laugh at it as others gasp and try not to stare. . .

Right? Yeah, me too. So that’s why I love Blythe’s One Hot Mess link up. Lots of train wrecks every week. I can’t look away.

This is the first week I’ve had photos and a post ready to link up (where was this link up over the winter when I was posting every other day about the flu or puking or pink eye??? Hmmm?). Today I’m excited to share about. . .

Wait for it. . .

My weeds.

The same thing happens every year. I start out gung-ho, determined that this will be the year that I will keep the weeds under control. I pull some every day. Things aren’t looking too bad. Then we go away for a couple of weeks in the early summer and come back to this:

DSC_0142

And so I go straight back to furiously pulling weeds. And pulling. And pulling. And getting my kids to do their share of the work.

DSC_0134 DSC_0138 DSC_0137 DSC_0139

And it seems like we’re making some progress, until I get to this:

DSC_0144 DSC_0147

I just. . . I don’t even know what to do with that hot mess of vegetation. Where do I even start? Some of those are plants that are actually supposed to be there. Just maybe not quite so. . . abundantly. i’m not sure if I need to sort through and find only the weeds, or thin out the intentional plants, or just yank it all up and start over.

I end up just standing and staring at it, pulling a few obvious weeds, and then throwing up my hands and going to play on the slide with my kids.

Except:

DSC_0151

The weeds have taken over back there too.

I know. Weeds have nothing on Blythe’s Hot Mess post about paying to camp on someone’s gravel driveway. But it’s what I’ve got.

Check out more messy posts HERE.

 

Posted in Garden, Miscellany, Outdoors | 1 Comment

7QT In Which I Fret About Catholic Karaoke and Never-Ending Rain

1.

The Edel Gathering is coming up soon! I am so excited. It’s fun to see some of the ladies who will be there starting to post a bit about their plans for the weekend. Dwija is giving us a sneak peek of her shoes for Friday night’s Cocktails and Crazy Shoes party, and Kathryn is taking requests for an upcoming post of must-dos while in Austin.

Here’s my question though: Is anyone else obsessing a little bit about what to sing for karaoke night? I have lots of songs I like to sing on the rare occasion that I do karaoke, but I’m not quite sure if any of them is fully appropriate for a gathering of Catholic moms.

I mean, is “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones too suggestive? How about “Blister in the Sun?”

I could do “The Joker,” but is it okay to sing about being a “toker” and a “lover” and a “sinner?” I just don’t know.

“Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy?” No??

I really enjoyed doing “Poker Face” last year at the Labor Day Party my in-laws host every year, but I don’t know if I can get up in front of a room full of Catholic mamas and sing, “And baby, when it’s love, if it’s not rough it isn’t fun. . .

Maybe Jennifer Fulwiler can open the karaoke by rapping something by Tupac. Then I wouldn’t be so nervous.

2.

My girls had summer camp at the YMCA this week. This was Lass’s first time being dropped off for a preschool-like situation. She’s kind of a mama’s girl, so I wasn’t sure how she’d like it. But she was with her sister, so she did just fine.

DSC_0130

I did not dress them alike ^^ They each picked that shirt independent of the other.

It’s been so strange having two of my three children gone all morning. I’ve been reminded of how, in many ways, having one child is harder than several. Without her sisters around, Sis is so much more demanding!

3.

Check out this wonderful patch of weeds and dirt:

DSC_0154This is the site where we will be building our dream home. We’ve been waiting for many years to do it, and we’re finally just about ready to break ground. We have a builder, and a house plan, and an address, and our permits, and we are almost ready to go. We just need it to stop raining. As I type this I’m looking out the window at another day of steady rain.

On the way to camp this morning Lass started singing,”Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.”

After a moment Miss said, “I didn’t work. Maybe it will work if you say ‘please’.”

So Lass revised, “Rain, rain, go away. Please-come-again another day.”

Silence for a minute, then Miss, “Nope.”

4.

We’ve had our first harvest of our garden this year!

DSC_0152

Lots of radishes and greens and herbs so far. Tomatoes and peppers and green onions and beans will be coming soon I hope.

5.

A few more photos from our week at the Farm:

IMG_3194 IMG_3196 DSC_0141 DSC_0170 DSC_0171 IMG_3193 IMG_3188 IMG_3175 IMG_3154 IMG_3157 IMG_3159

6.

I went to our local outlet mall this morning to get some outfits for the girls’ pictures we’re having done on Monday. I couldn’t help but think about this one from a couple of years ago:Smith Gals-3

I still can’t believe I was able to get that photo. My Grandma made all of those dresses^^ for me when I was little. One is sized about 2-3T (on Lass), one is 4-5T (on Miss) and the other one (on Sis) is the doll dress from the Raggedy Ann my Grandma also made for me. I barely squeezed Sis into that dress, and I couldn’t get it buttoned, but I was determined to get that photo. It’s one of my very favorites.

7.

I was thinking about the photo because it’s time to have Sis’s two-year photos in the dress with the doll. I had the same pics done for Miss and Lass:

Smith Gals-12I insist on pulling out these sweet old dresses for photos because, well how precious are they?? But also because I have a photo of myself in the same dress with the same doll at around two-ish too.

DSC_0131

If I could find more of that vintage fabric I would absolutely hit up my Grandma to make (or help me make) more of these dresses in ever-increasing sizes and just keep getting Raggedy Ann/matching-sisters photos for.ev.er.

Would that be wrong?

Seven Quick Takes is hosted at Team Whitaker this week. Check it out HERE.

Posted in 7 Quick Takes Friday | 1 Comment

Some Never-Before-Seen Selfies – All for a Good Cause #35K4SMA

If you happen to follow me on Instagram or if you’re a friend of my personal page on Facebook, you may have seen this photo already this morning:

IMG_3218

I posted it bright and early, even though I really, really hate selfies. I’m not really opposed to them in general, I mean when other people post them. I don’t hate selfies on principle. I hate them because of vanity.

I cannot, for the life of me, seem to take a selfie in which I look even a little bit normal. Every time, every. time., I either end up all forehead or all nose or double-chinned or something else utterly not flattering. So I don’t do selfies. The few times that I’ve tried, they don’t end up anywhere that others can see them. Not on Instagram, not on FB, not here on the old blog (except once in this post, but that selfie was very dark).

However, today I made an exception. In fact, I’m about to make a big exception and even show you all some of the selfies I’ve never posted before, all in the name of a good cause.

35K 4 SMA 

I already posted a couple of weeks ago about how I was going to run 5K this week and why. Kelly, the mom who is running 35K for SMA has two little boys with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), and she is trying to raise money for other families who are struggling with the bills that come along with this diagnosis. Bills for necessities like medical expenses, special equipment, home modifications, etc. I donated money to the cause (you can too, hint, hint, right HERE), but I’m also just trying to let others know what Kelly is trying to do.

So, back to the selfies. For the first time ever, I’m going to share my selfie fails (i.e. all of them). There aren’t many, because I learned pretty early-on that selfies are not for me, but here you go.

Here’s one I tried to take when I got my bangs cut in December:

DSC_0564

My chins and I decided that wasn’t the most flattering look for us.

Weird frown. And the nose.

IMG_2051 IMG_2052

Dark. And grim:

IMG_3018

The only other ones I could find were those from this morning, though there’s plenty of material here. I took a lot before I ended up with one that looked halfway decent.

Like this one that I took immediately after finishing my run:

IMG_3209

I was still gasping for air, and I couldn’t hold my phone steady to take the picture!

Next I got this one:

IMG_3210

The lighting was so bad and you can’t really read the sign (which is kind of the whole point), so I tried again. And got this:

IMG_3213

Just. No. Remember what I said up there ^^ about the all-nose or all-forehead thing? I think I managed to be both all-nose and all-forhead in that one.

Then all-nose in this one:

IMG_3216

Yikes.

I even took a few while still on the treadmill:

IMG_3208 IMG_3205 IMG_3207

And now you see why I do not have a great love of the selfie.

But you all keep posting yours! Maybe if you get on it quickly, you can even do a sweaty one for 5K for SMA!! You know you want to :)

Posted in Exercise, Giving, Miscellany, Other Great Blogs | 3 Comments

Five Favorites – Little Moments

My five favorite little moments of this week.

1. Watching the girls play in this tall grass:

IMG_3161 IMG_3164 IMG_3165 IMG_3169

I took the next picture thinking I was going to capture a total “Little House on the Prairie” moment as they were running, slightly downhill, through the grass. Laura and Mary for sure:

IMG_3173

 

2. Our “Secret, Special Snack” up on the platform of the swing set. They thought this was pretty awesome, and kept talking about all the animals that wouldn’t be able to “get us” or take our snack because we were up so high. My arm wasn’t long enough to get a selfie of all four of us:

IMG_3180

 

3. My eldest in a nice display of sisterly love and helpfulness.

IMG_3176 IMG_3177

 

4. The other night after I put the girls to bed, I saw several deer right near the house drinking from the pond.

DSC_0192

I could hear that Miss was still awake, so I ran downstairs to get her so she could see them. The first thing she said, when I told her there were deer right by the house and I wanted her to see them was, “I can’t believe I’m up so late!!!!” She giggled like she was getting away with something and ran back up the stairs with me. She said the same thing over and over. “I can’t believe I’m up so late!”

Clearly it was much more exciting to be up out of bed five minutes after I had tucked her in than to see four deer up close.

DSC_0200

 

5. The fishing tournament weigh-in.

DSC_0148

 

DSC_0156

My husband and our brother-in-law won the tournament.

DSC_0165

 

The girls kept grabbing his plaque and telling their cousins, “My Dad won this.” The pride in their voices was priceless.

Happy Father’s Day to my BFF.

For more favorites check out Five Favorites at Moxie Wife.

Posted in Adventure, Daddy, Family, Memories, Outdoors, The Farm, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Vacation that Actually Feels Like. . . A Vacation?

Going on vacation with small children has never felt like a vacation. Staying in places that aren’t baby/toddler-proofed, dealing with disrupted sleep schedules, and not being in my own space has always thrown my (mostly) finely-tuned routine for a loop and led me to feel like I’m doing more work than usual, rather than “vacationing.”

That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed our travels. I’ve just had to adjust my expectations so that I plan for fun on vacation and lots of learning and great times with my kids and family, but not rest or relaxation or leisure.

So imagine my surprise at finding out that, while traveling for two out of the past three weeks, it has actually, kind of, at times. . . felt like a vacation! Two weeks ago we were at my parents. This week we’re at the Farm visiting with my in-laws. Now that my girls are getting bigger, I’m actually feeling a bit leisurely.

Everything is simpler here.

IMG_3127

I’m not as caught up in cleaning and school prep and food prep and all the other random daily-grind things that come up when we’re home, so I get to play more with my girls.

IMG_3145

Exploring and made-up games are the big hits, as always, but somehow when we’re here it’s just a bit more special.

IMG_3129 IMG_3132 IMG_3133 DSC_0191

And now that Sis is getting bigger, it’s a little less stressful to travel with her. I’m no longer worried about her falling down the stairs where we don’t have a baby gate or choking on something small since not every toy has been completely sifted through with all choking hazards removed. I don’t have to constantly hover over her every second (I’m making myself sound totally neurotic, aren’t I?).

IMG_3141

I still get a little bit nervous with her around the water, but she’s done a pretty good job so far following our water rules. All the girls are enjoying the water and the fishing.

IMG_3154

DSC_0161 DSC_0167 DSC_0171 DSC_0186 DSC_0180

They’ve been catching lots of fish. Even Sis caught a few crappies, but she preferred fishing for minnows.

DSC_0184

DSC_0187

DSC_0183 DSC_0175

Slippery little suckers.

DSC_0177 DSC_0174 DSC_0172

As for me, when not exploring with the girls I’ve been reading and writing and taking naps every day and playing cards with my husband and my in-laws. We played Euchre a few nights ago, which is one of my favorites.

Last night they even convinced me to play Texas Hold ‘Em. I’ve never been a fan of playing poker, so I was reluctant. But I didn’t want to be a party pooper, so I agreed. I loved it! I even ended up the big winner of the evening after an intense hand with a huge winnings pot where the two others betting with me both had full-house hands, but I won with four of a kind!

Ah, vacation.

IMG_3157

So, don’t despair moms of little ones. Someday you will again be able to relax a bit on vacation. And it might be sooner than you think.

I love it here.

IMG_3126
Now it’s time for my nap.

Posted in Family, Motherhood, Outdoors, The Farm, Travel | 2 Comments

Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Volume 1 – Hail Mary

There are three reasons I decided to start this blog series by addressing the common misconception that Catholics worship Mary. One is that a friend of mine actually did express some interest in having this cleared up in a previous blog post comment. Another is that I think that this might be one of the biggest objections that non-Catholics have to Catholicism, so I thought it would be good to address upfront. The third is that, to me, it’s one of the easiest misunderstandings to set straight.

As a child, I didn’t think about Catholicism much (my only point of reference for the phrase “Hail Mary” was a last-second desperation throw to try to win a football game), but when I did, I vaguely thought that Catholics worshipped Mary. The fact is that I didn’t know the first thing about Catholicism in reality. My belief about Mary was simply a parroting of something I heard an adult say.

However, when I started attending Catholic Mass last year and reading about the Catholic Faith, I had absolutely no problem getting past my previous misunderstanding about Our Lady. In fact, one of my first reactions to reading about how some other people are so reluctant to show love for her was, “Why?

Here’s an illustration of my thoughts about the matter:

Imagine being in a deep, loving relationship with someone. You love this person dearly, and you’re about to meet His parents. He can’t wait for you to meet them, because He loves them so much, and they are very important to Him. You meet His Dad and realize that you really love Him too, but every time your Dearest tries to introduce you to His mother, you refuse, saying, “No thanks. I just don’t think she’s important here. I’ll meet her and maybe visit with her a bit when your birthday rolls around, since she did give birth to you. But other than that I want nothing to do with her.”

That would be weird.

Perhaps that analogy is overly simplistic, but I guess that is why it was never difficult for me to understand Marian devotion, once I thought about it a bit. Mary is Jesus’s mother. She was chosen by God to carry Him, to give Birth to Him, and to raise Him, along with Joseph. She suffered intensely by having to watch her Child be subjected to the tortures of His Passion. Surely, no other person could possibly have had nearly as much of an impact on Jesus during His time on Earth as she did. Just imagine her love for Him, and His for her.

So. Why would we not honor her? Why not sing songs about her and mention her in the Mass? God is Jesus’s Father. Mary is Jesus’s mother. God is our Father. Mary is our Mother. Of course we love her.

Many Protestants and others might try to clarify their objections and say, “But you pray to her!!! That’s not right.”

But that belief is not correct. We don’t actually pray to Mary.

Devotion is not the same as worship. Honoring someone is not the same as worshipping her. Asking someone to pray for you is not the same as praying to her.

We believe that Mary is in Heaven, right there with her Beloved Son. She is our Mother and she watches over us. We ask her to pray for us. We ask her to intercede on our behalf and to help us grow in our faith.

The biggest role that Mary plays is that she brings us closer to her Son.

That brings me to the question I got from my friend Liz, which frankly shocked and flummoxed me at first. She had commented to me before that she wondered about Catholics’ beliefs about Mary. When she heard I was going to post more about this, she wrote:

To be clear, my confusion does come from Catholics themselves (in hindsight I realize they probably weren’t active Catholics). As an LDS missionary in SE Asia I’d occasionally ask contacts “so, are you Christian?” and every now and then I’d get the response, “no, I’m Catholic.” Puzzled, I’d continue “I thought Catholics believed in the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ?” Most would agree, but two young girls once said “No, we pray to Mary. Christians pray to Christ.” I didn’t want to argue their religion (or mine, since Mormons don’t pray to Christ, but to God) with them, but I had a feeling that wasn’t quite right. I’ve never been able to figure out why they thought that. 

My only response to that is to say that those young girls must have been very misinformed. I’m not sure why a Catholic would ever say, “We’re not Christian,” or “We pray to Mary, not Christ.” That is just simply not true. Catholics are Christians. We believe in a triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and we pray to each of these persons of the Holy Trinity.

Yes, there are some prayers that are specifically directed to Mary, but these prayers are simply intended to show love and honor to her and to ask her to pray for us. And actually, the words of the Hail Mary almost all come directly from scripture:

Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Consider Luke 1:28 regarding the angel Gabriel’s first words to Mary at the Annunciation, “And coming to her he said, ‘Hail favored one! The Lord is with you,’”

and Luke 1:42 about Elizabeth’s first words to her when Mary arrived for the Visitation, (Elizabeth) “cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’”

These are words to acknowledge the importance of Mary as Jesus’s mother. As the one God chose to raise his Son on Earth.

The Catholic Church does not teach in any way that Mary is equal to Jesus or God. The Church does not try to include her as part of the Holy Trinity. But the Church does accord her the honor and love that she deserves as the mother of God.

And that’s what I know about it. I know there is a lot more to say about the matter. I’d be happy to do my best to answer any more questions you may have about Mary. Also, Scott Hahn’s book, Hail Holy Queen, is full of wonderful information about our Blessed Mother. It’s a little dense though, so this is my beginner’s version.

So, what do you think?

***

I haven’t gotten any questions from you yet, so I’m just going to roll right along with my own agenda until I do. Next week I’ll write about the authority of the pope.

Feel free to comment with any future topics you’d like me to cover or send me an email.

Posted in Baby Catholic Answers All the Things, Religion | 4 Comments