Fonticulus Fides

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

More on the Schiavo Case...

If you haven't been by in a day or two, please head over to Fr. Rob's blog Thrown Back for the latest news on Terri Schiavo. Terri's physical condition appears to be worsening due to neglect and the courts remain unkind to her parents' pleas. This update was brought to my attention by Amy Welborn.


Maddie's custody...

...has been settled as "Joint Custody" between my brother-in-law and his soon-to-be-ex-wife.

In other words, a nice complicated upbringing for this little girl, who turns 4 years old next week Wednesday.

I suppose we should just be grateful that Heidi didn't win primary custody, which would have meant my brother-in-law not having any say over Maddie's schooling, etc.

My brother-in-law is moving into an apartment here in Lincoln this weekend. He got a two-bedroom so he can set up all of Maddie's furniture and toys at his place. I believe she just sleeps on a couch when she's with Heidi, who is living with her current boyfriend. I would have thought that situation might have inclined the judge to award primary custody to my brother-in-law, but as we've been told, the local courts rarely favor the fathers. In fact, I think my brother-in-law's attorney even told him he was lucky to get this much, since Heidi had sued for primary custody to begin with.

Please say a prayer for Maddie today. Her life is way too unstable for a child to cope with comfortably.


God bless Mrs. Pittman...

Yesterday, Avis Pittman was teaching the combined first and second grade class at St. Mary School in Omaha, Nebraska, when she heard a creaking sound. She looked up and saw a new crack spreading across the plaster ceiling and immediately ordered all the children out of the room. In the next second, the heavy ceiling came down in one fell swoop. Five of the children were injured, but not seriously. Mostly bumps, bruises, a few stitches and one broken arm.

A 46-year veteran teacher, Mrs. Pittman wept as she directed the children to safety because she was afraid one of them might get killed. God bless her for trying to get the children out the door. From the photographs it looks like the kids might have been seriously hurt if they would have been at their desks.

St. Mary School is closed today while the building inspector figures out what happens and the mess is cleaned up. Water damage has already been ruled out, so there must have been a structural shift in the 92-year-old building. But the building inspector was on the news last night mystified that the whole ceiling came down in one piece.


God have mercy on us!

For the first time in five years, the number of abortions done in the state of Nebraska actually increased 6%. According to the report issued by our health and human services department, 3,990 unborn babies lost their lives at their mothers' requests in 2003.

If you can stomach the sad news, read on.

Some 3,096 women cited socio-economic reasons for seeking abortion. Remember that "socio-economic" can mean her boyfriend threatened to leave her if she didn't abort. Or her parents made her. Or her career might be hampered with this pregnancy.

Only 160 women cited "health of the mother." The report says 766 women said their artificial contraception failed.

The age range of the women is interesting. Teen abortions only made up a bit more than 12%. Most abortions are requested by women in their 20s and 30s. Education level and income were not reported, but last I read, even Planned Parenthood's own statistics acknowledged that most abortions are sought by educated middle-class women, not the poor, ignorant, youngsters that abortion proponents cite as why this procedure should remain legal.

Greg Schleppenbach, director of pro-life activities for the Nebraska Catholic Conference, said, "Every single one of those statistics represents a dead child, a wounded mother and a society that is increasingly coarsened in its regard to the dignity of human life."

There's a lot of wounded women walking around my state -- and yours -- today. Whether they regret their choice or not, they need our prayers. So please, take a moment to pray for them.


Tuesday, March 30, 2004


I missed my patron saint's feast day! I just realized it was March 6. For some reason, I thought it was in November, but that's Zooey's patron (St. Hubert) and Edyn's (St. Elisabeth of Hungary).

Well, better late than never, I guess. You can read more about St. Agnes of Prague and why I chose her as my patron. I'm one sloppy apprentice, though, I'll tell you what. I can't even remember her feast day!

Speaking of patron saints, Zooey has to learn the Guardian Angel prayer for kindergarden, so they are working on it at preschool. But the other day, he came up to me and said he didn't have a guardian angel, just St. Hubert. I tried to tell him he had both, and he was quite adament. St. Hubert was all he needed to pray for him.

I need to read up more on guardian angels so I can explain it better. Anybody have any good book recommendations? Maybe something at the preschool/kindergarden level I can put in Zooey's Easter basket?


Monday, March 29, 2004

Another prayer request...

I learn from Amy Welborn that fellow blogger Stuart Buck suffered two strokes over the weekend and is in serious need of prayer. Stuart is only 29 -- he and his wife Farah have two small children. Read Farah's message here. Please pray for him!


More from Bai McFarlane

Bai notified me today about this site. I believe it was set up by her godfather to encourage people to write or e-mail Bud personally and ask him to stop divorce proceedings.

Not knowing Bud myself, I don't know whether such requests from people he doesn't know would influence him toward reconciliation...or further steel his current resolve. I leave it to you to pray over this issue and decide for yourself whether you want to participate or not.


Friday, March 26, 2004

On Staying Married...

Incredibly wise words on the subject of successful marriage over at Alicia's. Thanks, Alicia!

And more wisdom from Catholic psychotherapist Gregory Popcak at Heart, Mind and Strength. Among other things, he writes, "Yes, when someone we admire is struck by sin or scandal, we panic. We feel vulnerable. And for good reason. Their stumble reminds us that we can all fall. Good. Don't ever forget it. Channel that fear and vulnerability into doing whatever it takes to make your marriage the strongest relationship it could be."

Mr. Popcak also chides us for "clucking about them" and indicates that he believes it's sinful to "spread the scandal."

I guess that wasn't my intention by posting about them on my blog. When I heard of the situation, knowing how much pain my brother-in-law is from his wife suddenly leaving him, I e-mailed Bai just to tell her I'd be praying for her and her marriage. She asked me to post a prayer request and more information on my blog, so I did. And any other information or links I put up were intended to encourage prayer for the McFarlanes.

I think there's a difference between gossip and what has been going on in St. Blog's regarding this situation. Gossip is spreading information (real, false or a mixture) that would embarrass or humiliate the parties, for the purpose of being judgemental, self-righteous, etc. But that's not what I've seen in St. Blog's this past week. What I have seen is people recognizing that a brother/sister is in a dire situation and expressing concern, wonder, etc. And rousing up the troops to pray because prayer is the best thing anybody can do for these folks right now.


The Dream Lady

Amanda was kind enough to point me to Bud McFarlane's account of how he and Bai got together. Read it here.

It's heart-breaking though. So much of Bud and Bai's story runs parrallel to my own marriage. I can't imagine going through the same trial they are. I mean, I know it's possible. I just can't stomach the thought. My prayers for their marriage are always tagged with prayers for my own...


Thursday, March 25, 2004

Pray for them...but how?

Claire was kind enough to e-mail me about the prayer of exorcism posted below at Bai McFarlane's request. Claire writes,

Sparki, here is something pertaining to exorcism prayer you recommended to say for Bai and Bud. This is from EWTN Q&A. Also Father Gabriel Lamothe  (the exorcist of Rome) stated we are not to do this. We can open up a whole can of worms reciting this prayer. We can do deliverance prayers, but not exorcism.

Here's the bit from EWTN:

Question from ric ballard on 07-29-2003:

I heard that lay people are allowed to do prayers in the name of Jesus if the person prayed for has some demonic problems. What if the person had a demon in them and the person praying told the demon in the name of Jesus to come out and it worked. Could they be in volation of the church teachings on exorcism? Should I tell them to stop doing this even if it helps others?

Answer by David Gregson on 08-18-2003:

Basically, the power to exorcise demons has been granted to the Church, not to individuals. That's why the authority to attempt exorcism must come from the Bishop, as the Church's primary local representative. Catholics who try to cast out demons without the Bishop's authorization do so at their own risk. Read "On The Current Norms Governing Exorcisms" issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1984. Also "Who Has the Power to Exorcise Demons?", both in our Document Library.


Okay, so now I'm really confused. I'm sure there's a difference between a formal exorcism and any faithful person praying for any given person who appears to be under demonic influence. Or is that what makes it wrong? Ought we just pray for the person without any mention of possible demonic activity?

Please post your thoughts in the comments box. And regardless of your opinion, keep on praying for Bud and Bai and their marriage, however you wish to do it.


The Battle is Engaged...

Today is the first court date for three-year-old Maddie's custody. I think this is just the first round -- temporary custody -- and the real deal will happen sometime during the summer as the divorce proceedings take place. Heidi told my brother-in-law she wanted joint custody, but she is suing for primary custody. My brother-in-law is counter-suing for primary custody based on Heidi's erratic lifestyle these past eight months.

I think it's going to get ugly.

Anyway, if you have a mind to, please pray for the judge who hears the case today, that he/she will be given great wisdom and will make the best choice for Madeline (under the circumstances).


Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Spring Cleaning...

I've been long overdue in updating my blogroll, but found a few minutes to freshen it up this noon. I added a few blogs I go to just about daily, including the Summa Mamas (sorry it's taken so long, ladies!) and several other must-reads.

The convert blog section is gone -- Meet Joe Convert is down in the "More Great Thoughts" section. Sean from Swimming the Tiber has closed down his blog while he goes off to become a monk (go Sean!!) Mysterium has been inactive for almost a year, and I haven't had time to stay with Kathy on Not for Sheep, so I retired those links for now. Lisa from Heroic Moments must be too busy with her small ones to have blogged for almost six months, so I set that link aside, too. But I'm stubbornly hanging on to Chirp and Gospel M*I*N*E*F*I*E*L*D in the hopes those ladies will someday honor us with active blogs again.

Now to get to work on my house before the dust bunnies dinasours take over...


Populating Heaven

When I take Zooey to preschool, we invariably arrive at about the same time as one of his classmates, Zainab. Zainab’s family are recent immigrants to the U.S., and her mom doesn’t speak much English yet, but we always smile at each other and say "Good morning."

I take Zooey to school by myself, leaving Edyn and Laurel home with my husband, but Zainab’s mother also has a toddler in tow. After we take our older kids to the preschool classroom, Zainab’s mom always stops before the large brass crucifix on the way out and makes the sign of the cross, kissing her thumb at the end of it as is her custom. Then she helps her toddler do the same thing, and they head over to the church for 8:10 Mass.

I was watching this woman help her toddler make the sign of the cross the other day and thinking about all the little things that we parents do to teach our small children the way of the Lord. In our family, we practice the sign of the cross, read religious stories, say mealtime and evening prayers, etc. There’s a lot more we could be doing too, if we just developed the habit. And these are things we want to and need to do, because we want our children to worship the Lord and go to heaven.

That’s our primary role as Catholic parents, isn’t it? To populate heaven.

Sometimes I get into discussions with people about being Catholic and being open to life. On the Internet, I’ve talked about this with Catholics who think the Church’s policy regarding artificial birth control is wrong and the whole idea of being "open to life" is foolhardy. Some worry about over-populating the earth. Some worry about over-populating their homes -- in other words, they want each of their kids to have a bedroom all to his/herself and their budgets won’t allow them to buy 8-bedroom mansions. And some of them worry about over-populating their lives – "I have enough trouble mothering two kids. Imagine what a wreck I’d be with six or seven!"

It’s easy to refute some of these arguments. We’re hundreds of years away from overpopulating the planet, if not thousands. Kids can share bedrooms without ruining their self-esteem/psyche/whatever-it-is-you-want-to-protect. And the more kids you have, the more people in your family there are to take care of chores and each other’s emotional needs. My best friend from high school has nine kids now, and after about the fifth one, her life got easier with each addition, because there were older siblings able to help cook, clean, do laundry, occupy the toddler, etc.

Plus – seriously, now, who wouldn’t want one more person to love them?

But all these answers to the argument pale in comparison to the real key to being open to life. Being open to life isn’t about what you envision for your life on earth. It’s about what God envisions for eternity in heaven: Saints. Multitudes of them.

When I think about my kids, I know the time they spend filling our house and eating up our budget is just a small portion of their lives on earth…and just the tiniest bit of their entire existence from conception to birth to death to eternity.

The bedrooms in my small house are filled to capacity now. We’re just getting by money-wise, so I’m worried about paying for braces and being able to send three kids to Catholic school, let alone college, let alone paying for weddings or seminary or whatever else comes up. And I’m feeling way too old to go through another pregnancy. But by golly, when I think about sharing in the process of populating heaven with Saints for the glory of God, I wish I could have another baby … or two … or three.

That’s what I think being open to life is really all about.


Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Prayers for Bud and Bai

This sad situation is being discussed on a number of other blogs, including Fructus Ventris and Two Sleepy Mommies.

I've been in contact with Bai and she asked me to post this letter, written by her sister. Bai believes that more prayer will help, so please, please pray for her, her husband and their marriage.


Dear friends,

Please pray for the grace inherent in the Sacrament of Matrimony to be unleashed for the purpose of healing the marriage of my sister Bai and her husband Bud Macfarlane. 

This is something that I have not brought to most of your attention since it was a personal matter. However, it has now become public  because of a front page article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer last Saturday (story here)  and a related e-mail to ARCHE members.  

I figured there is no further reason to delay in making a plea for your prayers. During their courtship and earlier years of their marriage Bud and Bai have appeared to all to be a devout Catholic couple.  But now, Bud is filing for divorce with no apparent interest in working for reconciliation, while Bai is leaving no stone unturned in her efforts to keep her family intact. 

Please pray for Bud that his heart will be softened and open to reconciliation, for Bai that she would know what is the most wise and loving course of action, and for their four young boys who are caught in the middle of this sad situation.

Many of you may be particularly concerned about this unfortunate situation because of your positive experiences with the Bud and Bai's ministry through the Mary Foundation, CatholiCity, and Bud's novels such as Pierced by a Sword.   Many people who have benefited from the work of the ministry are confused and concerned. Another prayer intention would be for the good work of these ministries to be able to survive  and perhaps even be refined by this family crisis.

Surely there is only one "person" who will benefit from the dissolution of this marriage.  I  invite you to pray that he will be defeated decisively.

Thank you for your support,


Here is more from Bai's Sister:

Dear  Friend

Thank you for your prayers and your concern. Below  you will find some  items that Bai sent me that she would like to share with interested people and those who are supporting their ministry and marriage in prayer.  I know this is rather lengthy, so feel of course, do not feel obliged to read it all, but to use it as you think best.

Something that is kind of remarkably evolving from this suffering is my sister's being swept up into the "marriage movement", a force in the legal and  Church circles working to see that reference is given to keeping marriages intact rather than making divorce and annulment so easy.   Bai's whole purpose in doing an interview with the Plain Dealer was to heighten awareness of the weaknesses of the system.  (She never intended that Bud's name be in the article, nor that people would be able to figure out who they were.  She really wanted to remain
anonymous, but she was not allowed that option.  That's why she used her given name "Marie", a name by which she has never be known.) 

Bai has never been intimidated about fighting for what she believes is right, just one example of which was her being  thrown in jail years ago for protesting abortion.  There is  a  hope which I hold onto that some greater good may come out of all this pain. Many lives could be touched if the Macfarlanes' marriage is healed because so  many people know them and  have looked  up to them. 

In addition, with Bai's fighting spirit the system itself in whatever small or large way could be impacted for good, or at the very least other abandoned spouses may be encouraged and made aware of options that they didn't know were available to them.

I keep praying that Bud will have a St. Paul conversion experience and that Bai's suffering will not be in vain just as Joseph' s  (son of Jacob - colored coat) unjust treatment by his brothers ended up bringing about a greater good than if he had never suffered at all.

I have been truly amazed as people respond to me, with a new awareness of the tremendous amount of good that has come from Bud and Bai's work, and  the fact that those who have been touched by that good are not inclined to respond in anger, but rather in prayer. It's actually quite beautiful to see the mystical body of Christ in action.

Thank you again on behalf of Bai and our extended family,


Dear friends of the Mary Foundation

I do not know the true reason for Bud's recent behavior.  Of course I want an intact family for my children and myself and I pray and that Bud will eventually be inspired to discover the reasons he was unhappily married and work to solve our problems.

I also pray that his mysterious behavior will cause the minimum damage to those I love.  As co-founder of the Mary Foundation, I always have loved the Mary Foundation because I love what it does.  It disseminates high quality evangelical information to countless souls through the work of evangelizers who want to spread the good news, through audio recordings, cd's, books, and the internet.   Besides asking for prayers for our marital situation, I ask that evangelizers continue using good Mary Foundation information as they had in the past.

Some people have suggested that the Mary Foundation shouldn't survive because of Bud's behavior.

But I wonder, who REALLY runs the Mary Foundation.  Bud and I used to say it is MARY'S foundation;  we are just instruments.  If it is the devil's plan to destroy the good work of the Mary Foundation by somehow inspiring Bud to act so "contradictorily", then let the devil be tested.   If God allows the Mary Foundation to 'go down' under these circumstances, He can raise up other works, but I hope all of your prayers will melt Bud's heart, and the Mary Foundation can continue to do good work.

Holding on to Hope, while fighting fear,

Bai Macfarlane

Note from Sparki -- I include the following, but as a novice Catholic, I don't understand all of it myself. Comments welcome if you want to coach this baby Catholic along!

Spiritual warfare prayer recommended to family by priest; join in
praying exorcism prayer. Exorcism Against Satan and the Rebellious Angels

The following is a simple exorcism prayer that can be said by priests or laity. The term exorcism does NOT always denote a solemn exorcism involving a person possessed by the devil. In general, the term denotes prayers to curb the power of the devil and prevent him from doing harm.

As St. Peter had written in Holy Scripture, your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour. (1Peter 5:8)

The Holy Father exhorts priests to say this prayer as often as
possible, as a simple exorcism to curb the power of the devil and
prevent him from doing harm. The faithful also may say it in their own name, for the same purpose, as any approved prayer. Its use is recommended whenever action of the devil is suspected, causing malice in men, violent temptations and even storms and various calamities. It could be used as a solemn exorcism (an official and public ceremony, in Latin), to expel the devil. It would then be said by a priest, in the name of the Church and only with a Bishop's permission.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy   Ghost. 
In the Name of Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, strengthened by the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Blessed Michael the Archangel, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul and all the Saints, We confidently undertake to repulse the attacks and deceits of the devil.

PSALM 67: God arises; His enemies are scattered and those who hate Him flee before Him.  As smoke is driven away, so are they driven; as wax  melts before the fire, so the wicked perish at the presence of God.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord, flee bands of enemies.

R. He has conquered, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the offspring of David.

V. May thy mercy, Lord, descend upon us.

R. As great as our hope in Thee.

[The crosses { + } below indicate a blessing to be given if a priest recites the Exorcism; if a lay person recites it, they indicate the Sign of the Cross to be made silently by that person.]

We drive you from us, whoever you may be, unclean spirits, all satanic powers, all infernal invaders, all wicked legions, assemblies and sects; in the name and by the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ, + may you be snatched away and driven from the Church of God and from the souls made to the image and likeness of God and redeemed by the Precious Blood of the Divine Lamb.

+ Most cunning serpent, you shall no more dare to deceive the human race, persecute the Church, torment God's elect and sift them as wheat.

+ The Most High God commands you,

+ He with whom, in your great insolence, you still claim to be equal; He who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (I Tim., II,4).

+ God the Father commands you.

+ God the Son commands you.

+ God the Holy Ghost commands you.

+ Christ, God's Word made flesh, commands you;

+ He who to save our race outdone through your envy, humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death (Phil.,II,8);

+ He who has built His Church on the firm rock and declared that the gates of hell shall not prevail against Her, because He will dwell with Her all days even to the end of the world (Mat.,XXVIII,20).

+ The sacred Sign of the Cross commands you,

+ as does also the power of the mysteries of the Christian Faith.

+ The glorious Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, commands you.

+ The blood of the Martyrs and the pious intercession of all the Saints command you.

+ Thus, cursed dragon, and you, diabolical legions, we adjure you by the living God,

+  by the true God, 

+  by the holy God,

+  by the God who so loved the world that He gave up His only Son, that every soul believing in Him might not perish but have life everlasting (St.John,III); stop deceiving human creatures and pouring out to them the poison of eternal damnation; stop harming the Church and hindering her liberty.

+  Be gone, Satan, inventor and master of all deceit, enemy of man's salvation.

+  Give place to Christ in whom you have found none of your works; give place to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church acquired by Christ at the price of His Blood.

+  Stoop beneath the all-powerful Hand of God; tremble and flee when we invoke the Holy and terrible Name of Jesus, this Name which causes hell to tremble, this Name to which the Virtues, Powers and Dominations of heaven are humbly submissive, this Name which the Cherubim and Seraphim praise unceasingly repeating: Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord, the God of Armies.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.

R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

V. May the Lord be with thee.

R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray. - God of heaven, God of earth, God of Angels, God of Archangels, God of Patriarchs, God of Prophets, God of Apostles, God of Martyrs, God of Confessors, God of Virgins, God who has power to give life after death and rest after work, because there is no other God than Thee and there can be no other, for Thou art the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, of whose reign there shall be no end, we humbly prostrate ourselves before Thy glorious Majesty and we beseech Thee to deliver us by Thy power from all the tyranny of the infernal
spirits, from their snares, their lies and their furious wickedness;
deign, O Lord, to grant us Thy powerful protection and to keep us safe and sound. We beseech Thee through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen. +

+  From the snares of the devil, deliver us, O Lord.

+ That Thy Church may serve Thee in peace and liberty, we beseech Thee in peace and liberty, we beseech Thee to hear us.

+ That Thou may crush down all enemies of Thy Church, we beseech Thee to hear us.

(Holy water is sprinkled in the place where we may be.)
Imprimatur: = Henri, O.M.I., Vicar Apostolic of James Bay - Aug. 15,


I have been dragged by my circumstances into a growing "pro-marriage" movement, that is in some ways similar to the pro-life  movement.  To  visit a website that I (Bai) created to address the catastrophic state of affairs in divorce law visit a web site that she has created go to to help.



You are St Brigid's Cross: St. Brigid is an Irish
saint who hand-wove a cross,out of rushes she
found by the river. She made the cross while
explaining the passion of our Lord to a pagan

What Kind of Cross are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks to Alicia for the link to this quiz...


Monday, March 22, 2004

Beautiful Baby Blues Again!

Dare I say it? All the kids have their beautiful clear eyes again. It's so wonderful to see them without ooze covering their tear ducts. And I think we managed to keep from infecting anybody else.

Had to give up our circus tickets, though. We didn't mind so much. It was the annual Shrine Circus -- my husband's grandfather is a Shriner and buys us tickets every year. And then when we go, Grandma waits for us out front and takes us back to the money-counting room where Grandpa leaves his duties for the moment and shows off his great-grandchildren to the fellas. Then we usually just stay for the first half of the show, because our kids are so little. Edyn actually cried through it last year, because a clown scared her straight away and she was too nervous to settle down afterwards. So I stayed in the hall with her and I think we left even before intermission began.

The dicey part is, of course, because Catholics aren't supposed to join or contribute to secret societies like the Freemasons & Shriners. Of course, no money of ours goes to them -- Grandpa buys the tickets. But it still feels weird.

Actually, our local Catholic schools get free passes for all the children. One was sent home with Zooey this year. Our sponsors once wrote the local Diocese newspaper to find out if it was okay to go to the Shrine Circus if somebody was Catholic, and the vague answer they printed was something like, "Don't go if you feel guilty, and if you do go, remember that the Shriners do give free medical care to needy children."


Praying continually...

If you haven't yet popped over to From the Anchor Hold to welcome Karen Marie Knapp back to active blogging, today is a good day to do it. She has some excellent thoughts on continuous prayer that have inspired me today. Thanks, Karen!


Friday, March 19, 2004

St. Joseph, pray for us!

Great reading today over at Sed Contra about St. Joseph and the current need for dads in today's society. Thanks, David!


Like Mommy, Like Daughter...

As lousy as Edyn feels, she's still a typical toddler practicing to be a grown-up by imitating me. Zooey, of course, imitated my husband, so this is the first time I've had a child try to do everything I do.

I was nursing Laurel yesterday afternoon, and Edyn scooped up one of her baby dolls and plopped down beside me on the couch, put a pillow on her lap (I use a Boppy while nursing), and cradled the baby just so. I got this warm feeling in my heart watching Edyn "nurse" her baby doll. I was thinking my daughter was going to grow up understanding that moms nursed their babies and start out motherhood much more comfortable with the idea of breastfeeding than I did.

And then Edyn, realizing she lacks all the proper equipment for the moment, stuck her elbow in the baby doll's mouth.

Hey, an elbow is pointy, too.


The Good, the Pretty Good and the Ugly...

Zooey's pink-eye is all gone, so he happily went back to school today. So he's good. Laurel is almost completely gunk-free, so she's pretty good. Edyn, unfortunately, took a turn for the worse yesterday & now is incredibly gunky and irritated in both eyes. Poor little kid. She's actually asking to take naps and go to bed now, so you know she must feel lousy. And she's really tired of us washing out her eyes (with the baby shampoo solution recommended by the doctor). She takes her drops with no problem, so she must recognize that they are helping.

When I took Zooey to school today, the assistant teacher asked what had been wrong with him. I'd been calling him in, so I was surprised she didn't know. Either the office hadn't told the lead teacher, the lead teacher hadn't bothered to check with the office for who had been called in, or the lead teacher hadn't informed her assistants. Isn't that weird? I mean, this is my first school experience as a parent, so I don't know for sure, but it just seems odd that the information wouldn't get passed along. Especially since pink-eye is so contagious.


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Happy birthday, Dad!

Aside from being St. Patrick's Day, it's my father-in-law's 61st birthday. Yeah, I do call him Dad and with great affection. I really love the guy. Please take a second to say a prayer for him.



Just when I thought we were all healthy, Zooey brought pink eye home from school. He's got two blood-shot, red-rimmed eyes. Edyn's got one red-rimmed eye that's oozing, and poor little Laurel has one slightly oozy eye, too.

I guess I should be glad they all have it simultaneously, so as a family this thing will be over more rapidly.

Now I have to go call my friend Loretta, because Zooey was playing with her kids yesterday & probably infected them. Siiiiigh...


Tuesday, March 16, 2004

What’s a lopsided old chair got to do with anything?

At my dining room table, there’s a chair that nobody ever sits on. Well, not unless we’re hosting a birthday party or something and all the other seats are taken. It is a plain wooden kitchen chair, and though it is sturdily made and doesn’t wobble at all, it leans markedly to the left. Upon close inspection, you can see that each of the four legs is different in length, but the angle of each leg’s bottom surface is such that the chair sits evenly, and that’s why it doesn’t wobble.

Who would make such a chair? And why on earth would I keep it at my dining room table?

The chair was made by my great-great-grandfather, Henry Gephardt. It’s well over 125 years old, and Henry made it and its companions without the benefit of any power tools or store-bought pieces. He shaped each of the rungs by hand to taper at the ends, carved a little finial to top each side of the chair back, and I’m sure he made all four of the legs equal at the beginning.

But this chair sat at my great-great-grandparent’s dining room table, serving one of their sons. Four times a day, Henry and his sons would sit at that table to eat (yeah, four times a day. They ran a dairy farm in Wisconsin, so they ate breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper). And four times a day, his son would finish his meal, wipe his mouth on his napkin, and then push away from the table with his left hand, scraping the chair in an arc to give his long legs room to unfold. For years.

Henry’s daughter Agnes had married one of the hired hands – Ernst – and when Henry grew too old to farm properly, Ernst and Agnes took over the operation. They had three strapping sons of their own, Frank, Charles and George. When the original owner of the chair died, Charles was just big enough to start working the farm and sitting at the table with the grown-ups (the younger children were fed beforehand). As Charles grew, he mimicked his uncle’s habit of pushing away from the table with his left hand. And when Charles went away to fight in WWI, George was old enough to take his place and copy the motion yet again.

This wore the chair legs down, little by little, The right front chair leg barely moved, so it’s probably still about the same length as when Henry made the chair. The two left legs swung the farthest distance, so they are much shorter – a good two inches, I think, maybe more.

When George’s son lost the farm back in the 1970s, everything was sold at auction, and my grandmother bid on this chair uncontested. I think she got it for 50 cents. She treasured it because her grandfather made it and her beloved brother Charles sat on it at his last meal ever with the family -- he was killed in France during the war. It came to me when she died in 1998.

I keep it not only because my great-great-grandfather made it, but because it’s ugly and lopsided.

What I mean is, I was staring at that chair one day, wondering why I should keep such a worthless relic when I have other family memorabilia, when I realized that the chair is a metaphor for sin.

Oh, not the "biggy" sins like murder or adultery. Those are easy to spot. The chair is like the sins that really get you. A bit of gossip here, a "harmless little lie" there. A fit of bad temper that is justified by lack of (a) sleep, (b) food, (c) time, (d) appreciation, (e) other. The "little" sins that I barely notice I’m committing.

Just like pushing the chair away from the table after one meal doesn’t show much wear, these sins don’t seem to amount for much. Until you start adding them up. So in the first year or five years or ten years of meals, that chair probably looked pretty much like all the others Henry Gephardt had made. But after 20 years … 30 years…50 years – you can see how much damage is done.

So I keep the chair in my dining room to remind me about this fact. The little sins that I would like to think "don’t count" are actually wearing away at my soul. Maybe they are making it easier for me to sin in other ways. Maybe they are making it easier for me to ignore my duties to my family, my neighbors, my Church, my Lord and Savior. Whatever, the long-term effect is that my soul is becoming distorted and ugly, a far cry from the original design planned by my Maker.

And so, though it takes effort and risks embarrassment and a whole host of other unpleasant emotions, I must take my sins before the Lord, preferably in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and allow Him to help repair the damage done, no matter how miniscule it might seem.


Birthday Blessings...

Please join me in wishing M'Lynn of Scattershot Direct a happy birthday and praying for heaps of blessings to rain down on her and her family.


Monday, March 15, 2004

Evil has no denomination

We decided to convert to Catholicism pretty much at the height of the clergy sex abuse scandal, and a lot of our Protestant friends thought we were nuts. "How will you protect your kids?" they wondered.

I said it then and I'll say it again -- I'll protect them in the Catholic Church the same way I'd protect them in any Protestant church, because evil has no denomination. Pedophiles set themselves up in jobs or volunteer work that enables them to gain the trust of parents so that they can get their victims alone. The Catholic priesthood is one such position. But one of many -- any clergy role will do. As will teaching, scout leadership, counseling, etc.

I'm sorry to report that a minister/scout leader has been charged right here in my own city. And guess what -- he was previously convicted in another state 30 years ago.

I don't care where you live or what religion you are -- you have to protect your kids against pedophiles. You have to actively protect them, because you never know where these creeps are lurking.


My poor brother-in-law...

He totalled his van this morning on his 110-mile commute to work. Yes, that's one way. It's rain-mixed-with-snow today, and I guess he started hydroplaning and lost control. The van is a total loss, but he's okay.

He really doesn't need this right now. Siiiigh...

Anyway, if you could pray for him, we'd all appreciate it.


Contraception's Repercussions

Head over to Amy Welborn's blog if you want to participate in a discussion about this interesting opinion piece regarding why the Pill and other forms of artificial contraception have made same-sex marriage inevitable.


Sad situation...

I am very troubled by the case of the Utah woman who refused a c-section and lost one of her twins, but like Alicia, who has some very sensible things to say, I feel like I need to get more facts before I settle on any opinion.


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Miscellaneous Updates

We're all healthy, for the most part. My husband is just getting rid the last of it. Edyn's nose is still runny, but that could be due to allergies. We have samples of kiddie Zyrtec to give her, but I'm not sure I'm ready to put a 20-month-old on allergy meds when most of the time, she has no complaints.

Laurel had her two-month check-up today and was deemed healthy, 50% for height, weight and head circumference. I've never had a baby match the same percentage across the board. Zooey with the broad chest he inherited from his very Irish dad and voracious appetite was always 50% for height and 90% or more for weight, then 75% for head. Edyn was always 75% for height and 25% for weight and head. Anyway, they're all healthy and just right for them, so who cares what the charts say.

My husband's new job is going pretty well, despite the fact that three weeks into it, he ended up getting one of the employees fired. The guy was dishonest but cagey enough that the people who worked with him for 2 years didn't really notice. My husband spied the problem straight away (a fresh perspective does wonders) and then had a customer complain to him about it, so there was nothing else to do but go to the store owner. The canned employee raged and threatened, which was regrettable, but all has settled down now.

In the evenings, my husband has had a worship band from the protestant Chi Alpha group come to the house to record a worship album in the basement studio. It's pretty good money and the band is pretty good. The keyboard player/backup singer came last night. Turns out he's married to one of my former junior high students. I always forget that they're all old enough to be in college and/or married now.

My brother-in-law, whom so many of you have been kindly praying for, is at his new job designing fire trucks and related equipment. His wife had him served with divorce papers two weeks ago. She's suing for primary custody of their daughter, so he's gone ahead and hired the best lawyer he could find. I think it's going to get ugly. Heidi keeps making promises that she'll sign a paper giving him this or that right, but she's got an attorney who won't let that happen, I'm sure.

Maddie (their 3-yr-old daughter) is on shaky ground, as you can imagine. We saw her the other day and when it was time to say good-bye, she pitched an enormous fit, even though she'd been warned at 30-, 15-, 10- and 5-minute marks that she would soon be leaving. It's understandable. That kid's whole life is about saying good-bye these days. Say good-bye to Daddy...three days with Mommy, then say good-bye to her and hang out with Grandma and Grandpa for the day...then say good-bye to them and go to Daddy's for three days. Repeat. Repeat again. Keep on repeating till your heart is as broken as your family is.

Hmmm...I'm getting editorial there. But I really feel for the kid. You hate to see any marriage fall apart, but when there is a child or children involved and you have to watch their anxiety and panic stemming from that unanswered, desperate need for everything to be normal again -- ugh! Pray for her. She's got it rough already and the custody battle hasn't even started yet.

Finally, good news (sort of) on the drought front. With all the moisture since the first of the year, we've been officially moved into "abnormally dry" instead of "first-stage drought." Haven't been here in at least four years. But we've got to have a goodly portion of spring rain in order to maintain that, let alone kick it back into "normal." In the meantime, the spring seed deliveries have begun and farmers are readying their equipment. Planting should begin in earnest in about 5 or 6 weeks around here. I'll keep you posted (whether you like it or not, ha ha ha).


Monday, March 08, 2004

Happy Birthday... day after the fact, to Davey (son of the bloggers at Chirp and Honk), who is now two years old! Davey's a bit under the weather, so please pray for him.


Friday, March 05, 2004

Political Ick…

Well, Nebraska’s stance on the death penalty is in the news again. We happen to be the only remaining state to use an electric chair exclusively to put convicted murderers to death. A few other states have electric chairs, but also things like lethal injection.

Our legislature is looking into adding other options, because at any moment, the Supreme Court could declare electric chairs "cruel and unusual punishment" which would leave us without any means of killing our murderers at all. There’s a bill on the table, I guess.

Nebraska’s legislature works differently than other states. We have a unicameral or single-house system. That means that a bill only need be ratified once, rather than approved by both a House of Representatives and a Senate, such as at the federal level. This cuts down on gridlock. Also, our unicameral senators do not have party affiliations. Every one of them is an independent, which actually cuts down on gridlock, too. And finally, our legislature only meets for 60 working days on the even years (like this one) and 90 working days on the odd years.

All this makes for efficiency and helps Nebraska run on a shoestring budget. It also makes fertile ground for our freak of a senator, Ernie Chambers.

Ernie would not mind me calling him a freak. He wants to be a freak. He is non-conformist to the max. He wears sweats to legislative sessions. He makes outlandish statements to get press coverage. Since I’ve been in office, the man has not sponsored one functional bill, nor leant himself to any cause other than utterly ridiculous ones. I mean, he equates college football with slavery and has actually tried to get the state government to recognize that the "white elitists" are "enslaving young black men" for the sake of entertainment. Last year, he introduced three bills about rights for pets in honor of his recently deceased kitty and gave long, tearful speeches about poor Mollie or Maggie or whatever her name was.

I have a sneaking suspicion that back in the 60s, Ernie went to a showing of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington while he was high. Because he seems to think that the best thing he can do is stage a filibuster. He does it all the time. And I mean all the time. He doesn’t appear to be capable of anything constructive, so he just brings the legislature to a grinding halt.

Ernie has promised to do this again on the death penalty issue. He knows that most folks in Nebraska want the death penalty, so there’s no point in trying to get it voted away. So his goal is to block any legislation that would bring an alternative to the electric chair. Then the U.S. will declare the electric chair unlawful and bingo, no more death penalty in Nebraska.

I gotta tell you, this is one time that I hope Ernie succeeds.

I hear people on the local radio talk shows discussing why we need lethal injection as though it doesn’t involve the death of a fellow human being. Somehow, they all manage to keep that fact at arm’s length. They discuss it calmly and rationally, as though they were talking about butchering cattle or combating a virus.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not on the murderer’s side here. I just don’t think that folks should calmly try to shove other people prematurely into hell. Which is pretty much what the death penalty is, to hear folks talk about it. "Give him what he deserves…" and all that.

It’s vengeance.

It’s trying to play God.

Okay, so there are some people who are genuinely more concerned about safeguarding the rest of society, rather than vengeance. And yeah, that’s a real concern when you’ve got somebody who has chronic murderous tendencies.

But you mean to tell me that there is absolutely no way to keep such a person in prison, what with our modern surveillance devices, etc.? It’s not like these convicts have superhuman powers that enable them to become invisible or turn themselves into goo and escape by dripping down the pipes. Seriously, if all folks want is to keep the rest of us safe, I think you can accomplish that without the death penalty.

When you kill somebody – even if that somebody is a murderer – you deny God the ability to lead that person to holiness in this life. I don’t think that we, as a society, should do that.

I don’t have any other solution, other than prison. And I know that prison is an expensive undertaking for each citizen.

A long time ago, somebody told me that the Mexican prison system was such that each prison got the minimum of housing, clothing, food and toiletries, and if a prisoner wanted more than that, it was up to his/her family, friends or lawyer to provide it.

I don’t know if that’s still true (or ever was true) or not, but it is an intriguing thought. What if society gave the prisoner a cell, a mattress, two sets of clothing, some basic toiletries and three small meals a day, and that was it? If the prisoner wanted more than that, it must be paid for by the prisoner or family or whomever, but the taxpayers wouldn’t be burdened by it.

Well, anyway. I’m no expert in criminal justice. And just like most Nebraskans, I’m capable of not thinking too much about capital punishment. But when I do, I find it appalling that people can blithely discuss the best way to kill a fellow human being, as if they were discussing slaughtering cattle or weeding a garden. I hear people talk about putting sick animals down with more compassion than they refer to the death penalty.

So I hope Ernie’s up for a nice long speech and gets his way this time. And I suspect our Governor Mike Johanns – who is a pro-life Catholic but belongs to the pro-death penalty Republican party – might just be silently cheering Ernie on, too.


Why Stain Removers are a Mom's Best Friend

Downtown after picking Zooey up from preschool, I saw two busloads of elementary school kids (3rd, 4th & 5th grade, I think) in matching white shirts and black pants (some skirts) filing into a spaghetti restaurant.

I still can't eat spaghetti while wearing a white shirt without staining it, and I'm 39 years old! I'm sure they're from an area Catholic school...they certainly had an alternative to the white shirts in their uniform code. If they are from North American Martyrs (the only school I know of to require black trousers/skirts), they also have burgundy and grey shirts...either of which would hide tomato sauce splatters much better.

Remind me of this when Zooey is old enough to go on field trips in matching shirts.

BTW, we're healthier for the most part. No more fevers. Just a lot of coughing. Laurel too, but she hasn't had a fever at all, her cough seems to be productive and she isn't having any trouble breathing. So I guess we're okay.


Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Sickness and Health...

Zooey is over his malaise. Just in time for the rest of us to come down with it. Zooey has been fever-free since Friday afternoon and was actually bouncing off the walls on Saturday. So he's back in school and having the time of his life.

My husband started to come down with it on Sunday. Laurel also started to get a little congested. And yesterday, I felt a sore throat and headache coming on, then looked at little Edyn about 6 p.m. and realized that she was feverish. 103.9, actually. But a dose of acetominophen and an hour later, she was her usually exhuberant self again. In fact, she stayed up till almost midnight while my husband dozed in the easy chair, waiting for her to drop off so he could take some Ny-Quil or something like that. I'd taken Laurel to bed an hour earlier, but she wasn't tired, either, so I dozed while she lay next to me, gripping my finger and staring at my face.

This a.m., my husband is a hacking mess, but I'm up and about, sipping lemon tea and trying to at least act healthy. My husband always seems to get things worse than I do. Edyn's still asleep, and Laurel is still congested, but no worse than yesterday. Hopefully she'll have a light case of this. I still worry about RSV, since she had a rough start at birth and I've been warned repeatedly by the doctor to watch out for it. But so far, I think she's okay.

Prayers more than welcome, and if you offer any for us, please remember M'Lynn and her family, who seem to have the same sort of thing.


Monday, March 01, 2004

Just so you know I haven't completely lost my sense of humor...

I did one of those quirkly little quizes today. Apparently, I'm 88% compatible with M'Lynn over at Scattershot Direct.

I'm an irredeemably eejitous, moderate, disgustingly generous, relatively well adjusted human being!
See how compatible you are with me!
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey


Thoughts for Lent

Fr. W, pastor of our parish, had some excellent things to say yesterday, and I thought I’d share one with you, because it was so helpful to me.

Yesterday’s Gospel reading, as I'm sure you remember, was on Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Fr. W took each temptation (turn stone to bread, take control of the kingdoms of the world, count on angelic rescue) and analyzed them a bit. He said something about the temptation of bread that I had never thought of before.

It was the end of Jesus’ fast (Luke 4:2 "He ate nothing during these days, and at the end of them, He was hungry.") Jesus was on His way back to civilization -- He could be sitting down for a meal in an hour or two, tops. So when satan came to Him and said "Turn this stone into bread," it was a matter of patience. Satan was counting on Christ to be impatient for food and thus to misuse His command.

And this is the temptation that we face so often in our modern society. On Fridays during Lent, we might be tempted to indulge in meat. Rather silly, really, since we can have our meat in just a matter of hours. But how easy it is to be swayed!

Likewise, things like premarital sex are common in our culture because people don’t want to wait until marriage. People steal because they don’t want to wait and work for the money to get whatever item they want. Others rack up huge amounts of debt at horrible interest rates because they don’t want to wait long enough to use their resources responsibly.

I could go on, but better to focus on the solution. Since such temptations prey on our impatience, Fr. W. says, the answer is to pray for an increase of love. Because as we read in I Corinthians 13:1, "Love is patient." Jesus, being perfect in love, was able to withstand satan’s temptation and wait a little more time to eat.

Being the Queen of Impatience, I found this to be a most helpful hint, not just for Lent but forever. I hope any of you who suffer from the same skewed perspective will find hope and help in Fr. W’s teaching as well.