Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What We Are Reading Wednesday: (01.29.2014)

Big news this week: I finished reading Daring Greatly. It is not even the end of January yet! So here are a few thoughts and highlights for you.

Guess where I poached this from?

This is totally not my kind of book. It was getting some seriously good press from some Cathsorority ladies, and so I wanted to give it a shot. I am glad that I did for a few reasons:

1. There is a great section that sheds a little more light on the subject of men and pornography that I had not considered prior to reading the book. As Brown is a self-described shame researcher, I could have anticipated this, but I didn't. Slammed me upside the head like a two-by-four. It is interesting to step outside of the "porn is an industry that harms women!" protest to remember that shame effects men as well. 

2. I enjoyed the section on disengagement as well. Brown notes the connection between shame and disengaging: politically, religiously, and in relationships. This made me think about how our media has latched on to Pope Francis. In a world where so many feel unconnected to leaders, our wonderful Pope Francis is renewing that connection. People outside the church see him as a leader and can identify with him.

3. Brown also write about parenting and leadership in a corporate/work setting. As much as I did not think I was going to ever read a parenting book, I read a parenting book. I also picked up a few tricks!

You can find Brown's manifestos on her site. If you are like me and have to fight for reading time, it might be easier to peruse her site, and catch snippets that way.

I started reading Pope Awesome last night. I can't put it down!  As a cradle Catholic, conversion stories suck me in. I love to hear about how people find the Catholic Church.

In an effort to remember to read more with the kids, we moved some of the books downstairs. The BabyLit books are clear favorites. My daughter insists on reading Anna Karenina every day. 

There you have it: what we are reading. Check out more over at:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

2014 Sheenazing Blogger Awards

It is that time of the year again. Where I wake up one morning to discover the blog has been nominated for a really awesome award and I had no idea!

And here is why I am surprised to be nominated:

Yep. A good number of folks searching for things on the Internet that end up here are looking for boobs. So it is a most pleasant surprise to find out that there are other folks that read and continue to support this small project.

So, head over to A Knotted Life. Peruse the blogs nominated. (Seriously, there are some really fantastic blogs listed.) 

Yours truly was nominated for a few categories this year: Best Under-appreciated Blog and Smartest Blog. You could also sort of vote for me by casting a vote for The Guiding Star Project in the Best Blog By A Non Papist category.

So go forth. Vote. And it truly is an honor to be nominated. Thank you for the nom!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I had an odd lesson in coping today, courtesy of my children. Today, the older two children had dentist appointments. It was the first time for my two year old daughter. This week, I have been observing her interactions with other children and people outside of our family: she is quiet and reserved. She speaks to other adults about the things she knows: her mom, her brothers, and how her older brother is her only friend. Then today, she ran up to every child she saw in the waiting room and introduced herself and her brothers: the very picture of an extrovert.

My oldest son never stops talking. He understands the concept of doctor and dental check ups, and that it means he usually ends up with a prize for behaving. He made the office staff laugh as he counted his seventy teeth, and told them all how he will have a loose tooth soon, and the Tooth Fairy will bring him a Hot Wheel. Nothing seems to make him nervous. When he is scared, he talks to reassure himself or to gain more information.

When it was my daughter's turn, they called her over. Her head went down, and she obeyed every instruction. She was silent. No smiles, no laughing: stoicism at its finest. When she was done, she got down and ran over to play, laughing and giggling as though she had flipped a switch. It was painful for me to see her that nervous, and to react the way that I do.

I know that she is only two, and that it very well could have been yet another character in her on-going comedic tragedy. The girl has some mad drama skills. But I saw a look in her eyes that told me otherwise. She was incredibly nervous, but wanted no one to detect a weakness.

My children reacted very differently to the same, harmless situation today. Imagine for a moment, the varied reactions humans are capable of when the stakes are higher, say in a situation of abuse.

My time as an advocate proved this same thing time and again. Some women were stoic and just wanted to get back to work or to something that made sense. Some women laughed and joked to cover pain. And still others fell apart, and needed real time to grieve and plan their next move. Some drank heavily, some ate heavily, some were angry and abusive in turn. Some covered their emotions, some were eager to please and some were set off by the slightest sense of injustice.

We ask why women in abusive situations stay with their partners. We ask why sexual assault survivors were wearing a skirt or out late at night or at a party drinking. We blame women for the violence and then we blame them for trying to find a familiar way of coping with that pain and grief when they are coping alone. We encourage abortion and rage against women for "allowing children to be born into a situation" but we do nothing to end the violence or support them in coping if they do not cope in a pleasing manner.

What if my daughter had cried and thrashed while having her teeth cleaned? She would have certainly been less pleasing to the staff. We wouldn't have faulted her for being scared though. So why do we fault women when they are scared and seeking healthy ways of coping with trauma instead of supporting them and standing up to the violence?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Popes and Politics

I read this piece this morning, and have some thoughts. You can go read it as well, but in sum, a self-described liberal Catholic predicted things about Pope Francis and now he isn't seeing it come to fruition, so he is trying to figure out why he was wrong, and he seems to pin it on doctrine not mattering as much as social connections for liberal Catholics. This is where the author is primarily mistaken:

Don't worry if you cannot read it. It would just induce a rage tornado.

The above graph did not come from the piece I read this morning, but it is relevant to my point. I do not like to identify faithful Catholics as merely liberal or conservative. I look at charts or infographs such as the one above and start arguing with myself: "But I like fairness AND freedom. I like science AND theism." Then my head implodes because my first and most important identification is not with an American political party, but with something much bigger than that. I believe that following the teachings of the church allows for a foot in each camp: our beliefs simply cannot be identified using American political lingo. That isn't to say we cannot lean different ways and all still be in line with Church teaching. It means the terminology fails to encompass the entirety of the Catholic faith.

Next, the author posits that doctrine must not be important to Catholics that do not seem to agree with Church teaching, yet still go to Mass and profess to be Catholic. This leads me to wonder how many people look for social reasons to belong to a church versus doctrinal reasons?  We are all sinners. We all have our own areas in which we fail to do what we believe is the right thing to do, and that looks different for every person. We all want to feel a sense of belonging and community (most of the time). Does that mean doctrine eventually gets thrown out of the window in favor of human connection? I am Catholic because of doctrine, and natural law, and morality, and theology, and, and, and... I believe what the Catholic Church teaches. I struggle with understanding it at times and seek deeper understanding. I also have had times where I felt put out socially by the Church. (Ever try to baptize a baby when you can count on one hand the number of people you know that meet the guidelines for a Godparent?) What keeps me Catholic and in love with my faith, is the logic. The doctrine matters to me.

Now, on to the popes.

Thanks, Catholic Memes. 

I will admit it: I get a little bristly when I hear people that tend to hate on the Catholic Church talk about how much they love Pope Francis. At least, I did. It was upsetting, because I loved Pope John Paul II. His writings on sexuality and economics (not typically together, ha!) are fascinating. He radiated love. He was my pope for most of my life. Pope Benedict XVI was a fine example of someone that specialized in endurance. His papacy was not easy, and he showed great courage in stepping down. Pope Francis just was the last shot of a fabulous hat trick for many Catholics. They all have different leadership strengths, and all have made me proud to be Catholic. 

So, is the difference in Pope Francis versus previous popes that he is saying the same thing, but people just believe that he loves all when he says it? What is the threshold there... what determines someone means what they say? All three popes have preached love and acceptance, but used different words. My take away from all three pontiffs has been the same: I am called to be a witness to Christ, and to love others. I am not called to merely tolerate those different than me: I am called to love. 

I do not feel annoyed anymore by the great love for Pope Francis. Why should I? He is doing a fantastic job of showing the world why I love the Catholic Faith. 

The author ends his piece by asking the question: When does a church without a doctrine cease to be a church at all?

This question (and the article) seems to pit doctrine against community, or attachment. I do not think it has to be one or the other. I believe our generation of Catholics has the monumental task of rejuvenating catechetics. Too may of us do not know why we believe what we believe: how can we be expected to be a witness to those that are not Catholic? The why is an important step in our actions speaking louder than words. Pope Francis seems up to this challenge.

So I issue a thank you to our Pope. I thank him for being the shining example we needed of love, and I really thank him for his joy and humor. He brings so many of us hope.

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Friday, January 10, 2014


Without getting too specific:

Be strong and confident in your faith and who you are. Embrace others that are different from you and know that you will learn from those that are not carbon copies of yourself.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Five Favorites: (01.08.2014)

2014 Catholic Bloggers Link-Up Blitz

Today, I am linking up with Moxie Wife for Five Favorites, and The Catholic Bloggers Network for the Catholic Blogger's Blitz. That is how I roll. 

I have come across some really special Catholic items lately, and wanted to share with you all. I work to incorporate our faith into my daily interactions with the kids, and sometimes you just need some visual aids!

This one is sort of a funny story. Right before we made the move to Texas, my one and only crucifix broke. Jesus' nails came out, literally. He was only hanging on by His feet. I had the two, tiny nails and I was going to repair Him once we moved, but they have disappeared. Anyway, I was looking to show a little school spirit and browsed my college's gift store for a Benedictine-inspired crucifix, but was unimpressed. I promptly forgot about it until I opened my Christmas present from my Mom.

Yep. That is the Benedictine medal. She didn't even realize that is what it was. Total, happy, blessed accident. God is wonderful. (My mom is pretty rad, too!)

Tiny Saints are the cutest thing ever. Krystin at My Clones in Action once clicked on something related to the Tiny Saints Facebook page and they are just the cutest, tiniest things! Case in point:
The coolest thing? They have rosaries, and bracelets (Including one with all female saints.) , and a necklace to put the charms on. All kid-friendly and priced fantastically! I am looking for ways to start to introduce the Communion of Saints to the kids, and I will take all of them, please. The stories of the saints have made such an impact on my life that I want to teach my children from the start that asking the saints to pray with us is a beautiful thing. (I need the reminder as well!)

Catholic artists. I keep seeing this print circulating, and I always stop to admire the beauty of the painting and the subject matter.

The artist talks about Our Blessed Mother and Adoration in her comments on the piece and it gives me an entirely new way to look at the print! I love that the Catholic Church acknowledges women in the grand way that we do. Women and men both have important roles in our Church history, present, and future. What a beautiful reminder!


.When I taught Totus Tuus, I had The Pieta Prayer Book (readily available at most Catholic bookstores) and I prayed the Prayer to St. Joseph (Prayer Through? Prayer with? Hmmm....) I read it often without connecting that it was a novena...

...Fast forward to last January, and I began my novena praying with Mary Undoer of Knots. It was a doozy of an experience, but truly lovely. Novenas. For real. I am new to the novena crowd, mostly because I have a hard time remembering to do anything, except eat, nine days in a row. The experience of praying a novena (for me, at least) is one of change. I always start off with a set intention, and it is rather incredible to see how that intention morphs and molds into something so incredibly less selfish than the intention with which I began. I'll say it again: God is incredible.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Long Loneliness: A Review of Sorts

To be honest, I am not much one for book reviews. I tend to assume I can figure out if I will like a book or not, and I am usually right. I can only think of one exception, so I am not going to rave or wave on this book, but I did want to share a few "Aha!" moments that I felt while reading Dorothy Day's autobiography, because wow. I am still thinking about them. 

This passage just grabs me. Often, I find myself struggling in my faith: not understanding, trying to understand, forgetting what I thought I understood. Reading this and being reminded that we humans are not just "one dimension" is refreshing. We have bodies and minds and souls. So often our society focuses just on the physical and yet there is so much more to our existence. 


Day's incredibly brave and difficult decision to choose Catholicism over the love of her life RIPS ME UP.  She says, "To become Catholic meant for me to give up a mate with whom I was much in love. It got to the point where it was a simple question of whether I chose God or man." Wow. Not going to lie. I teared up thinking about whether or not I could have made that decision. Sure, I made the decision time and time again while dating, but what if I would have had to make that choice when it was THE man? 


Day beautifully described the ambivalence a Catholic like me sometimes feels about the human Church when she wrote about her feelings on the Church during her conversion. "'The worst enemies would be those of our own household.'" To hear that the struggle of loving the faith and being frustrated with how we practice our faith is so timeless gives me some hope. 


Dorothy Day also describes a peculiar, yet familiar scene under a section she titled, "Community." 
One of the great German Protestant theologians said after the end of the last war that what the world needed was community and liturgy.
The desire for liturgy, and I suppose he meant sacrifice, worship, a sense of reverence, is being awakened in great masses of people throughout the world by the new revolutionary leaders. A sense of individual worth and dignity is the first result of the call made on them to enlist their physical and spiritual capacities in the struggle for a life more in keeping with the dignity of man. One might also say that the need to worship grows in them with the sense of reverence, so the sad result is giant-sized posters of Lenin and Stalin, Tito and Mao. The dictator becomes divine.
 Does history repeat itself? Do we acknowledge it is repeating itself while it is happening? I am struck by the similarities between what Day describes and our current political climate and affiliations. Large posters of our President and other candidates. Social media clamoring with a near worship-level of allegiance to parties instead of the needs of our fellow men and women.


"Every Catholic faced with great need starts a novena."


I am so glad that I read this book. My interest in all things Catholic and feminist is growing, and to read about Dorothy Day's life in her own words was refreshing and motivating. Because she fits today's definition of feminist, but she really just believes in the equal and inherent dignity with which ALL humans are created. So, go add it to your list. Or at least read a bunch of quotes from her or look her up on Wikipedia. She pretty much is amazing.

Also, if you haven't joined the party on Facebook, come join.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My "Most" Posts for 2013

Hopping on to the "Most" Posts of 2013 link up this morning!

Post with the most clicks

By far, the post with the most clicks in 2013 was Victoria's Secret Alternatives.

Post with the most comments

This was a tie for two WIWS posts. Hmm. Maybe I should just be a fashion blogger.

WIWS (01.06.2013)

WIWS (01.27.2013)

Post with the best picture

I think my post Five Favorites (08.21.2013) Baby Items has two of my favorite photos ever.

Post that was hardest to write

I worked fairly hard on a set of posts that discuss women and the workforce. Hard, because that kind of thing doesn't get much attention, and hard because my thoughts are not fully developed on the subject.

Part One (I can't bring myself to write the lame-o titles.)

Part Two

Post that was your personal favorite (not your readers' favorite- your favorite)

I am a big fat cheater, and there are two posts that I cannot choose between. One post I wrote for The Guiding Star Project, but wrote up the full text on the blog, and the other features my daughter.


Full Text for A Sexual Assault Conversation: Part Two

Now head over the link up and pick up some new blogs!