New location, same inspiration

Last summer I completed the training to be an online instructor for http://www.CatholicMarriagePrep.com. It has been an incredible experience so far, to journey with engaged couples in an understanding of God’s plan for marriage, through the details of the Sacrament, and finally on the Relationship Tools to give them a strong foundation for their marriage. logo final cmp print fond blanc version2

I am so blessed to be a part of this ministry, and I strongly believe in their vision for preparing Catholic couples for marriage (dedicated to the building of strong, christ-centered marriages). But of course, marriage is a journey, not a destination. Our destination is heaven, and marriage helps us get there.

Therefore, I am excited to start blogging for the www.catholicmarriageprep.com/blog to share my spiritual insights with all couples who have just started the journey or who have been traveling for a while 🙂 My first post went up last week on Loving God Through Marriage, and you can see it here:
http://www.catholicmarriageprep.com/blog/entry/loving-god-through-marriage

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I will no longer be posting to this site, so please make sure to subscribe to Catholic Marriage Prep’s blog so you don’t miss out on any of the great content! You can subscribe by clicking this icon in the black bar at the top of the page:
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Thanks to all of you who have followed my interiorhouselife blog over the last 2 years, and I hope that the marriage prep blog will be able to bless so many more people!

Gun Control: Pro-Life or Anti-Suffering?

I know the shooting at Roseburg happened weeks ago, and is “old news” in the media world, but those wounds never go away. As such, it has taken me weeks to work through these thoughts and type them out. So, here goes:

I was disheartened by the news of the shooting in Roseburg. So much more tragedy, senseless shootings, and death.

I was also surprised about how many people voiced up about needing more gun control laws, people who are also for abortion and for assisted suicide. I was confused on how one could be upset about the loss of life in a mass shooting at a college (which I am, too), but actively support the loss of life in the womb, in sickness, and in the elderly.

I realized it comes from a false sense of compassion. We as a society hate suffering. I think for some it is the ultimate goal in life: to not suffer. A child in the womb who is going to have a disability or disease? Doctors advise mothers to end the life before it really begins. Or, who was unintentionally conceived and has the potential to be “unloved?” It’s a mother’s choice, apparently. A terminally ill patient? Assisted suicide, because suffering is the worst thing that can befall a person. An elderly person who can hardly get around? We find them to be a burden on society, not considering what they’ve given in their lifetime or the wisdom they’ve amassed.

But then there is a shooting on a college campus. Teenagers, barely adults. In the prime of their life, having done nothing to deserve death, studying to get an education to be tax-payers and maybe parents someday. That’s when people get vocal about morality. Somehow, these lives are more valuable? I guess to some, shootings are the real tragedy because ending the lives of the suffering doesn’t matter?

Whoopi Goldberg on “The View” doesn’t get it. “Should abortion be equated with gun violence?” she asks. Well, the bottom line is yes, because a life is intentionally being ended.

To me, and to the Church, they are all the same. They are all tragedies, because life has been taken. It is not our place to play God and to decide who lives or dies based on how much they are suffering or how much we think they will suffer. Perhaps some of these mass murderers have thought they are ending other people’s suffering? As confusing as it is, deciding the value of life based on suffering is a slippery slope.

This is not a political blog. To be honest, I’m not sure what the answer is to the violence besieging our country. I do suspect that it is a combination of laws, mental health, and moral reform. I don’t think one reform independent of the others will be enough. The fact that the Roseburg shooter asked victim’s religion is also disturbing, considering that the current cultural climate is so hostile to faith.

As Pope Francis has so deftly demonstrated, respect for life does not fit neatly into left or right, liberal or conservative. Undocumented workers’ lives are worth respect. Unborn life is worth respect. Muslim refugees’ lives are worth respect. The handicapped, the elderly, the patient with cancer or a brain tumor – their lives are worth respect. Criminals in prison – even on death row- their lives are worth respect. The Church has always faithfully taught that every life is precious.

So what are our families to do? How can our families promote respect for all life? First of all, this quote:

mother teresa quote

Also, I think we must teach our kids to respect all life by our witness. By donating food to soup kitchens, praying for the imprisoned, visiting a nursing home. To do anything and everything to cultivate the conviction that life is worth respect, at any stage and for everyone.

As Christians, we also need to struggle to understand the value of suffering, so we can be convicted of its purpose. To the goal of life is not to avoid suffering, it’s to accept suffering as our path to heaven. It’s not an easy topic, and may take a lifetime to grasp. But here is could good place to start: Peter Kreeft on God’s Answer to Suffering: http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/suffering.htm

Sex Ed Starts At Birth

(writer’s note: this short blog post is not meant to be a comprehensive plan for sex ed. These are just some thoughts about raising kids that hopefully will inspire you to further reflection and education on the subject.)

I recently came across this article on the PBS website called The Case for Starting Sex Education in Kindergarten.

It explains the comprehensive sex ed program taught in schools in the Netherlands. I was pretty horrified by the content of the country-mandated program, but what they do have right is the idea that sexuality is part of who you are and shouldn’t be avoided. In kindergarten they aren’t using the word “sex” and instead are talking more about feelings and identity in the early years, but it got me thinking that really we should be starting sex ed at birth.

It's a girl!

It’s a girl!

Because, with the exception of a very small percentage of people, you are born with male or female parts, and that’s a good place to begin. You are born male or female, and your sexuality is a part of who you are. God made your body, so it’s good. In fact, our male or female bodies are meant to be a visible image of certain aspects of the person of God, equal but complimentary. You were loved into being by God, you are born to be loved by your parents, and you were made to love others. Your whole life is meant to be about true, self-giving love. And sexuality is tied to love.

You first learn to love in a self-giving way in your family. Giving hugs and kisses to your parents, sharing toys with siblings, and obeying and growing in responsibility. My husband and I were talking yesterday about how it’s important that kids see their parents be affectionate with each other, because this is where they learn. The family is the first school- for many things, including “sex ed.”

There is a lot of gender confusion in our society, so as babies grow, parents should help them see how their masculinity or femininity helps them in relation to others and to God. Not all girls need to wear princess dresses to be fully feminine (I preferred shorts) and not all boys need to like weapons (though if they do that’s okay!) to be fully masculine. But you are either male or female, so even though your hobbies and interests and feelings change over time, your physical parts wont and therefore neither will the core of your identity.

Lastly, parents should tell their girls they are beautiful and guys that they are handsome and strong. Give them a solid foundation for their self-image. Because as you approach adolescence, the sex conversation will have to change and their self-esteem will be under attack. But at least you’ve given them a good foundation. Which will lead me to my next blog post, so stay tuned!

“The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible, the spiritual and divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the invisible mystery hidden in God from time immemorial, and thus to be a sign of it” (St. John Paul II, Feb 20, 1980).

Don’t Whine in Prayer: Use your words and ask!

There’s been a lot of crying and whining in our house lately. And not just from me. Mostly from the 2 and 4 year olds but even the baby has been joining in. When they are upset, they don’t say, “Mommy, I’m having a hard time opening this box. Will you please do it for me?” They simply throw themselves on the ground and start screaming. How in the world can I help them when I don’t know what it is they want? I have been trying to teach Lily to simply say the word “help” when she wants help with something instead of screaming at the top of her lungs like she is injured and needs to go to the ER. I tell her, “Use your words and ask.”

In my mom’s group recently, we were doing a bible study on prayer and I came across the bible verse that most of you I’m sure have heard before:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” “…how much more will the heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:7-8;11 (NAB)

There is much we can learn about God our Father through being a parent. And through being a parent, I realize how much I am like a child. What God was telling me through this verse was, “Don’t just throw a fit because I’m not giving you what you want! Use your words and ask!” He desires for us to ask for the things he wants. Through communication- through a relationship with our heavenly Father- he can give us things that are good for us.

In fact, just this morning, Timothy started screaming and punched me in the stomach because I wouldn’t let him have a brownie for breakfast. I told him he could have a brownie after dinner (pending better behavior), thereby answering his request. But I desired so much more for him to have a healthier breakfast and get the energy he needs to have a good day. So the answer to the brownie for breakfast was no, not right now. But, if he threw another fit, he was going to lose his brownie altogether. Thank goodness God has more patience and gives us many more chances than that!

Prayer is a relationship with God built on communication. There is no room for fits. Sometimes when Timothy is having a hard time not getting what he wants or with sharing, he says (usually in a pouty voice), “Mom, today’s just not my day.” And I reply, “That’s okay. Life is hard sometimes. It doesn’t have to be your day everyday.”

I think God answers the same thing to us. We are allowed to say, “God, today’s hard. I feel like quitting. I just can’t do it anymore.” And he says, “That’s okay. It doesn’t have to be your day today. But I have prepared a place in heaven for you where every day WILL be your day.” But we can’t just throw a spiritual fit and get mad at God because it’s not our day or we aren’t winning the lottery or getting our brownie for breakfast. We have to pray and ask God for the things we think we need or even want, and then wait for him to respond.

Because sometimes it's just not your day.

Because sometimes it’s just not your day.

As I look back on all the major deciding points in my life – from college, to a job, to my husband and family, and all my little jobs and decisions along the way – God has never let me down. He’s always answered my prayers and given me the desires of my heart. But in HIS time, because God the Father knows best.

So no more whining in prayer! Just use your words and ask!

Mark 11:24: “Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.”

John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.”

Psalm 145:18-19 “You, Lord, are near to all who call upon you, to all who call upon you in truth. You satisfy the desire of those who fear you; you hear their cry and save them.”

NFP…and the language of love

I’ve had people tell me: You’ve got your boy and your girl. A perfect family!

And it bothers me. Believe me, after 2 kids in 2½ years of marriage, my husband and I would like to take a break from having babies. But who knows how we will feel a little down the road. I think about my husband: he is the 6th of 8 kids. If his parents had stopped having children after two, or three, or even five, then he would have never existed for me to marry!

And that’s what I love about Natural Family Planning.  As a couple, my husband and I need to always be evaluating what God is asking of us as parents. A future child will be someone’s future spouse some day, or maybe even the Pope, so God needs to be a part of our decisions for our family.  Therefore, in honor of National NFP Awareness Week, I’d like to offer these thoughts.

NFP (Natural Family Planning) is:
-100% scientifically proven, and 99% effective. You can accurately know when you are ovulating to achieve or postpone pregnancy.
-Encourages respect for your whole person, including your fertility, in the marital act.
-Fosters communication between spouses
-Is 100% natural, no artificial hormones or bad side effects (like every other contraceptive device out there). If you buy organic, then you need to be using NFP.

Practicing NFP isn’t always easy. But it’s the right thing to do. And most things that are right aren’t very easy. My dad said something to Nathan and I about NFP when we were engaged that I think everyone should know. He said that Natural Family Planning allows you to become fluent in the language of love (and who doesn’t want that?).  When you are abstaining to postpone pregnancy, it’s necessary to find other ways than having sex to express your love, like when you were engaged. Then when you can be intimate again, it’s like your honeymoon all over. In this way, your love is always fresh, new and exciting. After all, studies show that Catholics do have the best sex.

My last reflection is in honor of the 45th anniversary of Humanae Vitae (July 25th). In the encyclical, Pope Paul VI predicted that if we became a culture that used contraception, (birth control, condoms, IUDs and whatever else they’ve come up with),the following 3 things would happen:

1. An increase in marital infidelity and the general lowering of standards (TV, movies, pornography)

2. Men will “forget the reverence due a woman” and will reduce her to a “mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires” (HV 17) ie, Rape, prostitution, human trafficking, domestic abuse, etc.

3. Government imposition of whatever contraception they deem useful:
“Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.” (HV 17)  HHS mandate anyone?

You tell me if his predictions haven’t come true in the last 45 years.  Click here  for more information on Natural Family Planning. Or click here.  Happy NFP week!