Monday, December 31, 2012

90 Day Bible Challenge

I'm joining Stephanie at Mostly Blue with a Touch of Pink in the Year of Faith 90 Day Bible Challenge hosted by Sarah Christmyer who is the author of The Bible Timeline Guided Tour. She will send daily emails with information on that time period and reflection questions.

From her website:  Of the 73 books of the Bible, the Bible Timeline reading plan focuses on just 14 of the “narrative books” (also known as “historical books”). When you read these books in order, they take you through the history of salvation from start to finish:

Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Maccabees, Luke, and Acts of the Apostles. The idea is to read these books first in order to get the “big picture”: a narrative context in which to read the remaining books.

The Bible Timeline divides into 12 historic time periods that will be introduced as you come to them in your reading:

Early World (Genesis 1-11)
Patriarchs (Genesis 12-50)
Egypt & Exodus (Exodus)
Desert Wanderings (Numbers)
Conquest and Judges (Joshua, Judges)
Royal Kingdom (1,2 Samuel; 1 Kings 1-11)
Divided Kingdom (1 Kings 12-22, 2 Kings 1-16)
Exile (2 Kings 17-25)
Return (Ezra, Nehemiah)
Maccabean Revolt (1 Maccabees)
Messianic Fulfillment (Luke)
The Church (Acts)

It starts tomorrow, January 1st!  Go and register HERE.  It's simple to do, just give your name and email address and you're done.  Thank you Stephanie for letting me know about this study!


Giveaways over at Sanctus Simplicitus

Go and visit Sanctus Simplicitus for their 12 Days of Giveaways during this Christmas Season!
Each day the Kosel Family is posting a new one.

Learn more about the First Christmas, St. John the Evangelist  The Holy Innocents, why one Church is not as good as another,and Anecdotes and Examples which functions as a catechism book.  The latest one is a book called The Wonders of His Holy Name.

Enter them all!  Don't miss out!


Sanctus Simplicitus has asked what their readers would like to see more of in the future?  My first thought are crafts and ideas for lessons plans to instill the faith in young children.  Easier ways to teach a doctrine, or mystery, or tradition to a 6 year old.  That's what I would like to see.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Snippets~A Catholic Carnival

I'm joining in with RAnn and friends over at Sunday Snippets~A Catholic Carnival where every week she hosts this link up.  It's a great way to reconnect and meet new Catholic bloggers.  Come and join us!
Thank you RAnn!

I'm submitting the following posts from this past week:

Mississippi Memorial
Feast Day of the Holy Innocents
Mom You Lead a Sinless Life


Hobby Lobby and Obamacare

Starting January 1, 2013, Hobby Lobby will be facing a daily fine of $1.3 million dollars until they comply with the HHS Mandate.  Their lawsuit is still pending but this date is a couple of days away.  Their future is at stake. They are well known for their Christian ownership and closing their stores on Sundays so their staff can have a day of rest and be with their families.

Reported by abc news;  "Hobby Lobby is the largest business to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that forces all companies, regardless of religious conviction, to provide coverage of drugs that the lawsuit alleges are abortion-inducing. The Green family also objects to providing coverage for certain kinds of intrauterine devices that the lawsuit alleges can destroy an embryo by preventing it from implanting in a woman's uterus."

Company lawyer Kyle Duncan said "millions of Americans" would consider drugs that prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb an abortifacient.  Yes they would so why doesn't our government understand this?

HERE'S an article written by David Green, owner of Hobby Lobby, where he discusses how he started his company and their goals.

May God bless the Green Family for standing up for His truth against government opposition.  May our government heed the Word of God and not enforce businesses to provide morally repugnant healthcare services.  I pray that all businesses and institutions stand strong and oppose this mandate.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mississippi Memorial to the Unborn

This article is a few years old, but I just saw it today and thought I would share it.  Yesterday we remembered the Holy Innocents who were slaughtered by a jealous King Herod.  Today and every day, we have the same slaughtering of innocents in our nation and around the world.

The Mississippi Convention Board decided to make a Memorial for the 50 Million Aborted Babies since 1973, when Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion in the United States.  What they did is amazing in its ability to visually demonstrate what 50,000,000 looks like.  Pennies were used to represent the babies and they call it "Memorial to the Missing."  They erected a huge container (13' x 7') and over a two year period, the Baptist Churches in Mississippi donated pennies until their goal was reached.

Here is what 50,000,000 pennies looks like:

50 Million Remembered photo

Here is the plaque in honor of these babies:

For the Babies photo

A powerful statement that should awaken us all.  Well done Mississippi Baptist Churches!

"God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them."  Genesis 1:27

All of the aborted babies were made in His image.  How God must weep over our nations absolute lack of morality.  How we view the babies as an inconvenience, as throw away, as unwanted.  His precious babies who are killed in a sterile environment, by doctors at the request of their mothers.

May God open the hearts of the faithful and instill courage to speak up for the unborn.  May God remove the scales from the eyes of those who support abortion.  And may He have mercy on us all.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Feast Day of the Holy Innocents

Today marks the fourth day of Christmas and in the Catholic Church we remember and honor the many boy babies who were slaughtered on a whim by King Herod.  In his attempt to kill the newborn babe who was destined to be the King of the Jews, he had his soldiers kill all male babies in Bethlehem.  Those poor mothers and fathers who had to endure this atrocity.

And how must have St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary have felt knowing that Herod's soldiers were looking for their son? 

And the grief they must have experienced at the loss of these innocent babies?

Today the Church remembers this sacrifice of innocent victims all for the glory of God.

Holy Innocents, pray for us!  Especially for those moms and dads who will abort their own innocent baby today.  Or who are considering it as their only option.  Pray for them!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mom, You Lead a Sinless Life

The week before Christmas, my son and I attended a Novena to St. Stephen at our church.  We didn't make it every night but we did the most that our schedule allowed.  One night while driving home my son asked me very seriously,  "Mom, what sins do you wrestle with?"  It took me by surprise but I did mention one or two and he said "No, Mom, that's not really a sin.  You lead a pretty sinless life."  I smiled but quickly corrected him that I am indeed sinful.  That just because he doesn't hear or see me sinning doesn't mean I don't sin.  He may not be aware of it and I reminded him that we sin in our thoughts as well.

He wasn't convinced though until after the next evening novena service.  It included Reconciliation Services.  Our church had 6 different priests and my son went to one priest and I another.

On our way home, he asked what penance I was given and I said "my priest instructed me to pray a rosary for those who will be lonely this Christmas Season and have no one to pray for them."

He was shocked and said "I was told to pray 2 Hail Mary's for my sins."

After a minute or two, he then said, "Gosh Mom, what did you confess that you had to pray a full rosary?"

I guess in my son's eyes, my status as a saint has diminished!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas


May everyone's day be filled with joy, love and peace!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Twelve Unlikely Heroes Book Review

I selected this book called Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur to review from Booksneeze.  On it's cover it says "How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You."  This captured my attention and I wondered who he would be writing about.  I discovered that they were either well known people from the bible or lesser known that were chosen by God for a specific task.  All of them could be categorized as "unlikely" since they were not kings or prominent people of their time.  Once they accepted God's plan for them, they did become well known.  Mr. MacArthur explores the lives of Enoch, Joseph, Miriam, Gideon, Samson, Jonathan, Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James and Mark and Onesimus.

I had mixed feelings about his book.  It started out fine with his biographies of the heroes of the Old Testament.  It's an easy read since he generalizes the unlikely heroes into modern day language. One can quite easily picture them in their time with his style of writing.  On the back cover the reader is informed that Mr. MacArthur is a pastor with  "a deep knowledge of the bible and history".  I agree with the basics of what he said for each hero, but I found myself wondering how much was conjecture or was truly based on his knowledge?  Where I had a problem was near the end of his book when he discussed St. James and asserted that "he was a younger brother to Jesus". Additionally, that Mary is not what the Roman Catholic Church claims, that she was a perpetual virgin, but that "she had a normal sexual relationship with Joseph that led to her giving birth to at least six more children."  He included scripture that lists the names of his brothers (Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3) but noted that these passages do not give the names of his sisters.  He goes on to suggest that it may have been difficult for his siblings for Jesus was completely sinless.  That Mary may have reprimanded her "other children" to be behave more like Jesus which would have instilled competitiveness and jealousy.

Being Roman Catholic, my belief is what my church teaches.  Mary was a perpetual virgin and the references to the brothers and sisters of Jesus, were either step siblings or close relations.  There is a document from the second century called the "Protoevangelium of James" or the "Infancy Gospel of James" or the "Gospel of James" which deals with the early life of the Virgin Mary.  It says that Joachim and St. Anne consecrated Mary to the temple to remain a virgin.  When she grew up, Mary needed a guardian and Joseph was a widow who needed a wife to help raise his children.  Of course, this document is not included in the bible but it does give important information about Mary, the Mother of God which was written within 100 years of the birth and ministry of Jesus.

What I don't like about this book is that after the chapter on St. James, which is one of the last chapters, I now question the reliability of his information on all the other heroes.  Based on this chapter, Mr. MacArthur's literal interpretation of scripture left out Sacred Tradition which means hundreds of years of belief.  Even the leaders of the Protestant Reformation believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary so somewhere along the many schisms did this idea of Mary having more children arose.  Does it take away the true message of the Gospel?  No, it doesn't mean much that he differs on this point.  My problem is that I now suspect he selected what worked for his view of these unlikely heroes and ignored the rest. He might be spot on accurate but I feel distrust.  His validity is now tarnished for me.  Would I recommend his book?  To be honest, no.  It left a sour taste in my mouth.  I do believe he is a gifted writer, has a love for Jesus and a desire to share the message of the Gospel.  But in my opinion, it's incomplete.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Prayers, Promises and Devotions for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

With the recent passing of my dad, I've been contemplating purgatory and was immediately drawn to this book out of an extensive list of choices to review from The Catholic Company.  It's called "Prayers, Promises and Devotions for the Holy Souls in Purgatory" by Susan Tassone.  As it states, it consists of prayers, devotions and promises given to the saints by divine revelation throughout history and as well as by Sacred Tradition.  She is not intending to prove that purgatory exists rather she is sharing what she has learned through her extensive research on this topic based off of the saints.

I guess I could say, I didn't "read" the book but I "prayed" it.  For those who do not believe or have trouble believing in purgatory, the introduction is for you.  It's called "Why Should We Pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory?"  Here is what Ms. Tassone states:

"Purgatory is the masterpiece of the merciful heart of God, the marvelous genius of his love.
 However, the holy souls in purgatory can no longer gain merit for themselves.
 Once the soul leaves the body, the time of merit us up.
Then they are paying a debt.
  They suffer unceasingly.
                                                       Our Lord wants his captives free."

Her book starts out with a novena of prayers and reflections.  For example, Day 1 begins with a quote from C.S. Lewis (well-known Anglican author and apologist) stating "Our souls demand purgatory, don't they?"   It then goes on to offer insights into this doctrine that dates back to the early Christian Church.  Such as, "St. Gregory the Great is best known for bringing us the Gregorian Chant, standardizing the Roman Canon Mass and being the first to organize Church alms for the poor.  He also popularized the pious practice of offering thirty consecutive Masses for one deceased person."  He lived over five centuries after the death of Jesus and took this doctrine seriously.  Each chapter is filled with these type of insights and quotes from the saints.  

Ms. Tassone's book is chock full of information as well as ways to pray for the souls in purgatory.  As part of my experience reading this book, I prayed the novena and each prayer for my father and other deceased family members.  I didn't want to assume they were in Heaven when I could be using my time wisely here on earth by praying for them.  I felt so strongly after reading this book, that I made sure to remind my son of this important, rarely talked about doctrine.  I want him to pray for my soul when my time comes.  Sadly, in this current age, we don't hear much at all said about purgatory.  In fact, many Catholics today don't believe in it.  This book will enlighten any person about the long history of this doctrine and it's current belief in our church.  It really is a must read for all Catholics and Christians alike.

Since Christmas is a few days away, here is one last quote from St. Teresa of Avila.  She tells us that "the most souls are released on Christmas Day, followed by the number of souls released at Easter and then the feast days dedicated to Our Lord and Our Lady."  Let's start offering up prayers for the holy souls in purgatory for our beloved family members and especially for those who have no one to pray for them.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. The Catholic Childrens Bible, (Google Affiliate Ad)Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Prayers, Promises and Devotions for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.  They have great gift ideas for all season of the liturgical year, be sure to check out their Advent and Christmas gifts.

Advent Blessings,

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Keeping Christ in Christmas


"I’m participating in the Keeping Christ in Christmas Blog Carnival, hosted by Raising Little SaintsTruly Rich Mom and Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Jesus as the Reason for the Christmas season. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.”

This week in mass, our priest talked with passion about "Keeping Christ in Christmas" and had 
a simple suggestion of doing just that.  
He said "Love one another as God loves you."  
That was the message of Jesus when he walked this earth speaking of love.  
It's just as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago.  
Our world would be vastly different if we obeyed the words of Jesus.  
All we have to do is look around our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities and our nation to realize that we all fail in this mission.  
We all fall short.  
Miserably short.

The good news is, that Jesus knew it would be difficult for man, therefore, 
he preached repentance "for the kingdom of God is at hand".
We have a loving and merciful God.

So, how can we keep Christ in Christmas?

By loving others.
Our family & friends.
Our neighbors & acquaintances.
Our co-workers & bosses.
Our enemies and strangers.

If we became a nation of people who loved as God has asked us to do,
violence would drastically diminish,
unwanted babies would be born and taken care of,
children would feel safe from bullying,
very few would be homeless,
poverty and hunger would decrease,
the need for war would not exist,
feelings of jealousy, anger and rage would dissipate,
feelings of loneliness, depression and hopelessness would disappear.

Love, we are called to love.
To keep Christ in Christmas we need to stop loving ourselves so much 
and do a better job at loving others.

Remember to check out the other links for this great link up hosted by 
Tina from the Philippines, Monica from Canada, and Erika from USA!

Thank you ladies for bringing us all together to celebrate the only reason for Christmas~
the birth of our newborn King!

Go and visit these other great posts about Keeping Christ in Christmas!
Homeschool Mosaics: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Joy: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Advent Interruptions
The Breadbox Letters: Interrupted by Glory
TwentyTuesdayAfternoons: Keeping Christ in Christmas/ The Season of Giving / A Wee Bit of Beach Holiday Angst
The Learning Basket: Staying With the Nativity Story
Tercets: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Rosary Mom: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Ate Maui: Hoping and Bringing Hope Written By the Finger of God: 12 Traditions for Keeping Christ in Christmas
Dominique's Desk: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Felix at Fifty: What Jesus Wants for Christmas
Mommy Bares All: Birthday Cake for the Birthday Boy on Christmas Day
Between Now and Later: Keeping Christ in Christmas, I am trying...
Lique's Antics: Family Antics: Christmas Reflection
Life of Fortunate Chances: Our First Ever Christmas: Keeping Christ in Christmas
The Mommy Journey: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Roller Coaster Ride: How to Remind Your Kids of Jesus Christ This Christmas
Cymplified: Christ -Centered Christmas: Cymplified!
Mountain Grace: Keeping Christ in Christmas Touring Kitty: Grown-up Christmas List
Mommy Chinkysoup for the Soul: A Very Special Christmas City Girl, Country Home: Finding Jesus in a Flurry Coffee Moments with Sam: Christmas Unwrapped: 5 Presents Our Kids Truly Deserve Raising Lifelong Learners: Keeping Christ in Christmas
The Diary of a Sower: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Celebrating the Golden Days
Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Raising (and Teaching) Little Saints: Keeping Christ in Christmas Truly Rich Mom: The Greatest Gift of All This Christmas
Joy-Filled Family: CHRIST in Christmas
Blueberry 010: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Jesus is the Reason for the Season
Deeper Truth Blog: Keeping Christ in Christmas Carnival Holy Ducklings: 10 Ways to Make Advent Special for Your Little Ducklings Green Eggs and Moms: Keeping Christ in Christmas: Green Eggs & Moms Style!

Advent Blessings,

Monday, December 17, 2012

Prayer for our Enemies

A Celtic Blessing

This soul did little good to me, O Lord.
But this soul was yours.
So to this soul I say:
I bless the day you were born,
I bless your growing up,
I bless you even in your dark deeds,
And I bless you, soul, at your end.
Travel to God who transforms,
Travel to the Arms so wide,
Travel to the Spirit all generous.

Honoring the Dead 
by St. John Chrysostom:

"Will you honor the dead?  Do not spend yourselves in unprofitable lamentations: 
choose rather to sing Psalms, to give alms and lead a holy life.  Do for them that which they would willingly do for themselves; were they to return again into the world; 
and God will accept it at your hands as if it had come from them.

Let us help and commemorate them.  If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation?  
Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and offer our prayers for them.

The Psalms unite the living with the dead.

This Celtic Blessing and Prayer written by St. John Chrysostom were found in the current book I'm reading called "Prayers, Promises and Devotions for the Holy Souls in Purgatory" written by Susan Tassone.

Advent Blessings,

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Snippets~A Catholic Carnival

I joined in again over at RAnn's Sunday Snippets~A Catholic Carnival with many other wonderful Catholic bloggers.  Please come over for a visit!

I've included my posts of the For Greater GloryFeast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Christmas Baking.

Thank you RAnn for hosting this meme each week!

Advent Blessings,

Thursday, December 13, 2012

For Greater Glory Movie

What price would you pay for religious freedom? In the exhilarating action epic FOR GREATER GLORY an impassioned group of men and women each make the decision to risk it all for family, faith and the very future of their country. This is the long-hidden, true story of the 1920s Cristero War of the daring people's revolt that rocked 20th Century North America.

This is an uprising of the Mexican people against an atheistic government who declared war on the Catholic Church. Initially, the faithful people of Mexico peacefully tried to fight for religious freedom, but to no avail. After peaceful means failed, the Cristeros (soldiers for Christ) rebel against the religious crackdown by the newly elected President Calles of Mexico. 
The Mexican Revolution was the largest rebellion in Mexican history. It was based on the peasants' overwhelming demand for land and for social justice. The Catholic Church was cautious to not support the revolution, which at times threatened the property rights of many Mexicans. However, the Calles' administration felt its revolutionary reforms regarding private property, public education, and social reform were threatened by the Church. As a solution to the Church's influence over the Mexican populace, the anti-clerical statutes of the Constitution were instituted, and beginning a 10 year persecution of Catholics, resulting in the death of thousands.  (Wikipedia)

Caution for children:  there are upsetting scenes that may scare children.  It is rated R but probably unfairly so.  I think mature middle school age children and up can handle the heavy scenes.  You know your children, but I would probably view it first before allowing them to watch it.

Here is the movie trailer:

Without spoiling the movie, it is incredibly suspenseful, disturbing yet filled with hope. Have a box of Kleenex nearby if you plan on watching it.  This movie is now on DVD and if you either purchase it or check it out from your local library, be sure to watch the special feature section of this movie.  This movie is timely considering our own current nation's battle with Religious Freedom.

Advent Blessings,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Here is a beautiful brief introduction to Our Lady of Guadalupe by Fr. Kobicki 

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Mother, pray for us!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Baking

This past weekend, we had a Christmas bake sale at my church and I tried two new recipes (and an old familiar one) that turned out great.  The first one is a Cookies and Cream Oreo Cupcake that I first saw Bakerella.  It looked like a fun and easy to make cupcake.  Since I was baking for a Christmas Bake Sale, I opted to use the Oreo's with a red filling.  Here is how they turned out:

You do break up one cookie into the liner before adding the batter.
Or you can leave it whole but that sounded like the person eating it would get
too much of a mouthful.
The batter instructions can be found Here.

The broken up Oreo's do rise to the surface and bring a pop of color.

Here's a close up.

Some of them resulted in a bit of an odd shape but still fun.

I decided to place them in the box before frosting them.  
Worked out well since I piped on the frosting and then added half of an Oreo on top.

Here's a side view of them.  

I then attempted my first cheesecake and it turned out great too.  My recipe is from Bakerella.  Here is how it turned out:

I did see the tip elsewhere on the internet to place the tin foil on the bottom of the pan, spray with nonstick spray and then pour batter over it.  
When it was all done, I was able to pull it out by the tin foil, lay it flat and cut it easily.

Here's my Toby, waiting patiently for a scrap to fall on the ground :)

I boxed them up by 4's to sell at the bake sale.  
It is a very rich sweet cheesecake bar with the chocolate ganache on top.

Then I made some M&M cookies.

 It was a busy couple of baking days but I enjoyed it and they all sold at the bake sale.

Advent Blessings,

Monday, December 10, 2012

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Yesterday, in my Religious Education class, we learned about the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  My class size is small and I was pleasingly surprised when two of my students stated "We already know that Mary is the Immaculate Conception."  I asked them what does it mean and their response "she was born without sin."  Well done to their mom!

My inspiration for my lesson plan started with Melissa from Homegrown Catholics, Tracy from A Slice of Smith Life and Lacy from Catholic Icing.  From these lovely and talented bloggers, I wrote my lesson plan and used their coloring pages.  Tracy from A Slice of Smith Life, posted about a video from The Catholic Company called Bernadette ~ The Princess of Lourdes.

Fortunately, I was able to find it at a local library and it was a hit.  My students were engaged and asked plenty of questions following the movie.  We then went on to color Melissa's Mary's paper statue:

I also gave them Saint Anne's picture by Lacy's from Catholic Icing.  It's the only one I've seen that depicts the meaning of the Immaculate Conception.  I didn't get a picture of one of my student's but here it is, drawn and colored by Lacy herself.  Thank you Lacy for sharing your gifts and talents with us!

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, pray for us!

Advent Blessings,

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Snippets~A Catholic Carnival

I'm linking up with RAnn today and many great Catholic bloggers.  Come over and check them out at Sunday Snippets~A Catholic Carnival.

I'm sharing my Finding God in the HobbitFeast of St. Nicholas and my Advent Lesson.  Thank you RAnn for hosting this inspirational meme!

Advent Blessings,

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Finding God in the Hobbit Review

I recently signed up to review books for Tyndale Blog Network and the first book they sent me is Finding God in the Hobbit by Jim Ware.  He is the bestselling coauthor of Finding God in The Lord of the Rings and Finding God in Narnia.  To be honest, I haven't read The Hobbit because I had little interest in reading about books with mystery and magical themes that have as their main characters: hobbits, wizards, elves, dwarfs, dragons and other fantasy type creatures.  Not my genre at all.  On the other hand, my brother loved this book so much that years ago, he named his dog Bilbo after the main character of the story.  That's all I knew and for me, and no offense to my brother, it seemed like it was written for children and had little to engage adults.  Or so I thought.

Jim Ware sets out to find God in this fictional story by J.R.R Tolkien.  And I'd say he did for the most part.  Each chapter begins with a short excerpt to a chapter in The Hobbit and then, Mr. Ware goes about pulling off the layers for supernatural meaning.  Next, he challenges his reader to look into their own lives and see the connection of our earthly life to heaven.  Does he always find supernatural meaning?  I don't think so for some of the connections felt loose.  He does include scripture and literary references that tie in with the main idea of each chapter.  Sometimes I was impressed and a few times, puzzled.

What I got for sure is that Mr. Ware is a big fan of this genre and especially Tolkien's work.  He does make this an easy to read book that does make you reflect on your life.  Surprisingly, it was interesting enough for me that I now want to read The Hobbit.  Now that I know there is more to it than some child like fantasy fluff story.  If that was part of Mr. Ware's goal, to entice new readers to Tolkien's work, he did just that.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book to read for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was given and this review is all my own.

Advent Blessings,

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Feast of St. Nicholas

I introduced my religious ed students to St. Nicholas this past weekend.
A bit early but it was the class before his Feast Day ~ December 6th.

I was careful not to state the truth about Santa since it's not my place to have
this discussion with 6 year olds.
One of the students asked me in shock, "Santa knows Jesus?"
My reply,"yes, he loves Jesus very much."

All of these ideas came from wonderful Catholic Bloggers and the St. Nicholas Center.

I included the chocolate coins in my photo but removed them before my students came in.
Without their knowledge, I quietly handed their parents a paper bag which consisted of instructions on how to use the coins if they so wish, a few St. Nicholas chocolate gold coins
and a picture of St. Nicholas.

The Jesse Tree Book was made using the ornaments which were created by Michele at Michele Quigley Blog.  Thank you Michele!  I wanted my students to learn about The Jesse Tree and we only had a short time, so I printed the ornaments on paper and assembled them into my attempt at a "home made book."  I included the meaning of each ornament, the corresponding scripture verse and the day number.  I'm praying that my students have been using them at home with their families!  As a class, the students wrote in the name of the event or person in their books.

My local library had these cute stories of St. Nicholas.
In class, we only had time for one book so I chose The Baker's Dozen.
It was a hit!

The actual Advent wreath and table clothes belong to the classroom teacher.

The cute St. Nicholas holy cards came from the St. Nicholas Center.

The idea to turn Santa into St. Nicholas also came from the St. Nicholas Center.
They have easy to follow instructions and a miter template for various sizes of chocolate Santas.
The challenge was finding individually wrapped Santa's which I could use that wasn't too expensive.

The document for the vintage St. Nicholas pictures is from the talented Jessica at Shower of Roses.
She so generously shares her ideas and resources with her readers.
Thank you Jessica!

Advent Blessings,
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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent Lesson

Advent Lap Book

There are many great Catholic bloggers who have created lap books for the various liturgical feast days including Advent.  I wanted my first graders to make one this year and I chose the format from Holly at Three Sided Wheel.  I pre-assembled the majority of it myself before class since we only have an hour and a half of class time.  The plan was for them to decorate it but also have time to talk about it.  Here is my sample:

I prefer my students to have something tangible when they leave class to help them learn more about their faith, but also to be able to talk about what they learned with their parents.

For other ideas on Advent lap books you can go HereHere or Here.

Thank you Holly for sharing your talents and gifts with the rest of us!  I know I've been blessed as well as my students by your Advent Lap Book.


Monday, December 3, 2012

My New Patron Saint

Since we've just entered Advent and it's the beginning of a new Liturgical Year, I decided to pick a new patron saint through Jennifer's Saint Name Generator.  I prayed asking God to find a patron saint that He knew I needed, then I clicked the button.  My new patron saint is:

St. Jane de Chantal

St. Jane Frances de Chantal
I am unfamiliar with this saint and still a bit unclear as to the meanings of her patronage:

Against in law problems
Against death of parents
Forgotten people
Parents Separated from children

Jane Frances was born in Dijon, France on 28 January 1572. The mother of six children (three died shortly after they were born), she was widowed at the age of 28. She met Saint Francis de Sales when he preached at the Sainte Chapelle in Dijon. They became intimate friends. She was inspired to start a religious order for women, the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary with his support, an order for women who were rejected by other orders because of poor health or age. When people criticized her, she famously said, "What do you want me to do? I like sick people myself; I'm on their side."

She died on 13 December 1641 at the age of 69, and her Feast Day is August 12th.

Here is a prayer I found online, to ask for her intercession:

 Saint Jane, you forgave the man who killed your husband. 
Help me learn to forgive a particular person in my life who has caused me harm. 
You know how difficult it is to forgive. 
Help me to take the steps you took to welcome this person back into my life.

I know why God chose this saint for me. 
 It's been revealed to me through this prayer. 
 And to be honest, I had to resist the urge to pick another saint.  
This is going to be tough.
I know who this particular person is... who God is calling me to forgive.

It's been a burden that I've been wrestling with over these last 3 months, knowing I should forgive.  
Trying to forgive but not really.  
Still hanging on to hurt feelings.

St. Jane, pray for me.  Pray that I can let go of my hurt feelings, truly forgive and feel peace.

Advent Blessings,