Monday, December 30, 2013

Year-end Bubble round-up!

I've seen some fun wrap-ups on other blogs, so here's my recap of the top three Bubble posts from 2013 (which reached the #3, #5, and #8 spots of all time, respectively):

Those are pretty much my personal favorites as well.

Another article that got a big response in 2013 is one that never appeared on this site. It ran at Catholic Exchange, and caused just a bit of controversy (and over 500 comments):

Three Things People Don't Know About Same-Sex "Marriage"

I kept up with comments on that one for a while, but then I had to let it go to tend to life and stuff.

Thanks for a great year in the Little Catholic Bubble, my dear friends, and I wish you all a very blessed 2014!

See you in just a bit!

(And, Catholics, don't forget that New Year's Day is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God -- a Holy Day of Obligation!)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Which one do you like best?

My favorite Christmas song is "O Holy Night", hands down. I cannot get through it without having my soul affected -- or without goosebumps.

So, I thought it would be fun to ask you all which version of "O Holy Night" gives you the most goosebumps.

I've picked four singers, two male and two female, and I ask that you listen to the entirety of each video in order to give these extraordinarily talented mega-stars a fair shot at winning this enormously important Bubble contest, which will clearly impact their careers/legacies!

Here they are, in no particular order (and not always the best quality, sorry)...

1) Josh Groban

2) Celine Dion


3) Nat King Cole

4) Mariah Carey

Leave your vote in the comment box, and I will tally things up later this week.

And from my family to yours, we wish you a most blessed Christ's Mass (i.e., Christmas)!

Monday, December 16, 2013

But isn't Christmas a government holiday?

This seems so crazy to me. Am I missing something? Atheist "freedom from religion" groups have been systematically bullying towns, schools, and even the military* into removing Nativity scenes from public spaces.

For various reasons (no funds to litigate, lack of nerve, misunderstanding of the law), the public entities usually cave and remove Baby Jesus from the scene.

The atheists base their case on bogus "separation of church and state" arguments, which make no sense because of something crazy obvious:


Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I am pretty sure that means the commemoration of Christ's birth is a federal (government) holiday.

Therefore, a depiction of Christ's birthday is a perfectly acceptable way to commemorate Christ's birthday. (That's, like, a no-brainer, right kids?)

Sooooooo…in redundant other words...

As long as there is a GOVERNMENT, FEDERAL holiday for Christmas, then representations of Christmas (a government holiday) surely must be allowable, no?

I mean, can you imagine the state declaring Presidents Day and then saying it's illegal to display images of Washington and Lincoln? Or what if the nation celebrated the federal holiday called Veterans Day, while criminalizing the memorials of said veterans?

It's nuts! Makes no logical sense.

I'm not sure how the atheists can legally get away with what they do as long as Christmas is on the government calendar. How are they winning any cases?

If they had integrity (or a lick of sense) they would be challenging the federal holiday itself, which is the root of the "problem".

So, why don't they go that route? My guess is that either they are having too much success this way and will gain nothing by switching to legitimate tactics (except the wrath of the American people), or they really like having Christmas Day off so they can skip work.

It's all so very high-minded, isn't it?

As in days of old, this scene causes some modern folks grave emotional distress.

*An update from a military wife on the base is included in the comments.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Personal prayer request

My dear cousin, who is also one of my best friends, has just been diagnosed with lung cancer in both lungs, spread to the liver. She is a non-smoker.

This beautiful young woman is a devout Catholic, and the single mother to three school-aged children. It is a complete shock. I am asking everyone who reads this to please storm heaven for her. Bring out the big intercessors if you have them. I cannot thank you enough.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pope Francis is Time's Person of the Year

Not bad for a "dying", "irrelevant" institution stuck in the 10th century.

Heck, when Time Magazine itself is lost in the dustbin of history, the papacy will still be going strong.


Update: To find out what the Time article got all wrong, read Fr. Robert Barron's excellent piece, HERE.

Monday, December 9, 2013

From the two women I'd idolize if I were an idolator.

We've had many vigorous debates on this blog about the relationship between Catholicism and science. If the topic is of interest to you, my friend Dr. Stacy Trasancos has written and published an academic thesis (short and easy to read) that should be in your digital library. It's affordable ($5), and proceeds will go to a needy family.

From Stacy ("So I'm Publishing a Book"):
[I set out] to master Fr. Stanley L. Jaki’s claim that “science was born of Christianity” but “stillborn” in other cultures. The birth and stillbirth analogies resonated; I’m a mother who knows the fullness of life and the barrenness of loss. To my surprise, many people asked to read it, so I had an idea. 
There’s a single mother who is a U. S. Military Veteran. She and her two daughters have no heat, not much food, no transportation. They have little materially, but they have each other. I figured out how to publish a less formal version of my thesis digitally and then I contacted this woman … My new friend has agreed to accept all of the royalties.

For more information about what you'll get, go here for Stacy's summary.

If you've heard enough and are already sold, click HERE to get your copy.


Also, for those of you who have been following Karen Pullano's story in these past months and are wondering how she is coping during the first holiday season without her daughter, Anna (the second child she has lost), you must read her latest amazing post:

Karen's grace, peace, wisdom and insight always leave me a little bit breathless. She is an example of Catholicism lived out. I want to sit at her feet and learn, pretty much for the rest of my life. 


Friday, December 6, 2013

Quick Takes, on time!

1) Advent reminder! The Church's new liturgical year began last Sunday, on the First Sunday of Advent. There are four Sundays in Advent, after which the Christmas season begins at the Vigil Mass on December 24.

So, remember that we are not in the Christmas season yet, and we need to spend these weeks in preparation for the coming of the Lord. (Easier said than done, I know!)

I posted this fun two-minute video last year (on the differences between Advent and Christmas), but it's worth another look:

My only caveat is that the liturgical color is not technically pink, it's rose. (As priests in pink vestments like to remind us, ha!)


Oh, and today is St. Nicholas' Feast Day. Happy Feast of Saint Nick! Which is simply another way of saying "The kids ate candy for breakfast today."

2) Un-freaking-believable. Look at this, from those trying to socially engineer African families (for their own good, of course):

“The demand for children [among Kenyan families] is still high and is unlikely to change unless substantial changes in desired family sizes are achieved among the poor in general….Thus the challenge is how to reduce further the continued high demand for children.” (Kenyan Population Situation Analysis)

Put it in context by reading this:

You know how it is. Those Africans, they like their children. Heck, they love their children. They want big families and they see those big families as a great good. The western elites cannot have that, no sir-ee!

I showed this article to our dear sister in Christ, Obianuju (Uju) Ekeocha, and she (the great crusader for maintaining a pro-life Africa) said this:
They want us to have a birth rate of 2.1!!! In a continent were there is NO pension plan at all and no old people's home. 
We are 6 kids in my family and my parents depend on us for everything Leila, how can we have 2.1 kids? 
That is a brilliant question, Uju. I guess they don't have an answer, because I doubt they ever thought of the question in the first place. Or cared, frankly.

By the way, if you have never heard Uju's melodious, elegant voice, please listen to her Catholic Answers radio interview just this week:

Poor Patrick Coffin (my new best friend, by the way) had the flu so could not conduct the interview as planned. But the stand-in host was wonderful.

3) I may be losing the facebook war with myself. I made my daughter give me the new password to my account, and I'm sort of back on. I need to find a way to moderate, maybe go on only M-W-F? Or something. I don't know. Sigh.

I missed all the "Omgosh Pope Francis is a Commie Marxist!!" facebook discussions (thankfully), so here are some links that will be helpful for anyone who needs to be talked off a ledge.

George Weigel had a great one (if you can only get the partial story by clicking due to lack of subscription, just google the title and George's name and it will get you to the full article):

Tom Hoopes (in response to the unfortunate Adam Shaw piece):

And from my friend Trent Horn:

Honestly, everyone needs to calm down. There is nothing said by this pope that has not been said by his predecessors.

Can we please begin to focus on our own holiness, and rejoice that this "irrelevant" institution of the papacy is the talk of the world, and that folks are returning to the Sacraments? God is at work here, people! Count on it.

4) So, I've been meaning to get a post out about the devil. It will come. In the meantime, I saw a few articles about this beyond-disturbing incident at a Catholic cathedral in Argentina recently:

I cannot bring myself to actually watch the video of these topless, raging women assaulting the praying young men who were trying to protect their church, but there is something of the demonic that exists in such a confrontation. No doubt about it. Look at the glee on their faces as they violate and vandalize and try to dehumanize the men, who look so sad but dignified.

God bless those wonderful gentlemen, and (I truly mean this) God have mercy on those women who attacked them violently and sought their humiliation.

5) Comic relief. This made me laugh!

And since it's his feast day, some Nicholas humor!


If you don't get the joke, go here to Brandon's post and learn some remarkable Christian history:

6)  Arizona residents, save the date: February 7, 2014.

One of my very closest friends, Bridget, conceived an idea to help families in crisis in our area by putting on a night of family-friendly stand-up comedy. Laugh 4 Hope is going to be SO.MUCH.FUN, and it's clean laughs, so you can bring your teens and older children!

It will be held at Grand Canyon University's 5,000 seat arena, so let's pack 'em in. I cannot wait. I love good stand-up comedy, and I hope to see you all there. I also know the emcee personally, and trust me he is awesome. Put it on your calendar, and find out more, here:

Tickets go on sale 12/16, and all proceeds go to the charities designated (check the site). Please spread the word on facebook and blogs if you can. Who doesn't love to laugh, and help people in crisis at the same time?

7) Do you remember when Carla lost her son Henry? It was a heartbreak beyond telling. But today, she is back in Henry's country and has adopted a sibling group (three!) in need of a home. Read about this amazing redemption on her blog.

And Kara, who lost Nico when the Russian ban on American adoptions was imposed, will soon be back from Eastern Europe after adopting Maks! They live here in town, so I can't wait to meet him! Read more about that wonderful story, here.

I love telling the happy endings. :)

Now, let's get a happy ending for Shaw:

This little cutie, abandoned at 6 months old, just turned three. If you cannot resist his face, then click his image for more info!

God bless you all, and thanks to Jen for hosting Quick Takes!

Monday, December 2, 2013

This is the Catholic Mass

A breathtaking three minutes. 

Watch and read along with the words of the saints. I never really understood any of this growing up, and now that I know, I've never once in 19 years willfully missed Mass. How could I?

When we assist at (i.e., attend) the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are at the foot of the Cross, at Calvary. Two thousand years melt away. Time and space are meaningless. We are there. 

Praise God. He loves us that much!

Anton Raphael Mengs

Friday, November 29, 2013

He's my baby

No one has four babies five babies six babies seven babies eight babies anymore.

But I am thankful for my baby. Number eight. The youngest of the five boys whom my husband and I call our "Catholic babies" -- the five who wouldn't exist if God had not changed our hearts.

My baby, born when I was weeks shy of 43.

Some cynics say, "I'd rather be 40 than pregnant!"
I say, "I'd rather be 40 (or 42!) and pregnant, if it means I get a treasure like my baby."

Weeks after I had him, I started writing a blog. Yup, my baby and my blog are the same age.

My baby is cuter than my blog.

Yes, he ate a fudge-sicle. Or three.

My baby's innocence and goodness (he is the sweetest, kindest, most helpful baby in the world) make my heart ache.

Okay, he's not technically a baby anymore. But darn it all, he's my baby.

And he's got a couple of other "mommies" who fawn all over him.

And now he has a brother-in-law who is more like another big brother -- in addition to the five other big brothers who cannot stop vying for his affection.

Oh, the poor neglected child! So lost in the shuffle! How he suffers!

But he's always got another Mommy looking over his shoulder:

He's her baby, too.

So I think he'll be okay.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

President Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation: 150 years ago

As we take a day to thank the Almighty for our blessings, a bit of history to marvel over...


By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

President Abraham Lincoln, 1863

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Obama slaps Catholics again

The man is shameless. He is the most anti-Catholic president we have ever had. From The Washington Times:

The Obama administration, in what’s been called an egregious slap in the face to the Vatican, has moved to shut down the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See — a free-standing facility — and relocate offices onto the grounds of the larger American Embassy in Italy.

The new offices will be in a separate building on the property, Breitbart reported.

And while U.S. officials are touting the relocation as a security measure that’s a cautionary reaction to last year’s attacks on America's facility in Benghazi, several former American envoys are raising the red flag.

It’s a “massive downgrade of U.S.-Vatican ties,” said former U.S. Ambassador James Nicholson in the National Catholic Reporter. “It’s turning this embassy into a stepchild of the embassy to Italy. The Holy See is a pivot point for international affairs and a major listening post for the United States, and … [it’s] an insult to American Catholics and to the Vatican.”

Mr. Nicholson — whose views were echoed by former envoys Francis Rooney, Mary Ann Glendon, Raymond Flynn and Thomas Melady — also called the justification for closing the existing facility a “smokescreen,” Breitbart reported.

“That’s like saying people get killed on highways because they drive cars on them,” he said in the report. “We’re not a pauper nation … if we want to secure an embassy, we certainly can.”

Moreover, the existing facility has “state of the art” security, he said.

Mr. Flynn, meanwhile, said the administration’s announcement reflects a hostility toward the Catholic Church.

“It’s not just those who bomb churches and kill Catholics in the Middle East who are our antagonists, but it’s also those who restrict our religious freedoms and want to close down our embassy to the Holy See,” he said in the National Catholic Reporter. “[There’s no] diplomatic or political benefit to the United States” from the relocation at all, he added.

Catholic Vote, a publication for the Church community, called the move “an unmistakable slap in the face” that clearly communicates that the United States cares little for the diplomatic facility.

And Mr. Nicholson went on, as Breitbart reported: “It’s another manifestation of the antipathy of this administration both to Catholics and to the Vatican — and to Christians in the Middle East. This is a key post for intermediation in so many sovereignties but particularly in the Middle East. This is anything but a good time to diminish the stature of this post. To diminish the stature of this post is to diminish its influence.”

I have nothing nice to say about this man. My confessor has heard my thoughts on him more than once.

Lord, have mercy.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Quick Takes: Facebook withdrawal edition!

Yep, so it's been a few days now since I've been off facebook, and it's an adjustment to my daily routine for sure. So, I will work off my detox here on my Quick Takes by posting some of the stuff here that I would have posted there!

1) I would definitely have posted several really cool quotes, such as this one from the Venerable Fulton Sheen:
Our humor and disposition are not so much the reflection of the weather or the wrong side of the bed, as they are the reflections of the state our soul. What is outside of us is beyond our control; but what is within us can be mastered and woven to any desired pattern.
(Wait, I did post that one before I left!)

2) I was much more political on facebook than I have been on the Bubble (well, at least since the election). I'd post things like this:

And I'd post a teacher's devastating assessment of Common Core and its consequences, here.

You all know I'd be flipping out about Obamacare and the fully-predicted disaster in the form of (supposedly) unintended consequences that are flowing from such a boneheaded (or evil) scheme, by posting numerous articles telling the tales, including:

People who weren't on Medicaid before and don't want to be now but were given no other options by our Benevolent Betters. Like the guy in the five million dollar house, or the senior citizen who wanted to keep her dignity and pay her own way as she'd always done.

And things like the hilarious (and brilliant) Mark Steyn:

(And I'd likely include an excerpt)
The most telling line, the one that encapsulates the gulf between the boundless fantasies of the faculty-lounge utopian and the messiness of reality, was this: “What we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.” Gee, thanks for sharing, genius. Maybe you should have thought of that before you governmentalized one-sixth of the economy. By “we,” the president means “I.” Out here in the ruder provinces of his decrepit realm, we “folks” are well aware of how complicated insurance is. What isn’t complicated in the Sultanate of Sclerosis? But, as with so many other things, Obama always gives the vague impression that routine features of humdrum human existence are entirely alien to him.

I'd let my facebook friends know that wacky Seattle voters elected an avowed socialist to the city council and that even before she took office, she did not disappoint her comrades:

I'd direct them to the end of the article for a hearty (if slightly alarmed) laugh about her idea for workers to "re-tool" the machines at Boeing to make mass transit buses instead of "war machines", i.e., commercial airplanes.

I would also link to excellent articles on Public Discourse (an online journal from the Witherspoon Institute), like this one from Doug Mainwaring (a man with same-sex attraction) addressing Jonathan Rauch (a gay activist) which is summarized:

Jonathan Rauch, in his memoir Denial, argues that only access to the institution of marriage can make gays and lesbians whole. In doing so, he purposefully suppresses the truth that there are many other options available to those who are attracted to persons of the same sex.

Oh, so much politics, so much cultural upheaval to discuss. One of the big reasons I had to exit the scene. I'm tooooo addddiiiiicccttted to that stuff!!!!!!!

3) I'd have talked about my daughter's ER trips for IVs and meds to deal with her severe pregnancy sickness. I would also make sure that everyone knew about the HER Foundation ( website, which advocates for those who suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). As the site explains:

"HG is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and/or vomiting with potential adverse consequences for the mom-to-be and the newborn(s)."

I'm not sure if that is my daughter's diagnosis (as she's been doing a bit better), but honestly I had no idea about HG, even though I have watched two friends go through it. One member of our community almost died from it. Where have I been? The information on the site is copious, including help and advice for family and friends of women with HG. 

On a happy note, I also would have posted about getting to see my daughter's baby and his/her strong heartbeat on ultrasound during one of the ER visits! What sweet peanut! So loved already. 

4) I'm sure I'd put up a status report that offered profound ponderings such as this:
I've pretty much realized that I can no longer genuflect and make the sign of the cross simultaneously or else I will fall over. So I now genuflect first, while grasping the side of the pew, then as I ascend and regain full balance, I make the sign of the cross. Have I lost some of my Catholic cred? 
Of course, then there would have followed a whole slew of comments by Catholics responding with their own stories or thoughts! Ah, the fun of it all!

5) I'd certainly re-post a meme like this one, quoting St. Augustine:

Amen, brother Augustine! There surely are not 1,600 years separating us, are there? Our Faith is just the same, our love of the Church is just the same. I love being Catholic. Did I ever mention that?

6) As I go through my withdrawals (I admit to sneaking on my husband's nearly-dormant facebook page every once in a while to see what our mutual facebook friends are up to), there is one thing that is left of me back the site, and that is a Little Catholic Bubble page that Margo (Bubble supporter extraordinaire!) set up for me. If you are on facebook and want to "like" the page, you can find it here. Margo will be linking my latest posts there so that folks won't miss anything here.

7) Finally, I would have posted a plea for an orphan across the world, who is going to "age out" of the system in March of 2014. Eliah has a cleft palate and needs a couple to nurture him as their son, before it's too late for him to ever have a family.

Click his image for more information, and pray for him!


Thanks to Jen (who's never been sucked into facebook) for hosting!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Pill: Masking vs. Healing

On the night of my last full day on Facebook (yep, I quit it!), I jumped into (and immediately out of) a contentious debate on Abby Johnson's page. I only left one comment and then scurried away forever, but I had to get in that word.

Abby, former Planned Parenthood director and author of Unplanned, had reminded her (mostly pro-life) readers that not only can the Pill act as an abortifacient, but its routine use for treating menstrual disorders and other pathologies is ill-advised and even dangerous to a woman's health (the Pill can cause life-threatening conditions and is a Group 1 carcinogen according to the World Health Organization). Abby went on to say that there are always better means of addressing women's health issues, including treatments offered through NaPro Technology*.

Several commenters went into attack mode then, defending the use of the Pill for treating all kinds of female problems. They simply could not live without the Pill, they said, to get relief from their endometriosis, menstrual dysfunction, debilitating pain from ovarian cysts, etc. These pro-life women were angry, and they were standing by their Pill.

The quick comment I added to the thread simply reiterated Abby's point. The Pill only masks symptoms, it doesn't address or cure the underlying pathology. It doesn't restore a woman's health. Women who have disorders of the reproductive organs and cycle, I wrote, should look to NaPro or other medical interventions to identify and actually fix their disorders.

I want to be clear: There is nothing inherently immoral about taking the Pill to ease the symptoms of a disorder. But while swallowing a pill to cover up symptoms is easy, women are left living with the same pathology in the end. By contrast, curing the disease or addressing the disorder at its root is much more difficult: It requires more personal care, more thought, more individual strategy, and often tedious, time-consuming work -- lab work, months of hormone panels, even surgery. But the end result is restored health and wholeness.

The choice seems obvious, but sadly most women don't get this choice, as these days the Pill seems to be the only tool in most doctors' toolboxes.

I used to talk a lot about this sort of thing when my audience and interest was largely the Catholic infertility bloggers (man, do they know a lot about true reproductive health, women's issues, fertility, and NaPro!), but up until now I never thought about how this concept of masking vs. healing the disorders of the body applies to how the Church deals with the whole human person, body and soul.

We've talked about the physical, but it's true of the emotional and spiritual planes, too, isn't it? We love the quick fix to mask our existential pain, pleasure-seeking to make us forget our despair and loneliness, the avoidance of suffering at all costs. Masking the pain seems so much easier than working to fix the underlying problems in our fallen, sinful selves, and for a while it is easier. But as with the Pill, we are ultimately left with the same pathology in the end, only this time it's our soul that remains sick.

The Church's approach is so different from the world's! The Church wants to heal, not mask, and to restore integrity of body and soul. To walk the way of Christ is to take the long view and the narrow road (with a cross on one's back). It's tedious to set things right, it's laborious to make things work according to their nature, and it's painful to bring order out of disorder. It takes heroic virtue and sacrificial love fueled by the grace of the Sacraments, and it is the work of a lifetime.

Christ, the Divine Physician, warns that the process will hurt, but that in the end, we will be completely healed, whole and holy.

Body and soul, I'll take the real cure over a mask any day.

Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician


*Aesthetically speaking, NaPro has the worst website, painful to the eyes, and I keep praying that someone will make it attractive and appealing. Even the best product or service in the world needs to be presented beautifully in order to be well-received! Sigh. That said, please don't let the schlockiness of the website fool or deter you. NaPro is legitimate and effective modern medicine. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Quick Takes: The delightful, surprising edition!

1) Okay, the coolest story. My husband Dean's very first friend when we moved to Phoenix 22 years ago (knowing no one) was a man named Leighton Drake. We had just moved from Atlanta with our newborn baby girl, and Dean had a master's degree but could not find a job during the recession. Desperate to bring in money, he eventually took a job as a room service attendant at a local resort. Leighton was one of his co-workers, a young husband and father like Dean, and the only other room service attendant there who spoke English. Neither Dean nor Leighton was Catholic then, nor was Catholicism even on their radar screens. Dean was an agnostic Jew, and Leighton was an agnostic from a Protestant background. Our two little families became friends.

A few years later, long after Dean and Leighton had left the resort, they both became fervent, devout Catholics. Neither one's conversion influenced or coincided with the other's (we had all lost touch for a while), so it was incredibly bizarre that they both found their way to Holy Mother Church, completely on fire!

Leighton was recently featured on The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi, where he told his inspiring conversion story. When I watched it, I learned details of which even Dean and I were not aware! That this faithful man is connected to Dean's and my own history reminds me, as Pope Francis has said, that God loves to surprise us! I never would have imagined this outcome in a million years. Leighton's beautiful wife Kim also converted and is also a devout and inspiring Catholic today.

You will truly enjoy this:

Oh, and I can't forget: Leighton is an artist who uses his gifts and talents in service to the Lord, via his Drawn to Life Ministries. You can tell from the video what a gifted speaker he is, and his artwork is fantastic, too.

 2) Another thing that delighted me this week was this post concerning the bones of St. Peter, the first pope. When my daughter and her new husband went to Rome on their honeymoon, one of the highlights was the Scavi, i.e., the tour of the Vatican Necropolis, an ancient excavation site directly underneath the high altar of St. Peter's Basilica. Few people even know about this excavation, and tour reservations are required up to six months in advance. It's a rare and grace-filled opportunity to explore that ancient site, and now comes word that the Vatican is going to make St. Peter's bones available for public veneration for the very first time, to close out the Year of Faith!

Which begs the question:

Read the short article and find out. The answer will fascinate you, I promise! God is so good, and as mentioned, He delights in surprising us! Lord, I love being Catholic!

3) Speaking of my daughter and her new husband…

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage!

Yep, just call me Grams! Whoooooot!!!

I am so ready to welcome this little one, and my youngest son (age 3) is already calling himself "Uncle Matthew". (He is also calling me "Uncle Mommy", but that is something we'll straighten out later….)

Right now, my grandbaby looks like this:

My three-year-old was looking at this image earlier and said, unprompted: "A baby!" Yep, a human baby is recognizable and undeniable, even to a pre-schooler! :)

4) For those of you who are still interested (and I can't blame you if you are not), there are some more wedding photos to see. Not the entire group of 609 gorgeous pictures we got back from the photographer, Lexi Moody, but a few select ones that Lexi put on her blog. Check them out, here.

And here is one of my favorites that is not on that link:

Um, yeah, you'll never convince me that fatherhood doesn't matter.

Are you all sick of the wedding pictures yet? If not, I could do another post with all my favorites of the professional photos that are not on the photographer's website.

5) My last post was a bit of a departure for me. It was well-received, prompting several readers to say that it was their favorite Bubble post ever. Beneath that blog post came perhaps my favorite comment ever, from M. Albinoni. I think you will see why:
I love Pope Francis and I also love this post, Leila! Thank you for this. 
I must admit that, as a more progressive Catholic, I had fallen into the "trap" that had been set by much of the media when they portrayed Pope (Emeritus) Benedict as an unforgiving, stern man. You have changed my mind about him, Leila. When I took the time to learn more about him (spurred by your love for him), I found out much to love about him as well! I may not be completely at ease with all of his decisions, but I do love and admire him deeply now. 
I also want to particularly thank you for your last paragraph. I have been following your blog for over a year now, and I only recently decided to be a more active "participant". I was reluctant to post because I had seen some very hurtful comments said to others who expressed ideas similar to mine. That said, I truly believe that I have also evolved and changed a bit in my views and that you have been a big part of that. I used to be in a lot of turmoil about the Church, but I have truly come to a place of peace about it all now. I feel like if my starting point is that I love this Church and that I know I can never be anything other than a Catholic, all my other issues are secondary. They will work themselves out, partly with your help! 

Made.My.Day. It's all worth it, and each and every contributor has helped make this blog feel more like an extended family than just a bunch of disconnected strangers offering opinions. Thanks to every one of you.

6) I'm keenly aware that I used to post several times a week, and now I am down to about once a week. Sigh. I know who/what the culprit is: Facebook, the evil time suck of my life. I have to excise it. I am not sure how. But it takes up the bulk of my screen time and keeps me from blogging. I talk about this dilemma a lot, but will I have the strength to finally kill the beast? I just don't know….

7) Oh, the orphans! Please, everyone, take a look at my latest Orphan Report, featuring Tatiana. She has a matching grant going till November 16 if you have some dollars to spare. Each dollar you donate will be doubled. Tatiana needs out.

And please remember that if you do your Christmas shopping on Amazon through the link on my blog, every penny of commission is donated to the orphans and the families who are working to bring them home.


God bless, and thanks to Jen for hosting!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

When Truth doesn't cut it

For almost twenty years, I have operated under the assumption that souls generally come to God through a hearing of the Truth. After all, that's how my own faith was awakened -- by an exercise of the intellect. I read and I studied and I compared and I examined, and everything Catholicism claimed made beautiful sense to me. It was reasonable, logical, cohesive, coherent, and consistent. On the basis of that coherence, I changed my actions, my beliefs, my heart, and my soul, and I have never looked back. The Truth of the Church was, to me, the essence of her appeal. One of my favorite sayings when it comes to evangelization is "Truth comes with graces attached" -- and yes, it does.

However, I have recently come to understand that I and those like me are not the norm. I have learned that most people do not come to Christ and the Church through an exacting and exhilarating exercise of the intellect. For most people, Truth is not what initially propels them toward Christ.

Well, knock me over with a feather.

But don't get me wrong: Somewhere in my brain, I knew that already. Every human being is unique by design, and I'd read that different folks are drawn to God in different ways: Some are drawn by the fact that God is Truth, for sure, but others by His Oneness (unity), or by His Goodness, or by His Beauty, etc. I've referred to these different "voices of God" when discussing the call to conversion, but I don't think it truly sank in until recently.

First came the election of Pope Francis. For those of us who live mostly in our heads, adoring Truth, embracing intellectual order, craving clarity, and swooning at doctrinal precision, Pope Benedict XVI was our dream pontiff, following on the heels of another beloved papa, the philosopher Blessed John Paul the Great. We Truth-groupies had two popes in a row who nourished our souls by feeding our minds as well. Then suddenly, Pope Francis burst into our comfortable neatness and encouraged us to "make a mess" -- by leaving our books and debates and pristine doctrines for a time and going out into the streets and byways to meet our fellow human beings exactly where they are. Francis had impromptu, non-authoritative exchanges with journalists, secularists, and atheists, chats that were off-the-cuff, even sloppy -- not at all the polished and carefully weighed words of his predecessors.

And the world went nuts. And folks like me readjusted, mentally.

The world "likes" this pope, not for the doctrine and morality he teaches and preaches (which is no different from what came before), not because of ordered thought and careful words, but because he seems to care and listen and love. He seems relatable and real, and more like a loving grandpa in the neighborhood than a Supreme Pontiff on a throne.

But let me stop right here, lest anyone misunderstand: It's not that his predecessors did not love and care for and ache for every soul on the planet! Oh, how it boils my blood when people misunderstand the mystical, saintly JPII who embraced all mankind, or when they malign the shy and kindly Benedict, a quiet and gentle introvert. It's simply that Francis moves the world in a different way, and I think it's that he makes people feel something first, before he makes them think something.

For so many reasons, the soul of modern man is desperate to feel, and feel profoundly.

Francis instinctively operates on an understanding that I needed to learn: Most people do not come to Christ through Truth first. Most people come to Christ prompted by an encounter with Beauty or an experience of Goodness. Love and Truth cannot be separated, of course, but in this era of disconnection, isolation, and despair, Love must precede Truth or Truth won't get a hearing, much less an understanding. They will not hear our Truth if they do not first feel (and believe) our Love.

The next step in my broadened understanding came when I started pondering what I do on this blog. My whole shtick is debating and dissecting and raking over ideas for Truth and clarity. I know from the combox and from my email inbox that this approach is helpful to many, especially those Catholics who, due to poor catechetical formation, need to understand the tenets of the Faith better. I have something to offer in that area, it's been the main goal of the Bubble all along, and I've absolutely no intention of changing what I do on this blog (so don't worry, truthoholics!).

But I have noticed something other than the intellectual debates (and the insistence on Truth) quietly at work here.

You cannot imagine (heck, I would never have imagined!) what goes on behind the scenes of a blog like this. I don't want to reveal anything personal or betray confidences, but trust me when I say that many of the most challenging and even exasperating commenters are the nicest folks off-screen. I love them, truly, and I think they know it. I've been quiet friends with some of them for years, and a few have asked my advice or poured out their hearts, sensing that for all my doctrinal rigidity, I really do care. I've even had one hit-and-run Church-hater email me later to apologize and tell me the heartbreaking story behind the rage in her comment. I was able to pray for her and her family, and both our hearts were changed.

It's in the relationships forged, not so much the technical debates, that real human connections are made, and the fruit I've seen is that an opponent finds some respect for the Church and gives consideration to Christ where before there had been no such thing. I've even witnessed small miracles that have come through the heart-to-hearts and not through the doctrinal debates.

At some point, l will be able to tell you specific stories. Today, I will just remind you that behind every comment, query, challenge, and curse is a person who has a story -- and wounds that we cannot see. Be gentle and kind with everyone you meet and everyone you debate, because for most people, if they can't sense your authentic love for them, they will not want anything to do with your Truth.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. -- 1 Corinthians 13

Thank you, Pope Francis, for reminding us that Truth is not
always the first way to introduce Christ to the human heart. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Just to clarify...

…because it can be confusing:

Halloween (or Hallowe'en), October 31: 

The word derives from "All Hallows' Eve", which denotes the evening before All Hallows' Day (All Saints' Day), a Christian feast day.

All Saints' Day, November 1:

Also known as the Feast of All Saints. It's the day we Catholics honor all the saints in Heaven, not only the canonized, recognized saints who have their own particular feast days on the Church calendar. There are many millions of saints in Heaven who are not canonized, most of whom are obviously unknown to us, and this is the day we celebrate those myriad holy men and women.

All Saints' Day is a holy day of obligation, and so to willfully miss mass on this day is a grave sin for Catholics. (In other words, get to mass!)

All Souls' Day, November 2:

This is the day we remember and pray for all the souls in Purgatory. These souls are not forgotten by the universal Church, and they benefit from the prayers of the faithful as they steadily approach perfection and the Beatific Vision. Often, Catholic parishes invite parishioners to write the names of their deceased loved ones in a "Book of Remembrance", to have prayers and masses offered for these souls during the month of November.

All Souls' Day is not a holy day of obligation.

And, I guess this very little teaching qualifies as a Little Teaching, so it gets the icon!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Just Curious: Where are you from?

I would love to get a feel for where you are geographically!

It's no secret that I am from Arizona, a desert dweller down to my very soul. I was born in Maryland (the Land of Mary -- that fact is not lost on me, considering my journey), lived in Michigan through my preschool years, then moved to and grew up in Tucson, Arizona. I attended college in Boston, then lived in beautiful Atlanta for two years until our first child was born. Headed right back to Arizona and chose to settle in Phoenix, where we have lived and multiplied (physically and spiritually!) for 22 years. I never want to live anywhere else.

So, how about you? I will leave the comments open to anonymous readers as long as everyone behaves. ;)

Sahuaro cacti in my beloved Sonoran Desert.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Follow-up to my "save your marriage in five minutes" post!

Remember this post?

Well, the feedback started pouring in almost immediately, and the responses were just as I'd expected. With permission of the women who wrote to me, I'm reprinting some of their messages in the hopes that those of you who were skeptical at first will take a second look.


From a facebook friend, who I assumed had an excellent marriage:

Just read your blog.  I can't even see to type right now. Can hardly breathe. I who you wrote that for. My marriage in shambles and I'm married to a saint! Have been praying and begging God to direct me.. somewhere, anywhere. My husband has been pleading with me to go to therapy or counseling and I just couldn't. I knew I would shut down , cop an attitude and walk away. I know the problem is me. I don't need a stranger to tell me. But i did need this post. Oh, pray for me Leila.  Going to order the book.

Hours later, from the same woman:

I fell asleep begging God to help me last night.Started a novena to the Blessed Virgin Mary today too.  I cannot stand  how i am, hurting my husband for no apparent reason. I find fault with everything he does. Even how he freaking drinks. How stupid is that? But he's so good to me. You have no idea Leila  the ray of hope i have right now. Thank you! Already ordered one book.... Will keep you posted!

She got the book, read it, and I received this:

THAT BOOK! lT'S WORKING! Listen to this. Last night [my husband] thanked me for supporting his newest interest. I'm laughing as i type this. He's got this strong and sudden interest in metal detecting. Seems we have some pretty old battle sites here in [our state] that are intriguing him. Normally I would just roll my eyes and give a whatever to something like this, but i actually listened to him and agree that this is soooooo up his alley that he should just pursue it.   Last night he thanked me for supporting him!


Part of a message from another woman:

…Oh, and about Dr. Laura's book, there was an improvement in my outlook before I even finished the first chapter. No joke, before I had even finished reading the thing my husband came home with chocolates for me. We have a good marriage. We've been married for 23 years and have seven kids but now, finally, I feel like a grown up, married woman. I feel like I should explain that more, but I'll leave it at that for now. I see things trickling down to the kids as well. I also see skills I can gain in loving my kids. Society sure has messed with marriage!


From a Dr. Laura skeptic:

I wanted to say I really appreciated your blog post recommending "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands." My mother used to listen to Dr. Laura on the radio and I absolutely hated her growing up, so there is little chance I would have ever thought to pick up her book on my own. I trusted your recommendation, picked it up from the library, and although my marriage of three years is by no means awful, after going through postpartum depression twice I saw a lot of myself in the women Dr. Laura described.

My husband is a great gift and really works hard both away from home and helping me take care of our boys, and I was ignoring almost all of it. While reading the book I caught some glimpses of the radio personality I didn't like, but overall, the message is sound. I made a few changes based on her recommendations and although my husband and I are just as tired and busy as we always were, I can see a dramatic improvement in both of us - even with our four month old in the midst of teething!


Saw this note on pinterest!

this book changed my marriage -- Little Catholic Bubble: Women: Save your marriage. In five minutes.


And this from a reader:

Proper Care has helped our marriage so much!!! It's easy to feel selfish every once in a while and start feeling resentment. I then have to humble myself and remember what Dr. Laura says in the book. It works every time.


A child of divorce recommends the book:

...I also want to say AMEN to her discussion divorce and stepfamily so far. On so many levels... the errors stepmothers are tempted to make and the errors children of divorce are especially prone to make. I say if you come from a split/remarried family, grab this book! We can never get too much help in that arena, really.

And feminism... oh my goodness, pile that on top of a history of divorce, and it's no wonder there are so many miserable marriages.

So to summarize, I started reading it last night, and we had one of our first great nights in a week! It brought me back to when we were dating - when he was a clear priority. For some crazy reason, he likes that! :)


And this beautiful, honest testimony:


I had a very long response for you all typed out but decided to not waste your time on what could be said simply:

I can finally see what people are talking about when they say that I have a "great guy" and "I am so lucky." Yes, I am!

I have been extremely self-centered for the past 10 years.

I have been miserable for past 10 years because I was not RECEIVING my husbands love, as in accepting it, even though he was giving it all along.

I think despite my husband's questions of the faith, he may get into heaven before I do.

He has been scared of me for the past 10 years.

He is not "extremely passive" like I told you. He has just been scared of me and my temper and what I will do next to cut him down.

My children do not respect him because I have not respected him.

My family is lopsided because I have taken over.

I realize now it wasn't necessary to take over my husbands role; he would have done just fine had I made him feel more like a man.

I have not gotten in any arguments with him since reading the book because I see everything so differently now.

I apologized for my behavior and he said he's already forgiven me.

So many people love Mother Teresa because of her simplicity. Men are so simple and yet we think of that as a weakness???

Though we have to answer for our own actions, I see now how society has manipulated our minds to think that men truly are stupid, childish, immature and pigs that only want sex.

There's so much more I could say but this is the gist of it. Thank you for recommending this book! It has changed my life! As soon as I'm done with it, I'm going to donate it to our Adoration chapel. Hopefully some good woman praying for her marriage will read it.


There was more, but you get the gist. Quick, cheap (free at the library!), easy, and it works to turn marriages around.

I was shocked and honored that the Diocese of Omaha, Nebraska found the post worthy to link on its website, and Dr. Laura's website picked it up as well, via a note from one of her listeners

Ladies, if you bypassed the marriage post the first time around, please give it another try. The devil works to destroy marriages in the littlest ways, a thousand times every day. Don't let him near yours. Kick him out in five minutes.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Quick Takes: They met Pope Francis!

1) Generally, this is not so much a mommy blog, and I don't write a whole lot about my family. But lately, obviously, I've been a giddy mom. Turn away if you can't stand any more, but I am seriously over the moon. My daughter and her new husband met Pope Francis this Wednesday as he greeted the section of newlyweds during his normal Wednesday audience. I can't post the pictures here, as I have not yet coughed up the zillion euros I need to buy the many photo files that I desire. Oh, don't you worry, I will eventually! But for now, you can see the entire ring-kissing, laughter-filled, joyful sequence here, if you scroll through page 12:

Her flame-red hair makes them easy to spot -- I knew it would come in handy someday! Also, click here for a couple photos of them earlier, as they wait. (That's not her actual wedding dress but a $14 dress she bought for the trip, easily balled up and thrown into a suitcase.) 

Not gonna lie, the whole episode just makes me want to jump and scream! I am so happy for them. And a shout out to my wonderful parents for making the trip possible. It's a dream come true. 

2) Okay, I have been waiting and waiting till I could tell you about Simcha Fisher's new book! I was privileged to get a full preview this summer, and I have been promoting it in comboxes all over the internet since then, even though it was not yet available. 

As you know, I am a proponent of the great gift of Natural Family Planning, and I have written about attitudes towards NFP in somewhat impassioned terms. Simcha's book, The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning, hits on many of the same issues with just as much passion, only she's funnier and more profound. Best of all, she does not sugarcoat NFP use at all. 

Adam and Eve, you started this!

Here's the review that I put on Amazon:

Simcha had me at "It is not possible to use NFP with a 'contraceptive mentality' so stop making up new sins, people!" (Yes, that is a paraphrase; yes, she says it so much better; yes, that's when I started cheering and didn't stop.)

This is not a book about how to chart your cycle or how your body works, it's a book about how human nature and husbands and wives work. Clear writing, refreshing logic, profound wisdom, practical, detailed advice, and laugh-out-loud humor (hooray!) make this unlike any other NFP book you have ever read.

It's hard for me to pick a favorite chapter, but Simcha's gentle admonition in the "You Don't Know" section is worth the price of the book and should be required reading for any Catholic who's ever expressed a public thought on NFP. Heck, while we're at it, the entire book should be required reading for every secular sex and marriage therapist on the face of the planet -- they might learn a thing or two (or 50) that never even occurred to them and save a million relationships.

If you love NFP, hate it, are confused by it, or have never heard of it, this is your book -- and the one you'll be discussing with your spouse and sharing with your friends.

3) Sorry, but this made me laugh, especially that last one!

4) My husband and I are going to the annual Bioethics Defense Fund event here in Scottsdale, Arizona on November 1! We never miss it. Please join us and let's have a blast, eat delicious food, drink with oodles of friends and hear the best, most inspirational speakers of the year. 

There really is no one else who does what pro-life attorneys Nik Nikas and Dorinda Bordlee do on the worldwide legal and educational front, and they are fearless in defending the dignity of all human beings from conception to natural death. Click the banner below to register, and I'll see you there!

5) Two good videos to recommend today.

First, what most economists don't want to talk about is the intimate connection between the health of the American family and America's economic health, but we ignore that connection to our peril:

Second, a brilliant 5-minute video from Prager University addressing the question of God and suffering, featuring Boston College philosophy professor (and a hero of mine) Peter Kreeft. Whenever Dennis Prager and Peter Kreeft collaborate on something, I am all ears, and I hope you will be, too:

6) I don't play the grammar nazi too often, but I'm doing it today, folks. I've been talking marriage on the macro and micro levels lately, and let's get two words straight:

Your father is going to walk you down the aisle, not the isle! If he walked you down the isle, you might fall into the ocean.

And what makes marriage marriage is that man and woman are complementary in nature, not complimentary! Well, I mean, they can compliment each other of course ("Nice hair, sweetie!"), but that's a whole other issue. 

Whew, thanks for letting me get that out. 

7) Here is a little beauty from Eastern Europe, Lydia, who might complement your family well, and one day even walk down the aisle with her daddy…. if only she could find a family to take her home and love her. She has cerebral palsy and would thrive in a loving home and with good medical care and nutrition.

Click here for more information on this seven-year-old beauty. 


Have a great weekend everyone, and thanks to Jen for hosting!