Monday, October 24, 2016

EpicPew Post and Top 100 Homeschooling Blog Recognition

Just dropping in to say a quick "Hello" and to share some exciting things happening with my blogging adventures!

Recently, I published my first EpicPew blog post titled 26 Reasons to Leave the Catholic Church Immediately !  It was a lot of fun to write and don't let the title fool you! ;)

The post begins....

In this world of craziness, you might be a little off your rocker to study Catholicism and even sillier if you choose to become a Catholic (GASP!).  If you did take the plunge (in the waters of baptism as an infant or as an adult) and you are Catholic, maybe you should have read this post first.

Image result for catholic baptism images

I present you with 26 reasons everyone should leave the Catholic Church immediately… Read More

Another exciting happening is that I received a comment on my post, A Defend Life Lesson From Culture of Life Studies Program, not too long ago and "Cascia" commented that my blog was featured in a list of 100 best Homeschooling blogs at Healthy Moms Magazine Blog! It was a lovely surprise and I'm appreciative to have my blog on the list!   My blog is listed in the #70 spot.  Be sure to visit the list of 100 best Homeschooling blogs!

As always, thanks for stopping in to visit my little corner of blog land!

 Hoping you are having a blessed week!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Raising Chaste Catholic Men: Book Review and Author Interview

This post contains affiliate links.

Sometimes you read a book that is not only a page turner, but you feel compelled to highlight, star, circle and underline not just sentences, but one paragraph after another.  Then you can’t contain your excitement with just making line art in the book so you wake your husband from his restful sleep (very) late at night by poking him in his side and politely ask demand that he listen to just one more paragraph.

Raising Chaste Catholic Men: Practical Advice, Mom to Mom by popular Catholic blogger, Leila Miller, is a book I recently had the privilege to read. It got my pen moving, kept my eyes open during late night readings and filled my heart and soul with truth and gratitude.  I am so grateful Miller took on this project about issues that are so counter cultural and I’m happy to share my thoughts on it.

There's so much I love about Miller's book that I really could just skip writing a review and just yell “READ IT!”
But, if I was to write a longer review I’d first say that Miller opens her book with a chapter “What This Book Is Not”. After she lays out some disclaimers she concludes the chapter by admitting her book is not a scholarly work, but rather “this book is the equivalent of one Catholic mom sitting down over a cup of tea with another mom in my kitchen, to talk informally but quite seriously about navigating this culture with your boys’ morality and chastity intact-and to give you the confidence you need to do just that.” (pg. 8) I enjoyed how her first chapter set the mood and tone of her book and throughout the book it definitely felt like a casual conversation about topics that many hold dear to their hearts.

Miller’s book will bring truth, clarity and guidance to parents who seek to raise chaste, virtuous, masculine men so our young men will be equipped to put on their armor to fight the spiritual battle that rages against them in our secular world. But, don’t let the title fool you.  This book is not just for mothers, but also fathers, priests, religious, youth ministers, grandparents and realistically anyone who raises boys or teaches them can benefit from the wealth of information and solid advice that Miller gives succinctly and charitably.

Some of the chapter titles include:

* Be His Parent and His Friend
* When They Are Little
* The Two Big Accusations
* The Gay "Marriage" Juggernaut
* Chastity Before and After Marriage
* Straight Talk About Masturbation
* Fear Has a Place
* Navigating Pop Culture
* Training Men Out of Manhood
* Advice From Chaste Young Men
* When Things Go Wrong

As a busy homeschool mother of 4 daughters and a teen son, I appreciated that Miller’s book was short (just 126 pages long) and you knew that Miller, being a busy mother (and grandmother) herself, understood that time is limited for everyone, especially mothers.

Despite the short chapters, Miller has a gift of making her point with as few words as possible, but she explains the most complicated subjects with clarity and charity. For example, this is one of many paragraphs that I have highlighted, underlined and starred that resonated with me especially, not only because of it's message, but because Miller gets her point across simply and eloquently.

"The Catholic Church is the one voice lovingly, carefully, firmly proclaiming, whether anyone listens or not, that sex has a meaning and purpose that cannot be discarded without violating our human dignity.  Even when certain members of the Church violate her teaching on human sexuality, including some of the very clergy sworn to holiness, the evil fallout and devastation wreaked upon the innocent is not a negation of but rather an excruciating confirmation of the moral law and the good of chastity." (page 38)

Miller informs and encourages the reader with wisdom and sincerity and as a mother, I felt her book gave the boost of confidence I needed to continue the long journey of raising a chaste Catholic son.   Reading Miller’s book will give you the encouragement you need even when things go wrong and the young men in your life make choices that are contrary to what God and your heart and soul desires.   If this does happen, Miller’s Rule #1 is “Do not freak out!” I love this rule because there’s a lot to freak out about when raising chaste Catholic men. Miller’s book will leave you with less and less freak out sessions and much more confidence to tackle subject areas that Miller herself has faced as she and her husband have successfully raised some of their own chaste Catholic men.

If you don’t remember anything else from my review here, remember this…Buy it, share it, borrow it, love it, live it, but most importantly “READ IT!”  I think you will be happy you did.

photo credit

Be sure to follow Leila Miller's blog at Little Catholic Bubble and if  you would like to read more reviews on Miller's book be sure to visit Amazon, Backwards in High Heels blog post, and To Love and Be Loved blog post.

If you are interested in hearing more about Leila Miller's book and hear her talk about it, be sure to click over and listen to these radio interviews that she did and you can tell she had so much fun being interviewed!

Catholic Conversations with Steve and Becky Greene on 10/4/16
Ready To Stand: Pro-Life Radio, with Cullen Herout on 10/716
Relevant Radio on 10/20/16 (Interview begins at the 12:00 mark)

I recently "interviewed" Leila Miller via email and asked her a few questions as a way for readers to gain some more insight about Miller and her amazing, highly recommended book.

1)      Who/What inspired you to write your book on this particular topic of raising chaste Catholic men? 
Several moms over the course of a couple of years asked me to write about how to raise "good men" or "real men" in this crazy culture. When two wonderful moms asked me that same question within a 24-hour period last January, I decided it was time. And so I sat down and started to write. 

2)      Did you discuss your book idea with your family first, especially your older children?  What were their reactions? 
I did, and they thought it was amusing! And when I told my oldest three boys (who are all past puberty, two of them adults) that I wanted them to be a part of the book, I was surprised at how amiable they were to that idea! I have a feeling they are sick of the lack of good men out there, too!

3)      As a busy wife, mom and grandmother, when in the world did you find time to write your book?   
Oh, boy! Well, let's just say I am a night owl, and I don't get a lot of sleep! I usually work when everyone else is sleeping, since there is so much quiet and no distractions. But I admit that I also tend to neglect housework when I'm writing! Thankfully, I have a very supportive, hardworking husband!

4)      Did you receive any spiritual direction from a priest while you were writing your book?  
I actually ran the initial draft by my wonderful, holy bishop, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. His blessings and words of encouragement just put me over the moon! He has been a fan of my blog for some time, and so he has always been an encouragement to me, someone who likes my work. It's such a consolation, because I would not want to write anything without my bishop's blessing and approval. He is just an incredible shepherd!  
5)      Did you have to fight any spiritual battles as you pursued this topic that is so counter cultural?   
Great question! This one went pretty smoothly, praise God, but I already know that the spiritual battle is coming with my next book, in which I will be giving a voice to the adult children of divorce. That spiritual onslaught began as soon as I simply made the announcement and asked for contributors (who came out of the woodwork, by the way! About a hundred adult children of divorce contacted me in just two days after I said something on Facebook). A small but fierce amount of opposition and hostility came out, too. I covet your prayers! 

6)      Which chapter did you enjoy writing the most?  
I loved writing the chapter on "Being His Parent and His Friend," because it was so unexpected to me, believe it or not. I didn't expect to write anything like that, but it occurred to me that much of what has brought "success" in raising chaste Catholic men is the friendship we share, parent to child. And it also goes against what used to be my own mantra, "Children need a parent, not a friend!" In the chapter, I explain how to get a balance there, and why it's so important. 

The least?  
I didn't love writing the chapter on masturbation, because, let's face it, it's an icky topic. Yuck. But we need to speak about it. We need to know how to approach our boys. We need to realize that in a society of ubiquitous porn, masturbation becomes an addiction just like the porn itself. So, while it was an unpleasant chapter to write, it was also one of the most interesting and hopeful, believe it or not. 

7)      In one of the chapters at the end of your book you have young men answer questions concerning living chastely in a secular world. Some of these men were your own grown sons. Did you learn anything new about your own sons after they answered the questions?  Did anything they said surprise you?  
I was surprised that they were so willing to talk about it, and didn't fight me! I was thrilled with the depth of the answers, and it made me want to fall on the ground in gratitude to God that they "get it." God is merciful! I was taken by the very different "mood" of each boys' contribution, and I marveled at that, really appreciating how uniquely God has created all of our boys. It was quite a treat, and very moving for me to realize that these are my babies, all grown up. 

8)      If you could tell parents and anyone who works with young boys/men one piece of advice about raising chaste Catholic men, what would it be?  
Be completely open to answering any question. Make sure that they know you are always available to talk, and that no topic is off-limits. They should never, ever be embarrassed to come to you with a question or problem, even and especially in the area of sexuality. 

9)      Please feel free to share anything else you would like others to know about your project and book.  
Although the subtitle is "Practical Advice, Mom to Mom," the book is quite practical for fathers, too. I didn't write it specifically with fathers in mind, but the feedback from dads has proven to me that it's just as helpful for them as well! 

Thank you Leila Miller for writing Raising Chaste Catholic Men: Practical Advice, Mom to Mom and for taking time to answer my interview questions! 

God bless! 


Thursday, October 20, 2016

October 18: Feast Day of Saint Luke

This post contains affiliate links.

On October 18, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of Saint Luke, the Evangelist.  He was the author of the third book of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament.  Saint Luke was a Greek doctor and is the patron Saint of artists, craftspeople, doctors and surgeons.  Stories say he was an artist and his Gospel writings inspired many artists' work.   

This was the first year I thought of making a snack to celebrate this special feast day. I ended up making very simple Artist Palette Cookies which was inspired from Catholic Cuisine.

To make the cookies I used:
Pretzel sticks (with a small amount of peanut butter to stick the sprinkle on the end of pretzel)
Sprinkles (I used Wilton Rainbow Chip Crunch, specifically the dark purple sprinkles to make it look like the end of the pretzel stick "brush")

On the morning of Saint Luke's feast day I set out the cookies, page about Saint Luke from Saints and Angels book (that I read from often with our feast day celebrations), Saint Luke peg doll and statues of Saint Luke on our kitchen table.   I painted the Saint Luke peg doll for the peg doll exchange I participated in awhile ago and by doing so I learned that Saint Luke's symbol is a winged ox because  "in the Gospel of St. Luke, the priestly and sacrificial work of Jesus is emphasized. The ox represents the sacrificial aspect of Jesus’ ministry and the wings remind us that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to travel throughout the world."

There is so much to learn about the Catholic faith and the Saints' lives.  I'm enjoying learning more about Saint Luke each year alongside my children.  This year I discovered 18 Ways to Celebrate Saint Luke from Better Than Eden that lists other beautiful and fun ways to celebrate this great holy hero and role model.

I also enjoyed reading about Our Lady of Czestochowa and Saint Luke from Shower of Roses. I had no idea that Saint Luke is traditionally known to have painted the original icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, also known as the "Black Madonna".

I put the Our Lady of Czestochowa Shining Light Doll on my wish list to add to our other Shining Light Dolls that we already own: Saint Nicholas, St. Teresa of Calcutta, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Fatima and St. Theresa of Lisieux

This day is also my son's "Name Day" because he was due on Saint Luke's feast day, but he arrived on October 19.   So Saint Luke holds a special place in our family's heart.  We celebrated our son's 15th birthday on October 19th and he didn't want me to make one of my homemade birthday cakes.  Instead, he requested a box cake and can icing and some gummy worms.  I used the sprinkles from the Saint Luke cookies to make a "15" on his cake.  :)

Saint Luke, pray for us!


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I'm Tracy. I love my faith, family and on most days, homeschooling my 5 blessings. When I'm not busy baking cakes for my family or making memories in real life or dreaming I had a housekeeper or professional chef, I enjoy documenting a slice of Smith life in blog land.

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