Obamacare's Violation of Religious Freedom

January 29th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Faith - (Comments Off on Obamacare's Violation of Religious Freedom)

So yesterday I attended a wedding shower for my future sister-in-law and did a music trivia night to benefit our local Catholic high school, so I ran out of time to post anything for my Saturday Spruce-Up. I know my rabid readers are so disappointed, and I apologize…

Anyway, I was just introduced to a great article detailing the slippery slope we may be on in Obamacare’s mandate that everyone pay for things such as contraceptives, abortion causing drugs, and sterilization, even if it’s against one’s own conscience. Here is an excerpt from the article on WSJ.com by Timothy Dolan:

The Catholic Church defends religious liberty, including freedom of conscience, for everyone. The Amish do not carry health insurance. The government respects their principles. Christian Scientists want to heal by prayer alone, and the new health-care reform law respects that. Quakers and others object to killing even in wartime, and the government respects that principle for conscientious objectors. By its decision, the Obama administration has failed to show the same respect for the consciences of Catholics and others who object to treating pregnancy as a disease.

This latest erosion of our first freedom should make all Americans pause. When the government tampers with a freedom so fundamental to the life of our nation, one shudders to think what lies ahead.

In addition, Dolan explains that it’s not just the Catholics that object to this mandate.

Certainly many of these good people and groups [who objected to the mandate] were Catholic, but many were Americans of other faiths, or no faith at all, who recognize that their beliefs could be next on the block. They also recognize that the cleverest way for the government to erode the broader principle of religious freedom is to target unpopular beliefs first.

Click here to read the full article–it’s worth the five minutes!

The government is basically attempting to take away freedom of conscience for the individual, which is against the Bill of Rights (Remember the first amendment – Freedom of Religion?). So what can we do about it? Pray, pray, pray. Spread the word, and don’t be afraid to speak up.

No matter what you believe, this is not just an issue about contraception, it’s a direct violation of everyone’s freedom of religion. If we just let this go, what’s next?

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March for Life 2012 – Love is the Answer

January 25th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Kids - (Comments Off on March for Life 2012 – Love is the Answer)

You may or may not have heard, but the March for Life in Washington, D.C. took place again this year on Monday, January 23rd. The main stream media is not super interested in covering this because abortion is such a widely accepted practice in our country. Pro-lifers are almost seen as radicals in our day. Tim Muldoon, a blogger for Patheos.com, wrote an amazing post about the March for Life, calling it the “March for Love.” Here is an excerpt from that post (with parts I liked best in bold):

In our experience, the metanoia of loving has meant seeing orphans not as problems to be solved, but as beloved children who will gladden adoptive parents. If you are pro-choice, or if you are someone who has had an abortion, perhaps it may help to imagine what gives fire to the pro-life movement. Each pregnancy we see as a new opportunity for love, an irreplaceable gift that challenges us to love anew. We see abortion as an interruption of the potential for love, the opportunity for love, and so we hope to build a society in which those opportunities are welcomed. Our hope is both simple and profound: to treat human beings through the lens of love, rather than primarily through the lens of reason.

In the big picture, love is the far more powerful way of looking at the world. Love is the game-changer. People die for love; they stretch their energies and resources for love. They move to the farthest ends of the earth for love. They take on the greatest challenges for love. They fast, tighten their belts, work extra jobs, lose sleep for love. They imagine new possibilities. Reason is often a wet blanket: it tells us why we can’t do something (it’s too expensive; it will require too much work; it’s too hard…). Love, on the other hand, moves us to find the ways we can do something. It is the most deeply human dimension of our lives, because it is at the same time the most deeply rooted in the divine.

Wow, if we can all truly look at life through the lens of love, think of what our world could be. There are no “official” statistics out there, but it is estimated that between one and two million couples are waiting for a child to adopt, waiting to be able to show their love to a beautiful little child. So what is the right thing to do if you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy? LOVE is always the answer.

I also found this video trying to help people understand the reasons behind the March for Life posted by The Bad Catholic. Check it out here:

And if you believe in the power of prayer, please pray for the victims of abortion, for their mothers who have been hurt emotionally, spiritually, and physically by abortion, for those pregnant women who are feeling alone and scared, and for a change of heart our country’s leaders.

Make-A-List Monday – Gross Outs

January 23rd, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Make-A-List Monday - (Comments Off on Make-A-List Monday – Gross Outs)

Since I became a mother, my gross-out threshold has shot way up, but there are still some things that have a real ick factor. Let’s hope I’m not the only one.

  1. Cheese out of an aerosol can(like Easy Cheese). Really, what must that stuff be made out of?

    It's hard for me to even look at this picture! Yuck!

  2. Getting poked with needles. I’ve given birth three times and had to be given IVs and had blood taken numerous times, but really, ew.
  3. The smell of vomit. Yes, I’m a mother and I deal with it. I have to muscle through it when my kids are sick, but it really, really grosses me out.
  4. Roaches. Thank God we’ve never had them in our house. We’d have to move.
  5. Mice. These disease-harboring rodents give me the creeps, but at least they aren’t roaches.
  6. Man vs. Food. Have you seen this show? A guy takes these food challenges and gorges himself on whatever the food of the day is. No matter what he eats, he looks like he wants to vomit when he’s done.
  7. Raw chicken. Enough said.
  8. Feet. Little tiny baby feet – adorable! Big kid or adult sweaty dirty feet – ew!
  9. The low priority placed on faith. We as a country get so excited about sports, but we are never as excited or up front or even able to defend our faith. Think of the rejoicing that would go on in heaven if everyone got as excited about God as they did about the football games yesterday! Can you even imagine?

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The Power of Prayer – for Ella Cain

January 7th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Faith - (Comments Off on The Power of Prayer – for Ella Cain)

I believe in the power of prayer. Do you?

This week in Quincy, IL, a family lost their home to an electrical fire. Their 15 month old daughter suffered severe burns and will likely be in the hospital for several months. If you believe in the power of prayer, please pray for Ella Cain. You can join the Facebook group to pray for her and receive updates here.

In addition, if you’d like to donate clothing, toiletries, other household items or make a monetary donation, please visit help-ella.com.

I have never met anyone in this family, but I do believe in the power of prayer that this little girl’s tiny body may be healed. If you don’t know how to start your prayer, just pray with me now.

Psalm 30:2 – O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.

Almighty Lord, I praise you and adore you. You are my creator and you rule over all things. You are everything that is, was, and shall be.
I am truly sorry for everything I have done wrong lately, and I know that I am not worthy of your love and mercy. Please forgive my sins. Thank you for loving me and all your children anyway.

Lord Jesus, thank you for all the blessings in my life and for the blessings you have shown the Cain family. Although Ella is hurt, she is alive, she is the care of excellent doctors and nurses, and she has given so many people a real reason to hope and pray. Please heal her tiny body, lay your healing hands on her, Lord. Be with her doctors and nurses; guide their hands as they perform surgeries and procedures, and give them the knowledge on which paths to take in her recovery. Lord, be with Ella’s parents, her brother, her family, and everyone who loves her. Give them comfort in their times of need. Give them strength in times of weakness. Give them hope when things seem hopeless. And let them feel your love and the love of the thousands praying for them. Please also bless all those suffering for any reason, especially children and their parents. I ask these things in your holy name, Amen.

See? It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a quick prayer will do.

To read the full story of the Ginster/Cain family’s house fire, visit help-ella.com.

Make-a-List Monday – Tebow & Humility

December 12th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Make-A-List Monday - (Comments Off on Make-a-List Monday – Tebow & Humility)

Humility. It’s something we often don’t think much about. In our society, everyone is competing to make more money, to get the top spot in whatever they do, and to win. Always to win.

It’s especially that way in sports. Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos (NFL football for my non-sportsy friends;) had an ad out at the Superbowl last year supporting Focus on the Family, a pro-life organization. (Click below to see the ad. I personally don’t see why anyone would find it terribly offensive, but whatever.)

Tebow, aka “God’s Quarterback,” is up front about his faith in Christ, and this rubs people the wrong way quite often. I admire the guy because in the world of professional sports, when it’s the norm to be promiscuous, greedy, rude, etc., he goes against the grain, is humble, and openly prays during games. He is being who he is, an authentic person. Even if you don’t agree with his beliefs, you have to respect him for being true to himself and to God whom he worships.

He is a wonderful role model in today’s “all-about-me” society as someone who is faithful and humble. He attributes all of his blessings to God. He usually has a bible verse on his eye black during each game. The one I saw recently was Eph. 2:8-10, which reads

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Tebow knows that God has prepared him to do good works in His name, and that his success is not of his own accord. Pretty cool when you think of all the arrogance in professional sports.

It’s also really important to have humility in marriage. Being humble gives you the ability to think of your spouse’s needs before my own, to perform acts of service for him, and acknowledge your own strengths and weaknesses.

Am I always humble? Of course not. I’m far from perfect, but always striving to do the right thing and to be a good person in God’s eyes is what I expect out of myself.

Are you humble?

Here is a check list to help examine the humility in your own heart:

    • Am I able to admit when I am wrong?
    • Do I handle criticism well or do I get defensive?
    • Am I able to recognize my own weaknesses and learn from them?
    • Do I tend to talk more or listen more?
    • Am I gracious when I am right and someone else is wrong or do I tend to gloat?
    • Do I give credit to those who have helped me or would I rather enjoy claiming glory for myself?
    • Do I enjoy “working behind the scenes” or would I rather be up front showing off?
    • Am I willing to ask for help if I need it?
    • Do I tend to get to know people for who they are, or do I judge them by their appearances?
    • Do I think of others’ needs (especially my spouse) before thinking of my own?

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector – Luke 18:9-14
He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Happy Thanksgiving! Who are you thanking?

November 24th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Living Simply | Our Crazy Life - (Comments Off on Happy Thanksgiving! Who are you thanking?)

Happy Thanksgiving! I think it’s so great that our country dedicates an entire day to celebrating the act of being thankful. It’s an act of the heart, and it’s not always easy to see how grateful we should be for the things we have, the people in our lives, and the blessings that have been bestowed on us.

My little Indian at his Thanksgiving feast at preschool

We are thankful. But who are you thanking?

I thank God, today and every day. Without Him, I’d be nothing. Without Him, my life wouldn’t have meaning.

With Him, all things are possible, and there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Especially when I’m going through hard times, I rely on God to pick me up and bring me out of the darkness. I’m sure I’ll share some of those stories on here someday, but today is about being thankful.

So here is the short list of things I thank God for tonight:

  1. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Without this ultimate act of love, we’d never even have a chance to experience eternal life with God.
  2. My honey. He’s my knight in shining armor and my favorite person to laugh with. Being his wife has changed me for the better, and the life we share together is more amazing than I ever could have imagined. He is stunning. In all possible ways.
  3. That the sweetest kids I’ve ever known call me “Mom.” Who knew these little people could teach me such big lessons in life?
  4. My parents and siblings. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.
  5. Our little house, our vehicles, my husband’s job, and the rest of our material things. I have days when I just really want more and more things, but we’ve got all we need and more, and I’m thankful.
  6. The health of myself and my family. A lot of people don’t have the blessing of good health, and I don’t want to take it for granted.
  7. Retreats like Teens Encounter Christ and Cursillo. The communities of people that put these on make such a difference in bringing people to Christ and helping them to understand their faith. God has done wonderful things in my life through these movements.
  8. Laughter and a sense of humor. Because who wants to be serious all the time?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Respect Life Month – 180 Movie

October 6th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith - (Comments Off on Respect Life Month – 180 Movie)

I am posting this video in honor of the over 50 million children lost in this country alone since abortion became legal. It’s a 33 minute video, but it’s worth your time. Shocking, horrifying and thought-provoking all in one.

Word of God Speak – The Cornerstone

October 2nd, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith - (Comments Off on Word of God Speak – The Cornerstone)

Today’s gospel is Matthew 21:33-43. At the end of this parable, Jesus says, “Have you never read in the scriptures: `The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis - August 2011

So what is the “head of the corner,” aka the cornerstone? I looked it up.

Dictionary.com described “cornerstone” as

  1. stone  uniting two masonry walls at an intersection.
  2. stone  representing the nominal starting place in the construction of a monumental building, usually carved with the date and laid with appropriate ceremonies.
  3. something that is essential, indispensable, or basic: The cornerstone of democratic government is a free press.
  4. the chief foundation on which something is constructed or developed: The cornerstone of his argument was that all people are created equal.

Each of these definitions applies to Jesus as the cornerstone of the Church – the body of Christ, not a building.

The first definition makes me think of Jesus as uniting the Jews and Gentiles of His time. At that time, Jewish people would have nothing to do with Gentiles and regarded them as unclean. It is true that the Hebrew people had the original covenant as God’s Chosen People. Jesus showed them that although they were His chosen people, God loves everyone and calls us all to be holy and have faith in Him. Each group is a wall, and Jesus is the one thing to build on, the one thing which we can all agree.

The second definition reminds me that our entire faith, the way we live our lives, the way our Church is in the world is all in relationship to the fact that Jesus came to earth to be our Savior. Without Him, we wouldn’t have a place to start.

The third definition tells us that Jesus is essential, indispensable, and basic. The words “essential” and “indispensable” actually mean “absolutely necessary.” Jesus is absolutely necessary to our individual spiritual lives and to our collective lives in the Church. Jesus is our moral and ethical guide. The word “basic” means “forming an essential foundation or starting point; fundamental.” As Christians, Jesus should be our starting point for every decision we ever make.

The fourth definition also applies to both our individual spiritual lives as well as to building the Church. He is our rock and our foundation. He is strong even when we aren’t. When there is any question of morals or faith, we can turn to Christ. Prayer becomes our lifeline, and He is always faithful to His promises.

Is Jesus the true cornerstone of your life?

The Horror of our Generation

September 29th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Kids - (Comments Off on The Horror of our Generation)

Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a mandate that nearly all private business who offer health insurance to their employees will have to include coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including those that cause early abortions.

As a Christian, there is no way I personally can approve of this by sitting back and doing nothing. Yesterday, I visited the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website and wrote an email to the Department of Health and Human Services recommending that they do not enact this mandate. It violates my freedom of religion by forcing me to pay for a practice my church and I personally condemn.

Pro-choicers claim that it’s the woman’s right to do what she wants with her body. I totally agree with them on that. A woman can either choose to be abstinent if she doesn’t want to get pregnant, nearly unheard of in this era of sexual debauchery. However, once she’s pregnant, it’s not just her body. Every human being’s life begins at conception. Modern medical science has proven that a baby has 46 of its own unique chromosomes at conception. There is another human being growing and living, and its heart is beating.

As Dr. Suess says in Horton Hears a Who, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

I also can’t imagine the longterm effects an abortion has on the mother-physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I am currently attending a weekly bible study on the book of Exodus. Click here to read a summary on the story of Exodus. A few weeks ago, we discussed that there are three times in human history when major infanticide* has occurred.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

  1. In the book of Exodus, when Pharaoh orders the death of all male Hebrew babies.
  2. In the Gospel stories, when Herod orders the death of all males under the age of two shortly after the birth of Christ.
  3. Now.
It is an absolute horror that the practice of abortion is so accepted in our society.
We have been accepting the normalcy of abortion for far too long, nearly 40 years in the United States.
And now, if this law passes, we will be forced to spend our money on the murder of our children. We need to cherish the lives of our children, not destroy them.
So what can we do? Several things –
1. Visit the US Conference of Catholic Bishops website and write to HHS opposing their recent preventive services mandate. Here is what the default email says, it is clear and succinct.

“Pregnancy is not a disease, and drugs and surgeries to prevent it are not basic health care that the government should require all Americans to purchase. Please remove sterilization and prescription contraceptives from the list of ‘preventive services’ the federal government is mandating in private health plans. It is especially important to exclude any drug that may cause an early abortion, and to fully respect religious freedom as other federal laws do. The narrow religious exemption in HHS’s new rule protects almost no one. I urge you to allow all organizations and individuals to offer, sponsor and obtain health coverage that does not violate their moral and religious convictions.”

We only have until September 30th (TOMORROW!) to write to HHS, so get a move on! Do it now, it only takes a minute or two.

2. Write to Congress supporting the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (HR-1179).

3. Spread the word. Get everyone you know to bombard the HHS and Congress with emails opposing the preventive services mandate. As Christians, we are called to show love for others at all times. If someone disagrees with you, act graciously and show them love.

4. Attend pro-life events. The National Life Chain event will take place this Sunday, October 2, 2011, at 2:00PM CST. Locally, pro-life supporters will be standing at the corner of 48th and Broadway holding signs** and praying in silence from 2:30-3:30PM. LifeChain.net describes the Life Chain event like this:

LIFE CHAIN is a peaceful and prayerful public witness of pro-life individuals standing for 90 minutes praying for our nation and for an end to abortion.  It is a visual statement of solidarity by the Christian community that abortion kills children and that the Church supports the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death.

5. Pray. Pray for an end to abortion. Pray for the children lost. Pray for all pregnant women. Pray for the parents and doctors of aborted children that their hearts will be changed. God still works miracles. He listens to our prayers. If you don’t do anything else, please just pray.

*Infanticide is defined as the practice in some societies of killing unwanted children soon after birth 

**The approved Life Chain signs wills say 

  • ABORTION KILLS CHILDREN
  • JESUS FORGIVES AND HEALS
  • ADOPTION: THE LOVING OPTION
  • LORD, FORGIVE US AND OUR NATION
  • ABORTION HURTS WOMEN
  • PRAY TO END ABORTION
  • LIFE—THE FIRST INALIENABLE RIGHT

Who We Are in Christ – Catholic

September 20th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith - (Comments Off on Who We Are in Christ – Catholic)

This is an awesome video that I wanted to share. It focuses on being Catholic as who we are not as something we do. It is part my identity.

I was raised Catholic, so some may say that I just don’t know any different. While that may partly be true, I have done Bible studies with people of Protestant denominations and have taken several classes on world religions. These learning activities have reinforced my belief that the traditions of the Catholic Church are just as important to my faith as the Bible, the word of God.

Catholic or not, let me know what you think of the video.