October 31, 2007

Reading Your Way To Catholicism, A Book List

Since much of my conversion story is based on reading our way to the faith, I've been making up a book list. Obviously, it isn't complete, or even one that would be effective for any particular other person. I've divided it into categories. I also make no pretense that I have read all of these, some were read by my husband and spoon fed into my little noggin small bits at a time.

Church History

Conversion Stories


There are probably a million other things I could list. We also read a lot of blogs, a lot of articles, and listened to many Podcasts (Fr. Riccardo is worth finding on iTunes, if you like that kind of thing).

Feel free to add any other good book suggestions in the comments.

October 29, 2007

Feed Readers

One thing I hate about Feed Readers -- they let people who might have blogs I'd love to read keep track of my blog and read it without my having any idea who they are. Who for instance, has me on their bloglines in Brazil?

So if you are reading through a feed reader and I don't know you or if you are a lurker hiding out there through some other means, take a moment to say hello. I'd love to know who you are, how you got here and all that.

The Hazards of Parenting

I've received scrapes, bumps and bruises from my children doing various cruel things to me. There was the whack to the bridge of the nose with a hard plastic toy that left me with a large lump and a bruise. There was the skinned knee when they ran through my legs and took me down off the edge of the sidewalk. I knew parenting was not for the fearful, but I didn't know it would be so physically painful.

And today the one year old tried a new trick. He stuck his finger up my nose and scratched. When I stopped crying, I got to clean up the blood dripping down my face.

Conceiving the children is the fun part of the full contact sport, but the painful part of full contact starts with birth and continues on much longer.

October 26, 2007

Outside the Fold

Robbo has a lovely post about the teachings of the Catholic Church on what happens to those souls who are not part of the universal church.

One of the most beautiful things that drew me to the Church was this teaching. The church I grew up in and the church I left recently, both taught that if one was not part of that organization, one was lost. No ifs, ands, or buts -- just lost. If you read the Bible and didn't see what they saw, you were dishonest. If you didn't have a Bible, well -- hmmm...I don't know. Probably your tough luck.

For several years as I watched people earnestly striving, but reaching, in my opinion, incorrect conclusions, I could not see how that teaching of my church could be so. Surely not everyone was acting in bad faith. Could I really ascribe dishonesty to so many people?

Discovering a new concept, the visible church (that I'd always believed in) linked with other Christians not fully in communion, but not necessarily damned, was a revelation. It fit the world I'd been looking at and trying to understand. It made sense and brought relief as we came to realize we would be blazing a trail upon which the likelihood of our families following was not great.

We pray for the conversion some day of our friends and family to the Catholic Church. We would love for all to find Christ in His fullness within the Fold, but we take great comfort and solace from the fact that they can indeed be part of the Church, whether they come all the way in or not.

Read More "Outside the Fold" »

October 24, 2007

It's Raining! It's Pouring!

I'm glad for the rain, although it means our carpenters can't work on some things, because the do a lot of their cuts outside, and the drywallers can't bring in drywall, but grey, rainy days make me sleepy and cold. To counter act the greyness, the kids and I are making applesauce. Yum.

October 23, 2007

The Porta-Potty is Still in the Front Yard

For the first time in about seven months, we now have a working toilet inside the Purple House. The porta-potty remains for the workmen, but we are glad to be able to use indoor facilities once again. Who knew that such great pleasure could be derived from a toilet?

October 19, 2007

I Do Not Think That Means What You Think It Means...

During a diaper change of the littlest (a boy), his two year old sister came up and said, "Oh look at his cute little totem!" I was torn as to whether or not I should mention that that word really starts with an "s" or whether "totem" would cause me less embarrassment later on. Either way the poor boy is doomed, but at least I can pretend not to know what she's talking about.

Later, my oldest said, "Does submarine messaging really work?"

"Submarine messaging?" I was imagining sonar or flashing lights or something of the sort.

"You know, submarine messaging -- when you whisper something over and over into some one's ear while they are sleeping."

I did correct that misspoken word, but don't imagine for a moment that I won't forever after think about hidden meanings as being submarine messages instead of subliminal ones.

October 17, 2007

Fairy Wings

Wearing fairy wings sometimes does allow you to fly!

More pictures of the short set over at Flickr.

October 15, 2007


My one year old weighs about 18 lbs. I don't want to even imagine a newborn that weighs 17 lbs.

October 10, 2007

Finding Rome

My conversion to Catholicism isn't particularly spectacular, though I suppose it did involve a fair amount of kicking and screaming on my part.

To go back to the beginning though, I was raised in the Worldwide Church of God. We went to church on Saturday, didn't eat unclean foods, kept the Old Testament Holy Days and never, ever celebrated pagan holidays like Christmas and Easter.

When I went to college, I didn't go to church much at all. I went to an Episcopal school and attended services with friends on campus once in a while, but I never really seriously considered the Episcopal church a possibility. The services were pretty, but that was about all. During college, I briefly dated one or two Catholic boys, but neither was very serious about their religion and when I considered it, I didn't think marrying them was a real possibility because one thing I would never be was Catholic.

My senior year of college, I met this really cute guy, who happened to be the son of former missionaries just back from 10 years preaching in Taiwan. Sometimes I went to church with him, but more often if we talked about religion at all, it was to argue. I'd pretty much turned into an agnostic, at least in practice. I didn't go to church any where and didn't know quite what to believe any more. But God was working on me, bringing me back to religion.

In the Worldwide Church of God, one did not get baptized until adulthood (not some undefined age of reason, but actual adulthood). So I had not ever been baptized at all. Finally, after many discussions, conversations, fights and whatnot, my father-in-law-to-be (that cute guy I'd met in my senior year and I now being engaged) convinced me that I needed to be baptized -- and so in 1997 I finally became a Christian.

My husband and I married shortly thereafter and years of faithful and happy attendance of church services and Bible studies followed. I was not particularly disgruntled at any time with our Church. There were a few teachings with which I never quite agreed, but I have always believed in the authority of the Church and so I followed the doctrines despite some questions. I believed we were part of the Lord's true church.

Then the rug started getting yanked out from under my feet. My husband began a study of church history, doctrine and just about every other subject he could get his hands on. He started ordering all sorts of books at the library, which I would pick up, hand to him and say, "You can read these, though I have no idea why you'd want to. But I'm not becoming Catholic." It's not usually a good idea to state categorically what you are not going to do when it comes to God.

My husband started shoving books at me. His first try was giving me Chesterton's Orthodoxy when I was 9 months pregnant. That didn't go over so well. So he tried again. He gave me Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy by Frederica Mathewes-Green. The beauty of the ancient church, which the author describes in great detail started working on me. I read more. I thought and pondered and prayed about what I was learning.

I was discovering that early Christians believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I was realizing that the Bible hadn't always been there in a compiled form, which made Sola Scriptura almost an impossibility. I considered all the early Saints who went to their deaths for a religion that I had been taught they were responsible for paganizing and apostatizing. I was amazed to discover that early Protestants like Luther believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary and prayers to Saints.

Things started to make sense, but at the same time nothing made sense. What about everything I'd always been taught and always believed? Where was the church I'd been following to be found in history? Why was the church that was the "pillar and ground of the Truth" "the light on the hill" the church "against which the gates of Hell could not prevail" so invisible for 1500+ years?

I was mad. Mad at my husband for ruining my life which was going along a path I knew and was doing just fine on. Oddly enough I did not have a very difficult time accepting the Magisterium (I'd always believed the Church had teaching authority over me). I didn't have too much trouble with Mary and the saints (I can go into that at another time). One of the most difficult things for me to accept was the teaching on birth control. When I was pregnant with my fourth child, I told myself and the world I was done having babies. I'd done my fair share and now I was going to have to go through it all again? No thanks!

But you can't always get what you want, can you? One night as I lay awake crying and furious, a small voice ran through my head. It sang the words to a song we often sang in church:

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Was it honest of me to sing that in church when I wanted my own way? I wanted a family under my own terms. I wanted church under my own terms.

After that night I could no longer really object very much, though I kept trying. I read everything I could get my hands on, but we all still kept on going to our old church. It became obvious to us and to some of our close church friends that we wouldn't be there much longer, but how to make that leap?

We finally found a way when we met a lovely man who had once been a preacher in our church and had since, some years before, converted to Catholicism with his family. He invited us to attend mass with him one Sunday. Once we went, I told my husband I couldn't go back. There was no return. We dodged questions for a few weeks about where we were and then wrote a letter explaining to our Elders why, although we loved and respected our former congregation, we were not coming back.

We also had to tell family members, which wasn't too fun, as one might expect. In the end it was done though. We still love the people we left behind, but we couldn't be happier about the life ahead of us in the Catholic church.

October 09, 2007

Paying the Urban Living Tax

Several years ago at our old house, we noticed one afternoon that the door to our shed was off its hinges and, unsurprisingly, all the rakes, shovels and similar tools were gone. Our neighbor told us we'd paid our "urban living tax" and we'd be set for at least a few years.

Now we own a new house and the urban living tax has come due again. First our rocking chair walked off the front porch. Then we got a phone call from our carpenters. Did we move their tools? Nope. They lost a bunch of tools and all of Justin's tool boxes full of small tools were gone. All of our pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches, clamps, scrapers and lots of other things we haven't remembered yet.

It's not the end of the world, of course, but it is just one more thing to slow down the purple house progress.

October 03, 2007

Too Much Life

Last week my second child turned five. I'd show you pictures, except I keep forgetting to download them. Maybe later. I didn't intend for it to happen this way, but we wound up celebrating multiple times. First with some friends who were going to be out of town. Then the next evening we had a cookout with friends from our former church. The next evening we went to the park and had a celebration with kids on her actual birthday. The next evening we went to a dinner party for my husband's firm.

In that time I also had a new nephew born.

And we've had lots of purple house doings as well.

And I managed to miss the new five year old's check-up because the doctor's office will not accept my cell phone number into the system as our phone number. Yes, I had the appointment written in my calendar. No, that didn't help.

Justin and I also forgot, for the first time, the anniversary of when we started dating. We've always managed to celebrate on or near the event. Not this year.

I keep waiting for a break. I want some time off. I forget everything, get behind, spend days not getting half of my goals accomplished. This chaos is one of the unmentioned side-effects of renovating a house. Whenever we manage to get something under control, something else slides and then the part we were finally on top of, falls apart once more. Order is hard enough to come by in a family of six, but right now it seems impossible.