Monday, September 29, 2014

Nine Years of Blogging!

I was standing outside today and suddenly remembered that this week was the anniversary of my blog. Indeed, I started it on September 28, 2005 - nine years ago. That day was a welcome message. My first real post came on September 29th: Staying Humble. It features a four year old David and made me laugh to reread it.

Thank you to all of you who have traveled all or part of this journey with me!

The Legal Fiction of Adoption

My adopted daughter's new birth certificate came in the mail today. We had to wait three months after her adoption day to make the request. It wasn't until I was well into this foster/adoptive process that I learned that her new birth certificate would say that I gave birth to her. I read a book in which an adoptive mother was lamenting that the staff where her son was a student treated her poorly. She couldn't understand why until she realized that he suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and, not knowing he was adopted, they all felt that she was responsible. It was then that I learned that adoption is sometimes referred to as "legal fiction." Somehow, I had always thought that the birth certificate would indicate we were adoptive parents.

My daughter is mine in every way that matters. I love her with the same love that I have for my sons. I would die for that little girl. There are days I almost forget that I didn't give birth to her, but that almost is always there. Like most foster adoptions, we have an open adoption. According to the adoption agreement, she gets to see her birth mother at least twice a year. Her birth mother and I have a cordial, if complicated, relationship. She gave my daughter life under very difficult circumstances and and loves and misses her every day. As a biological mother, I can't even imagine that pain. I pray for her every day. Now, legally, she has been erased from my daughter's history.

I knew what to expect in that birth certificate and yet there is still something surreal in seeing it in print - that the state of Massachusetts certifies that I gave birth on a day that I can't even remember what I was doing on (I did do two blog posts that day). Not only that, the certificate is dated a few days after my daughter's birth. There is something both beautiful and troubling in this retroactive legal fiction.  


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Book Review: Trusting God with St. Therese

October 1st is the feast day of St. Therese, so I felt it was the perfect time to review this book.



Trusting God with St. Therese

by Connie Rossini
New Ulm, MN: Four Waters Press, 2014

St. Therese once told Sr. Marie of the Sacred Heart that “It is trust, and nothing but trust that must bring us to Love.” Trust in God can be one of the most difficult things to cultivate. We humans like to feel we are in control of our lives. It can be incredibly hard to let go and let God, even in situations where we clearly have no power. Unfortunately, “distrust keeps us focused on ourselves, rather than on God and others.” 

In “Trusting God with St. Therese,” Connie Rossini uses examples from the life of St. Therese, one of the most influential and popular saints of the modern era, in order to illustrate “the importance of trust for our spiritual lives.” Rossini also uses events from her own life to help demonstrate her own struggles and growth on her spiritual journey and how St. Therese has helped her. 

Subjects covered include dealing with childhood tragedies, the influence our earthly fathers have on our image of God the Father, how to retain a childlike simplicity while becoming an adult, how to both wait patiently and cooperate with God, dealing with negative emotions, facing our fears, coping with spiritual darkness, maintaining hope, and preparing for death and judgment. 

St. Therese is one of my favorite saints and I have read her autobiography and several other books about her, yet I still learned new information about this well-known saint in reading this book. Rossini obviously did a great deal of research and spent considerable time contemplating the message and example of St. Therese in writing this book. It was time well-spent. She speaks with wisdom and offers much advice that will help readers on their own journey to God. “Anyone who ever sins lacks perfect trust in God,” so we all have room for improvement in that area. 

“Trusting God with St. Therese” provides a wonderful opportunity to learn more about this beloved saint as well as to develop one’s own trust in God. Each chapter includes questions for reflection and practical suggestions to help us grow in trust. 


Friday, September 26, 2014

College by Age 12?

Obviously, my goal in homeschooling was not to have my children in college by age 12. Seeing as my younger son is turning 12 soon, if that were the case, I would have failed at this point. Still, I enjoy reading about different approaches to homeschooling, which is why I picked up The Brainy Bunch: The Harding Family's Method to College Ready by Age Twelve by Kip and Mona Lisa Harding. The family has ten children, are nondenominational Christians, and have homeschooled all of them.

Those who are old enough have all started college young - some as young as 10. They've graduated young and started their careers young. Overall, it's a good book. They share their own methods for homeschooling - which is actually quite relaxed. They focus on math and writing and have the children read a great deal in the other subjects. Even though the children didn't have any formal science studies before starting college, they all did fine in lab sciences.

I think it is important to note that they didn't just dump their children off at college at a young age. They started them with one or two classes and Mom was usually nearby. The Hardings endorse homeschooling fully and view their job as one of cultivating their children to be all that God has created them to be.

Their method has worked for them, and part of homeschooling is respecting others right to homeschool as they choose, and so I support their initiative and results. However, I don't necessarily think that college at 12 is the ideal. I think children learn and grow and mature at different rates. College isn't even the goal for every child. But for children who are motivated and know what they want to do in life, early college is an option (if not at 12, then dual enrollment at 15 or 16). Homeschooling is about different options and thinking about school in a different way. In that light, The Brainy Bunch adds to the conversation.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review: Look Again

Look Again
by Lisa Scottoline
New York: St. Martins, 2009

I once again have my neighbor to thank for introducing me to this book. She is apparently on a personal mission to provide me with quality leisure reading!

"Look Again" by Lisa Scottoline isn't the type of book I usually read. This is a fast-moving thriller. Ellen Gleeson, a journalist, is the adoptive mother of Will, an active three year old boy. One day, a missing child flyer comes in the mail with the photo of a child who could be Will's twin. Gleeson is haunted by the photo and the possibility that her child might have actually been kidnapped when young. She ultimately decides to search for the truth, aware that the result may force her to make the most difficult decision of her life.

I literally did not want to put this book down! I kept turning pages, eager to see how it would all turn out. There were so many plot twists - I was surprised several times. This is an excellent book which makes one wonder what one would do in a similar situation. It includes a Book Club guide.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

40 Days for Life

40 Days for Life starts tomorrow - September 24th and runs through November 2nd. Please consider some way you can fast / pray / peacefully protest / and or engage in community outreach for the unborn. For more information, please visit http://40daysforlife.com/

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: God Gave Us Angels

God Gave Us Angels

by Lisa Tawn Bergen
Art by Laura J. Bryant
Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 2014

God Gave Us Angels is the latest release in the "God Gave Us . . . " series which started in 2000 and has sold over two million copies. Written by Lisa Tawn Bergren and beautifully illustrated by Laura J. Bryant, it features a young bear cub asking her daddy about angels. He tells her that "Angels live to serve God," and that "Angels can look so much like us, we wouldn't even notice them. That's one reason why we should be nice to everyone we meet, because some might be angels in disguise."

This book is from a Christian viewpoint. From a Catholic perspective, one thing I liked was that angels are portrayed as a different species from humans. The daddy makes clear that we don't become angels when we die. Unfortunately, there is also one part that is not in keeping with Catholic tradition. The little bear asks if we should ask angels to help us, and the daddy tells her no, that only God can tell them what to do. As million of Catholics raised on the "Angel of God" prayer can attest, we do ask our guardian angels to help us and watch out for us. Catholics reading this book might want to alter the text of that page a bit if reading it to little ones.

Overall, this is a charming book for a little child to learn more about angels.



Adventures in Homeschooling: Pastel Drawing Class

One of the cool things about having teenagers is being able to do grown-up things with them. On Saturday, David and I went to a pastel drawing class at our local library. It was for adults, but I politely asked if a teenager could go and the instructor was OK with it which was great. Taught by Gregory Maichack (http://gregorymaichack.com/) and sponsored by our local cultural council which allowed it to be offered free of charge, it was a wonderful experience.

Our project for the day was inspired by Georgia O'Keefe's Sunflower:



And here we are with our versions (David was just a little bit happy in this photo!):


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Book Review: Love Letters

Love Letters: A Rose Harbor Novel

by Debbie Macomber
New York: Ballantine Books, 2014

Love Letters is the latest installment in the Rose Harbor series by Debbie Macomber. I eagerly look forward to each book and this one was definitely worth waiting for. One need not have read the prior two books to enjoy this one. Macomber manages to seamlessly weave in backstory to bring her readers quickly up-to-date.

In this installment, innkeeper Jo Marie Rose is struggling to figure out her relationship with handyman Mark Taylor while her guests deal with struggles of their own. Maggie and Roy Porter are a couple trying to figure out what to do with a marriage that is falling apart. Ellie Reynolds, against her mother's wishes, has traveled a long way to finally meet Tom, a man she's fallen in love with on-line.

This book has more plot twists than Macomber's books usually have and I was kept wondering what would happen. It also has a wonderful pro-life message. An excellent book for those who enjoy love stories!