Archives for January 2013

Being Polite When Offering Parenting Advice is Vital

I’m a better mom than you!!!!!! caught my attention. In this blog post, a mom shares her thoughts on the perils of giving out and being bombarded with too much parenting advice. I have been thinking about this parenting issue the past few weeks, and I couldn’t be any happier to find such a wonderfully put together post.

Today parents are subjected to a great deal of parenting advice, tips, and information from different sources–family, friends, celebrities, health professionals, etc– and while they can be helpful at times, more often than not, they elicit negative emotions. They can cause feelings such as guilt, incompetence, and even jealousy. Personally, I do not have a problem listening to other people’s opinions about parenting (I actually enjoy it very much), but I do not like it when other people comment about my parenting skills or decisions. I know that they mean well and want to help, but I just can’t help but feel judged and insulted when someone does that.

All parents want nothing but the best for their children–we may have different styles but we surely have the same goals. I hope that we all try to be extra careful when giving advice to our fellow parents. It may even be best if we wait for them to ask before we give them our thoughts. When we do share our opinion, let us make sure to exercise politeness.

Stay at Home Dads are Becoming More Popular

Some people may have an issue with dads staying at home caring for the kids while Moms go to work, but I personally do not think there is anything wrong with such an arrangement. If everyone in the family agrees and is happy with that kind of situation, then I think it’s exactly the same as the more traditional practice of women staying at home.

Fathers have their own capacities of nurturing and raising children. I am pretty sure God did not only give the ability to love and care for kids to mothers. As a matter of fact, I have come across various studies that show the positive effects of children in a household with a stay-at-home Dad.

Mothers have their own ways of  parenting and so do fathers. I am absolutely certain that both are capable raising kind, responsible, and great kids. Here is a post that looks into the parenting style of Dads, At-Home Dads Make Parenting More of a ‘Guy’ Thing.

God’s Amazing Grace Can Transform Your Life If You Let It

I have always been amazed by God’s saving grace. How could someone so powerful send His only son to die on the cross just to save such others? What is even more amazing is the fact that God intended to save each and every human being–both the good and the wicked; the believers and the unbelievers. As it says in the Bible, “He gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (I Timothy 2:6)

Indeed, salvation is free but as God has always been, He gives us the freedom of choice–to either accept or refuse His saving grace. When we take and embrace God’s grace, it will transform us and make us long for heaven and seek after God’s will. But if we do otherwise, we continue to live according to our sinful human nature and fall away from God.

Let this post titled, You will be either saved, or Lost think about the amazing grace of God and its power to purify our hearts and transform our lives.

Being A Fashionable Christian Woman

Having been born and raised in a Catholic home home, I am well aware that the physical aspect of beauty should not be the highest priority of a Christian woman. I have always been in agreement to the notion that there are far more important elements than outward appearance that make up a truly beautiful woman.

However, I do not think that necessarily means that a Christian woman has to neglect her appearance.  I am glad to have found someone who shares the same thoughts. In her post, Fashion for Jesus, Katie of Catholic Sistas expresses how our appearance can help glorify God.

We should strive to develop our inner beauty as God’s word says: “It is your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful” (1 Peter 3:4-5). Nevertheless, I do not think it would be wrong to work on our outward beauty as well. As daughters of a King (Jesus Christ), we should try to look as such.

The Responsibility to Listen to Our Children

I know that I recently posted about the importance of spending playtime with your kids. I hope you won’t mind me writing about something similar to that topic–the importance of listening to your children. I just can’t help it, the moment I read the post, Why It’s So Important to Listen to Your Children, I knew I just had to share my own two cents on the matter.

As a parent, I know it can be difficult to juggle all the responsibilities that come with the role. However, we should not forget that as important as our responsibility to provide food, clothing, and shelter to our children is, our responsibility to listen attentively to them is just as important. The simple act of hearing what our kids have to say is a major tool by which we can show our love for them.

By lending them our undivided attention whenever they need it, we are making them feel valued. Also, by willingly listening to them, we are instilling in their minds that we want them to express their emotions to us. You see, when we listen to the small stuff while they are young, when they grow up, they will come back to us to talk about the bigger things. I think that is something every parent hopes for.

Should We Pray for Our Desires or God’s Will?

How should we pray? Should we just ask God to do His will, or should we ask Him for what we need?

This subject has always been confusing to me. As a Catholic, I understand that the best way to live my life is to constantly seek the will of God in all things. However, the Bible also mentions that it is right for us–children of God–to ask Him for what we want and need. As a matter of fact, in Philippians 4:6, the apostle Paul counsels us to “..not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Today, God has used Father Dwight Longenecker to bring me enlightenment on this very matter. In his post, The Importance and Power of Prayer, he explained just how important it is for us to pray for both our specific needs and for God’s will. He also beautifully expounded the great power that can be unleashed by joining our will with that of our heavenly Father’s.

Interview with Josh Baker

We recently had the privilege to interview Catholic author Josh Baker. Josh was the grand prize winner of the Xulon Press Christian Choice Writing Contest, and chose to have his wonderful book Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses! published. This book is Catholic fiction, which I believe is a very underdeveloped genre that could potentially be a wonderful tool to evangelize with. We touch on that topic in this interview, as well as others including Josh’s inspiration for his book, Josh’s faith, the Xulon Press contest, and even Josh’s favorite Biblical verse. This is a great chance to learn about a truly unique and terrific person!

By leaving a comment on this post you are also entering yourself to win a signed copy of Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses! The contest will be open until this coming Friday (02/01/13) and a winner will be selected/informed by 5 PM of that day.

Catholic author Josh Baker signed copy of bookTo watch a video trailer about Josh’s book Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses you can visit his blog at MarGreatsGlasses.com. You can also find links to follow Josh on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, as well as to purchase the book!

Your book Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses! came out in November of 2012, what was your inspiration for this book?

The main inspiration for, Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses! was my desire to provide hope and clarity to young people entering adulthood who are questioning their faith, have abandoned it altogether, or are distressed by secular messages contrary to their beliefs.

Is there a reason that you chose to write this book for the intended audience of young adults?

I feel it is critical to evangelize to young people, and to do it in terms they can relate to. The enemy certainly knows this as evidenced by today’s mainstream television programming and popular music. In this digital age, we cannot be complacent and rely solely on traditional means of evangelizing. The book does a great job addressing common misconceptions and misrepresentations of our faith in contemporary language and presentation which young adults will find credible and engaging.

You were raised Catholic, but abandoned your faith after high school for some time. Thankfully you have returned to the Church now. How has this experience affected you as a person?

Being someone who was once seduced by secular thinking, I have an intimate understanding of the mindset of those who reject our faith. When the Lord woke me from my stupor, I was as far from God as I had ever been. I held harsh, intolerant positions, backed by self-serving motives. If you were to tell me three years ago that I would today be an active, repentant disciple of Jesus Christ, I would have scoffed and sent you on your way. Knowing that God loved me, even when I was disrespectful and disobedient – that He loved me so much that he pulled me out of a ditch – has been an overwhelming, life-changing experience. When I encounter a spirited non-believer, my heart bursts with compassion because I’ve walked in those shoes and I know God has great plans for them if they would receive Him. My reversion back to Catholicism has brought about a tolerance and love for my follow man that I never had before. My experience has made it clear to me that Jesus wants a personal relationship with every living soul, especially those in most need of His mercy.

Do youPlease Don't Remove MarGreat's Glasses reflect some of your own personal struggles with faith in Timothy (the main character of Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses!)?

Like Timothy, I am very fond of science and technology. And similarly, I developed an attitude that one needed to choose between science and religion. This attitude is prevalent in today’s scientific community, which I find very odd. You’d think that as one unraveled the intricacies of the human genome, studied the interoperability of the circulatory, skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems, analyzed the uniqueness of our fingerprints, witnessed human reproduction, that they would be left in awe – not denying the creator. It was more convenient (for my lifestyle) to defer giving credit to God when I could lean on the convenient assumption that all would be explained by science – eventually. Timothy exhibits a similar attitude.

You were the Grand Prize Winner of the Xulon Press Christian Choice Writing Contest. How did you come across the contest and what helped you to win it?

My whole life, I have always loved to write. After my renewal of faith, I often recorded the day-to-day graces I experienced. Late-night, after everyone was in bed I’d meditate on whatever had transpired that day. During one of these late-night reflections, the character Timothy Clement, and God’s plan for him came to me. Over the next few weeks this vivid story of Timothy’s journey of faith flowed out. Before I knew it, I had a lot of unexpected material. I wasn’t sure what I would do with it – in anything. Self-publishing was gaining traction and so I did a basic inquiry into what options were available. I quickly realized that self-publishing required a significant budgetary commitment that I was not in any position to make for casual late-night ramblings. Several months later the representative who had answered my inquiries about publishing opportunities at Xulon Press contacted me regarding a Christian Choice Writing Contest. I decided to enter one of my short stories, but ultimately, I did not win, or even place for that matter. In April of last year I entered another Xulon Christian writing contest with a short Easter story. I had come home that day around six p.m. and saw an email in my inbox announcing that the contest was ending that same evening at midnight. I figured I might be able to crank out a short story in time – but then I noticed that the deadline was six p.m. Eastern time leaving me just three hours! I hunkered down and got to work on a short Easter story. I ended up submitting my entry just minutes before the deadline- with very low expectations since I hadn’t adequate time to polish it. The next morning I received a call informing me that I had won the Grand prize which was a book publishing package! I just about fell off my chair! There truly was no limit to the Lord’s mercy. Over the next four months I finished assembling the book and submitted the completed manuscript for production in October of last year.

Do you have any advice for Catholics who are looking to get more involved with writing?

Write more Catholic fiction! Catholic bookstores are filled with many wonderful books providing important teachings about our faith. We are very fortunately to have such an abundance of Catholic resources available to us. However, I would love to see the anemic genre of Catholic fiction develop and spread the message of our faith to a broader audience. In this year of faith Pope Benedict XVI has called us to not only rekindle our relationship with Jesus, but also share the good news of the Gospel. I think Catholic fiction is a worthy manifestation of the New Evangelization.

If you could choose only one Biblical verse as a favorite, which would you choose and why?

1 Cor 12:4-11 because it shows how God has a plan for each of us. He has blessed us with unique talents that allow us to be instruments of His will, if we choose.

Brothers and sisters:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
to another, the expression of knowledge according to the
same Spirit;
to another, faith by the same Spirit;
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another, mighty deeds;
to another, prophecy;
to another, discernment of spirits;
to another, varieties of tongues;
to another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

What can we expect next from Josh Baker?

I am currently working on a series of MarGreat comic strips for children learning about their faith. They are a humorous, but tactful attempt to engage young people and drive home Catholic fundamentals.

Additionally, I am working on a new faith-based mystery that explores the ethical conflicts faced as new advances in genetic-engineering are achieved. It will have you guessing right up to the end!

Try Not to Be Guilty of the Saying, “Do as I Say, Not as I Do”

We all want our children to grow up to be the best individuals they possibly can be. However, nurturing our children to the best of our abilities is easier said than done. Up to this day, I do not think experts have already found or devised a parenting formula that assures of children growing up to be wonderful and successful adults.

A post I read titled, How to Raise Happy, Healthy Children reminded me of one very important parenting method that I often neglect–setting example. Most of the time, I  use words to communicate lessons to my kids–on what to eat, how to behave in Church, how to treat other kids, and etc. Looking back,  I feel ashamed to say that I am not even sure if I am practicing everything that I have been telling  them to do. Parents are often guilty of the old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do”.

Children learn by imitation and parents are the number one influence in our children’s world. If we want to raise happy, healthy, successful and self-confident children,  we have to model, more than just verbalize the actions we desire them to adopt.

Playing With Your Children Can Help You to Relax and Have Fun

Sometimes, the busyness of my daily routine makes me lose interest in playing with my children. Often, I would much rather spend my free time snuggling on the couch than initiating an active game with the kids.  One father’s post entitled, “A Surprising Side Effect of Playing with Your Kids,” reminded me of what I am missing out by not spending playtime with my children.

More then simply helping my children in their physical, mental, and social development finding the time to play with them will provide me a release for stress, tension and/or other negative pent-up emotions. Furthermore, play provides me with an opportunity to strengthen the bond I have with my kids.

From now on, I will always try to make some time whenever my child asks me to play. I hope you will too!

Faith: The Key To Happiness in Married Life

My daily reading of Catholic blogs brought me to this one particularly thought provoking post, “Lack of Faith Can Hurt Marriage, May Affect Validity, Pope Says”. The report made me look into my married life and realized just how much faith has contributed to my wonderful years of marriage.

The strength of a marriage is very closely tied to faith. Two people decide to take on the holy sacrament of marriage with the belief that God has brought them together and will keep them together until the end. It would only be right to think that without Him in the center of the marital relationship, it is bound to fall apart. When you come to think of it, to have no faith in Him who created and blessed your marriage is to have no faith in the value of your marriage at all.

It is true that marriage is vital not only because of its spiritual implications, but because of its role in the sustenance of a healthy society. However, I believe that marriage can transcend beyond all human expectations when it draws its strength and inspiration directly from God.

I also want to say that although I believe that it is advantageous for couples to share the same religious affiliation, I do not think it is the main factor for a successful marriage. Rather, it is the strong belief in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that will sustain a harmonious marital relationship. Common religion without strong faith will do very little for a marriage. It is through our faith in the Lord that we walk in the right path and it is only through His strength and power that we are able to wrestle and overcome temptations, sin, selfishness, and interpersonal conflicts.