Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

10 Things to Remember for Lent

Lent, It’s time for CHANGE …

Yes, we have all heard this before, the call for change.  Being Roman Catholic is part of  who I am.  Today is

Ash Wednesday

and I am all about dedicating myself to change … in so many areas … thought, word, and deed!  I read an article this morning on the website of American Catholic bishops.   In the article, Bishop Ricken (chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) presented some wonderful ideas on how to observe Lent well.

Being a CCD teacher, I synopsized the list for my 7th grade class; it follows.  If you want the full story, click on the link to Bishop Ricken’s article (http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-032.cfm).

10 Things to Remember for Lent

(based on an article by Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin)

1.  Remember the Formula – PRAYER, FASTING, ALMSGIVING.

2.  It’s a time of prayer.   Spread out over 40 days, we go on a journey that brings us closer to Christ.

3.  It’s a time to fast.  With the fasts of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, meatless Fridays, and our personal disciplines interspersed, Lent is the only time many Catholics these days actually fast.

4.  It’s a time to work on discipline. The 40 days of Lent are also a good, set time to work on personal discipline in general. Instead of giving something up, it can be doing something positive such as exercise more or intentionally setting aside time to go to Confession regularly.

5.  It’s about dying to yourself.   The suffering and death of Christ are foremost on our minds during Lent.  So more than simple self-control, Lent is about finding aspects of yourself that are less than Christ-like and letting them “die”.  (Again the Sacrament of Penance is a big help.)

6.  Don’t do too much.  Don’t be tempted to try to “re-invent” yourself this Lent.  Focus on a couple of simple ways to grow closer to God.

7.  Lent reminds us of our weakness.  We have trouble keeping even our simple goals – when we fast, we are one meal away satisfying our hunger.  Seeing our helplessness makes us seek God’s help more urgently.

8.  Be patient with yourself.   When confronted with our own weakness during Lent, the temptation is to get angry and frustrated.  Instead, receive God’s grace to be patient with ourselves and others.

9.  Reach out in charity.  Experiencing our own weakness and suffering renews our compassion for those who are hungry, suffering, and in need.  The third part of the formula – almsgiving – means throwing more in the collection basket and helping others with God’s unconditional love.

10. Learn to love like Christ.  Giving of ourselves in the midst of our suffering and self-denial brings us closer to loving like Christ.  Let us ask His help, join His suffering, and learn to love like He does.


Let’s all draw closer to God this Lent.  Cheers!


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The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is constantly fighting for pro-family, pro-life, and religious values and rights that our guaranteed by the Constitution (my words, but true).  The following is a message that I received today, the second day of Spring – a time to celebrate new life.  It offers you an opportunity to make a difference for the little ones in their mothers’ wombs and the women, many of whom are young, poor, and disadvantaged who have no help when they realize they are pregnant.  It also offers you a chance to sign a petition that will be used to show a pro-abortion official who doesn’t care about the rule of law that he cannot do as he pleases.  Please read below and sign if you are so inclined.

(From the ACLJ website at:  https://www.aclj.org/petition/Default.aspx?AC=DNE1103084&SC=3674&email=mcelliott59@hotmail.com&guid=A3279DC7-5E7F-40CD-A703-EE79970A85DB )

Dear Maria,

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg signed a new law that will effectively shut down pro-life pregnancy centers in New York City. This law – that Planned Parenthood hopes will be a model for shutting down pro-life pregnancy centers around the country – creates legal restrictions that only apply to pregnancy centers that don’t provide abortions, and ignores abortion clinics.

Even pro-abortion Bloomberg all but admitted it was unconstitutional when he signed it, saying: ”If it’s constitutional or not, I just don’t know.”

This law is nothing but a ploy for Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates to force pro-life centers out of existence – virtually eliminating their competition and growing their abortion businesses.

The ACLJ will be filing a lawsuit on behalf of pregnancy centers in New York City to protect them from illegally being forced to:


  • Post signage declaring that they do not offer abortion services
  • Be exposed to excessive and endless frivolous lawsuits

Please forward this email immediately and share this link on Facebook and Twitter to anyone you know who is concerned about the lives of unborn babies. We need every voice in this fight, and everyone to add their name to our Petition to Stop the Shut-Down of Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers.

Can you imagine any other business or service being forced to post signs declaring what they do not provide – or referring people to competitors that offer life-threatening treatments?

The ACLJ believes this law is clearly unconstitutional – in fact, it was rushed through the city council in defiance of New York City statutes and without the formal hearing required by public ordinance.

We have strong grounds to fight this outrageous law’s implementation, especially considering that a district court judge in Maryland recently found a similar law unenforceable.

The last thing NYC needs is for crisis pregnancy centers to be shut down by attacks like this law – a recent report showed that 41% of pregnancies in NYC end in abortion, and that 90% of the abortions are performed on ethnic minorities.

We cannot let organizations like Planned Parenthood and NARAL force pro-life pregnancy centers out of business. We need the signatures of pro-life advocates like you, nationwide.

Again, please make sure people sign our petition to protect life and these life-saving clinics by forwarding this email and sharing this link on Facebook and Twitter. Ask people to sign their name to our Petition to Stop the Shut-Down of Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers.

Thank you again for your strong commitment to life.


Jay Sekulow
ACLJ Chief Counsel

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It is not easy in this day and society to take an uncompromising pro-life stand.  Most people are not willing to present themselves as a target for the opposition, for what is not politically correct.  Bernard Nathanson is a stark contrast to the wishy-washy, hold-back mentality of some, many of whom maintain private views against abortion.  This article from the National Catholic Register tells this great hero’s story in powerful fashion.

Bernard Nathanson dead at 84

May he rest in peace having turned away from the darkness and toward the Light of Christ!

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Birthday Eve

My Birthday Poem by Brad

There once was a boy named Brad
Sitting in a heap feeling sad
His mom came by
Told him not to cry
And there he was feeling glad
Once glad he started to dance
And the “fam” fell into a trance
They started a jig
In circles quite big
And all couples felt romance
When love had filled the air,
Brad knelt down in prayer
He prayed that his mom
Now all filled with calm
Could tap like Fred Astaire
She stood up with great gusto
As if to tap like a pro
But step she would not
Though she could quite a lot
And to the request sang, “No”
She decided not to tap
Because her dream had been to rap
So she bowed down low
And began with a “Yo”
In her big backwards cap
Her first rap was quite a debut
And it was criticized by few
But it was getting late
And she realized the date
So got back to eating tofu
In the midst of all the tofu
The fam said, “We love you”
She stopped with a smile
As big as the Nile
And replied “I love you too”

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Do you need a Doctor?

Today I read from the Bible, the Gospel of Mark to be exact  [Mark 6: 45 – 52]  You may want to read it now before continuing.  [ http://www.usccb.org/nab/010511.shtml ]

First surprise was who was walking on water.  I must have heard this before, but somehow today it caught me off guard.  Afterward, I gulped when I read the last sentence.

Dear Lord, I do not want to have a hardened heart.  Jesus said that healthy people don’t need doctors, sick people do.

Come, Lord, and heal my sickness!

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I’ve decided I want to blog more.  So I’m starting right now.  The idea is to post on this blog at least once a week for all of 2011.

I know it won’t be easy, but it’s a great way to share stories and good news and keep faraway friends informed on what’s happening here in NoVA – where we, too, are building the kingdom of God!  It might even be inspiring.  WordPress is providing ideas for the use of intrepid bloggers like me at  The DailyPost to help along the way.   My personal goal is to improve in being incisive and allowing others to participate in the happenings of my life, with our family, and in the community here.

Last night, New Year’s Eve, John and I went over to visit his father and sister Kathie with her husband Paul.  We had a nice but brief visit and saw some of Paul’s photograph collection (impressive) including some photos I will certainly share in upcoming posts.  We hopped in the car and returned to our driveway so that we might head two doors down the street.  There, Terry and Alicia Cassell and family hosted a gathering to welcome the new year.  Food, friendliness, prayer, and singing abounded although numbers did dwindle up to the moment of the big switch.  As the ball dropped in New York, cheers were heard indoors and fireworks outdoors!  Happy New Year!

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.


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As I said in a Christmas letter that has not gone out to all recipients yet, “This year was the first full year we were in the United States since 2007.”  That is a bit amazing.  Here are some highlights, in no particular order.

  • Sharon Southard has moved in with the intention of helping us form Christian household.
  • We hosted the beautiful Castells’ Christmas Carolfest at our house this year – “O Holy Night”!
  • After 10 years, the “guest” room is finally finished (with the assistance of Forbes Home Improvement Inc.).
  • Jane graduated from Trinity at Meadow View and went off to University of Virginia.
  • Maria discovered she had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (a form of Hypothyroidism).
  • John constructed a railing for the front porch and enhanced our front walk with Rock Salt lights we brought home from Britain
  • Maria started a part-time job at St. Philip’s church as liturgical assistant – suits her just fine.
  • John began lectoring at the parish.
  • We have just the boys at home which is a big change for our family of 3 girls / 2 boys.   🙂
  • Brand/Elliott beach trip with many young friends at the Hazelton’s Sea-renity beach house in Corolla NC
  • Rose Brand & Chris Marquis got engaged that week… first of our kids’ friends to do that (teary eyes…)
  • We had two 50th year parties. first for Maria then John – SURPRISE!
  • Kathryn studied for a semester abroad in Ecuador!
  • Maria experienced surgery – a thyroidectomy; it went as well as possible and NO CANCER!
  • Our new pastor at St. Philip’s, named Father Denis Donohue, inspires us to work harder for the Lord.
  • The NoVA branch of the People of Praise has redrawn the Area lines; we will meet in the new area configurations very soon.  Our family will be in the “new” South Area.  Exciting!
  • Today (last day of the year) four out of five of our kids will drive to be with Margarita’s family to “ring in” the new year!

God is good as always!

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