Monday, June 30, 2014

On Chastity

June is almost over and the virtue of the month is Chastity. Our blessed Lord says: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God (Matt 5:8).  St. Alphonsus says, he who conquers the vice opposed to this virtue will easily triumph over the rest. On the contrary, he who permits himself to be ruled by incontinency falls an easy prey to the other vices such as hatred, injustice, etc.

Our body is the most powerful weapon the devil possesses to make us his slaves. On this account it is seldom that a man comes forth victorious from this conflict. "The struggle for chastity is the most violent of all; the battle is renewed every day, and victory is rare," says St. Augustine.

St. Alphonsus reminds us that every wicked thought that enters the mind is not a sin, but the yielding or consenting to them is. When assailed by temptations, we must have instant recourse to the means necessary to overcome them. As always, he gives practical suggestions in humbling ourselves before God and having immediate recourse to God without stopping to reconsider the temptation. 
1. Pronounce the holy names of Jesus and Mary and continue to pronounce them until the temptation is overcome. It if is a violent temptation it may be well to repeat the following resolution: "Oh my God, I will rather die than offend Thee! Oh my Jesus, help me! Mary, my Mother, assist me!"
2. Receive the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist. A temptation or sin revealed is half overcome. And this Heavenly Food affords us great strength to resist temptations.
3. Devote oneself to the Immaculate Mother of God, the Virgin of virgins. Oh, how many have kept themselves pure as angels by devotion to this Blessed Queen of angels!
4. Other means will suggest themselves to each individual, such as avoidance of idleness, modesty of the eyes, and diligence in avoiding dangerous or proximate occasions.

Nearly all the passions that assail us have their origin in the unrestrained liberty of the eyes, for as a rule it is our unguarded looks that awaken in us inordinate inclinations and passions.

St. Augustine says, "from the look proceeds the thought and from the thought the desire." St. Alphonsus expounds, had Eve not looked at the forbidden fruit, she would not have fallen into sin. But she took pleasure in looking at it, and the fruit seemed beautiful and good. She took it and ate and was guilty of disobedience. We see here how the devil tempts man first to look, then to desire, and at last to consent.

I am living proof that a person can be living a sinful life for years and can still climb out of the pit by the grace of God. Do not let the devil suggest that the sins of your youth are unforgiveable. See when we are young, we are so often ruled by our passions, and it is the easiest way for the devil to win our souls. When we're older, the devil has other means, like materialism and despair ... but I digress. 

agree with the great Saint Alphonsus, for I've been able to become chaste over the years by these very practices he recommends. I think marriage is a very good institution, not just for the raising of children, but also because it protects us from our tendency to sexual sin. Of course, that doesn't mean we do not use our spouses for sexual gratification, but eventually we learn to love and love deeply. One of the best advice I got during confession was to think of the terrible scourging Jesus suffered whenever I am tempted to consent to the sins of the flesh. More recently, help has arrived in the form of Angelic Warfare. I recommend it very much for our youth. It is our greatest weapon.

I hope you will forgive me for this photograph. I was sweeping the porch and came across these two locked in a loving embrace. Since they didn't skitter away, I had to take a picture. It isn't very often that you come across such a beautiful sight. I wonder where they will lay their eggs ...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Our lives have taken on a liturgical sense ever since we started reading the Bible daily. The months and years pass, marked by feast days and this particular devotion to the Sacred Heart is something wondrous. It is a natural progression of our conversion, of love and gratitude and reparation.

Pope Benedict XVI says: The essential nucleus of Christianity is expressed in the Heart of Jesus. St. Paul in his letter to Romans asks: What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

I have no words! This love is incomprehensible and unfathomable. And when I give thanks and praise, it's all from the bounty of God. For He loved us first, when we were still sinners.

Our home has a blessed picture of the Sacred Heart, along with a picture of St. Joseph, the model human father and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, whose virtues I ask to be clothed in daily. This day is a special day to pray for all priests who participate in the Divine Mysteries, who act in persona Christi. 

Loved this reflection from the ADW blog.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Vijaya Hatches not just an egg but TEN EASTER EGGS

I have been sitting on these eggs for nearly a year and am so happy to share that my little novelty book TEN EASTER EGGS will be published by Cartwheel, an imprint of Scholastic, in 2015!!!!!!!

These eggs have been gestating for nearly ten years. LOL. And now am very, very thankful for the previous rejections, some that were glowing and broke my heart.

This hatching would not be possible without the generous help of Salina Yoon who suggested rhyme and Debbie Ridpath Ohi, who had posted an interview with editor Celia Lee and shared it on the Blueboards! Thank you so much Salina and Debbie!! Ten Easter Eggs is totally a Blueboard slush-pile success story!!!

Thank you for celebrating with me!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Blog Redesign ... and a Companion

And who should come, but Saint John the Baptist! Today is the feast of his nativity and I just love how the Christian calendar is fixed so that he is born near the summer solstice so that his light is steadily decreasing until Christ is born at the winter solstice. I doubt any of this is an accident.

Blessed John Henry Newman states: Saint John the Baptist had a most difficult office to fulfill; that of rebuking a king.
And so it follows that: We who now live have not that extreme duty put upon us with which Saint John was laden; yet every one of us has a share in his office.
He gives us some direction: Aim at viewing all things in a plain and candid light, and at calling them by their right names. Be frank, do not keep your notions of right and wrong to yourselves, nor, on some conceit that the world is too bad to be taught the Truth, suffer it to sin in word or deed without rebuke. Do not allow friend or stranger in the familiar intercourse of society to advance false opinions, nor shrink from stating your own, and do this in singleness of mind and love.

This blog is now under the patronage of St. John the Baptist.
Pray for us, St. John, that we may write boldly, truly, and in love.

Starcursed by Nandini Bajpai

I've been burying my nose into many books and wanted to highlight Nandini Bajpai's historical novel STARCURSED. What a beautiful setting -- 12th century India -- and peopled with fascinating characters that leap to life. This is one of the most romantic stories I've ever read, with a smart and lovely heroine and a hero worthy of her love. I highly recommend this to any teenager interested in historical romance. Nandini has promised an interview ... so stay tuned. But in the meantime, I wanted to share a little bit of Indian art, called mehendi. It's henna paste that is drawn upon the palms or feet (esp. for special occasions like weddings and of course there is a little description of this in Starcursed!) and Dagny made this beautiful lotus design on me
for Pentecost.  
Full disclosure: I won a copy of this book from the SE Asian Women's Writers Blog

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Corpus Christi

I still can't wrap my mind around God becoming Man, and then humbling Himself to becoming Bread. 
Sometimes all I can do is Adore and be bathed in the Mystery. These beautiful hymns help me do so. And this arrangement is one of my favorites.
This short sermon says it all so well!

The Divine Praises

Blessed be God. Blessed be His Holy Name
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man
Blessed be the Name of Jesus
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart
Blessed be His Most Precious Blood
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete
Blessed be the great Mother of Christ, Mary most Holy
Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception
Blessed be her Glorious Assumption
Blessed be the Name of Mary, Virgin and Mother
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse
Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints

May the heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament,
be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection,
at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world,
even to the end of time. Amen.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Brookgreen Gardens

We had hoped to make a trip here in the spring to see all the flowering plants but our weekends got busy with sports. But it is still a gorgeous place to spend the day any time of the year. They don't just have plants, but a sculptures and a little zoo with native animals (and a rehab center for injured animals). We were there during feeding time so it was quite exciting. The fox was quite stinky, like a skunk. Max took most of the pictures ... he also got some excellent driving practice.



Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

My heart and mind have been flooded with many thoughts since Pentecost. Oh, what a beautiful Mass it was with five priests in the sanctuary, vested in red, offering their prayers. I had a great view singing from the loft. We sang the Schubert. The soloists were marvelous and I can't express how this beautiful music lifts my heart and mind to God even more. There are no photos; there are no recordings. We simply enjoy the gifts.

I want to share some other gifts with you: a gecko showing off his ruby throat, three very young deer who munched on grass and gamboled around the pond for nearly 30 minutes on my evening walk, a furry-purry cat on my belly, scribbling in bed, swimming in the ocean, Dagny making a lemony cheesecake, fresh watermelon, Max mowing the grass, my husband cooking steaks last night for Father's Day.

Today we celebrate Father's Day and the Blessed Trinity and I can't help but think how blessed our children are because Michael reflects the love of our heavenly Father. What strikes me most is his self-sacrificial nature. From the beginning, he was willing to give up sleep, his time, and his very self so that he could provide for us and be with us more. I know he will die to protect us. He has become a man after God's own heart. I see how the graces flow down to our family through him. When he stumbles, we all do. When he is strong, we gain strength too.

The law of love is written upon our heart, even when we do not believe in God. So you can imagine how rich we feel now that we are living in friendship with God. He is always by our side to give us all the necessary helps and graces.

I feel terrible that in our culture men and their gifts and talents are not celebrated as we should. The so-called emancipation of women and the sexual revolution has emasculated men. I had mentioned that Sister Jane spoke about women being the stitchers of standards. Here's how she explained it. A society is only as virtuous as the typical woman. If a woman's morals are loose and low, so are the man's. A man can only feel the self-sacrificial love for a woman who is worthy. Remember that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. What kind of a society do we want? Let's work towards that.

Man is prophet, priest and king of his household! Fathers, don't forget to bless your wife and children -- you have this great power and privilege!!! May God bless you abundantly.

I just came across this on the ADW blog and had to share:
Finally there is a rather remarkable conclusion that some have drawn: the best image of God in us is not a man alone, or a woman alone, but rather a man and a woman together in a lasting and fruitful relationship we call marriage. For when God said, “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26) the text goes on to say, “Male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). And God says to them, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). So the image of God (as God sets it forth most perfectly) is the married and fruitful couple.
Here of course we must be careful to understand that what we manifest sexually, God manifests spiritually. For God is not male or female in His essence. Thus we may say, The First Person loves the Second Person and the Second Person loves the First Person. And so real is that love that it bears fruit in the Third Person. In this way the married couple images God, for the husband loves his wife and the wife loves her husband, and their love bears fruit in their children. [1]

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Plumb Crazy

Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. I downloaded Plumb Crazy as soon as I saw it on Amazon. Go on ... take a peek! You won't be able to resist either.

I'm having such a good time with Elva Presley. She's honest, funny, and oh so real! She reminds me of hanging out with Molly in the parking lot, well past midnight.

We both had kids at home and knew morning would come all too soon. But how we talked and laughed. Sometimes we cried. Once every two weeks, after reading and critiquing stories, we'd linger. There was always one more thing to share. Molly is a weaver of tales. A poet. An artist. She kept me up then, and she's keeping me up now.

I'm reading Plumb Crazy right now and laughing my way through it. It makes me want to take a road trip to Texas... 

Congratulations Molly!!!  Happy Book Birthday, Plumb Crazy!!!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Red Butterfly Cover Reveal

It's book season. Many of my friends have new books coming out and it is so much fun to celebrate! I love the bright colors on this cover but it's the bamboo pole with clothes drying that makes this so authentic.

I met Amy on Faith's blog. I was desperate and asked for prayers. Amy, bless her heart, saw my plea and offered to pray for me as well. I wondered who this was, with such a kind heart, who would pray for a stranger. I found a funny and talented woman with an interesting history. She'd grown up in Hong Kong as a child of missionary parents. She's settled in Eastern WA with her "dashingly handsome sidekick" and five lovely children. I got to meet them all when they stopped by our place in Redmond, WA.

What a joy it is to celebrate Red Butterfly, Amy's debut. Here's the jacket description:

Kara never met her birth mother. Abandoned as an infant, she was taken in by an elderly American woman living in China. Now eleven, Kara spends most of her time in their apartment, wondering why she and Mama cannot leave the city of Tianjin and go live with Daddy in Montana. Mama tells Kara to be content with what she has … but what if Kara secretly wants more?

Told in lyrical, moving verse, Kara’s story is one of a girl learning to trust her own voice, discovering that love and family are limitless, and finding the wings she needs to reach new heights.
You can learn more about this pretty lady at:

Congratulations Amy!!!!!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

On Poverty and Detachment

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matt 5:3

Oh, how I struggle with this beatitude. My will is strong, yet relinquishing it has also been the hardest and the most freeing thing I've done. Being chronically ill forced me to spend hours in deep prayer and contemplation. I don't give up easily but how long will it take me to learn that it is in giving myself over completely to His will that I become truly happy? Am I completely poor in spirit? No. I am far from it. But even from a year ago, I see progress. Instead of praying for a contract, I pray to become a better writer. Instead of praying for a baby, I pray to be made whole and holy, a better wife and mother. Instead of praying for a specific outcome, I pray Thy will be done. Of course, I have to say this fifty times a day because my own desires are so strong. And I still have difficulty separating doing everything for the love of God to receiving some measure of earthly rewards.

St. Alphonsus says, in order to become holy we must banish from our heart all that is not for God. A heart that is filled with the things of the earth has no room for the love of God. He who brings a vessel filled with earth to the spring will never be able to fill it with water until he empties it of the earth with which it is filled.

The Saint asks, how does it happen that so many pray and go frequently to Holy Communion, and still make no considerable progress in the love of God? The reason is doubtless because the heart is full of self-esteem, of vanity, self-will and attachment to creatures.

Who me? Guilty, guilty, guilty. Now that my son is learning to drive, I am learning how to detach in ways I hadn't dreamed of. Back to the Saint:

The poor in this world do not possess poverty of spirit from the mere fact that they suffer the want of the goods of this life. Poverty of spirit consists in the desire to possess nothing but God. The truly virtuous poor desire nothing but God, and for that reason they are immensely rich.

Those who are always intent upon increasing their earthly possessions are in great danger of being eternally lost. For the desire of money is the root of all evils. ~ 1 Tim 6:9  The wealthy can practice poverty of spirit by giving alms and performing good works.

Our detachment from the things of this earth is proved by our resignation to the will of God ...  Faith teaches us that nothing happens without the permission of God ... for our good. We must remember Job who said, "the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away."

As always, St. Alphonsus gives us some practical ways to develop detachment.

1. Dwell on the thought of death. On this day the riches and honors and pleasures of earth are all lost. We cannot bring them into the next world, where only virtue can accompany us.

2. Meditate upon the poverty of Jesus Christ. He wished to induce us to love poverty as He did, for poverty, by detaching us from earthly riches, enables us to share in the treasures of heaven.

3. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs *is* the kingdom of heaven. Note the present tense, the poor in spirit receive special graces here on earth now.

4. Love God without reserve. He who loves God is not anxious to gain the esteem and love of men; all his efforts are directed to one end, to please God, the only object of his love.

5. A hidden and obscure life affords great security to those who sincerely desire to love God. Our Divine Savior Himself deigned to teach us this by His own example, for He spent 30 years in the obscurity of Nazareth and the workshop of a humble carpenter. 

Three years ago, I discovered this beautiful Suscipe prayer by St. Ignatius. It has been a great help:

Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me. I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more.