Friday, July 27, 2012

Pro-Life Graphics - FREE from Designs by Birgit

I have been toying with the idea of providing a source of free Pro-Life images for quite some time. This project is the perfect marriage between my passion for the Pro-Life movement and my artistic side. Some months back I announced that I would be trending more into that direction but found myself sidetracked by life. Like many creative people, I tend to work in waves, as inspiration dictates. Sometimes inspiration is illusive. The wonderful ladies who contribute to the Catholic Sistas blog, however, gave me that extra little push toward creativity. You see, these women have the most beautiful babies! It's a phenomenon that is totally mysterious - after all we are all from very diverse geographical locations. Yet, the photos posted by these gals are a constant source of heartwarming smiles. After asking permission to use a couple of really special photos, I became more bold and have a standing request for photos. If you'd like to see your precious baby featured in one of my graphics, please comment on this post or send an email my way at

With over a dozen new Pro-Life graphics, I became emboldened to rework my Designs by Birgit website as well. It's still a work in progress but I'm willing to share what I've done so far. So if you are so inclined please pay my free Pro-life graphics page a visit and feel free to share my creations.

I have also revamped my Facebook page and added the name, Designs by Birgit, to the existing Nana's Kiddies fan page. You can also find my Pro-Life graphics there - FREE to share.

I hope you enjoy my efforts and find yourself inspired to provide me with more wonderful material. Both photos and quotes are very much appreciated!

                     In His Name for Life,   Birgit J
FREE Pro-Life graphics page 1
FREE Pro-Life graphics page 2


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pro-life Reflection: SUNDAY, July 15, 2012


“This is the ultimate meaning of the Cross: not to seek life for oneself, but to give one's own life. …"I command you this day, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live" (Dt 30: 16). At first sight we may not like this, but it is the way: the option for life and the option for God are identical. The Lord says so in St John's Gospel: "This is eternal life, that they know you" (Jn 17: 3).

“Human life is a relationship. It is only in a relationship, and not closed in on ourselves, that we can have life. And the fundamental relationship is the relationship with the Creator, or else other relations are fragile. Hence, it is essential to choose God. A world empty of God, a world that has forgotten God, loses life and relapses into a culture of death. Choosing life, taking the option for life, therefore, means first and foremost choosing the option of a relationship with God.” – Pope Benedict XVI, March 2006.

~Fr. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life


Fifteenth Sunday ordinary time, Cycle B - July 15, 2012

First Reading:
Second Reading:
Amos 7:12-15
Ephesians 1:3-14, or 1:3-10
Mark 6:7-13

Every Sunday, I post these pro-life materials, generously offered for distribution by Priests for Life. These posts coincide with the Church calendar and add a pro-life flavor to the day's readings. This is my Sunday effort to help us all think with a pro-life heart.

As is the practice over at Catholic Sistas, a blog to which I contribute, Sunday posts will be scheduled ahead of time in order to leave that day for Church and family.
PS. Learn about Lady Ribbon’s Entry Into Our Lives… a ribbon that truly speaks to Catholic women with regard to breast cancer with a focus on pro-life awareness.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fifty Shades of Modesty

The cyber-wars over modesty have been raging for a while now. I became aware of this phenomenon when I posted a sign, similar to the one Vatican displays, on my Facebook wall. It clearly illustrates the do’s and don’ts of clothing while you are visiting. As I quickly found out, however, the sentiment on this prickly topic is not as black and white as I had first presumed – even among ‘good’ Catholics. Some of the comments on my wall made that very clear.

I have learned a lesson from all of this; there are, indeed, shades of grey when it comes to modesty. While I can understand the hard line that must be taken by a place like the Vatican – where allowing sleeveless dresses could and would easily morph into spaghetti straps – the lines can, and should, be softened when it comes to the day to day people attending a church near you.

Last night I read a sincerely distressed blog post concerning this very topic. In it, the writer spoke of her frustration in battling for modesty. And yet, she found that she had grown in her expectations and softened her attitude when dealing with others. This line of thinking resonated with me. It got me to pondering the stages of life and the origins of individuals.

As we are told in the Gospel of Luke, “…unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required”. Yet we are all infants, spiritually, who are simply in differing developmental stages. Some have been exposed to our wonderful Church for a longer period of time and have been taught throughout their lives by parents who learned before them. Others come into the Church as searching adults who have not been as readily catechized. Even among those who are cradle Catholics, there will be nuances of development and conscience.

This has led me to these conclusions in my quest for modesty:

  • Promoting modesty to increase the respect given to women in these overly sexualized times is a burden carried by all of us - men and women alike. Ideally it will begin with our infant girls. We should feel the love of neighbor enough to reflect moral values in the way women are respected for their unique gift of femininity. Theirs is truly a place of dignity and honor.
  • Although we are called to fraternal correction, we must always do so in a way that is helpful and not hurtful. There might be a time when we unintentionally cause hurt, so we must continue to love others and to allow them the room they need to develop  their own conscience. 
  • There are concrete areas when it comes to modesty. It is a given that showing too much flesh is an occasion of sin for others. When we speak of extremes – cleavage, miniskirts, and strapless clothing – we are safe in knowing that these are hard and fast lines of decorum. However, this does not give us a right to judge the soul of another.
  • There are grey areas as well. Whether or not to exclusively wear dresses, veils, or even dressy clothes is a cultural issue. That we would like to encourage others to wear their best – whatever their best may be – is an area that should ultimately come down to personal responsibility (or perhaps a pastor’s comment). After all, during the course of the Church calendar, we will all be hearing of wearing the appropriate ‘wedding garment’.
In conclusion, it is evident that we are called to be the best child of God that we can be. We should all strive for perfection every single day. However, we must distinguish between the black and white, and the grey areas. We must maintain our Christian charity, while maintaining our desire to help one another in this journey. And we must recognize that, as children of God, we are all unquestionably loved by Him. Our love in return must guide not just our dress, but also our interaction with our family – our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Clean 'Sandbox' Fun

My daily life revolves around kids...young kids from age two (2), four (2), and 6 (1). When we are not coloring, eating or napping I am always on the lookout for some no-fuss fun. Being the Nana instead of the mother this time around, I can use both my experience and creativity to get the job done when it comes to entertainment. They say that necessity is the mother of invention and I'd have to attest to the wisdom this idea contains. I am older, I am more set in my ways, and I get to send them home at the end of the day - at least most of the time - so although I have a child-aware household, I tend to look for more organized and less messy/obvious ways of mothering this brood.

Since we live in a rural area, with lots of room to romp and play, one of my pet peeves is how to keep at least of modecom of cleanliness around our otherwise empty nest. After the top had been left off of our nice, neat plastic sandbox and the garden kitties had decided we had somehow supplied them with a deluxe outdoor litter-box, I decided it was time for a change. We dumped the sand (the cats might as well take it over) and thoroughly washed the sandbox. The freshly clean sandbox was then placed on the porch, right beside my swing. Next my daughter purchased some brightly colored glass 'jewels' which we scattered throughout. After providing shovels, sieves, and buckets we had a jewel mine for the grands! Fortunately there is something of interest for both boys and girls. Eventually, I also purchased small trucks, graders and excavators and, voila, there was a new favorite spot for playtime!

During extremely hot weather, when we don't want to venture to the larger pool, I also fill the sandbox with a few inches of water...not enough to require hair-drying (except for Rachel, the resident 'mermaid') but a great way to cool off and enjoy a bit of water. 

When playtime is over I simply replace the lid, and the toys along with the treasure of jewels, disappear into a neutral hiding place. Repurposing also makes me feel really smart and frugal! 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pro-life Corner: SUNDAY, July 8, 2012


“While it is always necessary to work to reduce the number of abortions by providing alternatives and help to vulnerable parents and children, Catholic teaching calls all Catholics to work actively to restrain, restrict and bring to an end the destruction of unborn human life.  As the Church carries out its central responsibility to teach clearly and help form consciences, and as Catholic legislators seek to act in accord with their own consciences, it is essential to remember that conscience must be consistent with fundamental moral principles. As members of the Church, all Catholics are obliged to shape our consciences in accord with the moral teaching of the Church.” -- Statement on Responsibilities of Catholics in Public Life, March 10, 2006


Thirteenth Sunday ordinary time, Cycle B - July 1, 2012
Ez 2:2-5
2 Cor 12:7-10
Mk 6:1-6a

Every Sunday, I post these pro-life materials, generously offered for distribution by Priests for Life. These posts coincide with the Church calendar and add a pro-life flavor to the day's readings. This is my Sunday effort to help us all think with a pro-life heart.

As is the practice over at Catholic Sistas, a blog to which I contribute, Sunday posts will be scheduled ahead of time in order to leave that day for Church and family.
PS. Learn about Lady Ribbon’s Entry Into Our Lives… a ribbon that truly speaks to Catholic women with regard to breast cancer with a focus on pro-life awareness.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Meatless Fridays: Garlic Alfredo Shrimp

My husband and I have recently taken a low carb direction with our foods. This lifestyle change has been difficult for me because I'll admit that I am a carba-o-holic. After impressive results (12 lbs lost in less than 4 weeks) we are both nicely settled in for the long haul. Since we love to cook, we simply refocused our attempts. Below you will find one such recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Garlic Alfredo Shrimp  

2 T butter
1 1/2 c heavy cream
3/4 c grated Parmesan
1/4 t minced garlic
1/4 t basil
1/8 t ground black pepper
1/8 t ground nutmeg
1 bag frozen salad shrimp

Melt butter and stir in heavy cream. Stirring well, allow sauce to reduce until slightly thickened. Add grated Parmesan and spices. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce has the desired consistency.

Combine shrimp with sauce and serve immediately. Broccoli goes well with this dish and extra sauce can give it a bit of zip as well.

1/6th of the sauce contains 2 grams of carbohydrates and works well with a low carb diet.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Double Nickels and the Vigils of Life

July - it is the month of my birth and I share this distinction with two of our children. We usually turn the entire month on its ear and milk it for all it's worth - from the 1st (Erika's birthday), the 2nd (my birthday), the 4th (our nation's birthday), all the way through to the 27th which is our youngest son's birthday. The year Erika was born, she was the gift I had so dearly desired, a little girl, and we shared our pink rosebud studded birthday cake in the hospital. During the passing years we have gone on winery tours, vacations, had fireworks, large gatherings, and many more celebrations - but one thing has always held true - it's always been a spectacular time.

This year I turned 55, or as my husband calls it, double nickels. I've not ever stressed about the numbers or hidden my age, so this is no big deal for me - except that, as an OCD type person, I do enjoy having a 'pretty' number to call my own for an entire year. This birthday was different though. It's been a tough three years or so, financially speaking, and so the vacation or fireworks or even gifts didn't happen this year. The fact that my family and friends still made me feel special in countless ways was all I needed and then some! I'm actually just blessed to be here and will be celebrating my 7th cancer-versary later on this month as well.

Birthdays always remind me of my dearly departed mother, however. I think of her and the gifts she gave to us, her 6 children, in countless ways: faith, citizenship, patriotism, loyalty, and an exuberance for life, to name a few. She also instilled a quirky sense of humor in her children. We learned to laugh instead of crying and to look for a bright spot in our trials. For years it was our custom to peruse the greeting card aisles during the days counting down to special occasions. Being the frugal Germans that we are, we would find cards that fit the occasion and pass them to each other, sharing the sentiments of what those creative people at Hallmark can put into words better than us common folk. We rarely purchased the cards, opting instead for sentimental, handwritten letters from the heart. The humorous messages were 'borrowed' and then given back to the shelves at Walmart or Target.

I also always made it a point to wish my mother 'happy birthday' on my birthday because her labor of love on that sweltering German summer day - a breech birth, no less - gave me life. When my mother died of breast cancer at the tender age of 58, I remember sitting at her bedside for hours and pondering. We were privileged to have Mom stay home, in her own bed. Hospice came in and the vigil began. In so many ways the vigil of awaiting death is very similar to awaiting a new birth. The family gathers around, the signs of the impending event are closely monitored, and the love is tangible in the room. Our priest miraculously appeared at just the right moment for a final family rosary. Life ebbs and flows. As one person labors to bring forth new life, another labors to pass into Eternity. Doctors and nurses can only do so much, can only predict so much, but the ultimate minute of arrival or departure is God's alone. And so we are left to wait.

End of life or beginning of life - we wait. Granny and Lukas
This year's birthday has been touched in a similar fashion. My daughter-in-law's grandmother is ailing. As our grandchildren have been saying, 'the angels are close because she is getting ready for Heaven'. We are, once again experiencing the vigil. The doctors and nurses make their predictions and yet - she is hanging on, taking her own sweet time until God calls her home. This woman, who I have come to know during our son's 7 year marriage to his wife, is largely responsible for forming the faith of her granddaughter. In a poignant post on Facebook, I read, 'I have been at the hospital saying the Rosary with Granny. Thank you, Granny, for teaching me the Rosary'. This Matriarch of the family is drawing those she loves close to her. Through her they are finding the Grace to let her go. She will be missed but has given so much whilst she was among her loved ones. My gratitude goes out to her for her help in forming the perfect mate for our son and a godly mother for our grandchildren.

And so it goes...the vigils for birth, the counting of birthdays and the vigils for death will all continue to be with us until the End of Time. And as we await our time or The Time we mark off the signs and tick down the hours, minutes, and seconds - awaiting the birth for which we came to this earth to begin with. We seek our rebirth into His Heavenly Home. May we come rejoicing - joyfully and well prepared!

God bless you, Granny H! And may Jesus welcome you with open arms!

Post Script:
Minutes after I wrote this tribute, my daughter-in-law's grandmother passed from this life onto the next. She wrote this on her wall with a link to my post:

"The vigil is over....she took advantage of St. Elizabeth's (the peacemaker) feast day and went home with her Guardian Angel tonight. She may have been a little OCD that way, too! ; ) We'll miss you, Granny!"

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pro-life Corner: SUNDAY, July 1, 2012

In their statement “Catholics in Political Life” (June 2004), the United States bishops said the following:

“We need to continue to teach clearly and help other Catholic leaders to teach clearly on our unequivocal commitment to the legal protection of human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Our teaching on human life and dignity should be reflected in our parishes and our educational, health care and human service ministries.

“We need to do more to persuade all people that human life is precious and human dignity must be defended. This requires more effective dialogue and engagement with all public officials, especially Catholic public officials. We welcome conversation initiated by political leaders themselves.”
~Fr. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life

Thirteenth Sunday ordinary time, Cycle B - July 1, 2012
Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24
2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15
Mk 5:21-43 or 5:21-24, 35b-43

Every Sunday, I post these pro-life materials, generously offered for distribution by Priests for Life. These posts coincide with the Church calendar and add a pro-life flavor to the day's readings. This is my Sunday effort to help us all think with a pro-life heart.

As is the practice over at Catholic Sistas, a blog to which I contribute, Sunday posts will be scheduled ahead of time in order to leave that day for Church and family.
PS. Learn about Lady Ribbon’s Entry Into Our Lives… a ribbon that truly speaks to Catholic women with regard to breast cancer with a focus on pro-life awareness.