Respecting Life, Not Brainwashing Our Daughters or Put the Cookie Down, Slowly and No One Gets Hurt

Soon enough some adorable little girls in your neighborhood may be stationed outside the local grocery store. Or going door to door with a parent looking over their shoulder.

As the catch-phrase goes: It’s Girl Scout Cookie Time!

But a healthy waist-line is the least of the reasons why you may want to pass.

Once upon a time, quite a while ago, I was a Brownie and late Girl Scout. The organization was great. I have fond memories of camping and crafts and swimming. I wasn’t a good sales person, so you know, not so much about cookie selling, but yes on cookie eating. At that time, the Girls Scouts were forming young women to be responsible young adults. There were badges for Childcare, Ms Fix It, Pet Care, among others.

But all good things of this world, it would seem, must come to an end.

Girl Scouts USA has allowed local organizations to partner with Planned Parenthood for a variety of issues. Most notably, sexual education materials. In fact, Planned Parenthood distributed a brochure entitled “How to Know You Are Ready for Sex” with the Girl Scouts logo on the back. Not only is the fact that the logo exists on this brochure disturbing in and of itself, it is also a sure-fire propoganda that will work on impressionable young girls and women. Girl Scouts is good. They endorse Planned Parenthood ergo Planned Parenthood and the “reproductive services” they offer are also good. In the mind of a young woman in her early teenage years, the logical leap is not far.

This is where the Girl Scouts stop and say, “Now, wait, wait, wait, did you READ our FAQs? Our one stop shop with all the answers to this silly, silly questions?” Well, sure, take a look. And if you’re wavering, here’s the resolve you need and the background for the broad statements those FAQs offer.  It’s a tangled, dangerous web they weave and to have this kind of misleading stop-loss tactic in place, doesn’t help them hold onto the discerning parent who does the extensive homework.

Many, many people have fallen for “well, the troop is at our parish and therefore, they don’t partner with Planned Parenthood.” Well, not on the local level, perhaps, however, considering how the national level allows and in some cases encourages this partnership, and most of that cookie money goes right back to nationals, it’s probably not a bad idea for most parish troops to close up shop.

So, where does that leave us when a cute little girl in brown or green is standing on our doorstep? Well, in years past, I’ve been horrified to read of adults telling young children no because and then laying out the entire PP agenda sanctimoniously. Nothing wrong with saying no, but that connection is something a parent should be discussing with their child and should it make anyone feel good to proselytize to a child who is most likely doing this with an unwitting parent’s consent or blessing?

Well, this year, Abby Johnson has come up with an answer to that conundrum. Decline and don’t say anything. But do hand the adult with the child this. If the parent is waiting in a car (it’s happened in my neighborhood) perhaps have a blank envelope ready to stuff it into and quickly seal and politely decline the sale and ask the child to give this envelope to her parent. Most parents do not know. And if they don’t care, fine, you’ve made your point and you’ll probably avoid future visits at least from that family. But you’ve not stood by blindly and you haven’t blown a child out of the water with rhetoric she may not have any idea what to do with.

Perhaps, with gentle persuasion, more parents will decide to leave the organization or reform from within. I do believe that Planned Parenthood has corrupted far too many of these organizations and perhaps, we can help save a few with education. If not, so be it. Our daughters deserve better. Our daughters deserve to learn about true feminine-genius and they definitely deserve to not be a pawn in the pro-death camp.


A year ago we began the year of faith and I began my 33rd year. It was a year that I would like to forget more of than remember.

It was a year that I almost literally had to yell “Get Behind me Satan!” a few times. It was a year I began to more completely understand and hear the Holy Spirit in my life.

I put two kids into elementary school. I celebrated one year in my job. I started BSF with my youngest. I put my middle child in faith formation.

Those were some of the highlights. There were more rough moments than I care to count so I won’t.

I’ve grown some. I’ve been put in my place. It’s like every year but like no other year.

Welcome to 34. I’m sure it will be more of the same and completely unexpected.

Respecting Life: Think Before You Pink

During the month of October which the Church acknowledges as “Respect Life” Month I am going to do a few posts regarding various pro-life stances. I hope you enjoy.

October is Breast Cancer awareness month. Wait, you didn’t see cloud of pink attack you in your local grocery store, pharmacy or big box mart?

What about when you turned your television on Sunday? Did  you catch the pink gloves, cleats, laces and other paraphenalia worn by those in the NFL?

October, a month once dominated by the yellows, oranges and reds of autumn is now a sea of pink. Everywhere you look and go, there are the ribbons on boxes of mac and cheese and athletic helmets.

Breast cancer is a horrible disease. It claims the lives of those with family histories and those without. Of young women and old. It causes women to consider removing a part of their body they identify with their gender. And it also claims men as well.

So, why, Kristen, would you suggest you “think before you pink?” if you’re pro-life? A couple of reasons and not just the ones you’re thinking of.

Firstly, we’ll go with the obvious, the Susan G Komen foundation. Komen is the best known of all the breast cancer foundations world-wide. However, Komen is a well-known funder of Planned Parenthood. Komen claims the money it gives to PP does not fund abortions or birth control but only mammograms. However, Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms. Instead they refer to other sources. Why, exactly, does Komen not cut out the middle man and fund the mammograms at actual offices that provide them? Well ther is some wishy-washy rhetoric about providing women’s health-care to women “at-risk” meaning who have low incomes. I say wishy-washy because in all major cities there are alternatives that do not fund abortions and Planned Parenthood doesn’t exist in rural areas. Period. And that doesn’t even acknowledge the hypocrisy of Komen linking to Planned Parenthood regarding breast cancer. Komen claims to exist to support women with breast cancer as well as fund research to eradicate it. Well, hard to eradicate it when you’re helping cause it. The links of abortion and breast cancer  and abortion and artificial contraception are becoming more and more concrete with each passing day.  If Komen were truly serious about trying to eradicate breast cancer, it would instead help women with insurance seeing their private physician (most of whom do not perform abortions whether they support or not) or uninsured women to see a private OB-GYN to get their annual check-ups and mammograms. Simcha Fisher has written more about Komen and other links between abortion and breast cancer here.  Needless to say, pinking with Komen is not a pro-life or respect-life step at all. It’s not even for breast cancer patients or survivors.

But what about those facebook statuses and stunts like National No Bra Day? I mean aren’t they wonderful, great awareness techniques?

The answer is no. They are not. And don’t take it just from me, read what a real breast cancer survivor wrote. I think what grabbed me was this

So the thought of seeing bra-less women flaunting two body parts that I have lost to cancer — more than I already see this on a regular day — does not feel all that supportive.  In fact, it feels quite the opposite.

How does it value the lives of those who are suffering when we glibly post a funny facebook status that does nothing. Absolutely nothing. And don’t throw at me that feel-good mantra of “anything that brings awareness helps.” Because that’s a crock and we all know it. Not all “awareness” is equal. In fact, this type of awareness feels more like lazy activism than actual caring. I like it on the counter, black, I’m going to Paris for nine months. Do those things honestly help anyone? How does it respect the lives of those women and men who are suffering through chemotherapy and radiation? How do they console women who have lost their breasts and in some cases feel a part of their femininity? How do they not diminish what men are going through who have breast cancer?

And those of us in the pro-life movement are not the only ones who are noticing. The now cancelled television show Love Bites had in its first season an episode called Keep on Truckin’ which included an vignette called “Goodbye Boob.” The vignette guest-starred Laura Prepon as a young woman named Alex, the romantic interest of a minor character. He attends a party at her art gallery where his boss finds out it’s a party celebrating her upcoming mastectomy for breast cancer. Alex is a young woman in her late twenties-early thirties. She is single. While the party is supposed to be a joyful celebration of killing cancer as well as a thumbed-nose at the idea of breasts as sexual objects in a form of modern feminism that rejects such chauvinistic views of our bodies. However, at one point during the party, Dan, the character who has a crush on Alex, comes across Alex drinking a glass of wine alone outside. Alex is not the happy, bouncy girl she pretended to be during the party. Instead she is forlorn and questioning her femininity in light of losing a breast. The vignette smartly challenges our views of trivializing breast cancer in the way our lives in social media do today. In the way that “pink-washing” the month of October does. In her piece on National No Bra day, the blogger at Cancer in My Thirties takes this  attitude head-on

We live in a society that makes a huge hoopla about breast cancer while at the very same time trivializing the seriousness of the disease.  How can we be so contradictory?

While I am beyond thrilled that breast cancer is no longer a taboo issue and that people are talking about it, the commercialism has gotten out of hand.  There is nothing pink and rosy about breast cancer, yet it has been pink-washed to death.  It is a serious disease that kills.

When we cheapen the struggle of those with cancer by asking facebook to go pink or using cutesy status updates or saying we’ll go bra-less or when we feel like we’re “helping” by throwing a few pink items in the shopping cart, we are not acting with the dignity of those with breast cancer in mind. We are not showing respect for their struggle and their battle to live.

The “pink-washing” debacle is a pro-life issue not just in light of abortion but in how we preserve the dignity of those here with us who are fighting for their lives. Real support does not involve abortuaries being dressed up as saving lives nor insipid status updates nor even changing our shopping habits to buy certain products that claim to donate money to “research.” The battle with breast cancer is another front on the pro-life movement that is slowly gaining traction and rightfully so. We will be able to fight this horrible disease when we stop sexualizing it at every turn and recognize the humanity of these women and men as deserving of real activism.

Light In Darkness

Joining Maria to shed some light in the darkness of our world.

I get tired of hearing negative things about special education. Yes, I know the abuse and neglect and mistreatment of children out there. As the mother of a child with special needs, I will never be able to ignore when these things happen. The problem is, there are a lot of good things happening and good teachers out there. However, because of the few bad apples that the media reports on, you would never know it.

My daughter’s teacher works very hard, puts in long hours and gets great results. So, when I realized I could make her positive contributions known both in the school and beyond, I chose to do it. And I asked two other parents to help me. Together, we nominated our children’s teacher for the local news station’s Teacher of the Week program. And she received the honor. My child happened to be featured in the piece they did for the local news, but I am sharing this not for that reason. I am sharing it because wonderful teachers are out there, even in special education. And they deserve to be acknowledged. Shelby’s teacher is the type of teacher I would want for any child.


The Week of Birthday

My week of birthday began this morning. My birthday is toward the end of this week, and as I told my children, the reward for living this many years is a whole week of birthday (for Daddy’s age, it’s a whole month!).

Today was not spectacular in it’s beginning. Since Wednesday I have had some ugly health stuff going on. It’s included a migraine, nausea, GI virus and extreme olfactory sensitivity. This morning a migraine woke me at 3, then again at 4:45 and again at 5:20 and it was a beast. I used warm compresses and finally gave into caffeine, aspirin and aceteminophen. I was still in such rotten shape though we did not make it to mass this morning. This particular migraine came with extreme light sensitivity and vision issues. I had difficulty with being able to see out of my right eye during it and it wasn’t safe for me to drive.

I was especially bummed as it is Respect Life Sunday. Poor Joey had gotten up and dressed and fed himself! Jeff made him a nice breakfast to make up for Mama not feeling great.

When it was safe for me to drive I went out to grab a couple of newspapers to get my coupons and to pick up play-doh that Jeff promised Will yesterday then forgot to get from Big Box.

Jeff made me cheese quesadillas for lunch, one of my comfort foods. Lunch was fun but shortly after I had a random attack of sciatica! Argh! After resting for a bit, the boys asked if we could watch the Star Wars Trilogy. Being that it’s my week of birthday, I was more than happy to oblige.

Dinner was a pork tenderloin, saffron rice, broccoli and zucchini with chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

It was a very lazy Sunday to start birthday week that had a few rough spots.

On St Francis of Assisi, and being Knocked upside the head by the Holy Spirit

Deep breaths. Deep breaths. WOO-SAAAA!

Lately I feel like the Holy Spirit is always right behind me with a goofy grin warming up and taking a few practice swings with the cast-iron skillet so that, as soon as I turn, WHAMMO!

BSF study, here’s a reading that rocked your world six months ago, WHAMMO!

Your son tells you he told his BSF preschool class that he talks to Pope Francis about God, WHAMMO!

The Pope’s interview comes out, WHAMMO!

A piece comes on the BBC about St Francis of Assisi this past Sunday just as I’m getting ready to get up and go to mass, WHAMMO! (By the way, listen to this! )

My child destroys a few “precious” things and then I see this when I log into facebook, WHAMMO!

I feel my blood pressure rise with every new blog post and the hysterics that are evident there on the Pope’s interviews, WHAMMO!

I made my first Confession and my First Holy Communion at a parish named for St Francis of Assisi. He was an easy favorite saint. In those days we made a big deal about ecology and how he loved the animals. Hey, what can I say, it was the dirty 80’s.

When it was announced that Jorge Mario Bergoglio was the new pope and had chosen the name Francis, many jumped to assume that because Bergoglio was a Jesuit, it must mean he was after St Francis Xavier. And then he wasn’t wearing red shoes. And then there was some nonsense about puppet masses. But that very first misunderstanding came from the name he chose.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan told the story of how when asked what name he chose, Cardinal Bergoglio immediately said, “Francis. In honor of St Francis of Assisi.”

Pope Francis himself told how after he was elected a brother Cardinal said to him, “Remember the poor.” That statement immediately resonated with the Holy Father and made him think of Francis of Assisi.

I don’t have to tell you the mainstream media by and large has it all wrong. That they are focusing on Francis’ emphasis on conversion based upon and love and spinning it to mean total tolerance of sin. And if you  have prayed before reading Pope Francis’ words, it becomes clear how the Spirit is guiding him. And should be guiding us.

In light of Pope Francis’ interview in America, Erin Manning offered this sage advice, “Don’t panic.” And her reason behind this? “As I said, Pope Francis is challenging us in the West to quit playing that game and start acting like actual Christians.  We don’t need to panic; it’s the same thing Christ asks of us every single day.”

Erin brings up a very interesting point. Pope Francis is not asking more of us than the Christ did. He is not asking us to condone sin or accept it, he is, however, reminding us that we are to love the sinner.

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect,  just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5: 44-48

And that leads me back to the BBC feature in which the journalist remarks that St Francis of Assisi is the saint most identified with trying to live like Christ lived. Yeah, that one smacked me pretty hard. Pope Francis chose the name of the saint most associated with trying to live the life of Christ.

St Francis of Assisi, the Holy Spirit has been showing me, is one of the most misunderstood saints in the catalog. The prayer most associated with him, was not written by him and incorrectly attributed to him long before the days of the internet. And most people only know a man in statue with a bird on his shoulder (full disclosure, that statue is at the head of my late beagle’s grave in our backyard).

But who remembers he went to Egypt and attempted to convert a muslim Sultan. And  while the conversion failed, the Sultan somewhat miraculously let him go and ordered his men not to harm Francis. Wait, what? He dialogued with people of other faiths?

He did as Jesus commanded and gave up all he owned for the Kingdom of Heaven.

He lowered himself to care for lepers. People who were cast out. Cast aside. Deemed the least of humanity.

He was a reluctant revolutionary. He didn’t want the attention, he attempted to cast it aside.

To, quote the BBC journalist, “he turned the world on its head.”

And when he stood in front of a dilapidated church he heard from the Crucifix, “Francis, Go and repair my church. ” And while that particular building was in terrible need of repair, the Church on earth is full of sinful humans and must be in a constant state of repair. And Francis’ life of poverty and his devotion to Christ certainly went a long way in that repair. He made people feel uncomfortable and upset. He threw some chaos in where it was needed. He made us remember that God doesn’t always need or want us to feel warm and fuzzy about our faith. Oh no, sometimes He is asking us to do what we fear most. And He is asking us to trust Him above all.


It’s that side of St Francis of Assisi that I NEVER once heard about while I was at that Catholic church that bore his name. It’s the side that more liberal adherents to the faith play down. Or ignore.

And if that’s starting to sound familiar, well, it should. Pope Francis chose a name that honored one of our greatest saints. A saint that was radical in many ways and who, in the process of repairing the Church and world, turned it on its head. A saint whose life has been abused  by those who want only to see what they wish to see through lenses of sin and secularism. But for some, some who only had those lenses before, their hearts, their minds were changed. Forever. For better. Pope Francis chose the name of one of the most wildly misunderstood saints in the Catholic faith. There are no coincidences. There is only the Holy Spirit. And His cast-iron skillet.

Francis go and repair my church

For more on St Francis of Assisi:

This gem from The Crescat from 2011.

and today from Kathryn Lopez.


Seven Quick Takes Friday

— 1 —

So, let’s talk tv for a minute. We don’t have cable or Netflix or Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime.  I have flirted with the idea several times of AppleTV or Roku, but just haven’t been able to make the commitment.  The only shows I know out there that I would love on cable are Duck Dynasty and Homeland. And I probably would have dug Breaking Bad too. However, that all being said, I do have my faves as far as network tv goes. Particularly prime time. Here is what I’m loving so far: in the returning to tv, The Mindy Project, Nashville, Two Broke Girls, Big Bang Theory, Parks and Rec, Parenthood, The Middle, Modern Family, Bob’s Burgers, The Simpsons. In new to tv: Mom, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Goldbergs, Super Fun Night, The Michael J Fox Show. Really not digging Back in the Game and Dads. And not impressed that Saturday Night Live has Miley Cyrus as their host and musical guest this weekend 😦 and that has NOTHING to do with the MTV VMAs. No it would have more to do with her having no musical or acting talent. Anywho…quick spotlight on The Goldbergs…wow, it is truly The Wonder Years for my generation. It chronicles that specific time, it has the voice over (done by Patton Oswalt, who like Daniel Stern is best known as a character actor) and the best thing, it is based on a real family. And how cool that Patton Oswalt who does the Adam F Goldberg voice-over and Jeff Garlin who plays Murray, based on Goldberg’s real father Murray, were both major characters in Disney Pixar films. Oswalt was the voice of Remy the rat in Ratatouille and Garlin was the voice of the captain of the ship on Wall-E. If you haven’t checked out The Goldbergs yet, check ’em out on Hulu at no cost online. They’re like your family, only funnier, and in the 80’s.

— 2 —

So, remember how, in the first quick take, I said we haven’t made the commitment to Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime? Well, part of that was the thinking of an additional bill each month (or once a year). (Scroll up if you skipped that one.) So, last week, I kind of had a meltdown because Jeff is territorial about shopping. But he refuses to meal plan OR he makes me meal plan than doesn’t get half the things I plan for (even with a list) or he scraps the meals. And, on top of that, he shops exclusively at Wal-Mart. He just assumes he is getting the best deal. We all know what  happens when you assume…anyway moving right along. Wal-Mart is low for many things but not for things like milk, eggs, butter, the basics. And often sales are lower at the regular ol supermarket and if you’ve ever tried to ad-match on grocery items at Wal-Mart it’s much more of a headache than it’s worth (and Jeff can’t be bothered with that anyway). So, after planning meals that Jeff didn’t buy for again this week and losing out on lots of sale prices, yeah, I had a meltdown. Which led Jeff to say, “Fine, you take over the grocery shopping.” So, I did what any normal person does, I started couponing. Now, I work in a supermarket. Our particular location triples coupons every day up to .99, so trust me, I KNOW what a pain in the butt couponers can be. I also know that there is a difference between being frugal and being addicted. I know people who waste food because they had a coupon. I know about people who talk about the “high” of couponing. I just want my family to be able to eat every day and have a little money left over for things like, say, Christmas presents. So far this week I’ve saved over $50 and we have dinners for the next two weeks.  And I’ve only been to the store 3 times, one of those times just to get some caffeine to help cure a migraine. I’ll never be an “every day-er” and I’ll never buy something just because I have a coupon for it, but I will improve our grocery budget.

— 3 —

Simcha Fisher posted on Thursday on facebook this instant classic:

Come Holy Spirit, and slap us upside the head. I mean, kindle in us the fire of your love. Or both.

Yeah, the Holy Spirit has been after me with a cast iron skillet for the last few weeks here, so you know, I actually have been listening and heeding the advice and guidance and man, wouldn’t you know, things have drastically improved.

— 4 —

Remember how I said the Holy Spirit was after me with a cast iron skillet raring to crack my skull well…

Here you go, I’m not reading blogs anymore. Well, strike that, I’m not reading most blogs anymore. See also: tired of arm-chair Popes. Friends, particularly mama friends, I am still with y’all but the mass following of the majority out there…yeah, not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent… (oh, and those ones I linked to here, they’re all still very readable).

— 5 —

That goes triple for com-boxes.

— 6 —

Here is a blog meme definitely worth checking out though. Maria at Four Blessings Academy hosts a link-up each week entitled Light in Darkness. You can read about the inspiration for this meme here.  This world can be super-duper dark some days and we all need to be in the light sometimes.

— 7 —

Be honest, how bored are you? Did you even stick with me this far? If so, have a great weekend. Live in Christ’s love and light and let the Holy Spirit crack your skull a few times. You’ll be glad you did.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!