Thursday, February 27, 2014

Stations of the Cross Craft and Devotional Tools for Kids

With Lent fast approaching, I've resurrected a couple of past Lenten crafts for kids from previous years. The EGG-straordinary Rosary Craft and Lenten Journey for Kids can be found in my most recent posts. This year I decided to create an easy to do (and use) Stations of the Cross craft for kids. There are several different ways you can use this craft, once it's completed. It could even be taken to church as a devotional tool for littles.

Stations of the Cross Craft Materials

  • Stations of the Cross Stickers (mine came from Autum and were purchased from my local Catholic Goods Store). If you can't find them, you can print out the prayer sheet and cut from there.
  • Mod Podge or other adhesive
  • Rounded, flat bottomed glass 'jewels'
  • Pen or pencil 
  • Scissors
  • Paint brush
  • Prayer sheet - can be downloaded here.

Stations of the Cross Construction

  • Trace outline of glass jewel onto each sticker and cut out.
  • Using Mod Podge or spray adhesive and stick picture for each station onto bottom of a jewel.
  • After they are dry, coat the bottom of each jewel with Mod Podge for a protective coating.
  • Optional: use a hot glue gun to affix a magnet to the bottom of each Station.

Using the Stations of the Cross Craft

  • Give a brief explanation of the Stations of the Cross to your child(ren). 
  • Begin with the Sign of the Cross. 
  • As each Station is announced, say "Leader: We adore Thee, O Christ, and praise Thee. All: Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world". Genuflect when saying this prayer, if possible.
  • Read the description next to each station as you come to it. 
  • Instruct your child to place the corresponding jewel onto the appropriate square. In this way, the child will have a way to participate in 'traveling' the Way of the Cross with Jesus. 
  • You might want to add a personalized comment to help your child(ren) understand how the trials of Jesus are relevant to your family and all people. You could come up with dialog for each one or some general ideas. E.g. See how mean they were to Jesus? How do you think He felt? How do you think we should treat others? If someone is mean to us, what should we do?
  • Optional - laminate the prayer sheet.
  • Optional - using Mod Podge or other adhesive, stick prayer sheet onto a metal cookie sheet and add magnets to the underside of the Stations of the Cross jewels. This would  allow this prayer tool to be a travel activity.
  • Optional - adhere magnets to the underside of the jewels and place the prayer sheet on the refrigerator for an alternate magnetic version.

+   +   +

Useful Links:

Some interesting history about the Stations of the Cross can be found here:

A devotional aid for praying the Rosary with young children:

A booklet for your child - to encourage good Lenten practices:

Print out the Stations of the Cross Craft Prayer Sheet

Designs by Birgit is a proud participant in the Keep Love in Lent linkup hosted by the following blogs. Please visit them for some awesome posts and an opportunity to link your own blog post.

Equipping Catholic Families on Facebook

Campfires and Cleats on Facebook

Tina at Truly Rich Mom
Truly Rich Mom on Facebook

A Slice of Smith Life on Facebook

Home to 4 Kiddos on Facebook

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

EGG-straordinary Rosary Project for Lent

It's that time again - with Lent on the horizon - to reflect on how to observe this time of penance, alms giving, and prayer. As parents, grandparents, or godparents the little souls with whom we are entrusted come to mind. When I created this idea (a couple years ago), my babies were young (2 – 6). Now they are older but the ‘doing’ and ‘praying’ categories are still very relevant.

The resulting EGG-straordinary Rosary Project reinforces/teaches all of the prayers of the Rosary. Since most will know the basics (Sign of the Cross, Our Father and Hail Mary), even the very young will have a way to participate. Yet older children will be able to relate as well. Using the EGG-straordinary Rosary can be a transitional addition to their customary nighttime prayers – reciting a decade of the Rosary, while concentrating on a particular mystery each night.

This simple, inexpensive and effective craft combines reciting a nightly decade of the Rosary with some good actions and creativity thrown in for good measure:

EGG-straordinary Rosary Project Materials

  • Colorful curling ribbon or pipe cleaners
  • Paper and markers/crayons
  • Tongue depressors or Popsicle sticks
  • Glitter glue, puff paint, stickers or other embellishments
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks

EGG-straordinary Rosary Project  Construction

  • Plastic Easter Eggs (1 larger egg for the Our Father and 10 smaller eggs for the Hail Mary) 
  • Thread pre-cut sections of pipe cleaner or small strips of ribbon through the holes on both ends of the small plastic Easter eggs, until you have a chain of 10. Tie a knot in the ribbon or bend a ‘knot’ into the pipe cleaner and hot glue inside each egg to secure.
  • Add one larger Easter egg to your chain for the Our Father to complete the decade.
  • For the cross, shorten one of the tongue depressors and then form into a cross shape. Secure with hot glue and embellish with a sticker, if desired.

EGG-straordinary Rosary Project Use

Say one decade of the Rosary each evening using your Easter Egg Rosary and add your offerings (good deeds, petitions, or coins) for that day. This is a good time to discuss behavior, sharing and giving.

  • Chose a petition, good dead, or prayer for each member of the family and write/draw on a piece of paper.
  • You could also have your little ones earn pennies to share with the poor.
  • Place these papers or coins inside a plastic Easter egg.
  • On the weekend you may choose to draw or color pictures depicting the mysteries you have prayed during the week and make a booklet to go along with your newly completed Rosary.

At the end of a 5 day week you will have said all five of the respective mysteries and by the end of 4 full weeks you will have said all 4 sets of mysteries…and the COMPLETE Rosary. You should now have corresponding booklets with pictures of the all 20 mysteries.

You may now move on to coloring pages of the Stations of the Cross as your activity. Continue to use the Rosary you have made for praying a decade every evening as a family, as is now your practice. Last year, 3-year old Simon and 1-year old Rachel learned all of their rosary prayers this way. The family developed a nightly rosary ‘habit’.

On the evening before Easter Sunday, parents may wish to fill each egg with a treat or surprise and then hide the eggs for the traditional Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday. Or you could keep them intact and still fill with treats. Your kids will have had a chance to count down the 40 days and reap a reward for their patience and efforts, seeing a tangible result! Hopefully you will also have enhanced your family prayer habits. God bless you…and may we all have a fruitful Lent.
Let us all pray for one another!

Here are some links to coloring pages for use with your EGG-straordinary Rosary Project for Lent:

Stations of the Cross coloring pages for all of the stations.

Catholic Rosary coloring pages to print. Includes Luminous Mysteries and much more!

Catholic Rosary Diagram page to color.
Sign of the Cross diagram and coloring page.
Our Father – prayer coloring sheet.
Hail Mary – prayer coloring page.

You may also like My Lenten Journey project pictured here -->.
*Note: you could also do the above project using a paper chain much like those that are made during Advent to adorn your Christmas tree. Each ‘link’ in the chain could be a Hail Mary and a larger ‘link’ could be added for the Our Father. You could write on the slips of paper before creating the links.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

5 Reasons I'm Not Leaving Facebook

There's much justified outrage about Facebook's new gender definitions - all 56 of them. For this social network to consult the LBGT community to help create these imaginary, sordid compartments for people - and to pretend it's all normal - is a disgusting new facet of an already far left (to the point of falling over the proverbial cliff) leaning company. The reactions have been swift and decisive. Many good, Christian people are once again discerning whether or not to stay with Facebook.

On the surface, the  decision seems rather obvious. After all, Facebook is not a necessity. Unlike utilities, corporations, food suppliers, and a myriad of other necessary businesses, Facebook is optional entertainment. Right? It may be an entertaining method of networking and socializing, but it's not vital to our lives. I find myself in a quandary, however, about leaving. After much discussion - on Facebook, of course - I've come to conclusion that I will remain. Here's why:

1). The way I see it, sometimes when on Facebook or in the comboxes, we're in the gutter with the poor, hopeless sinners. We minister to them by sharing the Gospel. If we don't go where they are, how would we ever encounter them IRL (in real life)? I see Facebook, if used properly, as a powerful tool for evangelization.

2). I won't leave, because by remaining I may have the opportunity to sustain others, who have similar missions. The Gospel message is validated, in the minds of others, the more it is shared. The Word of God becomes more widespread the more of us who continue to share it. There's too much work to be done and electronic media has been encouraged by the Holy Father. 

3.) I've personally seen much good come out of dabbling in Facebook ministry - both in strengthening faith and in promoting a Culture of Life. With our help, people are getting braver about posting things they were formerly unwilling to share. I've seen the fruit of this with people I know in real life, just this week. We are the tide and it's turning.

4.) Sometimes it's difficult to be out in the evangelizing trenches - even in cyberspace. Sharing the burden with like-minded souls, eases the strain a bit. When I begin to feel alone in a world run amok, I find my compatriots to be a soothing balm of faith. It helps me to realize that I am a part of the Church Militant, battling for the glory of God.

5.) We have the option of using Facebook to our own purposes. With a fully formed conscience and purity of objective, we are able to discard the objectionable and use the good to the advantage of Faith. One thing I plan to do is to cut down on the entertainment aspect of Facebook - especially for Lent. 

I realize this is a very personal decision and certainly don't begrudge those who have come to a different conclusion. These five points simply represent my own decision-making process - discerning and praying to make the right decision for me. We all have different callings and differing talents to share. If some of my friends make a different decision, I will wish them well, pray for them, and miss our collaboration. Onward Christian Soldiers, whatever path you choose!

Case in point regarding #4. Just as some discussions over this post were heating up, one of my friends posted this: 
"I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those who do not know Him or have forgotten Him."-- St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sanctity of Life Sunday - 2 Sides of the Abortion Coin

In keeping with Sanctity of Life Sunday I have two stories to share. One will make you weep and the other will melt your heart. They are the opposite sides to the abortion coin.

Horrifying Pro-Abortion Expose'

Provided by LiveActionFilms comes this horrifying expose of the inner workings of an abortion mill and their warped sense of life in the womb. While we don't hear anything we didn't already know, it's still chilling to hear the extent to which the Culture of Death crowd will go to fool a woman into having her child killed.

I Literally Couldn’t Believe What I Was Hearing. No Woman Should Have This Conversation with a Doctor. This Hidden Camera Proves it.

Heartwarming Pro-Life Story

On the other side of the coin, we see how a Teen Who Survived (a) Botched Abortion (is) Now a Successful Wrestler. In this heart warming story we see a child, equally unwanted in the beginning, beat the odds by surviving abortion and living a fulfilling an inspirational life. All this, despite his lack of complete limbs!

As much as the pro-abortion movement wants to dispel it, the truth is that life is the only choice. No human has the right to end the life of another - and no baby should die at the altar of convenience, fear, and coercion.

Friday, February 14, 2014

This St. Valentine's Day, Accept God's Gift of Life

We've come to expect a brazen attitude when it comes to Planned Parenthood and the Culture of Death. Not one to disappoint, PP CEO Cecile Richards is touting 'safe and legal abortion' this St. Valentine's Day - as what women want and need. Of course we know, the St. Valentines' (all three of them) tale - after which this day is modeled - is about love.

As the Bible tells us in St. Matthew's Gospel, second only to our love of God, is His command that we love of others as we love ourselves. So if love is a sacrificial giving of self, how can abortion possibly figure in? Abortion is not about love, it's about selfishness - a selfishness so great that one would kill another for their own convenience. Granted, there are also women who feel abortion is their only option and we owe them love as well. Yet, wouldn't it be much more fitting to give these abandoned, desperate women a loving hand?

As the flowers, candies, and dinners abundantly flow on this day dedicated to the love of another, let's remember those who are in dire straits. As an act of love, let's resolve to make life better for someone whose life is not so rosy. Let's pray for babies and mothers and fathers, who need our love and assistance. We can give of ourselves and demonstrate that we, the Faithful, understand the true meaning of love.

"You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." —1 Cor 6:19-20

Thursday, February 13, 2014

14 and Pregnant - Is My Life Ruined?

It never occurred to me that the cute 16 year old guy down the street had a violent side. At 14, my string bean figure had become a bit curvier, yet my biggest passion was riding my pony (bareback) through our little town. We lived a lifestyle typical to those days in the early 70’s: get up, do chores, and then run with friends until the porch lights came on. It was an idyllic, carefree time – safe to ride bikes, do flips in the front yard, and wander from one neighbor’s house to the other.

Then something happened that would shatter the innocence of my girlhood. That cute guy became aggressive, sexually, and my world turned upside-down. It would be a few weeks later that my mother, alerted by gossip, verbalized her inconceivable fear.

“People are saying you’re pregnant”, she murmured.

For weeks she’d worried about my stomach ‘flu’. Nothing would stay down and my adolescent form became skinnier.

“Well, maybe I am”, I mumbled quickly.

Verbalizing my fear at that moment made the situation all too real. My mother, stunned, fell to the floor in front of her bubbling pot of soup. We cried, hugged, and tried to make sense of the unthinkable. The unreciprocated advances of the neighborhood boy had resulted in a baby.

A B O R T I O N:

All this transpired during the days of the infamous Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton cases. The topic of abortion was being discussed and the laws were on the cusp of being handed down. The common rationalizations in support of abortion were many. They still are. We'd heard them all, but there was one that was even more unthinkable:

  “What about the rape/incest exception?”

And now it had hit home. Should a girl really carry her attacker’s child? For this irrevocably Catholic family there was only one answer, ‘yes’! After all, why punish the child for his father’s crime? Wouldn't that just create another victim? That child had committed no crime, had been convicted by no jury. To give him a death sentence would be the height of injustice. But, but, but…
“Wouldn’t the girl’s life come to a screeching halt, with no chance of a future?”
In a nutshell, the answer was no! The ensuing months became a blur, yet time stood still.  Although my early high school life changed, it continued. Now there was a ‘homebound’ teacher and an algebra tutor. Time, however, marched on and adjustments were made. This wasn't an era of ‘baby mommas’ and ‘baby daddies’, this was a more sheltered time and after a while we began to attend Mass in a neighboring town.

‘The time’ came in early summer and a kind-faced nurse kept me somewhat calm by talking about mundane things – like my nice tan. Then there he was – a blue eyed bundle of around 7 pounds. They laid him in my lap and I timidly poked at him – counted the fingers and toes, because that’s what was expected, and then quickly rebundled him.

At home again, life continued with my sisters and a little wooden cradle holding ‘him’. My parents had stepped up in and chosen the loving option of adopting this child of mine.  He was lovingly added to our brood even though my mother was 4 months pregnant at the time of his birth. This was our Catholic faith in action!

The blue-eyed angel grew up knowing I was ‘special’ and about his adoption, even before he knew what that meant, because my parents wanted him to know the truth from the beginning. ‘The Boys’, as we called them, grew up together as brothers with a bond that grew stronger and matured with adulthood. Our little family of 7 resumed our idyllic life in our small town and acceptance was regained from most. The whispers would always be there but we all grew accustomed to them. We circled the wagons around our family and our Catholic faith.

Life Resumes

That next fall, I returned to high school. Then, during the summer of my sixteenth year, I met a young man whom my mother trusted. He was the first one I was allowed to date. We became quite the pair and were soon ‘going steady'. Another reminder of 'that time' would come when we parked in a quiet meadow and I told him my story. He had heard the murmurs but I needed to tell him myself – that it wasn't quite the way it was portrayed in some circles. To my surprise and joy he accepted my tale with a loving calm! He was not in tune with the naysayers, his heart was his own – and mine!

We married Thanksgiving weekend of my senior year, with the blessing of our parish priest. Our high school courtship had remained a chaste one – by our mutual agreement. After our wedding we approached my parents and asked if we could adopt the little one – now three years old. My mother’s answer was an unequivocal ‘NO’! She explained that he was now her baby and she simply could not give him up. We did, however, have ‘The Boys’ over quite a bit. They became our ‘practice kids’ in those early years.

That fall, after having graduated from high school, I began my college life and remained on track to graduate on time. In what seemed like no time at all I found myself in my senior year of college – I was also pregnant with our first child! Our son was born before I walked the stage to receive my diploma.

Life and Love Marches On!

Since that time many things have happened. After graduation with a BA in Art my various jobs have included Art Teacher, Office Manager and Catholic Book Store Manager as well as a Field Representative for a pro-life US Congressman. In the pro-life realm I have been an Executive Director of Right to Life of Owensboro (twice), served as Newsletter Editor and Board Member of several pro-life groups,. My life has been full and fulfilling. I tell you these things, not to brag about my credentials, but to enforce the point that your life is never over – no matter what cards you are dealt.

During our 39 years of marriage, my husband and I have had three children and married off two of them. We have welcomed 5 grandchildren – gifts from their happy marriages. The two children born to my ‘special brother’ and his wife, round out our total of seven grandchildren. They are all 9 years old and younger. I am Godmother to all seven of these angels and we are quite the tight-knit bunch. Life (and Love) prevailed and has come full circle. Contrary to being ‘ruined’, I can honestly say that my 56 years on this earth have truly been blessed!

Note: the fruit of all of my pro-LIFE fervor manifests itself in the pro-LIFE memes I create. Check out my album and fan page at Designs by Birgit on Facebook. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Grammys, Sex, and Satan - For God's Sake, Just Buy a CD!

Watching an Amish documentary last Sunday, I heard the following exchange:

One individual of a busload of visitors to Amish Country addressed an Amish gentleman, "So what's the difference between you Amish and us 'English'?"

The Amish gentleman replied, "How many of you own televisions?" The hands of all tourists went up.

He then added, "How many of you are distressed with what is often seen on television?" Again all hands up.

Next he asked, "How many of you will go home and get rid of your televisions?" No hands went up.

His final comment was, "That's the difference between the Amish and the English!"

This simple, painful observation was made even more relevant when reports of the 2014 Grammys surfaced. Apparently this year's Grammys featured 1) a mass wedding ceremony performed - including both gay and straight couples - by Queen Latifah, a performer.  2) a risque duet by Beyonce and Jay-Z and 3) a Satanic performance by Katy Perry. Remind me again why anyone watches an orgy of perversion such as this? An answer might be revealed in Matthew Kelly's, Rediscover Catholicism, “Our culture places a very high premium on self-expression, but is relatively disinterested in producing "selves" that are worth expressing.” 

So, many do watch - repeatedly - even as the performances sink to ever lower levels. Sadly, members of these faithful audiences are enablers. Because these train wrecks (disguised as entertainment) continue to be watched, they will persist in their downward spiral. For God's sake, buy a CD or something! Why continue to expose ourselves to filth, in an effort to see a small bit of entertainment?

My late mother used to tell a story about a mom, worried about her older children's movie viewing habits. Each time she voiced her objections to some of the vile content in their movie selections, the kids would say, "There's only a little bit of (language, sex, or gratuitous violence) in them; the rest of the movie is really good. Undaunted, she made brownies for the next movie night. After everyone had heartily eaten the delicious confection, the mother announced that one of the ingredients was dog poo. Outraged, the children exclaimed, 'how could you feed us such a thing?' to which she replied, 'but there was only a little bit of dog poo in them, the rest of the ingredients were top quality and delicious".  Point made! No?

In a recent Tweet, Pope Francis shared some thoughts as well, "Young people, let us not be satisfied w/mediocre life. Be amazed by what is true, beautiful, what is of God".
A part of the problem seems to lie with each individual's mistaken impression that personal actions have no impact on the larger picture. There is a deficit of those willing to hold out for the exceptional – of not settling for the mediocre or worse. In truth, each of us makes a huge difference - one person at a time. And what we do has a ripple effect - for good or for evil. There are consequences in either case. Support these intrinsic evil acts by visual support and others follow. The titillation of shock and outraged discussions will fuel the curious and innocent alike – resulting in patronage of these lowest of entertaining elements. 

On the other hand, those who resist the temptation will have a positive impact. One of my friends had set her DVR for later viewing of the Grammys – planning to fast-forward to only those artists of whom she was a fan. After some discussion, she honored her husband's request, erasing the entire recording. As a couple, they came to the realization that most of the content was an open attack on conservative and Christian values. Allowing even a portion of The Grammys was not a compromise they were willing to make on their deeply held beliefs. Here was an example of one couple, sharing their discernment on Facebook and having a positive impact. 

Realizations such as this may be coming to more and more people (we pray). In reference to the Grammys, former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron Tweeted to his followers, “Is it just me or are some of the Grammy performances so far…really demonic?? Looks like there is a lot of evil in the world…” Yes, indeed, and isn't it time we all took notice?

The Grammys, Sex, and Satan - For God's Sake, Just Buy a CD! was first published at Catholic Stand.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sanctity of Life Sunday - Leaving the Results to God

As passionate pro-life people, we often find ourselves frustrated when our efforts don't reap measurable results. It's understandable, yet misguided, to weight our pro-life work in this way. The truth is, it's our responsibility to give our best effort to sharing the Gospel of Life, but the results belong to God. Not only do the results belong to God, they belong to Him in His time. As workers in his vineyard, we owe our best toil on behalf of our unborn brethren - informing, praying, loving - with that, our responsibility is to hand the matter over to God. To do otherwise would be to suffer from the sin of pride.