Sex & the City…Catholic style!

by Sarah S. Drew

Imagine if the wildly popular TV series “Sex & the City” were a book, only the main characters were morally-conscience Roman Catholics. That’s what “Style, Sex, & Substance” reminds me of. (Not that I’ve ever watched the show, of course.)

Ten women bloggers offer hilarious, heartwarming, real life reflections on topics ranging from identity and discipleship, style and beauty, marriage and motherhood, in fresh, candid, conversation as they each seek to answer the question: What does it mean to be an authentically Catholic woman?

What does she look like? What does she wear? How is her sex life? Does she have to be married with a house full of kids? Does she work outside the home? Does she have lots of friends? How does she present herself to the world and influence modern culture? Perhaps some of these questions seem superficial, but a reading of this book proves otherwise. The answers, the authors show, profoundly affect our self image.

It turns out most of the women had a vision of who the authentic Catholic woman is, and felt they didn’t measure up. More surprising, many of the women admitted that they didn’t think they were feminine enough. (Enough for what? I think in retrospect.) If you can relate to these feelings, you would benefit from reading this book.

Learn how Jennifer Fulwiler “fell out of her minivan and found herself”—a particularly funny story.  And how a cute dress inspired a complete 180 conversion for editor Hallie Lord. Personally, my favorite essay is Danielle Bean’s “We Said Yes.” Her exceptionally well written personal narrative on the joys and struggles of marriage had me laughing throughout and tearing up at the end.  You must read about what happened when her husband suggested she “get her hair done.” Enough said.

Clichés or not, it is no small feat striving for holiness in a fast-paced world where women are expected to juggle many tasks. I recommend this book for any Catholic woman, married or single, who has wondered who she is and if she is living up to some kind of standard she has set for herself.

Did I mention there’s a chapter for single ladies? Anna Mitchell offers up an honest portrait of the chaste single life. “Style, Sex, & Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things that Really Matter” is an entertaining, enlightening read. It will encourage you to look within and discover your unique, authentically Catholic womanhood.

Book Trailer: Style, Sex & Substance

— Sarah Drew is a Customer Service Representative for CCL in Cincinnati.

Family imagery at the conventions

by Mike Manhart, Ph.D.
Executive Director

I watched the President’s address Thursday night as I had watched Mitt Romney’s last week.  I’ll not dwell on the political positioning so masterfully orchestrated by both conventions, nor muse on how serious dialog on substantive issues has been supplanted by sound bites, straw men, and put downs.

What surprised me was the visual impact I felt at the families coming on stage after each candidate’s speech.

Last week, the Romney and Ryan clans filled the stage with young children more intent on grabbing balloons than posing for the camera. The hugs and embraces seemed genuine and warm. It was great to see young parents telling their dad he did a great job while keeping at least half their attention on their own kids scrambling underfoot. Call me old-fashioned, but it really felt to me like a Norman Rockwell painting celebrating what’s truly great about America — families.

When the same scene unfolded at the Democratic convention, I was surprised at my emotional reaction. To me, the Obama/Biden stage looked sterile and cold. The handshakes and hugs seemed more staged than genuine and it looked like a number of invited guests beyond family members came on stage…was this to get to the kind of numbers seen at the Republican convention?

My reaction took me by surprise because I fully understand how devoted President and Mrs. Obama are to their family, and the Bidens are clearly proud parents and grandparents. The Obamas certainly have a right to be proud of those daughters; they are growing into beautiful, composed, confident young women.

Why was my reaction to these two nearly identical scenes so totally different? Could it be because the Democratic scene showed love that was perhaps dampened by a cultural imposition of man’s will over God’s? I don’t doubt the depth and sincerity of the Obamas’ or Bidens’ love for their families, but I do wonder if this love doesn’t shine quite as bright because it is bound-up by secular ideas about the sanctity of life, the meaning of marriage and the idea that religion is only what happens in a building on Sundays and not what we carry with us every moment of every day.

Resources: Teaching kids about sexuality

Here are a few CCL-recommended resources for teaching children about sexuality.

An NFL quarterback who uses NFP?! You bet!

NFP in the NFL!

We are excited to announce that the September/October 2012 issue of Family Foundations features an exclusive and indepth interview with San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and his wife, Tiffany, about their embrace of NFP and its impact on their marriage and family. Philip says people notice that their family is different: “People see how happy we are; it does stand out.”

Here is an excerpt from this 8-page feature story:

Committed to the Game Plan

Also in this issue:

  • Witness Talk: NFP orients couple to each other
  • Promoting NFP: How CCL chapters are successfully spreading the word
  • The birds & the bees: NFP families reflect on teaching children about sexuality
  • CCL makes a new push to promote NFP: How CCL is not taking the contraception mandate sitting down.

Award-winning publication

If you are not receiving our award-winning magazine, what is stopping you?! Family Foundations is unique in spotlighting issues of concern and providing relevant information to couples practicing NFP. Most readers are grateful to have the connection with other NFP users that the magazine brings.

Six times a year Family Foundations is received by all those who are members of CCL. If you do not currently receive our magazine, consider becoming a CCL member to get this helpful resource in your home. A gift membership is also a great way to introduce others to the NFP lifestyle!

Learn more and review sample issues here. For gift memberships, contact the CCL office at 800-745-8252.

Select issues available for sale

Select issues of Family Foundations - including the current issue featuring the Rivers interview! - are available for sale ($3.00 each plus shipping) in CCL’s online store:

Order single issues

 

 

Just one more

Real-life vignettes of welcoming the unexpected

(You read the vignettes that appear in the July/August 2012 issue of Family Foundations here.)

When my husband lost his job and we were facing a second move in less than two years, I immediately concluded (without much prayer or reflection, I’m sorry to admit) that this  was clearly not the right time to conceive another child. Even though my husband quickly secured another job, our financial future was uncertain and we were stressed to the max as we prepared to move to another town — something that is physically demanding on anyone, especially a pregnant lady!

But the abstinence was extremely difficult during such an unsettling time in our lives. We wanted and needed to feel the security of the sacrament of our marriage. We began to question why we were fighting what felt good and right during this time. After all, didn’t God create man and woman to desire to be together, especially during a time when He can unite with us to create new life? I was still a bit anxious about our situation when the thought struck me square between the eyes, “Why are you trusting God with everything else in your life right now except your fertility?”

I told my husband about this revelation, and that clinched it for us. We turned everything over to God.

That final level of trust was the missing puzzle piece. Our house sold, God provided us with a new place to live, and, yes, we welcomed our son, Henry, into the world nine months later. That is the beauty of NFP. God weaves it into our lives in ways we would least expect, challenging us to choose the path that will lead most directly to Him.

As I reflect upon this time in our lives, I realize that my husband’s job loss was not an excuse to not have another child, but actually God’s catalyst to bring another life into this world. That anxious and difficult time in our lives deepened our faith and strengthened
our marriage — two elements we certainly drew on later when we found ourselves in the NICU for one week after Henry’s premature birth. Perhaps God’s plan all along was to build us up into the parents Henry would need us to be. Denying God’s calling to welcome Henry into this world would be like denying God another opportunity to shape my husband and I into stronger, more faithful, more loving people.

Since turning our lives over more fully to God, our family has been blessed with grace that has grown exponentially. We still have to watch our budget, but there is always food on the table and everyone is clothed. More importantly, our spiritual lives reach new depths  every day. Our children are happy and joyful (most of the time) and my husband and I continue on our journey to heaven together.

We’ve come to the conclusion that God never wants us to dismiss a window of fertility lightly. God the Father and God the Son never refuse us the fruits of their eternal exchange of love — the Holy Spirit. In the same way we are called to listen for God’s calling to create new life from our marital exchange of love and answer Him with a resounding “Yes!”

– Charisse Tierney, Newton, Kan.

*    *    *

Ginny and I have been married for 21 years and have three children, ages 13, 11, and 9. We have embraced and enjoyed NFP for our entire marriage. I was baptized and received into the Catholic Church three years ago, and NFP has become the center of our marriage.
Ginny experienced some serious neck problems a few years ago, at which time we decided that three children were probably enough.

During Easter Week in 2010, Ginny suggested that we forgo alcohol during Holy Week. I thought this was some extra push before Easter, but on Saturday she called me at work to tell me that she had confirmed her suspicions and was pregnant with our fourth child. I was quietly excited! I had wished for more children and welcomed the challenge to have another baby after seven years. Ginny, on the other hand, didn’t share my initial  excitement. She was understandably mad (we, of course, thought we had followed all
of the rules) and worried about the effect this would have on her body and health. Our children were thrilled when we shared the news with them.

We had been planning a trip to Disney World in Florida the next year and decided, on short notice, to schedule the trip that May so the kids could enjoy the trip before all of the changes that would come with our family’s expansion. That trip was wonderful; we had so much fun anticipating the arrival of our newest family member.

Ginny and I had heard the baby’s heartbeat before the trip, so after the trip we decided to bring the whole family to the next check-up. Our doctor brought the ultrasound machine into the room, and what happened next will be forever etched in my memory. I saw that the doctor was having trouble finding the baby’s heartbeat, and after some hurried searching she sent the children out of the room. She was shaken and continued to search, but she could never locate it. Slowly, the reality of the situation started to envelop us. How could this be happening? Our first three pregnancies had been perfectly normal.

We entered the hospital the next day at 7:00 a.m., hoping to avoid a D&C and instead deliver our baby naturally. We were blessed to have Catholic doctors to help us through this process. We started the day with prayer and proceeded to labor and deliver our son Isaac later that day. He was about 18 weeks old, a beautifully-formed baby; only God knows what happened.

It had taken us some time to embrace the blessings this child would have brought to our family. To then have to totally change and realize that was not what God had in mind for us was very difficult, and sent each of us into a personal quest with God. We had a beautiful private service and our priest came to the cemetery to lay our son to rest. This experience has brought our family closer and has given us a new appreciation for the children we do have.

We love the freedom of true expression that NFP gives us, and hope that every couple realizes the blessings and power they possess when they let God lead.

– Chad Knutson, Brainerd, Minn.

‘Are we done?’ July/Aug magazine tackles responsible parenthood

Family Foundations, July/August 2012

It is often the hardest part of practicing NFP: discerning whether you have a sufficiently serious need to postpone the next pregnancy while balancing that against the call to be generous in the service of life. In our latest issue, we look at responsible parenthood from several angles:

      • What does the Church say: grave vs. serious
      • Why doesn’t the Church just make a list?
      • When spouses differ
      • Balancing generosity & prudence
      • Welcoming the unexpected
      • ‘The end’ with NFP

Also included:

  • Witness Talk: The freedom of NFP
  • Religious Vocations: How the NFP lifestyle opens the door
  • Fact Check: Cohabitation; breastfeeding & intimacy
  • Chart Review: Is your medication affecting your fertility signs?

Award-winning publication

Family Foundations was recently again honored for excellence in 2011 by the Catholic Press Association. We received three awards for writing, two for the work of Kathleen M. Basi (also a CCL teacher!), and one for writer Matt Doffing. You can read their winning pieces here.

If you are not receiving our award-winning magazine, what is stopping you?! Family Foundations is unique in spotlighting issues of concern and providing relevant information to couples practicing NFP. Most readers are grateful to have the connection with other NFP users that the magazine brings.

Six times a year Family Foundations is received by all those who are members of CCL. If you do not currently receive our magazine, consider becoming a CCL member to get this helpful resource in your home. A gift membership is also a great way to introduce others to the NFP lifestyle!

Learn more and review sample issues here. For gift memberships, contact the CCL office at 800-745-8252.

It’s Your Turn!

by Kathleen Basi

I love writing for Family Foundations. You know why? Because I get to talk to people throughout our fine organization, to pick their brains and get great ideas I can use in my own work as mother, parent, and NFP advocate.

But have you ever noticed how many of our sources are teachers and promoters?

Don’t get me wrong–I love talking to our volunteers! But I’d love to hear from the general CCL membership and other NFP couples, too. And here’s your chance:

If you are a second-generation CCLer, or the parent of a 2nd generation NFP user/s, I would love to talk to you! And I’m sure the entire national membership would love to know your “secret”!

Whether you’re a teacher, promoter, or just a faithful NFP user, please email me at kathleenbasi@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

The May/June Family Foundations is out!

Family Foundations May/June 2012

The May/June 2012 issue of Family Foundations is already hitting mailboxes. In this issue we look at how some NFP couples have faced the heartbreak of their adult children making choices that go against the values in which they have been raised. Read how these couples have relied on their faith for strength during the tough days and how they have succeeded in maintaining loving relationships in the family.

Great background information on the HHS mandate regarding contraception is provided, along with an inspiring set of talking points that will equip you to stand up, speak out, and be heard!

Also included:

  • A tender look at miscarriage
  • How to train your child’s moral brain
  • A spotlight on the family programs available from the organization Family Honor
  • The story of how one couple grew into a full understanding of NFP

Several articles invite readers to go online and share their own thoughts, experiences and advice for others who may be navigating similar situations right now. Those articles are shared below in separate posts, and we invite you to join the conversation!

Family Foundations is unique in spotlighting issues of concern and providing relevant information to couples practicing NFP. Most readers are grateful to have the connection with other NFP users that the magazine brings.

Six times a year Family Foundations is received by all those who are members of CCL. If you do not currently receive our magazine, consider becoming a CCL member to get this helpful resource in your home. A gift membership is also a great way to introduce others to the NFP lifestyle!

Learn more and review sample issues here. For gift memberships, contact the CCL office at 800-745-8252.

Good kids, bad choices

From the May/June 2012 issue of Family Foundations:

How to respond to adult children in troubling situations

by Marian Friedrichs

Brianna King Daily attended her first CCL convention in 1998, when she was 9-years-old. “My family drove all the way from [Hixson, Tenn.] to Colorado,” she recalled. “My dad was very moved by Father Frank Pavone and all the strong, pro-family Catholics he met and ended up converting to Catholicism the next year. My parents eventually became a promoter couple with CCL and were quite active for several years.”

Brianna’s mother, Frances King, homeschooled Brianna and her younger sister. They prayed the Rosary regularly.

“I really wanted to pass the faith to my kids,” Frances said.

And she did, according to Brianna. “Because I was learning about my Catholic faith from a young age, I realized how natural family planning fit into the bigger picture,” Brianna said. “I learned why the Church approved of it for family planning purposes and why they do not approve of artificial forms of family planning. As I got older, I wanted to read writings of the popes and saints.”

In her teen years, Brianna received a chastity ring from her father, Kenneth, and she promised him she would remain celibate until marriage.

Still, Brianna went through some difficult spiritual times once she went away to college.

Read more, and then comment:

What advice would you share with parents struggling with the choices or actions of their older children?

 

When friends & relatives make bad choices

From the May/June 2012 Family Foundations:

by Marian Friedrichs

Rosemarie Keller* of New York was a CCL member for about a decade until her husband’s adultery brought their marriage to an end.

Today, Rosemarie faces the complicated challenge of dealing with her ex-husband and former in-laws as she raises her three girls. A devout homeschooling mother, Rosemarie carefully teaches her daughters the truths of the faith. When they visit their father and paternal grandparents, however, the girls hear their mother’s teachings constantly undermined.

Read more, then comment:

How have you explained the choices of someone close to you to your children?

* Name has been changed and town withheld