Why I Bought My Toddler Books On The Theology Of The Body

*Please Note: I was not asked to write this post or to review these books.  I just really am liking these books and wanted to share them with whoever might be interested.    

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The way of the world has always been a little “off,” hasn’t it?  As much as we are warned against the dangers of our confused culture of today, the truth is that the mainstream culture has really never been capable of producing on its own the kind of thoughtful and faithful human beings we are each created and long to be.  If cultures throughout history have been closer to the living out truth than we are today, it is only because of a handful of thoughtful individuals who– rather than running and hiding from a corrupt or confused culture– lived their lives in such a way that would end up being transformative to the culture as a whole.

I certainly don’t want “the culture” to raise my kids.  I don’t think anybody does, no matter their beliefs.  But the fact is that my kids (and myself) are going to be influenced by the culture in which we live; there is just no way around that.

We might visit an airport restroom and be greeted by this sign, for example:

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Gender identity or expression…What does that mean? And what’s with that strange-looking drawing?”

It’s all about as new to me at 26 as it would be to my toddler, who–let’s be honest– wouldn’t even notice the sign for a few good years yet.  But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?  By the time he is old enough to actually notice stuff like this, it’ll likely go unnoticed.  It might even be considered “normal.”  Maybe words like “gender identity” will be learned along with words like, “boys” and “girls.”  Who knows.  That’s obviously the hope of a good many people who are influencing the culture today.

I say all this not to fear-monger.  Like I said, the culture of tomorrow will be shaped by people like you and me and my son, who hopefully will have a heart for truth that is eventually able to see through falsehoods like the pretend genders we might draw on bathroom signs.  While I wait, and pray for the culture to get there, I’m going to do my best to make sure my kids have every opportunity to see through the falsehoods being presented to them as truth today.

What Is The Theology of the Body?

When it comes to individuals who transformed the culture of their day by seeking to know and live out the truth, perhaps one of the greatest examples from the 20th century is Saint John Paul II.  His commitment to living out the truth helped bring down communism and inspired thousands of young people to follow Christ.  I think our culture today, with its frantic attempts to deconstruct and redefine fundamental truths of gender and sexuality, is thirsting for the profound wisdom to be found in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.  That’s why I’m introducing it to my children now.

Most people hear “Theology of the Body” and think of it as synonymous with “the sex talk,” but that’s really only a part of it (and it’s not the part I am interested in reading about with my two-year-old!).  In a more general sense, the Theology of the Body is what it says it is: It’s theology (the study of God) as it relates to our bodies.  Meaning, our bodies reveal to us truths about God, and because we are created in His image, our bodies also help reveal to us who God created us to be.

Theology Of The Body (For Toddlers!)

A few years back, TOBET released a series of books aimed at little ones (they have a set for older kids, too) which lays the foundation for a lifetime of learning and unpacking John Paul II’s timeless teaching on the Theology of the Body.  The three books are:

Everybody Has A Body: God Made Boys And Girls

Every Body Is Smart: God Helps Me Listen And Choose

Every Body Is A Gift: God Made Us To Love

“Everybody Has A Body: God Made Boys And Girls”

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This book is about as fundamental as you can get, but increasingly important in a culture that says our bodies are meaningless.  Our bodies are a part of who we are!

 

 

 

“Every Body Is Smart: God Helps Me Listen And Choose”

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“I have a body, and I learn from my body,” this book states.  We learn from our bodies, and we can choose to act (or not) based on what our bodies are telling us.  What an important concept to understand!

(I particularly love the page in this book that says: “When my body tells me that I want to run around, but I am at mass, I can choose to wait to play like a big boy.” Still waiting for the reading comprehension to kick in on that one! ;) )  

“Every Body Is A Gift: God Made Us To Love”

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“Every body is a gift! God made us to love.  We do this with our bodies!”

This book touches on the concept of love as a free gift: A concept taught perhaps in high school theology, now being ingrained in my two-year-old’s subconscious.  We are created to love!  As beings of both body and spirit, our bodies play an essential role in how we give and receive love. My two-year-old may not understand all of the complexities of this reality yet, but we are already laying the foundation, and I think that is pretty fantastic.

If you’re interested in ordering these books (or in checking out the set for slightly older kids), visit the store at TOBET.org.

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Why Isn’t God Answering My Prayers?

I posted the Saint Andrew Christmas novena last week. I try to post it every year because it holds a special place in my heart. It reminds me of my first Christmas with my husband’s family back in 2011. It reminds me of my father-in-law (who now prays it with our family from Heaven).  Most importantly, it reminds me to focus my heart on Christ’s coming (at least three times per day) during this advent season.

So yeah, I love this prayer.

People often share novenas alongside stories of answered prayers. For example, the first time I prayed this novena I prayed for mine and Tyler’s relationship. He proposed 5 days after that Christmas. The next time I prayed the novena I prayed for us to be blessed with a baby within our first year of marriage. Our son was born ten months later.

God answers prayers.

Well, two years ago I prayed this novena for the intention that my father-in-law would be healed completely and miraculously from his cancer.

He passed away exactly 6 months after Christmas.

I feel a little bad saying that I don’t even really remember what my intention was for the St Andrew Novena last year. I do remember it was certainly harder to stay on top of praying it last year, maybe because it is such a reminder of Doug.

However, this year as well as last year I have received discouraged comments from readers (perhaps echoing my own fears) stating that God never seems to hear or answer their novena intentions. To those readers (and my discouraged self), I direct you to the first comment on the first post I ever wrote sharing this novena. It happens to be from my late father-in-law–the one who shared the novena with me in the first place:

I LOVE this “novena” even though the number nine has nothing in common with it! One year I prayed for the improvement of the financial situation of one of my adult children and their family… almost immediately after the prayer was done the husband lost his job!!! Funny (scary sometimes) how God works, that was what needed to happen to them in order to get things headed in the right direction.

God answers prayers, just not always in the way we expect.

Rest assured, dear reader, your prayers are not going unanswered, and God most certainly does hear you. His ways are not our ways.

Jesus, we trust in you!

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PSA- St. Andrew Christmas Novena Starts Today!

I know I haven’t posted in forever, but I am breaking my silence today to remind you to start your St. Andrew Christmas Novena!

I try to make a point of sharing this novena with you all every year. It is one of my favorite ways to prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas.  A couple of years ago, I ordered a handful of 5x7s of this graphic to be printed out so I would be reminded every day to meditate on the prayer. Feel free to download the image and do the same!

(The “rules” are to pray the following 15x each day from now through Christmas Eve. Fix a specific intention to offer to our Lord each time you pray it, and trust that the same Jesus who humbled Himself to be born at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold over 2,000 years ago, will hear your prayer and answer it according to His perfect will.)


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By the way, Blessed Is She has a great devotional today reflecting on who St. Andrew was in the ministry of Jesus. Here is a brief excerpt:

Throughout his life, Saint Andrew played second fiddle to his dynamic and well-known brother Simon Peter. Peter was an incredible teacher. He was the first Pope. He resurrected Tabitha. Everyone remembers Peter, few remember Andrew—he is often only referred to as Peter’s brother. However, without Andrew, there is no way to know who would have introduced Peter to Jesus. (John 1:40)

-Emily Wilson-Hussem via BlessedIsShe.net

Happy Advent!

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Do More Than Just Survive Your Single Years (Free Book Available Now!)

A little over two years ago, I received a question from a reader. The gist of it: “Why are we women in such a rush to get married?”  I thought it was a good question deserving of a good answer, so naturally I deferred it to someone else ;) A close friend of mine (who is practically my big sister), Lisa Marie Hunt, wrote a two-part answer about Why We Long For Love and How To Glorify God In Your Singleness:

“…I wondered why God didn’t think it was time for me to get married.  Was I not holy enough?  Not pretty enough? Was God upset with me for something?  Did he want me to be a Sister, even though my desire to be a wife and mother was so strong? Was I ever going to get married or would I be stuck as a lonely, old, lady… who couldn’t even have cats because I am allergic to them!?  And then about five years ago I read the very first paragraph in the Catechism: “He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength”.  Nowhere in that sentence, or the paragraph that encompasses it, did the authors mention marriage, religious life or singleness.

I had been dwelling on the longing in my heart and thinking it was for a man, when in reality that longing was for Him and my purpose was to seek Him, to know Him and to love Him.  If getting married would help me to do that, then Praise God! if becoming a Sister allowed me to do that, then Praise God!  And if for whatever crazy reason God wanted me single, then Praise God!  That moment was a life-changer for me.”

(You can read Lisa’s whole answer by clicking here: Part 1  Part 2)

Why talk about this today?  Because yesterday Lisa published a book!

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The Moment Is Now: Do More Than Just Survive Your Single Years, Practical Tips to Live Them For God’s Glory is available to download on Amazon FOR FREE today and tomorrow only (after that it will cost money, so download it today and tell your friends to do the same!).

I had the chance to read the book ahead of its release, and–even as a married mother of two–I kept finding myself nodding along with Lisa’s words. There are books on chastity in dating and how to date the “right” way as a woman of God, but The Moment Is Now delves into a less-discussed topic. What does a single person who understands– and truly finds beauty in–the call to chastity and the vocation of marriage do to make the most of the time of singleness God has given her beyond just…waiting?

Lisa is very up front that this is not a book about waiting. The Moment Is Now is about what to do with the gift (and it is a gift!) of singleness that God has given you.  I very much recommend that you check it out! (And it’s FREE today, so why wouldn’t you?!)

You can download the book on amazon by clicking the picture of the cover above, or by following this link: The Moment Is Now: Do More Than Just Survive Your Single Years, Practical Tips to Live Them For God’s Glory.

Don’t forget to share with your friends!

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Sin Always Hurts

 

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

“Well, I believe that ____ is a sin because I am a Christian, but I just don’t feel I have a right to force my beliefs on others…  

…I mean, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone…

It sounds straightforward enough, right?  And in our culture, one of the the worst things you can be accused of doing is “forcing” your beliefs on someone.  Unfortunately, the underlying premise of this sort of statement is that sin doesn’t always hurt.

But that’s simply not true.

Sin always hurts.  Sin hurts God, first and foremost.  But sin also hurts us, because we are created to live in communion with God, and sin damages our ability to come into relationship with our Creator.  Choosing to sin stems from passions that are out of order which, when not corrected, lead us to choose things that might seem appealing, but in reality are not good for us.

This is true of all sin and for all people–whether they are Christians or not.  Lying is bad for the believer and the unbeliever alike.  Unchastity hurts both the Christian and the agnostic.  Sin is not good for us, no matter who we are.

But wait, there’s more!  Sin doesn’t just hurt God and the one sinning, sin hurts everyonebecause no one sins in a vacuum.  Our choices always have an effect on those around us, for better or for worse.  Lying is an affront to the dignity of whomever you’re lying to, because you’re effectively saying they aren’t worthy of the truth.

Even the sins we call “private,” these still affect our neighbors, because we carry the effects of our sins around with us, to everyone we meet.  When I habitually choose to do things that are damaging to my soul, it absolutely affects me as a person, and so it absolutely affects my ability to engage in the kinds of healthy and constructive relationships that I am supposed to have with other people.  When this happens on a large enough scale, everybody loses, because it facilitates a culture in which virtually no one is capable of true, virtuous friendship.  So sin—even so-called “private sin”— creates a culture of selfishness.  Sound familiar?

But here’s the real crux for those of us who say we are Christians.  If we can pretend that it is possible to commit sin “without hurting anyone,” what we’re really saying is that Jesus or no Jesus–it doesn’t really make a difference.  We’re effectively saying that sin is just some arbitrary, made-up construct, and our Savior has nothing real to offer the world.

Is that what we believe?  Because it is certainly not what Christianity teaches.

If Jesus is real, then sin always hurts.  And if Jesus is real, then sin is what He says it is.  Meaning: We don’t get to decide that just because something Jesus calls sin doesn’t look like it is hurting our neighbors, that it is somehow not a sin in that case.  Even when we are not fully culpable for our sinful actions–due to poor formation or whatever–those sins can still cause damage in our lives.

That’s the truth of the matter.  If we say we are Christians, then we cannot ever hold that sin is harmless. Because Jesus isn’t a liar.

So what does this mean for our day-to-day lives?  I think it means that we start, if we haven’t already, to pray that the Holy Spirit would “inspire us with the horror of sin.”  Because I think that if we are striving to live our lives according to the Spirit of God, we would be horrified by sin–all sin.  And if we’re not horrified by sin, then it means something is off in how we relate to God and to our neighbor, and needs to be made right.

So let’s ask that Jesus would “break our hearts for what breaks His.”  Let’s ask that He show us how we are to really love Him and how we are to really love our neighbor.  Not by pretending that sin is harmless, but by giving us the conviction that our Savior who died for our sin invites us—all of us— to freedom from sin.

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