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  • Big Family Statistics!

    As I announced a few days ago, the Murphy Family is expecting member #8 (or child #6, depending on how you’re counting).

    My family has some interesting statistics. This is a geek blog, so why not have a little math geek fun?

    Birth Order

    Among my kids, all their birthdays are chronological along the year, starting “the year” with the birth of Baby #1. What I mean is that the first child’s birthday is in the middle of Fall, followed by the second’s birthday, then the third’s, in Winter, then the fourth’s in Spring, and then the fifth’s in Summer. It’s a funny sort of occurrence. Unfortunately, Baby #6 will interrupt this, due in Spring.

    Let’s calculate some odds.

    There was a 365/365 chance of Baby #1 coming on a day no previous baby had come on. So that’s 100%. Not really important.

    Baby #2 could have come any of 364 days of the year still technically come after Baby #1, if the “year” is thought to start with Baby #1. So 364/365. Pretty good odds!

    Baby #3 could have arrived on any of 345 days and still been #3 in both birth order and in a year started with Baby #1’s birth.

    Baby #4 could have arrived on any of 295 days to retain this pattern.

    Baby #5 could have arrived on any of 177 days.

    Baby #6 — had the little booger been conceived a month or two later — could have arrived on any of 126 days.

    But let’s go back to Baby #5. The odds of this birth-order-mirroring-order-of-birth-on-the calendar phenomenon, given the actual dates of birth of each previous child, is 36.94%. So a little over a third in our case. Of course, the odds would have been much better if we had kids celebrating birthdays each one day after the other, and much worse if, say, Baby #2 was born the day before Baby #1’s first birthday.

    Boy-Girl

    I remember an episode of the Simpsons, I think when they were expecting Maggie, where Bart confidently asserted his intellectual dominance over Lisa — *cough* — by informing her that children were born “boy, girl, boy, girl.”

    In my family, this has been the case. Additionally, I’m older than my wife by just a few weeks. (Close enough that, as pro-lifers from conception to natural death, we aren’t really entirely sure which of us actually is older.)

    The chance of any one member of my family being boy or girl is 50/50, of course. I’m generalizing, though; I believe there is some statistic that females are actually about 51% of the population, but this seems to me a flimsy statistic. I remember from college embryology that boys are more often miscarried than girls. I suspect more boys than girls die at a young age, too. I don’t know what age the survivors were when the 49/51 statistic was measured, but it seems the raw probability is really 50/50. Then again, some nations are killing off infant girls at an alarming rate — n.b., any rate is alarming — so perhaps I’m not grasping the truth of it. Anyway, for simplicity, I’m saying 50/50.

    There are 8 slots in my family. The first slot is a 50% chance of their being a male, 50% female. The second slot is curious; it depends on the first slot. There is a 100% chance that the spouses in my family will be opposite sex. So we get a 50% probability for the first two slots taken together: either they are boy-girl or they are girl-boy.

    There’s a simple 50% chance for each additional slot.

    The probability of a family’s being boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl is 1/128, or 0.78%. That’s pretty small. Each possible arrangement of boys and girls in a family of 8 is the same: 1/128. What makes my family interesting is that it’s a repeated pattern, back and forth, seemingly organized this way on purpose, even though it’s completely random.

    I figure there are maybe — totally guessing here — 10,000 8-member nuclear families in the United States. Probably fewer? If so, we could be one of fewer than 100 families nationwide with our family pattern. And we’re weirdo Catholics in a somewhat cramped, rural home.

    Where do I sign up for my cable tv show deal? 😉 jk

    EXCEPT we don’t know yet if we’re having a boy or a girl. We’ll know soon, I hope. Until then, we’re just a 1/64 family.

  • Spoiling Santa the Catholic Way

    “Daddy, is Santa real?”

    Some years ago, a seminary classmate introduced to me the perplexing problem of this question. He himself had experienced a crisis of faith after discovering that his parents had lied to him for years about Santa Claus. Could their witness to Jesus Christ also be questionable? Should parents admit that Santa Claus is just a 19th-century marketing gimmick gone wild?

    On the other hand, is it necessarily Christian to demythologize everything so that our children always grasp “the truth” in the most literal way possible? WWTD? What Would Tolkien Do? Isn’t it a Catholic understanding of literature that something may be true in a different sense than the literal? That’s how we read much of scripture; a story’s lack of historical accuracy doesn’t mean it lacks in truth, but rather that the truth of the story is on another level. Thus, for instance, Catholics do not read the six days of creation as historical science, but as an illustration of natural order.

    I’m not going to tear down your approach to this, but I’d like to offer my own approach as example of a middle way that is in accord with Catholic principles:

    1. We never lie to our kids. If they ask about something they aren’t ready for, we just tell them they aren’t ready.
    2. We let them believe whatever about Santa they pick up from the culture. It’s generally not our way to ruin or correct their imaginations.
    3. Once they start asking, we tell them the truth:
      • Santa Claus is Saint Nicholas (Santa is “Saint,” Claus is a nickname for Nicholas.)
      • St. Nicholas was a great defender of Christianity, a bishop in the early Church, famous for his legendary charitable acts, including especially putting up money to save or redeem people from lives of debt slavery.
      • In some of these legends, he put money down chimneys or in shoes.
      • St. Nicholas is in heaven and therefore — short of a divine intervention — doesn’t distribute presents to children. BUT mommy and daddy do give gifts in his honor, and so, in a way, Santa Claus does give them their gifts.
      • St. Nicholas can be a powerful intercessor for them.
      • Other children may have inaccurate understandings of Santa Claus, but it is not our job to go and spoil it for them.
      • There is no Mrs. Claus, there are no flying reindeer, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy fictional stories that build on a false understanding of Santa.

    This method is honest, builds trust of parents as well as a critical eye toward popular, secular culture, teaches that a literal understanding isn’t the only way to grasp truth, inspires virtue with a saintly example, and still allows them to enjoy the gift-giving and gift-receiving spirit with joy. All my kids so far who have had this talk have received it very well and have only loved the St. Nicholas tradition more.

  • Top 10 Reasons You Should Donate to My GoFundMe This #GivingTuesday
    1. A broken septic tank can really stink. Literally.
    2. Do I really need to spell out Number 2 on this list?
    3. City slicker? Imagine all your biological waste going into a tub in your backyard. Now that tub is full. And the thing that empties it out is broken. Basically, it’s like the plumbing version of constipation and the laxative costs many hundreds of dollars.
    4. Have you ever flushed the potty with legitimate apprehension that this may be the time it comes back up … through the kitchen sink?
    5. Consider it an act of rebellion. By contributing, you are literally not putting up with my crap any longer.
    6. Number 6? Did I mention we’re expecting child #6? And believe me, they all go #2.
    7. How else can you help a family out and say you put your money to waste? (Get it?)
    8. With the hand-me-downs and budgeting, running a family of 8 sometimes feels like managing a nonprofit (but it’s not, so please don’t expect a tax deduction form).
    9. There are tons of great organizations you can help and I don’t want to stand in their way screaming “HELP US!” but seriously, HELP US!
    10. I pray for all of my benefactors, and God bless you!

    Convinced? Support my family’s potty quest!

  • Fan Question: “Why Don’t You Just Adopt?”

    “You breeders are excited about your sixth kid? What is wrong with you? We’re overpopulated. Why don’t you do the Christian thing and adopt?”

    Rude Ignoramus on Facebook (Paraphrase)

    I’m not sure whether I should be offended by the term breeder or delight in it. It seems to me that taking easy offense is one of the most pernicious evils of our time, so I’ll just laugh it off. Sure, I’m a breeder. But I’m also an educator, a clothier, a cook, a moral compass, a warden when needed, and occasionally a Halloween candy thief. Being a parent is sort of a jack-of-all-trades thing.

    Some time ago, an acquaintance was avidly telling me about his kids. He was so proud of them and their accomplishments! The conversation went on for a while before it became clear he was talking about his cats. “Oh, I don’t have any human children. Who would bring them into this world?”

    That thought has always intrigued me. If the solution to the world’s problems isn’t in having good parents bring good men and women into the world — innovators and thinkers and teachers and leaders and lots of good support people — then what is the solution?

    Adoption is definitely a Christian thing to do. My grandfather was a friend of Servant of God Fr. Edward J. Flanagan, Founder of Boys Town, which took in street urchins and wards of the state. More like a foster home situation that adoption, I’ll grant you, but the principle is the same: Christians take care of children in need. This has been a Christian activity since our days of saving the infants exposed to the elements by pagan parents, a practice now becoming increasingly — frighteningly — common once more.

    What is certainly not the Christian thing to do is to go on preaching an anti-gospel of overpopulation, with its cadre of associated evils, such as abortion, contraception, euthanasia, and other choices that view life as a problem to be managed rather than a blessing to be embraced. The father of the overpopulation myth, Malthus, made clear his disdain for the poor and crippled and his desire to engineer a society where undesirables would be eliminated. The overpopulation myth today serves to continue that genocidal mentality rather than, say, solve the resource distribution problems that are the real root of the apparent problem.

    It’s no surprise, really, that the overpopulation gospel isn’t focused on solutions. It’s an anti-gospel, demanding dogmatic faith in a doctrine directed toward fear, the fear of the other taking what is mine. (And for that reason, don’t expect to find many overpopulation apologists sharing their hope with needy kids.) Finding a way to better distribute resources according to the common good would put too much burden on them; far easier to just insist the poor and feeble die off, right? And if the Christians don’t want to take part in the genocide, we’ll just push adoption as their contribution.

    As for the current state of adoption, it’s very often the Christians and not the selfish followers of the overpopulation anti-gospel who are shelling out the tens of thousands of dollars to overcome the obstacles to adoption. Calling out Christians for breeding more kids — an act of hope — while lambasting those same Christians for not doing enough adopting, apparently, is an interesting tactic. It puts all the attention on the Christians and none at all on the overpopulation apologists, whom I suspect are very busy indeed adopting … cats.

    Adopt, Christians. Absolutely adopt. But don’t stop having kids, either. And all the kids you love into mature adulthood — whether they are of your stock or another’s — do it for the gospel of hope, never as a capitulation to the anti-gospel agenda.

    “The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.”

    G.K. Chesterton
  • The Courage of Large Families

    “Do we have to tell them? Can’t we just wait until the baby is born and then let everyone know?”

    I chuckled. “I don’t think that will work, honey.”

    Her reluctance was understandable.

    Just shy of 13 years into a very happy — if somewhat stressful — marriage, my wife and I are expecting the as yet unnamed Baby #6. With each child, we get a few more stares, a few more ugly comments. In the Old Testament, a woman might feel embarrassed to be infertile. Today, parents are shamed for having more than two children who are an unnecessary burden on our economy, ecology, sex life, or whatever other false god we moderns have decided to worship.

    Baby After Baby

    Baby #1 surprised us quickly, not long after the honeymoon. Working in ministry at the time, it was easy to see colleagues and parishioners sizing us up on how quickly we conceived. “Oh, they’re gonna be one of those couples.”

    Baby #2 came on the rebound and was born fewer than three weeks after her older brother’s first birthday. “Almost Irish twins,” came the comments, “how do you think they’ll manage?”

    Answer: It really wasn’t that hard. Just a built-in playmate, that’s all.

    “Well, you have a boy and a girl now. So you’re done, right?”

    “Oh, is that how it works? I didn’t realize they were collectible accessories.”

    That was my kids’ daycare teacher, by the way. I guess she didn’t want any more customers?

    I was mostly deaf to criticism when Baby #3 came along. He was a special gift of the providence of Our Lady of Lourdes; long story short: through her holy water, he came back to us, full of life, from a likely miscarriage.

    Baby #4 came at a tumultuous time in our lives. Financial pressures and a scramble to renovate my late, reclusive father-in-law’s house to be livable for a family of 5 turned into a surprise change of plans for a family of 6.

    The first few months in the house, we had no bedroom door and the guest bath had a hole in the floor where the toilet would eventually be. That’s when Baby #4 appeared.

    “Got your hands full?” was the question of the day every day, and the answer was “YES! Wanna babysit? Change a diaper? Maybe pay for a new subfloor?”

    It was about now, having broken the two-child norm and the three-child taboo that I started noticing the stares in public. A Target cashier told my wife she needed to get her tubes tied. A relative asked my wife if she’d been konked over the head. Strangers offered us tips on how to prevent more babies, as if our knowledge was the problem. As if we were stupid.

    Pro-life Catholics aren’t exactly misinformed on the facts surrounding conception. I’m just one of a whole generation of Catholic alumni of Franciscan University of Steubenville to have digested an entire undergrad course in embryology. Medical knowledge was not lacking.

    (I strongly encourage every ministry program in the country to include a required course in either embryology, disability studies, end-of-life issues, or bioethics. The pro-life movement needs more experts on the front lines.)

    By then, people started to see us as that Catholic couple that pops out babies no matter their circumstances. The truth is, we’ve been surprised a couple times, but we’ve never been unwilling. There are moments, of course, when we’re tempted by the ways of the world. If we didn’t have all these kids, we’d be somewhere in Tuscany right now! But these kids are what we were made for. “Be fruitful and multiply,” came the command. We love life and we love sharing it with our children. It’s worth every dollar, every late night, every drop of sweat, and every anguished groan.

    Baby #5 made his first appearance a week after I lost my dream job, working in Catholic media from home, due to financial matters beyond my control. It was, by far, the most distress I’ve ever felt on account of being a father. Jobless, feeling a failure, I was depressed and angry at the burden I carried without any support.

    If you tell people you have 3 or 4 kids, they look at you a little woefully. If you tell them you have 5 — oh, and by the way, you’re out of work — most people will just gawk. Their jaws will drop, their eyes will widen, and they will shudder with terror at the thought of being in your shoes. They wonder why you haven’t, you know, “taken care of” the pregnancy.

    Evangelization by Moral Example

    That stark contrast between the generous way of the gospel and the selfish way of the world makes having a big family evangelical.

    “I have two kids,” someone once remarked to me, “and then I made my husband get a vasectomy. People with lots of kids are uneducated breeders.”

    I deadpanned: “I have 5 kids.”

    “Oh.”

    Bam! Here’s a perfectly sane, well-educated Christian sharing his hope in the future. Going about town with a flock of children is an act of courageous evangelization.

    Yes, courageous. The whole modern world shuns you for having so many kids, for hating your own plans and embracing God’s plans, and perhaps even for putting them to shame, though I try not to think of that. It’s impossible not to feel the glares and stares.

    Our culture is steeped in anti-life ideology and hatred of the gospel of generosity.

    Surely, Jesus’ words are fulfilled:

    “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’”

    Luke 23:28-29

    I always used to think that verse was a lamentation of the suffering of mothers who would lose their children. Certainly, it is that. But how can it not be seen also as a prophecy of these times when motherhood is cursed by the crowds?

    So I evangelize right now: My wife and I are expecting Baby #6. We’ve already had a miscarriage scare, an extended family crisis, a septic tank breakdown, and had a medical professional try to push (very pricey) genetic screening for abortion-recommended conditions on us. My wife courageously told the nurse, “there is nothing that test could reveal that would make any difference to us.”

    I love that woman. I love our babies.

    Please pray for us and for our new child as we make our way with the gospel of life.

  • Country Living: What the Magazine Doesn’t Tell You

    When I was a kid, my mom had stacks of Country Living magazines all over the place. From the comforts of our suburban home, she was absolutely in love with the idea of country living. Who wouldn’t be? Spacious yards, quiet calm, porch swings under knotty pines. Sounds relaxing.

    It’s not.

    Most people who live in the country experience a crippling combination of rural poverty and the inconveniences of everyday life that urban communities long ago left behind. I’m talking, of course, about untamed wildlife. Ever walk out to your kitchen at 1am to find a possum digging though those dishes that didn’t fit in the last load of the dishwasher? I have. I’m talking about traffic. Not car traffic; train traffic. Ever been stuck by a stalled train in front of you and a stalled train behind you only to realize it’s the same train and you’re in the middle of a loop? I have. Ever get your septic tank backed up and failing the week of Thanksgiving? I have.

    Country living is a disaster. If you’re able to handle the cross-town commute, tame the critters, and keep back the jungle of backyard overgrowth, you’ll probably still end up exhausted and scrambling for an exit. But that’s just the thing: you won’t have one, because you’ll probably be stuck in a house no one else is a big enough sucker to buy.

    By the way, it’s Thanksgiving week and my septic tank is failing. This is the second time that’s happened in time for Thanksgiving. And I just discovered that some critter got our crawl space door open, which is how the possum got into the house a few years ago. Oh, and my wife got stranded by a train Monday night for 45 minutes before rerouting all through the country to come home a different way. She was bringing home dinner. At least it had been hot when she picked it up.

    So now we’re looking at more of the costs of living in the country as we have our septic repaired. Which means I’ll have to put my education on hold again so we can afford to flush our toilets.

    Take pity on us? Please pray for us and, if God has blessed you with wealth, please consider chipping in: PayPal.

  • Meal Monday #1: Spicy Thai Peanut Chicken

    Ah, Thanksgiving Week. Normally, an excuse to binge on turkey and other addictive substances. For me, though, ever since a mild heart scare last year, it’s just any normal week with an extra special cheat day. No enjoying any pre-game treats. No early appetizers in the days leading up to the quintessential American holiday — aside from Immaculate Conception, our patronal feast, I mean, which falls on a Sunday anyway this year.

    Tonight, my wife was bringing back two of the kids from an activity and I had the other three. She was bringing them Taco Bell — a good I’m usually ambivalent about, but suddenly started craving as soon as I could no longer eat it — so I started preparing my own meal. Then my wife got stuck by a stalled train for 45 minutes. (Darn you, Kansas City Southern.) Oh well. I sat with the 2yo, who demanded my attention and then took the opportunity my attentive love afforded him and peed on my lap. Nice. The evening was going so well.

    Eventually, however, I did get to chop up my vegetables and get to cooking my spicy Thai peanut chicken. There’s no exact recipe. It’s really a generalized amalgamation of Thai touches on a generic stir-fry. And by Thai, I mean things I’ve associated with Thai cuisine from watching too much food network because I’ve never actually been to a Thai restaurant. I’m not even sure I’ve ever seen one. So my “Thai” next to actual Thai is really akin to the relationship between Tex-Mex and actual Mexican food. But on my rather amateurish impressions, Thai is an interesting and delicious mix of flavors.

    As I said, there’s no exact recipe. Feel free to swap out ingredients and adjust ratios as you see fit. That’s one of my very favorite things about stir-fry.

    The Sauce:

    You really have to prepare the sauce first or you’re going to be left scrambling at a bad time.

    • Finely minced garlic
    • Finely minced onion (I prefer red, myself)
    • Finely minced jalapeño
    • Soy sauce
    • Peanut butter (chunky makes for a nice crunch if you’re into that)
    • Hoisin sauce
    • Ginger
    • Hot chili oil
    • Toasted sesame oil
    • Rice wine vinegar

    Sauté your garlic, onion, and jalapeño to unlock some of the flavors and add a bit of caramelization. Red onions are especially good for caramelization because they are sweeter. Mix the sautéed veggies into the other ingredients and set aside.

    The main course:

    • Chicken breast, whole and seasoned
    • Onion, diced (I prefer red, and I love onions, so a whole big one is great)
    • Garlic, diced (Plenty of cloves for me, thanks!)
    • Carrots, diced
    • Broccoli, blanched (I’m a huge fan of broccolini/baby broccoli, which is more tender and sweet. You can usually find it in slightly higher-end grocers, but it’s not prohibitively expensive.)
    • Cilantro
    • Lime

    Season your chicken with a bit of salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, any other spices you like. Don’t overpower it. Plenty of flavor already in this dish.

    Sauté your diced onion, garlic, and carrots. You’re looking for caramelization again, but don’t let it go too far. Push the veggies to the side of the pan and add the chicken, cooking it long enough on each side to caramelize. (You could dice the chicken and cook it in pieces here. It would be okay. But if you’re intentionally missing a caramelization opportunity, you should be imprisoned.) Once you’ve flipped it, scoop the veggies on top of the breast to hold in moisture. Add the broccoli to the pan. Once the chicken seems done, remove it and allow the vegetables to continue cooking with the pan lid on. (Add half a cup of water/rice wine to the pan if it’s dry.) After the chicken has rested a few minutes and any extra moisture in the pan has cooked off, cut the chicken into strips or bites according to your preferences. (Be sure to cut the meat on a bias for greater tenderness. Cut at an angle, not straight up and down.) Throw the chicken back into the dish. If it was at all still undercooked, give it a moment to heat up with the veggies and finish cooking. Toss in your sauce, stir everything around a bit, and serve with a spritz of lime and some fresh cilantro.

    You could also toss in some Asian noodles or a bit of coconut milk at the end, if you’re not on my diet. 🙂

    I don’t have a picture because this post was an afterthought, but it was delicious!

  • Christ the Perplexing King

    Christ the King is a perplexing figure, full of seeming contradictions. Let’s jump right to the beginning of the climax of his story to see why.

    Hailed as King only a few days earlier, welcomed into Jerusalem with shouts of Hosanna and palm branches laid before Him, Jesus rode upon a donkey, a callback to a regal prophesy that surely would have occurred to his Jewish disciples, but was probably lost on their Roman occupiers. Yet Jesus had notably refused a crown before (John 6:15), publicly repudiating the idea of kingship. Now he stood before Pilate, already beaten and denounced by some of the leaders of those who had acclaimed him.

    “Rex es tu?” The Roman governor asked of Our Lord (John 18:37). “Are you a king?”

    In his typical fashion, Jesus does not deny it, but doesn’t clearly confirm it either. He had just before told Pilate that if his kingdom was of this world, then his servants would be fighting to keep him from being handed over. Yet again, this seems like a contradiction; hadn’t Jesus just a few hours before (John 18:11) told Peter to drop his sword and not fight to prevent Jesus’ arrest?

    A worldly reading of the gospel will lead us to believe that Jesus was a madman.

    “And it is the Son of God who is passing by, a madman … madly in Love!” St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way of the Cross, Sixth Station

    If we look in faith at Jesus on the Cross, we begin to see our King as he truly is: a King who loves and serves.

    When he refused the crown in John 6, it was because he was offered the small trinket of worldly rule by a fickle crowd that only wanted to use him. The same disciples would reject him only a short while later when he spoke to them of his banquet feast, the Eucharist. Christ knew their hearts, he knew they wanted a worldly king, but not a godly one. They wanted a king who would drive out the Romans and give them prosperity. That was not Christ the King.

    Some scholars have suggested that Judas betrayed Christ to force his hand, to compel him to act out and rise up and conquer the oppressors. Certainly, many thought he would do so. That’s the light in which I read about the struggle in Gethsemane. Peter, taking his sword, was trying to seize the moment, thinking the time had come for Christ at last to rise up and resist the oppression of their worldly overlords, the Romans, the puppet regime of Herod, and the false-hearted leaders of the people. They wanted a king who would liberate them from worldly powers. Peter’s courage was misdirected; it could not serve Christ’s mission. That was not Christ the King.

    Christ’s kingship consists of service, of love. Although it is true that he is king of all things, including the world, he conquers in a specific, strategic order: first, our hearts. Then, our lives. Then, everything our lives touch. As we proclaim the gospel, as we live out our faith, the kingship of Christ grows, and we become his nobles, who reign with him. That is his plan.

    So Jesus rode into Jerusalem, acclaimed the King of the Jews, because after years of teaching, he had finally come to conquer their hearts. Yes, many of them in the crowd were still fair weather fans, they would fall away soon enough. Certainly, they still hoped for Jesus to rise up against oppression. Indeed, it seemed he might; it was not long after that he fashioned a whip out of cords and cleared the Temple of its defilers. But Christ was setting the stage, coming to make his kingship clear. Although he certainly could have taken over the government, he allowed their worldly hopes to build and then dashed them all. Jerusalem woke up Friday morning to find Jesus a condemned man, to see him walked the cruel road to Calvary, to watch him bleed out on a cross, looking not at all regal, but still serving, still loving, and still having the final word. This was Christ the King, so kingly that he can stoop to the very depths of a grisly death for his servants. He loves us so that we will love him and give him everything back.

    The question for us is: do we love Christ the King? Do we make the King of all hearts the King of our hearts? Do we extend the boundaries of his kingdom to include our loved ones, our families, our friends, our coworkers? Do we give him all that we have and all that we are?

    Or do we just want him to be the king who throws off our oppressors and makes our lives on this earth a bit better?

    I know I’m often guilty of the latter.

    Christ the King, reign in our hearts, reign in our lives.

  • Refresh

    Whew! Well, WordPress has changed a lot since the last time I played around on here, let me tell you! What do you think? I like the simplicity of it. 🙂

    Some time ago, I stopped doing commercial web design because it just wasn’t personally feasible any longer. Plus, I just needed a break. I let my website lay fallow, focused on my social media presence, focused on my comics, and that really paid off. But then I come back to my website and what do I see? I barely recognize the place. WordPress has become a totally different beast. Old-time coders like me, folks who know HTML and PHP and Javascript and what have you, I think we may finally be on the cusp of being replaced by automated, drag-and-drop design for most uses. Or maybe web design is just getting that much simpler.

    What’s been going on with me? Well, I’ve got a pretty good rhythm going on the comics and I’m about halfway through my master’s program. I love my wife and our amazing family and I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving. What’s going on with you?

  • 5 Facts about St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta
    1. Mother Teresa was not Indian. She was an ethnic Albanian. Her willingness to serve the poor only stands out more when you consider that she left her own native land in Europe to travel halfway across the world. That’s love. Real, incarnational love. 2. Although a minority religion in Calcutta, Christianity was not new to India. The subcontinent is one of the oldest cultures in world history, having developed its civilization centuries before others. It was also one of the first cultures in the world to hear the gospel. The Christian community in the Indian state of Kerala traces its roots back to the Apostle Thomas, who evangelized their ancestors not long after the death of Christ. 3. She was criticized for building a “cult of suffering,” but in reality was simply reflecting a fundamental Christian theology of redemptive suffering. Through our suffering, united to Christ, we are able to die to self, to focus more directly on Christ, to uproot from our lives those things that separate us from God. We are purified by suffering, and it becomes our joy because it brings us to our Creator. 4. Remember when she won that Nobel Prize? What do you suppose she did with it? She signed the check and told her sisters to buy all the rice they could and distribute it to the poor. Then she stuck the medal in a drawer. In a cellar. She never looked at it again. The Noble Prize was just an instrument of mercy to her. 5. Mother Teresa served the poor of every religion, with a special love of the Hindus who were a part of the untouchable caste, so ostracized by their peers that they could not be shown even the slightest love of human contact by higher castes. We also are called to love others to extremes. 6. BONUS! Mother Teresa is now – as of September 6, 2017 – patroness of the Diocese of Calcutta. To celebrate, here’s a FREE COLORING PAGE!

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