INSIGHTS
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Ann Frailey

Ann Frailey is a widow and homeschooling mother of eight. She lives in rural Illinois.

Posted 10/22/14 at 8:46 AM | Ann Frailey

Eat to Live, Never Live to Eat

Food is big business in our society. But there are some things I have to keep reminding myself about food…

1) Something had to die so that I would live. With all the disconnect between people and their food – there are kids growing up today who actually believe that food comes from a store as if it materialized there. Food does not come from a store any more than a baby comes from a hospital. Food just stops off in transit. Understanding the origins of my food helps me to appreciate it and use it to good effect.

2) It takes a great deal of energy to make food, transport it, package it and generally make it look like it didn’t come out of the ground or off the side of a cow/pig/hen…

3) Food is meant to make me strong and healthy. It does not have the natural ability to take away heart ache, sooth a guilty conscience, repair lax morals, make a person sexy, elevate our IQ or about 99% of the things advertisers would have me believe.

4) Bad food choices don’t care about my needs. They just make me feel lousy, increase my chances of getting diabetes and other health problems, and often times make me look as bad as I feel. FULL POST

Posted 10/20/14 at 8:01 AM | Ann Frailey

Mission Fields

It used to be that Christians who wanted to share their faith would go out into the larger world to tell the good news and share scripture, teachings, and traditions of their church. But now the very term Christian seems to turn some people off and the minute you mention faith, beliefs, church, or God you face an icy stare. If you look closely at the person’s life – if that is even a possibility – you can usually get a glimpse as to why that frozen wall is there. After nearly fifty years of being a Christian, and many of those years believing that my faith was the best thing about me, I have discovered that I cannot approach people with a package that they need to unwrap. Too much hurt, misinformation, and downright lies have been embedded in too many hearts to simply gush forth the joy of your faith and expect anyone to share that enthusiasm.

I have not the slightest interest, and even less ability, to define why things are in the spiritually poverty stricken state they are in now. What I do know is that compassion and sincere interest are very good ways to express faith in a language that many people can understand. I do not believe that cowardice or a watered down version of truth is the only alternative to gentle faith. In fact, I sincerely believe in profound faith – but it must be profoundly lived by the very person professing it. There is no good done in loutishly demanding that everyone wear hair shirts and subscribe to particular tenants. But it is rather useful to share exactly what Christ shared – life and love. As St. Frances once said, “Preach always, when necessary, use words.” FULL POST

Posted 10/17/14 at 7:50 AM | Ann Frailey

Writing as Reflection

Writing is an opportunity for me to think about my life, the larger world, and the issues of our times. Reflecting is akin to pondering and one of the women I admire most in the world was know for doing just that. Mary, the Mother of God, must have pondered many things in her heart. Her fiat was a strength which stemmed from God’s grace and her ability to ponder, reflect ,and act accordingly. For me,there are few important steps that make the difference between fruitful pondering and humdrum daydreaming.

1) Though my life is often a mad rush from one to-do adventure to another, there are times when I give myself permission to simply stop. Stopping the mad rush through the house, as well as in my head, is the first step to lowering my chance of sudden heart attack and – as an added bonus – healthy pondering.

2) There is a transition time between getting off the merry-go-around and the clarity of thought that allows real pondering. Again, I have to grant myself permission to take the space & quiet time necessary to think freely and be released from the rush. Yes, even when kids are calling – hopefully not frantically. FULL POST

Posted 10/15/14 at 8:03 AM | Ann Frailey

Simple Joy

There are a lot of ways to have fun, but I have found our most exciting, fun times happen when we are working together. Last week we had a chance to help pick apples at a neighbor’s farm and then, since we were such good workers, we got to go pick some pumpkins and squash. It was a bright sunny autumn day and the exercise of working out in the fresh air was invigorating. As we drove home with a car loaded with fresh apples, pumpkins, and squash, there was a gorgeous harvest moon glowing over the horizon – so spectacular it was enough to take your breath away. That day, and those memories, the kids will carry with them forever. I doubt there are many movie or party experiences that will last the wear and tear of time as well.

Over the weekend, we got together and peeled the many baskets of apples and cut them up and canned them. It took all Saturday, but once again, the joy of talking together, sharing thoughts and laughing at silly absurdities, made our time together a treasure. We now have 24 jars of cinnamon-apples which will last us through the winter, providing yet another joy in the form of hot apple pies on cold, snowy days, but also the joy of shared memories. FULL POST

Posted 10/13/14 at 8:02 AM | Ann Frailey

The Cost of Losing Christ

There seems to be a prevailing argument that the world would be just as well off without Christianity – that the best in humanity will save us from the worst in humanity. Yet, if you have spent much time studying history, you will quickly realize that humanity has failed to make Heaven on earth every single time we’ve tried. But just for the sake of argument, l’d like to consider some of the things we lose when we abandon our faith in Christ.

1) Without Christ’s vision of sacrificial love, the earliest Judaic law (also known as the Ten Commandments) appears to be little more than a series of harsh impositions that can be twisted into Pharisaic, mind numbing, heart stopping prisons. Only in light of Christ’s definitive love do the Ten Commandments become encounters with something that ennobles and raises us up toward an ideal. If God isn’t God – no one is – or everyone is.

2) Christ’s example of perfect love, insisting that we love even our enemies, draws us toward a supernatural reality far above the natural give and take of secular encounters. A God without love is a God without mercy. FULL POST

Posted 10/10/14 at 7:43 AM | Ann Frailey

What Makes Heroes So Heroic?

1) In Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, readers encounter characters that remind us of the best in ourselves. Yet none of the characters are without flaws. They all struggle, but it is in their very struggle to overcome their weaker selves that true heroism is born. Think about Aragorn, Frodo, Bilbo, Sam, Gandalf, Legolas, Faramir, Eowyn, or any of the other heroic characters in The Lord of the Rings as you read and see if you can’t identify with them in some measure.

2) Heroes believe in something beyond themselves and their belief leads to conviction and conviction draws them into action. For me personally, it was my belief that my children were pure gifts from God that led me to consider their welfare over my convenience and decide to home school. For over twelve years that faith has led my family down a winding path of exploration and learning which I would not change for all the gold in a dragon’s lair. FULL POST

Posted 10/8/14 at 7:35 AM | Ann Frailey

Compassion vs Personal Safety?

I recently read an article and viewed the accompanying picture which will haunt me for some time. It was about one of the Ebola victims and how after she had died her young daughter was left crying, alone, in their yard and the neighbors did not want to approach for fear of contracting the deadly illness. I do not know all the details, but I can easily imagine the scene and I suspect that this is not an isolated scenario.

I have been in situations where I was caught off guard and personal safety was thrown into question and sticking my neck out to help another person seemed like a dangerous idea. I remember that I was never proud of my fear. Yet I cannot fault people for not wanting to take the risk of spreading a deadly and contagious disease.

What I do think is important when discussing these matters with my children, one of whom is presently in a nursing class, is that we never forget our calling to be more than prudent, but to be compassionate – even in our prudence. Sometimes I have a tendency to see things in black and white – as if there are really only two clearly defined choices when, in fact, if I stopped to think a moment, there might be many creative ways of addressing a serious problem without sacrificing decency and compassion. Fear tends to shut off our brains and we react without proper thought. FULL POST

Posted 10/6/14 at 7:48 AM | Ann Frailey

The American Catholic Almanac

When I first started reading The American Catholic Almanac, I was afraid that it might be boring because I link the term “almanac” with dull statistical facts, but this reference book is anything but boring. Since I home school my kids, we know a fair amount about American Catholic history, so some of the stories and histories were familiar, but they were taken from such various personal perspectives that I found myself truly drawn into the story behind the history.

The American Catholic Almanac achieves several things at once. First of all, it clearly outlines the enormous impact that Catholics have had on the United States both in helping to shape it and in surviving some of its more brutal policies. Most of the people described are wonderful and supportive, but the authors, Brian Burch and Emily Stimpson, do not shy away from including some of histories and actions of the more unsavory Catholic figures and their grievous effects on this nation. FULL POST

Posted 10/3/14 at 7:49 AM | Ann Frailey

Joy in the Little Things

1) Monday the washing machine was fixed and life began to return to normal – with the exception that every time I saw that particular appliance I felt ridiculously happy. Nothing like clean laundry to do a mother’s heart good.

2) My second daughter performed at her first violin recital on Sunday and played the Canon in D and The River Flows in You and nearly made me cry. It is so beautiful to hear a child play an instrument really well – especially considering the fact that I can’t play a note. It is a pure and radiant gift from God.

3) I sometimes wonder who reads my posts and what people really think. Well, I got an answer this week when Flavia Nunes Costa Ghelardi from Universidade Estadual de Londrina wrote me and asked if she could translate my post The Glorious Gift of Being into Portuguese. I said sure, and now it will be published in Portuguese. Here’s her response: Thanks Ann! You can check the Portuguese version on www.fortalecendosuafamilia.blogspot.com.br. I´ve scheduled it for October 7th. Small world! FULL POST

Posted 10/1/14 at 8:11 AM | Ann Frailey

Drawn From A Life Force…

This evening, as most evenings, my kids and I took our sunset stroll and as we walked along and we exchanged stories about the days events – some good, some silly, some challenging – I looked around at the crimson touched leaves, the golden, ready-for harvest corn, the purpling sky, and I breathed in a sigh of relief that we have such beauty as a part of our every day lives. The angst I sometimes feel, worrying that my kids have not experienced as many art museums, science centers, restaurants, historic sites, and techno tools, was washed away in the glory of simple rural beauty. It dawned on me, as I remembered our day, that we live our lives ordered by the love of beauty: prayers, studies, music, art, domestic duties well done…and our love for each other.

The younger kids and I are currently reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder in the early afternoon, before we do our piano, oral reading, and Spanish lessons. Laura lived from 1867 to 1957, so she quite literally spanned the century from covered wagons to airplanes. Considering all the amazing changes that she witnessed, you’d think that when given the chance to write, she’d write about all the amazing things she was experiencing in her latter years: telephones, electric lights, cars, two world wars… Yet that is not what she wrote about, and that’s not what she has been remembered for. She wrote about the simple pleasures of her life as a child traveling in a covered wagon with her parents, and about her husband’s life as a farmer boy, and her early married years on a small struggling farm. She wrote most eloquently about her father and mother – about their spirit and their love and commitment to each other. FULL POST

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