"We are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us." -Pope Francis

Praying the Rosary Like Never Before

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*This book, like many on this site, was given to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share it with you today…

I have found much comfort and peace in praying the rosary in times of joy, in times of anxiety, and in times of sorrow.  Along with my Catholic faith, the rosary is perhaps the best gift my family has passed on to me.

Have you ever wondered why Catholics like me love this prayer so much?  Are you looking for ways to go deeper with the rosary to truly unlock more peace in your heart and in the world?

Whether you’re someone who has never felt like praying a rosary before, or someone who prays the rosary every day, there’s something here for you.

In Praying the Rosary Like Never Before, Edward Sri does an excellent job of covering the basics and apologetics of this ancient prayer, while also taking experienced rosary devotees into a more thorough understanding of the rosary’s many facets and applications to our lives.

The book includes great discussion questions at the end of each chapter for personal reflection or group discussion.  The first half of the book explains how Jesus is at the very heart and center of the rosary.  It addresses many common hindrances to this prayer, including a lack of understanding about its importance and a fear of its beautiful repetition.  The second half of the book takes readers through the 4 sets of mysteries in the rosary that are contained within the Gospels, explaining how we can meditate on each mystery as we pray to truly come to know Jesus more intimately.   At the end, a scriptural rosary is offered and suggested as an additional way to pray through the mysteries of the rosary with renewed zeal.

It’s simple.  If we want to see more peace on this earth, we need to be saying more rosaries.  Why?  Because Heaven has asked this of us through Mary, through the saints, and through the Church Jesus established here on earth.

If you’re ready now to begin praying the rosary like never before, pick up your copy of this book from Franciscan Media here or from Amazon here.

P.S. God is merciful & He love you!  Pass it on…

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always scary, always amazing, always BIG news…

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We are having a baby!  Yes, I am pregnant with our 4th child which is such a blessing!

And you know what?  No matter how much you plan for a child, pray for a child, plead for a child… I’ve decided it’s always going to be scary.

No matter how much you long for a child or no matter how much of a shock a new child may be, taking a pregnancy test has got to be one of the most terrifying things ever.

Hands down, the moments of anticipation that have followed every pregnancy test I’ve ever taken, waiting, waiting, while that little lit-up hour glass flashes, and flashes, and flashes…

… those moments of anticipation have been some of the most terrifying ones of my entire life.  They’re right up there with actually giving birth, which still terrifies me, even though I’ve done it three times.  Go figure.

Surrender is always hard.  And that’s okay.

No matter how much you think you’re ready or not, here baby comes!  It’s like baby’s first little innate communication to us or something:  Ready or not, here I come!

This sentiment is cute and sweet, and the baby will be cuddly and precious and amazing, and beautiful beyond belief, but I’m still terrified of the surrender required of me as a pregnant mother.

But you know what?  Surrender to God is always hard, but it is always worth it.

So here’s to a brand new little life, already here with me and with my family, but coming soon out into this world!  Please keep us in your prayers during this special time of anticipation.

Oh, and please say a little prayer that I can handle the joys (and nausea) of the first trimester with grace and joy!  😉

P.S.  God is merciful & He loves you… pass it on!

our journey to chickens…

 

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Here’s the lovely “before” shot of our chicken coop.  A little more paint and we’ll have an “after” shot to reveal soon!  Stay tuned!

 

 

This spring and summer brought our family a whole new adventure.  We had a comfortable, corner-lot home in an HOA cookie-cutter subdivision, and it was a complete blessing, don’t get me wrong. 

But something was off.  Something about it started to feel a little like that creepy and super cute town in the movie Pleasantville. 

We started receiving letters in the mail.  The first letter showed us a nice picture of our clothesline, full of colorful cloth diapers that we hung on our back deck to dry and to be sanitized by the sun.  The HOA said this was a violation.  Ultimately, we disputed this, and they agreed to let us dry our diapers.  Then, sometimes the grass was too long or some dandelions sprung up, and we would get a letter with a nice picture of grass a few inches too high, showing us our violation. 

My favorite letter was the one showing a picture of our mailbox, explaining that it needed a fresh coat of black paint.  It went on to say that these letters are sent out to improve the “quality of life” of residents in the subdivision.  Now, I understand that home upkeep is important.  But mentioning quality of life in a letter where you’re talking about mailbox paint?  When there are starving people out there who deserve a better quality of life? 

The real kicker was that we found out we couldn’t have chickens.  And something kinda’ clicked.  In a world that relies so much on microwaves and wi-fi, we felt this strong desire, perhaps even a calling, to learn how to become more self-sufficient.  Why not?  What harm could there be in learning how to take care of ourselves? 

So, why did we need to seek approval to put in a new garden bed?  Who were they to tell us we couldn’t raise chickens and harvest our own eggs?  People have been gardening and collecting eggs for centuries all over the world.  Our government promoted victory gardens and taught canning practices after WWII, and now we are choosing to commit to these HOA rules that prohibit self-sufficiency?  What had we signed up for? 

Every week we drive to the grocery store and pile up our carts with food we did not sow, food we did not cultivate, food we did not reap.  Are we grateful for the farmers who dedicate their lives to keeping us alive? 

We often sit in air-conditioned homes in the suburbs, far from the noise and smell of the farms, because we don’t want to hear the roosters crowing that help to bring us fresh eggs, and we don’t want to smell cow manure from the cows that give us milk and meat. 

So in March of this year, we moved.  Not far away, we just moved closer to our church actually, which is great.  But we decided to go for it.  We started our journey to a garden of fresh food, and our journey to chickens. 

And I’ve got so much more to tell you about what God is up to in our lives… stay tuned!

 

P.S.  God is merciful & He loves you… Pass it on!

101 Places to Pray Before You Die

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*This book, like many on this site, was given to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share it with you today…

Going on a roadtrip?  Here’s your Catholic travel guide.  I found this book to be full of incredible stories that I had never heard before, and unless you’re an expert on Catholic history in the United States, you’re probably going to be in the same boat.

In 101 Places to Pray Before You Die, you’ll journey through each of the 50 states alphabetically, and learn about several places in each state that seem well worth a visit.

When I was on a cross country RV trip with my family during my summer break after 6th grade, we made a special stop at the Corn Palace.  It was supposed to be amazing.  I remember my parents taking a picture of us in a photo op wooden board that made it look like our heads were connected to a giant ear of corn.  Definitely not amazing.

Yet, the sites in this book do seem to actually be worth your while, and I can attest to this because I have been to several of them myself.  After providing descriptions and stories associated with each place, author Thomas J. Craughwell goes a step further by providing you with contact information, hours of operation, and a heads up if there’s a major renovation or project going on that might interfere with drop-in style travel plans.

This is a book about places, but you’ll learn about them through stories.  The storytelling in this book is excellent.  You’ll learn fascinating and true anecdotes about wars, saints, authors, incredible artwork, historical sites, churches, little known hard working nuns, courageous priests, shrines, retreat centers, and more.

This book can easily be read one state at a time to go along with your already made travel plans or if you’d like to make a quick retreat in your home state, but Craughwell does a great job of holding interest if you’d like to read it cover to cover as well.  And you may find after reading it cover to cover, that it may be worth creating a trip of your own to go and visit these amazing places.

It’s worth knowing these places exist!  What amazing site might you be driving or flying right by on your next vacation?

101 Places to Pray Before You Die: A Roamin’ Catholic’s Guide can be purchased from Franciscan Media or Amazon.

P.S. God is Merciful & He loves you!  Pass it on…

the day Mother Teresa died…

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It was one of those moments you can never forget.  You remember exactly where you were, exactly what you were doing when you found out.  Like that one class transition during high school, when I was leaving my science class, and someone mentioned something about an airplane crashing into a building.

It was September 5, 1997.  I know that date because the internet knows the date, the world knows the date.  I was in elementary school, at a Catholic school at the time.  I remember that I was sitting in the library.  It was a sunny day, and we were listening to a presentation from the librarian.  Suddenly, an announcement came over the PA to let the school know, that Mother Teresa had died.

I mean, I had heard of her before.  But the librarian just burst into tears.  She needed a minute to compose herself, and then she explained that she was so sorry to hear this news.  She explained what an incredible impact this woman had on her life, and shared that she always hoped one day to meet Mother Teresa.  Now she never would.

And it struck me the other day, as I considered that announcement over the PA, the tears of this woman, and the pain and sorrow of death, that these saints in Heaven are not lost forever.  Mother Teresa knew pain and suffering well.  She endured much spiritual dryness and profound spiritual darkness.  She endured much evil.  And what was her response?  To keep the faith.  To keep pushing.  To never give up.

What would Saint Mother Teresa say to our tears over her death?

I cannot say for sure.  But as we know that she is now in the eternal presence of God, I think she would tell us to rejoice.  I think she would tell us to rejoice at her birth into eternal life.  And I think she would point us to Christ, and say that it is not too late to meet her… for we all make up the body of Christ, the whole Church makes up the body of Christ.  And one day, if we are faithful to the commands of Christ, and if we love Him and accept Him, we will be perfectly united to this body of Christ in Heaven.  Together with all of the angels, and all of the saints, and God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  And there is no need for tears over that…

 

P.S. God is Merciful & He loves you… Pass it on!

Born to Soar: Unleashing God’s Word in Your Life

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*This book, like many on this site, was given to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

This book took me by surprise.  I was expecting something soft and comfortable, but this book is all about growth and stretching into your wings.

We’ve all heard analogies about how we should “soar” in our Faith or “fly to the Heavens.”  Usually such analogies are very bird-related and concern species like eagles and doves.  It was very interesting to read through this guided journal book that is patterned around the life cycle and habits of the beautiful, intricate, delicate, fragile monarch butterfly, with whom we have more in common than you might think.

Author Melissa Overymyer does a beautiful job in this book of turning hearts towards Heaven.  This would make a great gift for anyone who is just embarking on their Faith journey and looking for next steps.  Or it would be a great book for those wishing to integrate journaling into their prayer life, and for anyone who wants to deepen their relationship with Christ.  Those grieving a loss or going through a life change will find comfort in this simple, yet beautiful and rich six week process.

I think this would be best as a book for women, mostly because the cover is full of bright flowers and butterflies, but there is much for everyone to consider in these pages.

The book will guide you through beautiful, fruitful meditations, prayers, rich poetry, and many strong Scripture verses.  There is ample space provided for recording your own thoughts and reflections to each brief writing prompt given.

The book is broken into six sessions, full of information and discussion questions to ponder throughout a full six weeks.  There is also an accompanying online course for this book from the author that you can register for at franciscanmedia.org/soar.

Get ready to take your prayer life to a new “cocoon” level of comfort, as you soar to peaceful prayer time with this book and guided journal.

Born to Soar: Unleashing God’s Word in Your Life is available from Franciscan Media and Amazon.

P.S.  God is merciful & He loves you!  Pass it on…

Mother Mary: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis

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*This book, like many on this site, was given to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Here is a collection of some of the most profound and beautiful words from Pope Francis speaking about our Mother Mary.  If you love listening to Pope Francis speak, you will love this book.

Whether you’ve devoted to Mary, or just starting to learn more about her, there’s something in this book to challenge you and to help you grow in your faith.

Mother Mary: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis makes for a quick read because the excerpts are fairly short in length, and they can be read altogether one after the other.  Or you could choose to read it like a devotional.  Opening this book at random is a beautiful thing to do, too.

Excerpts are taken from homilies, writings, papal addresses, and even social media accounts of Pope Francis.  They are full of prayers, messages of hope, notes of spiritual direction, and reflections.  Embedded in all of this is a golden thread that runs throughout the book, that is call to action for the Faithful, that we might pray with renewed fervor and zeal to our God, and that we might place ourselves more fully under the spiritual guidance and protection of the loving Mother Jesus gave to all of us on the Cross.

I don’t usually scribble in the margins of books, but my copy of this book is covered in additional thoughts, little arrows and underlined sections, and ideas about where these excerpts can be used or referred to in my own personal life and ministry work.  In short, this book has proved to be a very useful companion for my own life, and it is one I will keep handy on my bookshelf so that I can turn back to it as needed.

I’m grateful to the editor Alicia von Stamwitz for compiling these thought-provoking quotes from our Pope into six small, concise, easily accessible chapters you’ll be turning to again and again.

Purchase Mother Mary: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis from Franciscan Media or Amazon.

P.S. God is merciful & He loves you!  Pass it on…

grateful for guilt

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I have struggled immensely with guilt in my life.  Anyone can tell you that.  But I have decided to rejoice in this gift!  Guilt keeps me going to Confession!  It keeps me striving to be perfect as our Father is perfect in Heaven.

We must take care not to dismiss or disregard the guilt of others as insignificant.  There is so much of that in our world today – so much justification of little sins. 

There are so many excuses made for our errors, faults, and imperfections.  One may say, “But God knows this is just how I am!  So it’s okay!” 

Yes, but He overcame the world to give you strength to overcome yourself.

Our guilt is there for a reason.  Namely, that we confess it to God, and move on with a little more knowledge, a little more life experience about how to do better next time. 

Sure, some guilt is unfounded and is the result of sins of scrupulosity.  But that guilt we must give to God, too.  Scrupulous thinking is the work of the devil, no doubt.  It keeps us in a negative spiral so that we think we are not good enough to go to Christ.  I know this all too well.  I know how satan tempts me all too well.  And this is excellent and as it should be. 

satan loses his power over us when we can see ahead of time all the cards in his hand – when we know exactly which card he is going to play next. 

Yes, I am grateful for my guilt.  I am even more grateful for the One who takes it all away. 

 

P.S. God is Merciful & He loves you… pass it on…

Share Your Story to Help Us Share Ours! Mary Garden Showers would love to hear from YOU!

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Mary Garden Showers is a ministry empowering women in crisis pregnancies through the loving support of baby & blessing showers

We have had the privilege of serving many women & families, and many wonderful people have been a part of our journey as a ministry.  We are grateful. 

We invite you to please consider sharing your thoughts about this ministry, how it has impacted you, how you think it will make a difference, or your related stories with us today.  We would like to include them in a book project, currently titled “When Love Blooms: Celebrating Each Life with Mary Garden Showers.” 

Perhaps you are a mother who has received a shower, a shower guest, a person who recognizes the need for this ministry, a volunteer, or a chapter leader.  We would love to hear about anything you wish to share with us related to this ministry & the importance of loving and supporting women who are pregnant in crisis situations. 

If you are a mother, did you have a baby shower?  We would love to hear about what your shower meant to you or would have meant to you if you had received a shower.  We would love to hear about how you triumphed through your crisis situation, or what made or is making your crisis situation challenging.  How is your motherhood journey going? 

How can this ministry support you and love you best?  Or how might we have been able to support and love you if we had been around when you needed us? 

If you attended a shower, sponsored a shower, or volunteered at shower, what impacted you about this experience?

If you are someone who simply understands the importance of this ministry and its impact on the pro-life movement and on motherhood, we would love your thoughts on this!!!

Other thoughts & stories related to Mary Garden Showers and showers/support for women in crisis pregnancies are welcome.  Your contribution can be any length. 

We would love to hear from you & please share this with others who may have input for this project. 

We hope that this book will enable us to spread the word about what we are doing, and that it will help many more women have an opportunity to receive a Mary Garden Shower.

Please contact us by replying to this post, or by emailing us here if you would like to share your thoughts & stories with us!  We will be happy to send you a submission form if you’d like one.  God bless!

3 Steps to Mercy for You

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*This article originally appeared on VirginiaLieto.com here.

 

There’s a lot of mercy talk these days in the Church. Why?  Because it’s the time of mercy!

The Church recently celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday. If you’re not familiar with this message and devotion, take a moment to learn a little more here.

We should strive to show mercy to everyone we meet. Mercy is a great virtue, no doubt.  But today I want to ask you, how often do you show mercy to yourself?

Are you your own worst critic? Are you hyperaware of your faults and not sure how to actually improve?  Do you ever beat yourself up at the end of the day for not doing a better job at keeping it all together?

I’ve been working on kicking these bad attitudes for a while now, with great success. How?  Divine Mercy!

 

3 Steps to Mercy for You

Here are 3 steps you can take today to help you start showing mercy to you:

 

1. Participate in the Sacraments Frequently

I’m not saying you should get married frequently, nor do you want to take a “collect ‘em all” mentality and start preparing for your last rites, but frequent Confession and receipt of Holy Communion are beautiful ways to stay close to Christ. Mercy is waiting for you in the confessional!  Mercy is waiting for you on the altar at Mass daily!  Show up.  You deserve mercy!

 

2. Educate Yourself

Pick up a copy of the Catechism. Bring questions to a priest.  Read the Bible.  Study up on Divine Mercy.  Learn the works of mercy.  It’s actually an act of mercy to instruct the ignorant, and we’re all ignorant of many things.  Learn all you can to strengthen your relationship with Christ!

 

3. Forgive Yourself

You’re going to fall short. Every day you’re going to fall short of the person you want to be, and the person God is calling you to be.  Pick yourself up.  Forgive yourself.  We talk a lot about forgiving others, but it’s so important to forgive ourselves.  Would you forgive a friend if she apologized to you?  Well you can be that friend who just apologized to you.  Having a healthy relationship with yourself is vital to having a healthy relationship with others, Christ included!

 

So, take some time today to show mercy to you, because you’re worth it. Jesus died for you!

P.S. God is Merciful & He loves you… Pass it on!