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

Category: Motherhood

Pray with Your Senses – Color & Sound Sets Make Great Gifts!

I recently had the privilege of working with these two “Color & Sound” sets for Paraclete Press.  They have paired completely unique, fun, and inspirational, Marian themed coloring books with high quality Gregorian Chant CD compilations.

Set aside your electronic devices and games, and do something with your hands that will free your mind up for prayer.

I wanted to share these with you today just in time for Mother’s Day, but they would also make a perfect gift for a graduating senior!  These books are a gentle way to instill or rejuvenate our Catholic Faith.

You could also use them for prayer time in Adoration, or as a teaching tool for children to help them learn the Rosary and how to meditate on Mary’s many beautiful names.  Children love to color, so teach them also that they can turn their coloring into prayers!  It’s fun to actually pray the rosary as you’re coloring each decade page, too.  I think these also work beautifully as side-by-side adult coloring books for those times you are coloring with young children.

In fact, my daughters love to see my finished coloring pieces, and I enjoy coloring with a picture that stretches me beyond the super familiar shapes of Winnie the Pooh and Hello Kitty.

So here are two excellent Color & Sound sets for you to consider!  May they enhance your own prayer life, and the prayers of the ones you love.

  1.  Mother Mary – Color & Sound:  An Imaginative Pathway to Stillness and Beauty

9781612619057_p0_v2_s192x300

This coloring book has a page for many of the beautiful names we give to Mary the Mother of God.  Each page contains a title for Mary, a powerful prayer or quote related to this title, and a little more info to peak your curiosity about where this title came from, or who Mary appeared to under this title.  The pictures are fun and simple enough for coloring, and the end result is a beautiful picture that might even be suitable for displaying in your home!

IMG_0784

IMG_0785.JPG

This set includes “The Chants of Mary,” a Gregorian Chant CD sung by the Gloriae Dei Cantores Men’s Schola.  I love having this CD on in the background of my day.  It puts children to sleep like a light switch when we play it in the car.  It keeps me calm in the inevitable challenging moments that arise at home with three toddlers.  It is 65 minutes of Heaven on earth.  Brush up on your Latin with the accompanying CD booklet that contains English & Latin lyrics as side-by-side text, along with beautiful full color pictures and images.

  1. The Rosary – Contemplation with Color and Sound: Color and Music to Inspire your Prayers9781612619194_p0_v1_s192x300

This coloring book takes you all the way through your rosary, with a page for each decade of the Glorious, Sorrowful, Luminous, and Joyful Mysteries!  There’s also a page for the Apostle’s Creed & Hail, Holy Queen.  The pictures are whimsical and leave much room for contemplation as you pray along with your coloring.  Enter into each mystery of the rosary a little deeper, and then go back and remember your prayers when you see a beautiful, completed picture in their place.

img_0276.jpg

IMG_0275

This book is paired with “Feasts of Our Lady,” a Gregorian Chant CD by the Monastic Choir of St. Peter’s Abbey, Solesmes.  It also contains a booklet with side-by-side Latin & English text.  This CD is one of my favorite Gregorian Chant compilations.  The music is very vibrant and rich.  The harmonies are solid.  The sweeping melodies lift one’s thoughts to Heaven.  You will not be disappointed!

Purchase these CDs from Paraclete Press or Amazon!  And remember, God loves you & He is merciful!  Pass it on…

Positive Adoption Language

untitled-design-8

This post is courtesy of a little card put out by a friend Callie Jet & the lovely ladies at Talk About Adoption.  They are birth moms, so they know a thing or two about talking about adoption.  It just seemed really important, so I wanted to share it here.

 

The Do’s and the Don’ts When Referring to a Birth Mother’s Decision of Adoption

 

DO:  Unintended pregnancy / Unplanned pregnancy

DON’T:  Unwanted child / Did not want your baby

 

DO:  Birth Mother / First Mom / Biological parent(s)

DON’T:  Not keeping your baby / Did not keep your baby

 

DO:  Make an adoption plan / Made an adoption plan

DON’T:  Adopt out / Adopted out

 

DO:  Choose adoption / Chose adoption

DON’T:  Get rid of / Give up / Put up / Got rid of / Gave up

 

DO:  Place for adoption / Placed for adoption

DON’T:  Give away / Hand over / Gave away / Handed over

 

Check out talkadoption.org for lots of great info!

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

 

Unveiling a Masterpiece…

untitled-design-8

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could give each mother the same image of Mary & Jesus?” Serena asked, as we browsed through prints for sale at our local Catholic Corner booth.

The only problem was:  which one would we pick?  There are so many gorgeous paintings of our Blessed Mother and her Divine Son Jesus.

God took care of that for us.

When Mary Garden Showers opened a chapter at St. Patrick’s in Columbus, OH, we had no idea that a talented Catholic artist was sitting right in the pews of that very church.

Our chapter leaders knew.  They reached out to her about a painting project.

When artist Bernadette Carstensen was asked to paint an image for our ministry, she says:

“The idea for this painting came to me right away, inspired by the way my daughter sometimes plays with me.  So, I decided to pose Mary and Jesus in an affectionate moment, mother and baby playing together quietly.  Jesus is meant to look like He is crowning her with flowers playfully, but also representing what will come when they are both in heaven.  Mostly, I wanted to show Mary as a human mother in love with her child, awed by His beauty and innocence, hoping that a new mom who is feeling scared or worried could look at it and imagine the happiness she will have with her baby.”

A few months back, we shared a progress sketch of the painting that Bernadette graciously sent our way.  Now, we are thrilled to be able to unveil the finished painting that is such a gift and blessing to this ministry…

Purchase your copy here today!  All proceeds go to Mary Garden Showers.  Thanks for your support.

MaryJesusForWeb

 

Amazing, right?  Ms. Bernadette, we are so grateful and humbled that you painted this for the mothers we serve.

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

5 Ways to Help Celebrate at a Blessing Shower

5Ways toCelebrate at aBlessingShower (1)

A baby shower is often a joyous occasion.  It is a celebration of a new life, a new mother, and a new journey.  At a baby shower, a mother receives needed items for her child, and she is filled with hope and love for her adventures ahead with baby.

Many women in our society are navigating through a pregnancy during a crisis situation in their lives.  For these women, baby showers can be an incredibly important milestone, often a turning point in their pregnancy, when they realize they truly can overcome all obstacles and embrace the joy their child is bringing into their world.

This is wonderful, but we need to remember – not all women and families experiencing a crisis pregnancy situation are anticipating bringing home a baby.

Some babies will likely not live long after birth, leaving behind grieving parents.  Other babies are heading home from the hospital with an adoptive family, leaving birth parents, the women and men who bring the baby into the world, with heavy hearts.

Mary Garden Showers has been hosting baby showers for women in crisis pregnancies for over two years.  We are also being called to serve women through blessing showers.

Have you ever heard of a blessing shower?  Read on to learn more about why they’re important & how you can help!

IMG_20150709_132208684

 

What is a blessing shower?

A blessing shower is a chance to celebrate a new little life, and a new mother.  In this way it is very similar to a baby shower.  Yet a blessing shower is different because it is provided in a very sensitive situation when a family is likely going to experience some form of infant loss, or when parenting is not an option.  Blessing showers provide a much needed opportunity for people to celebrate a new life and a chance to heal and move forward during what is likely a very challenging situation.

 

Why celebrate?

In a world that questions whether a pregnant woman is truly carrying a child, and that even encourages abortion at times, there are courageous women and families choosing to carry their babies to term in the midst of a crisis situation.  They are sometimes choosing to give their babies life despite daunting prenatal diagnoses and other challenges, and they are sometimes choosing to give life through adoption.  Let’s rise to the occasion and be there for them!  These mothers and families are doing something absolutely amazing that deserves applause and all our love!

Once a woman becomes pregnant, she is a mother.  Nothing and no one can ever take that title away.  The woman who is pregnant is always a mother, and this beautiful role is to be celebrated regardless of whether the baby is lost to a miscarriage, lost to a terminal illness, brought home from the hospital in her arms, or brought home from the hospital in the arms of an adoptive family.  The beautiful, irreplaceable, precious, incredible child is to be celebrated as well!  Every life deserves a celebration.

 

What about gifts?

Since blessing showers are given to women and families who are not expecting to bring home a baby, gifts given will focus on providing strength and comfort to the baby’s mother and family.  We want these gifts to help mothers feel pampered and supported, and to make their lives a little easier at the moment.  Mary Garden Showers will be assisting women in creating personal registries with self-care items, pampering items, and inspirational, uplifting materials.

Journals, scrapbooks, travel bags, books, mementos, candles, soft bed sheets, tissue, music – all of these will make great gifts.  Baby gifts are typically not appropriate in these situations.  Mary Garden Showers will include them on a registry only when mothers specifically request special baby items.

 

What do women need in these situations?

Every woman is different.  Some women may be eager to celebrate the little life they have come to know during their pregnancies.  Furthermore, for some women, this celebration may be an uncomfortable trigger for many emotions.  Not every woman is going to want a blessing shower in the first place, and this is completely understandable.  But when a woman does want to celebrate her motherhood and her child, we will host a blessing shower.

Every blessing shower registry is going to look different.  Please keep this in mind.  Some women need lots of space to grieve during this time, and they may not be in an emotional state to create their own registry.  In these situations, our loving sponsor groups will step in and suggest some pampering items and other materials based on what they know about the woman receiving a blessing shower.  At other times, women will create their own registries, and we will help them select gifts that will provide comfort and support to them in their time of need.

 

How can I help celebrate?

Here are 5 ways you can help celebrate with us at a blessing shower:

1. Pray – When preparing for blessing showers, we will include the mother’s name on our prayer campaign on our website at marygardenshowers.org.  Please join us in praying for these mothers and babies!

2.  Attend a Blessing Shower – Being present at a blessing shower is a great way to show you care!  Invite others to come along, too.

3. Write a Letter – We will also invite everyone to send in letters of hope and encouragement for the mother we are celebrating.  Help us spread the word!  You can send letters via the contact page on our website, to our email address, or you can mail them directly to the church hosting the baby shower.  Addresses for the hosting churches can be found on our website.

4. Purchase a Gift – Please consider purchasing a gift that will bring comfort, strength and hope to a mother who is likely going through a grieving process.  Check out our blessing shower registries if you’re not sure what to purchase, and please keep in mind that these registries will look much different than our baby shower registries.

5. Sponsor a Mother – If you would like to walk alongside a mother, providing love and mercy to her in this time of need, please reach out to us.  We are always looking to connect mothers in crisis with women who can lovingly guide them in their journey of motherhood.

 

Thank you for your support of our ministry.  May God bless you abundantly.

Love the Mother

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

The Bare Necessities Baby Registry

cristina-re

What does my baby really need?  This question is on the minds of many mothers who make the potentially daunting, often exciting trip into a baby store to set up a baby registry for their child.

What does my baby really need?  This question is also on the minds of the many mothers who are pregnant and raising children in dire conditions, in impoverished areas of the world where they can only dream about stepping foot in a luxurious baby store.

It’s important to keep this worldly perspective in mind when you go to set up a baby registry, because you really don’t need everything advertised. Read the rest of this entry »

Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God

51aq60zvuzl-_sx320_bo1204203200_

Mary’s way can be our way, too!  Judy Landrieu Klein opens her heart in this beautiful book of affirmation, hope, and encouragement for all mothers. 

Klein takes readers through her own personal journey of motherhood, with all of its sorrows and joys.  Just like Mary, we all must bring our children into the world, nurture them, love them, and then let them go into the world to hopefully become the adults God desires them to be!  This is no small feat.  And motherhood is certainly not for the faint of heart. 

Klein had a beautiful turning point in her life when Mary spoke to her heart.  From that moment on, Mary played a large role in Klein’s motherhood.  She encourages readers to trust in the Blessed Mother, and to turn to her for wisdom, guidance, and strength. 

Inside the book, you’ll find a beautiful prayer for consecrating your children and spouse to the care of the Blessed Mother.  Klein explains the significance of this consecration, and how sustaining these prayers have been in her life. 

I recommend this book for all mothers, but especially for any mothers who have adult children – particularly children who have fallen away from the church, or who have fallen into bad habits in their lives. 

Get ready for an awesome testimony to the power of a mother’s prayers! Don’t miss Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God. 

You can purchase this book from Amazon or Ave Maria Press.

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

dear cecile richards

Love Letters for Life.png

Dear Cecile Richards,

I realize that I’m a complete stranger to you.  But I’ve seen you in magazines and on TV, and when I see you, I think to myself, “Wow, she has beautiful eyes.”  When I see you, I think, “You know, she and I actually have a lot in common.”

We are both women.  We are both married.  We both have three children.  We both have expressed that our children are the center of our lives.  We are both driven.  We are both hard working.  We are both stubborn.  We both speak from our hearts.

Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, I believe that we share common passions.  We both love our families and seek to change the world, particularly for all women and families.  I’ve heard people villainize your efforts, but I’m a Catholic, so I can relate.  I truly believe that we share a common passion of wanting what’s best for women and families. Read the rest of this entry »

A Look Back at Our Year of Mercy!

Thank You for Making 2016 So Special (1).png

14 Mothers, 16 Babies, 4 Chapters, and 1 Merciful Savior…

This evening, there are 14 mothers out there who have been touched by your kindness this year.  There are 15 babies warm and cozy tonight in the beautiful gifts you sent for them.  One baby is back in the arms of God.  There are 4 chapters of Mary Garden Showers pulling showers together in 3 states.

And all of this is possible because of the Merciful Love of Jesus Christ, that has come through all of you this year in your love and support.

A huge thank you to our awesome Chapter Leaders who work diligently to make sure each mother and child in their care is loved and cherished in their great time of need.  And a huge thank you to a couple other awesome supporters as well…

  • Debbie – Chapter Leader at Holy Spirit in Indianapolis, IN
  • Michele & Angie – Chapter Leaders at St. Patrick in Columbus, OH
  • Ann & Andrea – Chapter Leaders at Nativity in Indianapolis, IN
  • Kari – Chapter Leader at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte, NC
  • Bernadette Carstensen – artist who created our new Mary & Jesus image in Columbus, OH (we’ll share it soon!)
  • Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy – providing Divine Mercy canvases from Stockbridge, MA

If you feel a little tug on your heart to get involved a little more next year in 2017 with Mary Garden Showers, don’t be surprised.  It just means that God is answering our prayers.  We feel growth coming, and we want to invite you to prayerfully discern what role you may want to play in this ministry next year.  Let us know how you feel called to help!

May God bless you & keep your family close to Him in this season of Advent!

Serena Boykin & Kaitlyn Mason
Co-Directors of Mary Garden Showers
Charlotte, NC

marygardenshowers.org

a letter to my mom (who says she’s falling apart)

to-michelle

Dear Mom,

As I take my kids to doctor’s appointments, wipe runny noses, and make lots of tomato soup this week, I find myself realizing why you say you are falling apart. 

If your memory is going, it’s probably from years of remembering when to take temperatures, when to administer medicines, and when to pick us up and drop us off from practices.

If your shoulders are sore, it’s probably from the thousands of times you picked us up out of the crib. 

If your lower back is aching, it’s probably from the awkward position you must assume to get a kid into a carseat and from the strain of bending down each night to pick up big pots and pans to put on the stove. 

If your hips are hurting, it’s probably because you carried us to the potty chair and to bed against our will countless times, sometimes enduring strong kicks and flailing arms.

If you have arthritis in your hands, it’s probably from stirring stews in pots and browning meat for our meals, and mending our clothes, and sewing us beautiful things, and helping us learn to play piano.

If your voice is changing and tired, it’s probably from singing us to sleep and filling our hearts with beautiful songs to give us hope, and something to remember when things are hard. 

If your hearing is going, it’s probably because you spent years hearing baby screams and cries and laughs, and overhearing sibling fights, and maybe eavesdropping on conversations to make sure older kids weren’t getting into trouble. 

If your knees are shot, it’s probably from years of kneeling down in prayer for us, and from countless diaper changes.

If you have stretch marks, it’s because you were open to God’s will, carried children within you, and helped us come into the world and experience light. 

If your face is full of wrinkles, it’s probably from hours and hours spent smiling at our happy baby faces, pouring out lots of love, filling us up with happiness to carry us through a lifetime.

And so it is my sincere hope and prayer, that when I arrive at your beautiful age, I can look at myself in the mirror, and be falling apart every bit as much as you are today.  Because then I can know with confidence, that I gave everything to my children and family, in the way that you gave everything to me. 

“This is my body, given up for you.”  These are the words of Christ. They are also the words of my mother.  How beautiful it is to imitate Christ.  With all of my heart, thank you.

God bless you, I love you forever,

Kaitlyn Clare (a.k.a. Your Angel Bunny)

hush, hush, beautiful is the mother

hush, hush,beautifulis themother.png

Christ is born tell the folk of the village.  Jesus is sleeping in his cradle. Hush, hush, beautiful is the mother.  Hush, hush, beautiful is her Son.

In a few weeks, we too will be invited to peek into the stable to take a look at baby Jesus.  We will begin anew in our endeavors to tell the folk of the village – to tell the people of this world that Jesus is here!

What a gorgeous Christmas carol this truly is, as it invites us to hush.

Hush, hush, be still my soul.  Hush, hush, be still my heart.

And beautiful is the mother.  What a wonderful phrase.

If we truly were to peek into that long-ago and far-away stable, we would see Mary at Jesus’ side.  Perhaps baby Jesus would be in her arms when we arrived.

She truly is beautiful.  Can you see her?  Can you see how lovely she is and how her eyes are fixed on Christ?  Can you see her hair pulled back underneath an ivory veil?  Can you feel the warmth of her tender love?

You see, the beauty of the vocation of motherhood lies in its quiet service.

Mary is the epitome of this servitude.  She humbly, gently, ever so carefully, surrendered over her entire self to God.  She surrendered over her entire self to the process of pregnancy and birth, and she journeyed with her Son all the way to Calvary.

How contrary this is to our culture today that tells women who find themselves pregnant, “You don’t need to serve.  You can escape.”

How beautiful it is to see such virtue, such holiness, such gentleness, and such warmth in Jesus’ mother Mary.  May we bring these qualities to life more fully in our own vocations!

As we journey through these days of Advent, let us hush.  Let us escape from the clamor of the world in moments of quiet reflection.

Let us stand in awe of the beauty of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Let us stand in awe of the gift that Jesus is to the world.  Let us stand in awe of the gift that Jesus gave us in his mother Mary.

For beautiful is the mother.