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

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!

Our Lady of Fatima: 100 years of stories, prayers, and devotions

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Have you heard the message of Fatima?  Even if you are familiar with Mary’s apparitions at Fatima, I guarantee you haven’t heard the story told quite like this before.  And if you’re skeptical about the whole thing, all the more reason to pick up this book.

Mary wants to lead us to her Son, Jesus Christ.  She wants peace for the world, and she wants us to repent of our sins so we can all make it to Heaven!

There’s no better time to pick up this book than right now, as we are about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of these apparitions.  In fact, the Church will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, which is right around the corner.  On this day, Pope Francis will also canonize Jacinta and Francisco, two of the Fatima visionaries, as Saints for the whole world to celebrate!

In this book, author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle takes readers through a century of fascinating stories related to Fatima.  She recounts what occurred in this city back in 1916 and 1917, and the fulfillment of the Fatima prophecies that have taken place since that time.  She also shares things that Sr. Lucia experienced later in her life as she worked to ensure that Mary’s message spread throughout the Church, and that things were completed as Mary and Jesus requested.

In these pages, you will hear remarkable stories you’ve never heard before, and details that you won’t find in other places.  Did you know that Saint Mother Teresa planned a top secret mission in Russia specifically to occur just as Saint John Paul II consecrated Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart?  Did you know she pulled it off?  Do you know about the devotion of the Five First Saturdays?  Do you know why Mary specifically requested five and not six or seven?  Have you heard the Fatima prayers?  Do you know how you can incorporate these prayers into your daily life to make atonement for the sins of the world?  All of this and more is shared in this fascinating book.

Perhaps as astounding as the Fatima miracles themselves, are the personal experiences of the author that she shares at the end of the book.  I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it’s unbelievable what this woman endured for the sake of this writing, and the timing of her injuries is absolutely astounding.

In short, I had a hard time putting this book down!  You won’t want to miss this exciting read, especially as we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Fatima apparitions this year.

We all must now do our part to make reparation for the sins of this world.  Find out what you can do to live the Fatima message today!

And a note to any skeptics:  With Mary, you have nothing to fear except fear itself.  Fear of Mary will only keep you from Mary, which will only keep you from a deeper intimacy with Christ.  Our Mother Mary who is Our Lady of Fatima, is the Mother of Jesus Christ who is our brother.  Hence, she is our Mother, too, and Jesus also gave her to us on the Cross.  Mary is truly amazing.  She also only wants to do the will of her Son.  She wants to support Jesus as much as possible in the work of bringing all souls to Heaven.  Perhaps you will be able to get to know her just a little better through the words in this book.

This book is available on Amazon and from Franciscan Media.

Mother Mary, pray for us!  God bless you!

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

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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!

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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.

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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…

MGS is Featured on the Family Sanctuary Radio Show

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Listen in as Michele Hansen, our Mary Garden Showers chapter leader in Columbus, OH, explains why this ministry is so close to her heart, and how you can get involved.  Click here to listen to her interview with Peggy Hartshorn on The Family Sanctuary on 5.1.17!  Thank you so much to St. Gabriel Catholic Radio for inviting MGS to be a part of your show.

“I just can’t believe that this is not going to be something really, really big.” – Peggy Hartshorn, Heartbeat International

“We are hoping to really plant a seed in (the mother’s) heart to really encourage her despite her circumstances.” – Michele Hansen, Mary Garden Showers

Listen-now

 

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

Don’t Miss Divine Mercy Sunday!

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Mary Garden Showers is committed to spreading a message of love and mercy, with help from the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy & the beautiful Divine Mercy message.

Today we’d like to direct you over to our friends at Divine Mercy for Moms, who have shared a beautiful article full of ideas and resources to help you make the most of this awesome, special feast day – that’s right around the corner!

Click here to be redirected to this article!  Peace & blessings to your family!  We hope you have a very special Divine Mercy Sunday.

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

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

Positive Adoption Language

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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…

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“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.

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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!

2 Beautiful Lenten Devotionals to Bring You Closer to Christ

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The beginning of this week marks the half-way point of the Lenten season.  Are you staying on track with your Lenten promises?  If not, now is a great time to reboot and refocus.

If you’re needing some help, it’s never too late to dive into a great devotional book for motivation!

Here are my thoughts on these beautiful Lenten devotionals that I was privileged to be able to read and review for you.  May God richly bless you in your journey to Easter!

 

  1. Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations, by Heidi Hess Saxton

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Join Saint Mother Teresa as she journeys through the streets of Calcutta, caring for the destitute, the broken, the lonely, and the dying.  The wisdom and wit of this saint are so profound.  Author Heidi Hess Saxton pulls many texts together and captures this saint’s spirit beautifully.

In her own unique way, Saint Mother Teresa set out to help one person at a time, and ended up helping the entire world through her example.  We would all do well to more closely imitate this saint, daily placing the needs and wants of others before our own.

Heidi Hess Saxton has penned strong reflections to supplement the words and prayers of Saint Mother Teresa.  She guides readers to understand the relevance of this shinning example in our lives today.

I personally struggled with some of the author’s wording in a sensitive devotion that addressed pregnancy resulting from rape.  If you don’t know what the Church teaches and advises in these circumstances, this will provide you with a great opportunity to look it up and learn more… something all should do more often anyways!

But overall, this was a beautifully written book that will lead many closer to Christ during this Lenten season, or anytime someone picks it up and takes these words to heart.

This book is available for purchase on Amazon and from Franciscan Media.

 

2. The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis, by Diane M. Houdek

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Who better to turn to for encouragement in our season of Lent than the man put in charge of the Church by the Holy Spirit Himself?

Connect with the words of Pope Francis in this little devotional that is not to be underestimated.

This tiny but mighty book pulls together Pope Francis’s words to the Church from throughout his papacy, and author Diane M. Houdek makes sure they correspond nicely with each step of our Lenten path. This is certainly a book that can be picked up at any time, but of course it will carry special significance when it is read during Lent.

In each devotion, Houdek provides Scripture for you to look up, words from Pope Francis, an opportunity to take the words to heart, thoughts on bringing the words to life, and a concluding prayer.  Devotionals are short and sweet, but jam packed with great information for you to reflect on throughout the day!

Journey through the rest of this Lenten season with Pope Francis, and you won’t be disappointed!  This book is available on Amazon and from Franciscan Media.

 


 

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

5 Ways to Help Celebrate at a Blessing Shower

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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!

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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…