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

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…

the curse of comfort

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I found this quote in high school and placed it in a scrapbook.  Though I just stumbled upon it the other day, these words have resonated with me now for years.  Do you know the curse of comfort?  Here is the secret of what to do when you feel that comfort seep upon you…

 

“Is thy curse of comfort wasting? 

Rise and share it with another;

and through all the years of famine,

it shall serve thee and thy brother.

Is thy burden hard and heavy?

Do thy steps drag wearily?

Help to bear thy brother’s burden

God will bear both it and thee.”

-Elizabeth Charles

 

in every age…

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In every age, songs of beauty and praise rise to the Heavens. 

Lyrics speak of God’s power and might and unfathomable Divine Mercy.    

Melodies weave through time lifting our thoughts to His amazing grace.

And in every age, voices join the feeble instruments we have here on this earth, to give praise and glory to God.

Now imagine that at the end of our days on this earth, we all come together as one people, one Israel, one nation truly of God.

Can you imagine the songs we will be singing as we journey to Heaven all together?

Can you imagine what it will sound like when voices of people throughout history, throughout time, all join together to give God his due glory?

In every age, songs of beauty and praise rise to the Heavens.

And oh, that glorious day, when we will be able to hear these songs sung all together in harmony!  When from the east and the west, and the south and the north, God’s people sing as one,

walking Heavenward, homeward, together.

 

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

The Bare Necessities Baby Registry

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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 »

roasting marshmallows and sanctity…

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My husband is awesome because he loves making campfires.  He’s awesome for a lot of reasons, but every once in awhile, my daughter will ask in her not so sneaky way, “Hey Daddy, how about… we have a little campfire tonight?”

And if it’s a weekend, and my husband doesn’t have to work the next day, and if the girls have been listening well to Daddy and Mommy, and if it’s not raining, and if it’s not too late, we will have a little campfire, and we have a blast.

Last night after we put the girls to bed, the fire was still dying down, and my husband and I sat outside talking.

As I was roasting a marshmallow slowly to perfection, I thought about how it can really take awhile to get the marshmallow just right.

You can’t rush this process of roasting a marshmallow. You have to wait and it takes patience and endurance.

I thought about how you have to keep the marshmallow close to the flame, but not so close that it burns it to a crisp – unless you’re one of those people who loves burnt-to-a-crisp marshmallows.

And it occurred to me that this process of roasting a marshmallow bore a striking resemblance to the process of becoming holy.

In order for us to reach a higher level of sanctity, we must slowly work at being perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.  It can take awhile for us to come out just right.

You can’t rush this process of achieving sanctity.  You have to wait and it takes patience and endurance.

You have to stay close to the flames of Divine Mercy.  You have to stay close to God.  But at the same time, we are not ready to see God in His full glory yet.  God is not ready to fully reveal Himself to us just yet.

Eventually my marshmallow was just about perfect.  I’ll admit I didn’t wait until it was golden brown, and my husband questioned whether I had waited long enough.  But my s’more was wonderful, nonetheless.

I hope I can be a little more patient with myself as I work to become more like Christ.  While I know I won’t be able to really be perfect in this life, I will keep striving for it so that I can continue to be the best I can be.

Jesus doesn’t want us to settle.

I hope that I won’t settle for anything less than what Jesus has asked of each of us: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Let’s just remember: perfectly roasted marshmallows must stay close to the flame.

 

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

Baby Showers Anyone?? Bring Mary Garden Showers to Your Parish!

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At Mary Garden Showers, we are passionate about serving women in crisis pregnancy situations – any crisis.  We work closely with pregnancy resource centers, churches, and also accept referrals from individuals.  Basically, we go where the Holy Spirit leads!

We are praying fervently about spreading this ministry throughout our country that is in desperate need of love and truth for women and families. 

We believe that every mother deserves love, support, and mercy as she walks through her pregnancy!  So many women feel that they have nowhere to turn when they are pregnant, and we feel strongly that the Church needs to be present and available to them. 

We lovingly try to direct women to Mary as a beautiful example of a Mother who followed God’s will and carried her pregnancy to term, ultimately resulting in our salvation.  We also have become friends with the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy (thanks be to God!) and they are providing beautiful canvas Divine Mercy images for us to share with each mother we shower!

Starting a chapter at a church is a pretty simple process.  We would just need to identify a chapter leader(s) at your parish.  Then we would send the leader(s) our Handbook, do a video chat to answer questions, and if everyone is on board, there’s a little form to sign to make everything official.  We then support you all in any way we can.  We will create graphics for each shower, advertise baby showers on our website, social media & nation-wide newsletter, share thank you notes on our website & newsletter, ship items to your chapter as needed (banners, brochures, thank you notes, prayer cards, etc.).

Once we establish a chapter at a parish, people can personally become a sponsor to a mother.  This is super exciting, and I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to serve in this capacity in the past.  It’s a lot of fun, and it’s what you make of it!  You can take the mother out for coffee, get to know her, set up a baby registry with her, share mom-to-mom advice, and just be there for her in this special time of need.

But no need to wait for a chapter to start up at your parish to get involved!  

You can shop online registries through our website and gifts automatically ship to the baby shower location of the upcoming shower.  Or you can send a note or gift or a note to the shower locations on our website.  Or we always need prayers!  You can sign up for our prayer campaign at marygardenshowers.org as well.

If you have any questions, or if you feel called to get involved, please let us know!  We’re happy to help in any way we can.  Peace!

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

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

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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!