Showing posts from November, 2014

Prepare The Way

Advent begins today! I love this time more and more each year as I turn my focus to teaching my children the importance of the season. December and the entire holiday season can be so very stressful. I used to survive the whole season, and feel like I could breathe again when it was over. That is a terrible way to move into the time of preparation for our Saviors birth. These past few years, as I have made more of an effort to teach my girls more about the season I have learned more myself, and have a renewed love for the season. Funny how that works! Here is the plan for this Advent... Blessings, Jen

Reflections on Advent

The season of Advent is upon us, beginning this Sunday November 30. Advent is a time to prepare ourselves for Jesus to come again anew in our hearts. The Catechism of the Catholic Church in section 525 states: “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing for the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming...”
Advent is a time to reflect on the words of the psalmist-Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him...This is a challenge indeed to take time to 'be still' before the Lord.
This can be a very busy and hectic time for many of us—Christmas shopping, decorating our homes, baking goodies, celebrating the season with Christmas parties, family, and Church gatherings. All of these activities can bring us closer to family and friends. But sometimes we get so caught up in all the activities, we ease God out. We forge…

50 Ways To Show God You Love HIM!

Love His Mother.
Start your day with God.
End you day with God.
Offer your day to Him.
Give Him your night.
Tell God you love Him.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in all His ways.
Follow His Commandments.
Be kind to all you meet.

Pray for the souls in Purgatory.
Pray for non-believers.
Pray for your children.
Pray for your families.
Pray for the lonely.
Pray for the sick.
Pray for the depressed.
Pray for our military personnel.
Pray for the homeless and hungry.
Pray for those who are alone.

Read More at::

His Unending Love

New (Liturgical) Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year!

No - I haven't mis-scheduled a blog post. On the first Sunday of Advent, the Church marks the first day of a new Liturgical year. As with the celebration of the new calendar year each January, the new Church year is a time of new beginnings, of fresh starts, and of renewed purpose.

Click here to read 7 ideas for New (Liturgical) Year's Resolutions!

The Advent Window

I never greet an Advent without remembering a much earlier one, a pivotal one, in which God began to reach me. He did so not in spite of the Christmas glitz and commercialism all around, but through it. That Advent, I was twenty years old.... (read the rest here)

Advent: Another Year of the Long Watch

Today's Gospel reading starts on the second verse of this excerpt:
" 'But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

"Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.

"It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.

"Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.

"May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.

"What I say to you, I say to all: "Watch!" ' "
(Mark 13:32-37) More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Life Through a Different Lens

Every now and then I am given the opportunity to see life through a different lens. I have experienced some difficult and even scary circumstances that have compelledme to view life differently. These times challenge my faith, present me with a different perspective and allow me to draw closer to God. There have been tragedies among family members and dear friends, my own miscarriage, and health scares with my children, just to name a few.

I think the scariest time of waiting as a mom, was four years ago. We were told that our newborn had a hole in her heart. (This actually was rivaled by some scares with our first daughter years ago, when we had a lymph node removed to see what it was. Thankfully it was nothing, but that waiting was hard.) Back to four years ago when we needed to wait to follow up with a cardiologist when the baby was two weeks old. The hospital could tell us nothing else. We left with complete uncertainty and had no choice but to wait and pray.

To view what is tru…

Free Shipping on Mother-Daughter Christmas Package

We are offering FREE SHIPPING  on a limited number of  Mother-Daughter Christmas Packages  The package?
For mom...a copy of Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage
For daughter...a copy of Erin's Ring (But we are sure mom will love reading this one, too!)
Order your $17.99 Mother-Daughter Package Here: 
(this offer is good for shipping to U.S. contiguous states only and one per address) picture: ID 35001761 © Roman Dekan |

'Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.' Sunday Reflections, 1st Sunday of Advent, Year B

YoungJew as Christ, Rembrandt, c.1656 Staatliche Museen, Berlin [Web Gallery of Art] Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA) Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) Gospel Mark 13:33-37(New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada)
Jesus said to his disciples: Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn,or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” Liam Whelan  (1 April 1935 - 5 February 1958) If this is the end, then I'm ready for it.  These were the last words of Liam Whelan who died in a plane crash at Munich…

Power in Weakness

There's always some wiseacre on the interview panel who suddenly says, "And what do you think your biggest weaknesses are Mr. Torkington?" He usually chooses the moment when your confidence is at its height and you've been presenting yourself as Mr. Total Competence, who could do the job in his sleep.

Suddenly you've got to back pedal warily, losing as little composure as possible, while showing that even you are human after all with faults and failings like the rest of human kind. A skilful operator can usually turn the situation to their advantage by humbly admitting to faults that just happen to make them an even more desirable candidate. You know the sort of thing I mean...."I'm afraid I've got a punctuality problem I simply can't be late for an appointment", or "I do tend to neglect my family sometimes, because I can't bring myself to leave the office until I've cleared my desk."  read on...

Father Francis Maple


A Moment in Time:: We Met at Our Lady's Altar

The Mass had ended.  We began to gather at the back of the church to wait for our priest  to hear confessions.  Usually there was a second priest assigned to hear confessions after Saturday Mass, but he wasn't there, so we waited.   Ally, a young high school teacher, saw an elderly lady waiting in line behind us.  Ally suggested that we allow this lady to go to confession ahead of us.  The woman was grateful as she opened the confessional door.  When she closed the door, Ally and I noticed that the line had grown behind us.  Shortly, the second priest arrived and the lines melted into two separate, shorter lines. 

As Ally and I waited for our turn in confession, Ally asked me for prayers.  She confided that she had just accepted a job as a Catholic missionary on college campuses.  She could be sent anywhere.  She hadn't told her parents yet.  Ally is a young woman who is very close to God.  I prayed then, and I ask for your prayers for this young woman.  I looked at the…

"Organic," "Wow!" — and Double Planets

A Rosetta mission team leader's British reserve snapped when Philae's data showed "a lot of peaks." There's carbon on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko: probably part of complex organic compounds, which doesn't mean there's life there.

Researchers on this side of the Atlantic reported that double planets may be more common than we'd thought: a lot more more common....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

“They Tried To Bury Us…”

"They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.”  Mexican proverb Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24

May I also live out  this biblical verse.

New on the Blogroll: Homeschooling Works

There's a new item on the blogroll:
Homeschooling Works"...Here you will also find interesting topics about, health, science, family life, religion, spirituality and much more!..." That's it. That's the entire post. But if you want to see what it looks like on A Catholic Citizen in America, this is the link.

God is Good Always

Just a short post today on my awakening to the fact that God is good always!
Have a blessed Thanksgiving,

St. Teresa's first mansions

Okay, you’ve all poured over the chart of the seven mansions from Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle that I posted last week and now you’re ready to study each in depth, right? Let’s dig right in.
Many people, unfortunately, live completely outside the castle of their souls. These include the unbaptized, atheists and agnostics, and Christians who have unconfessed mortal sin.  Their state is truly pitiable and only an act of God can open their eyes to it.
So accustomed have they grown to living all the time with the reptiles and other creatures to be found in the outer court of the castle that they have almost become like them; and although by nature they are so richly endowed as to have the power of holding converse with none other than God Himself, there is nothing that can be done for them. Unless they strive to realize their miserable condition and to remedy it, they will be turned into pillars of salt for not looking within themselves, just as Lot’s wife was because she looked…

Blessed Virgin Mary, An Advent Figure

During Advent, Mary, John the Baptist, and Isaiah take center stage. Primarily we focus on Mary as we wait for Christmas, for she waited for nine months to welcome her son into the world that day. How well do you know your mother? Take this quiz and then check out the answers below.
1. Why is blue Mary’s color?click to continue

Irish-Catholic Women Who Quietly Made a Difference

I come from a long line of strong women.
Women who overcame difficult odds and overwhelming heartache. Women who will never be known to anyone other than those in their immediate family.
The older I get, the more I think about these incredible women. I wonder if I am made of the same stock and marvel at the way they lived their lives. Faced with the difficulties they had faced, how would I have fared?
Every woman I know is able to say the same thing: Strong women are part of their history.
In that way, we all share a common thread.
I remember when the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding came out and the clever promotion that replaced the word “Greek” with “Polish” and “Italian” and any number of different heritages. It is because that thread runs through all of us. We can all relate to some of the same things when we take the time to look into our history.
read more here

Erin's Ring is Out--Just in Time for Christmas Gift-giving!

My Catholic YA novel Erin's Ring, published by Bezalel Books, is out!  And I'm hosting a contest at my blog (I'm giving away a signed copy to one lucky reader).  For more details, head on over to String of Pearls to read the full post.

A Fruitful New Way Begins--In Thanksgiving

In thanksgiving, always, let us pray... Dear Lord:
Today we give thanks for our many blessings,
       as we pray for those in need.
We give thanks for our family and friends,
       as we pray for those who are lonely...
We give thanks for our good health,
       as we pray for those who are ill... >>Click Here to Read More at The Way to Nourish for Life>>

[with 5 Fruitful Reasons to love the Cranberry]  Let's Taste and See!

In All Things Give Him Thanks


Make Me Your Manger: an Advent Prayer for Families

(an excerpt from)
Make Me Your Manger 

I would like to be your crib;  Rest in me, Lord, I pray.  Make me your manger. I'll cradle you.  I'll hold you every day.

Read all four stanzas of the prayer at Praying with Grace

Family Advent Activity Ideas

Ready for Advent activity ideas? It’s that time of year again when Advent is about to begin – and about to be forgotten. It’s so easy to let Advent pass by almost unnoticed while all the focus goes to preparing for Christmas. And I understand why. There’s something so irresistible and magical about Christmas. It’s full of charm and warmth for adults and kids alike. It’s very tempting to make Christmas start as early as possible.
But then we’re missing something. In its own way, Advent can be just as magical as Christmas. I think this is on my mind even more than usual this year because our little family is so excited as we prepare for baby #3 to arrive in a couple of months. Yes, we are incredibly excited to actually hold our new baby in our arms. But we wouldn’t skip this wonderful time of preparing and getting ready to receive our little one for the world. We NEED this time to prepare ourselves, our hearts, our little boys and our home (in fact, we need to both FIND and prepare our …

What did Mary really know?

What did Mary really know? CLICK HERE

New on the Blogroll: Training Happy Hearts

There's a new item on the blogroll:Training Happy Hearts"Join us as we journey along in training up our children (and ourselves!) to live fully, love deeply and learn passionately, with faith that promises (and delivers!) truly happy hearts." That's the entire post. There are more at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Christ the King in Glorious Artwork

In 1925, in an encyclical entitled Quas Primas, Pope Pius XI instituted the Solemnity of Christ the King on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, as “the crowning glory upon the mysteries of the life of Christ.”  Pope Pius's insights are powerful; in order for Jesus to be enthroned as King, he must first reign in the minds, wills and hearts of each person. To inspire this surrender of my id, my ego, my false self to Christ the King, I present glorious images, revealing His majesty and might. In this modern age we tend to focus on the Love of Christ but today let's focus on His glory.


Holiday Heroics

The holiday season is almost upon us. We will cook, decorate, gather with family and friends. It's time for preparation, festivities, fun.

It can also be a time for heroics.

We have talked about our call to be heroes of the faith in our everyday lives. I cannot think of a better season than this one for everyday heroism.

Such opportunities! And oh, how I have squandered them. For too many years, I've shoved aside chances to bake, chop, clean, serve, shop, plan and wrap heroically. I've been found grumbling instead of praying, resenting rather than thanking.

Some of us are surrounded by so many people that we want to run away to a quiet room. For others, the loneliness of yet another holiday can stab with the force of a sword. In all of it, there are chances for heroism.....(continue here)

Painting: Franck Antoine Bail, Carving the Pumpkin, 1910

Victory and Standing Orders

I've watched, and enjoyed, disaster movies like Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) and Deep Impact (1998). It's been a few years since Harold Camping's high-profile predictions, and I'll get back to that....

...I'm a Christian, and a Catholic, so I take the Bible, Sacred Scripture very seriously: including Mark 13:32-37.

My Lord didn't know when this creation will be wrapped up, but made it clear that we were on standby alert in the meantime. That was about two millennia back now, the orders haven't changed, and every few years someone pops up with another 'end times' prediction....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Introducing “As Morning Breaks: Daily Gospel Reflections”

I am part of a brand new published book with 30 other writers who are regular contributors to Daily Gospel Reflections on CatholicMom.  Introducing As Morning Breaks: Daily Gospel Reflections   I write the reflection for the fourth day of every month. If you do download this book, we would be thrilled if you left a short review. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” Pope Francis Inspired by our prayer community at, As Morning Breaks offers 365 daily reflections on the Liturgy of the Word and the Gospels. With each daily meditation, the reader is invited into a further examination of the Gospel passage. A “ponder” question is provided for contemplation, discussion or journaling. Each meditation ends with a brief prayer. These prayers are offered as a springboard for your own quiet meditative prayer. Penned by over thirty authors and written from a variety of vocational perspectives, As Morning Breaks invites you to make morning prayer a fruitful part of your day. In …

'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' Sunday Reflections, Christ the King Year A

The Last Judgment, Peter Cornelius, 1836-39 Fresco, Ludwigskirche, Munich [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA) Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)  GospelMatthew 25:31-46  (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,I was na…

Got A Hug For Me God?

Recently I had a relapse into self-defeating negative thoughts about myself. When I was reflecting on Psalm 35 and 36, it reminded me how I allowed the evil one to whisper lies to me about myself. I became filled with negative thinking and acting. O Lord fight those fighting me; declare war on them for their attacks on me. Put on your armor, take your shield and protect me by standing in front. Lift your spear in my defense, for my pursuers are getting close. Let me hear you say that you will save me from them. Psalm 35: 1-4. I knew I needed to get to confession soon. I decided to go Saturday afternoon. I arrived a couple of minutes before confession was scheduled to start and noticed lots of cars in the Church parking lot. I thought to myself- I can't go into Church in my present state. Here I am with no make-up on, my hair looking pretty scary, eyes swollen from crying, and to top it off I was in my old grubby clothes. I started to cry again. I decided the best I could do at t…

Beauty, Order, and Pterosaurs

Scientists may have found an upper limit to pterosaur wingspans. A fossil ichthyosaur is our first look at how these marine animals returned to the ocean, and scientists found a spike-headed ankylosaur species.

I'm fascinated by this sort of thing. Your experience may vary....

...I saw the universe as a place of order and beauty before I became a Catholic. Now, I must see it as a place of order and beauty. It's 'in the rules.'...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

7 Ways to Celebrate Advent With Your Family

Patient waiting.

These two little words most accurately describe the tone and theme of the season of Advent.

Patient waiting.

No two words in the English language are more incompatible with young children.

How do those of us with young children help them to celebrate the beautiful season of Advent without being overrun by the mad rush to Christmas morning?

Here are 7 ways that my family and I celebrate the season of Advent - what about you? Share your ideas for making the celebration of Advent a family affair!

Click here to

#1 New Release in Recovery by Adult Children of Alcoholics

Little Girl Lost, Little Girl Found is a fictional account of a woman’s journey of recovery and is the #1 New Release in Recovery by Adult Children of Alcoholics on Amazon.
Written by Helen A. Scieszka, Ph.D., affectionately known as "Dr. Helen," Little GirlLost, Little Girl Found is the first book in a trilogy which gently and lovingly approaches the journey of self-discovery and healing. Dr. Helen has degrees in Clinical Psychology and a special master’s level certification in Theology. Once retiring from her careers as an advertising executive, therapist, college professor, parish Pastoral Associate and diocesan Married and Family life director she was finally able to focus on her lifetime love of writing with the focus on using fiction as a tool for healing.

Little Girl Lost,Little Girl Found is highly recommended reading for all adults looking for inspirational fiction and is particularly valuable to adults seeking to heal wounds of the past and embrace the future.

Be a Living Rosary!

I believe God calls us to the vocation that is going to best help us encounter him and help us grow in holiness. The more we encounter him and grow in holiness, the more joy we will have. For me, that vocation is Motherhood. 

My children have definitely helped me in my quest for holiness and have helped me grow closer to Christ. Through my first two, the Lord started teaching me about resting in him and receiving his grace. The next two helped teach me perseverance. Through my fifth child however, I feel like I have grown the most. You see, she was miserable from day one and continued to be that way until she turned four.       

Continue Reading @ Beautifulthorns >

Christ the King, My King

Kings have gone out of style. Mostly we use the term king for a man who excels at something, for example, King James (LaBron) is a great basketball player and a prom king is the most popular boy in high school. Scroll back a few centuries and kings were powerful rulers of countries who made laws, commanded armies, and levied taxes. The feast of Christ the King, which closes out the liturgical year, was established in 1925. It celebrates that Jesus is King of heaven and earth. Click to continue

Where are you in St. Teresa's seven mansions?

Today I’d like to start digging a little deeper into Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle. Specifically, let’s talk about the seven mansions and how each of them is different.

While Teresa divides her book into sections talking about seven different stages of the spiritual life, we should note that she speaks about “first dwelling places,” et cetera, not “the first mansion.” What does this mean? Each stage has several rooms. Not everyone follows exactly the same path to union with God.
You must not imagine these mansions as arranged in a row, one behind another, but fix your attention on the centre, the room or palace occupied by the King. Think of a palmito, which has many outer rinds surrounding the savoury part within, all of which must be taken away before the centre can be eaten. Just so around this central room are many more, as there also are above it. In speaking of the soul we must always think of it as spacious, ample and lofty; and this can be done without the least exag…

Fear of the Lord: Ancient, Timeless Wisdom

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014:
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-311 Thessalonians 5:1-6Matthew 25:14-30 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014 By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
November 16, 2014
Our Catholic Christian tradition teaches us that happiness and friendship and marriage should all be based on a healthy loving fear of the Lord. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the psalmist expresses it very simply and poetically. "Blessed are those who fear the Lord," and then he explains what, exactly, that means: "to fear of the Lord is to walk in his ways." This is the wisdom of the ages. It is the perennial principle of human happiness. And it is the foundation of true success in marriage....

(Guest post.)
More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Saints Are Still Being Made: Meet Chiara Corbella

The Grace of YES!

Her name is Fiat.
That cute little goldfish--her name is Fiat.

Fiat, of course, is Latin for let it be done. In Lisa Hendey's brand-new book, The Grace of Yes, Fiat is both the charming little goldfish on the cover as well as the simple yet profound theme guiding readers through the pages of the book. The Grace of Yes explores eight virtues that help us build a habit of generosity.

The goldfish name surfaced (ha! fish pun!) after hosted a "Name the Goldfish" contest. The goldfish is essentially just a decoration, I realize, but the community goldfish-naming phenomenon is no mere ornament; the clever fish-naming campaign epitomizes the way Lisa--the site's founder-- habitually reaches out to others. Since the year 2000, when Lisa launched out of her California home, Lisa's work has connected countless moms (and other people) seeking to integrate faith into daily life.

Read more as part of today's Grace of Yes blogg…

Me and My Ex-Friend “GLUTEN”… + The Potential signs/symptoms of this sometimes dysfunctional relationship

An Introduction to My Personal Story & to the World of Gluten-related Disorders: When a friend really isn’t a friend at all, but instead turns out to be a foe… it usually becomes very obvious, at least to those who care about us.  Because as the signs & symptoms of inflicted harm come to light, the foe becomes exposed… usually, that is… but not always. There are times when it can be very challenging to discover the true cause of trouble… especially when the relationship being dealt with proves to be highly complex & far-reaching… which is how it came to be in my own situation ["relationship"] with gluten! …harm unrecognized far too long because the connection between my various ailments and to having a gluten-related disorder was not obvious [not typical].   Plus, it was very reasonable for me to accept other legitimate explanations for the various progressive issues plaguing me.   >>Click Here to Read More at: The Way to Nourish for Life>>

Teaching Vocations: Holy Sisters Dolls

Remember Little Man's sweet Godsister? Cowgirl and I finally got to make her very belated birthday gift. Since she asks almost every Sunday  for us to pray for the nuns at our local convent, I though she would appreciate some little nun dolls. These dolls are based on Jennifer's peg doll statues on Catholic Inspired.  This is a project I have wanted to do for quite some time, Godsister's 4th birthday was the final push I needed to get it done.
We started with mini peg dolls from Hobby Lobby. They were only $3.50 for a large package of 36.  We also picked up a few pieces of felt in brown, black, white, and tan. I wish I had gotten blue and gray as well. We found some blue fabric and ribbon in the scrap bag but felt really works better.
I then looked up the habits for the orders we chose to make. I found a lot of ideas on the listing for these nun paper dolls. Unfortunately, they are out of print, but you can find them on this Picassa album. I just wish I could figure out ho…