June 23, 2016

Find Me Here:

I am super busy in the details of this weekend's conference but I did want to pop in and let you all know that yesterday I was at Blessed Is She with the devotional. Here's a glimpse at it:

Today’s Gospel shares a good litmus test for prophets and, I think, friends.

What does a friendship bearing good fruit look like? Well, it should be rich with the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Gal 5:22)

Love: Are our friends willing and able to hope all things and endure all things for our sake, and are we willing and able to do the same? (1 Cor 13:7) Do we want the best for each other, and help one another find God’s will in our lives?

You can read the rest here.

Then today I am guest posting at my dear friend Katie's blog, Look to Him and Be Radiant. She is running a week-long series on why it's important to make things beautiful and she asked me to write about why I decorate my home for holidays and holy days. Here's a snippet:

Why do I do it? For three reasons. First, because decorations are a simple way that I can bring the rhythm of the Church's liturgical year into our home. This is helpful for me as a mom - the decorations add an extra emphasis on what we are celebrating or why we are fasting. They are a sort of visual aid for my children as I teach them about saints, Jesus' love for us, doctrines of our faith, and the culture of our catholic Catholic church. But really it's not just for the kids - even as a 34 year old woman I find it much easier to enter into the liturgical seasons, the feasting and the fasting, if I am reminded of them by my surroundings.

You can read the rest here.

This weekend I'll be on Instagram taking pictures of the conference - which you can follow with the hashtag #findingyourfiatconference. I may even pop in on Facebook and share some live videos.

June 13, 2016

Sheen Family Petitions NY Court to Move Sheen to Peoria


After almost two years of Sheen's cause being at a complete standstill they are finally able to take a step towards re-opening the cause!

Reading the press release from the Diocese of Peoria, it seems that Venerable Sheen's family became tired of waiting for New York and decided to take matters into their own hands - by petitioning the state's courts for access to their uncle's remains!

Since Joan Sheen Cunningham is Venerable Sheen's oldest living relative and she and her siblings were very close to their uncle it seems very likely that the New York courts will see her as obvious next-of-kin and will grant this request.

As a refresher, the cause was closed when Cardinal Dolan refused to allow the Sheen Foundation access to Fulton Sheen's body. The Sheen Foundation had reached the point in the canonization process where examining the remains and respectfully gathering relics was appropriate and the canonical norm. Without cooperation from the Archdiocese of New York and without special permission from the Vatican to bypass the canonical norms the cause could go no further.

Further, before the "Pause in the Cause" we were half way through the four-step process of having the alleged miraculous healing of my son, JF, through the intercession of Venerable Sheen declared an official miracle. Here's a little about the advising medical experts and advising theologians unanimously approving the alleged miracle. The next steps would be - God willing! - for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and then Pope Francis to approve it. If and when that happens Fulton Sheen will be beatified for the greater glory of God and the good of the Church.

Here's the press release from the Diocese:

For more about our family's connection with Fulton Sheen and his cause for canonization go here.
To see the news from the Sheen Foundation go here.
To read about it from the National Catholic Register go here.

June 11, 2016

How We Threw A Sacred Heart Party

The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart is one of my favorite feast days all year. I love celebrating Jesus' passionate love for us, His heart ablaze with His love and the signs of His Passion on display. The image of Christ holding or pointing to His Heart, showing us the mini Gospel - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..." - it is so perfectly quirky Catholic and I love it. 

This year our celebration lasted all day. The Solemnity is a Meat Friday so we ate bacon and then headed to noon Mass at the local, gorgeous, Sacred Heart Church, as is our custom. More bacon for lunch and then it was time for party prep - a group of friends were coming over for dinner!

We don't have an image of the Sacred Heart so I drew one on the chalkboard that hangs in a prominent spot in our home.
It's not bad.

Then I followed in Mary's footsteps and made fruit trays like the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, seen at her blog, Better Than Eden. I made mine a bit more simply because I didn't peel an orange, just opened a can of mandarin oranges, and I sprinkled chocolate chips on the strawberries instead of melting chocolate.

To keep things easy on everyone we made the night a potluck. Everyone brought their own meat, a dish to pass, and their own drink of choice. Travis manned the grill and the kids jumped on the trampoline, played on our swingset, and climbed our Maple tree.

As the sun was setting but before a single meltdown I called all the kids to the patio. Each parent got a prayer card and each person was given a glow stick. I stood in front of the kids and talked to them about the reason for our party, about God's great love for us, about the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I invited them to snap their glow sticks and to wave them and wear them as a reminder of Jesus' Heart that burns for love of us.

Then as a group we all prayed the Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. (If you ever have a Sacred Heart party please feel free to use the image! You can save it, insert it into a Word or Publisher Doc. Set the paper to Landscape and you can easily fit two per page.)

The kids ran off into the dusk, catching fireflies and we parents stayed in our comfy chairs, sipping rum or beer and chatting with one another. That sounds super saccharine-y so please know that about ten minutes later I spilled my drink on my lap. ha!

It was a great day, and I'm so grateful for my group of friends and for my husband who doesn't bat an eye when I say, "Let's have ten adults and twenty kids over and you can grill them all dinner!"

June 8, 2016

What I Learned About Growing Friendships as an Adult

For most of our marriage we had a variety of friends spread out in a variety of places. I had lots of mom friends and Travis had his work friends and it was nice but also lonely. While we had friends we did not have a community, and it was a community that we were really craving

At the time we were still living in The Dump and we knew we wanted to move. We had put our eldest in the parochial school one town over and the thirty minute, round trip drive twice a day over country roads was killing me. We lived in a town that didn't have a grocery store, a public library, a Catholic church, or even another young, Catholic family. We knew we needed to move closer to Travis' job, L's school, and all the other amenities we missed. 

But really, my family moved to different a town so we could be more active in its parish and the parish school. We saw that the parish had good priests, solid ministries, orthodox faith, and a true love of Christ, despite its hideous mural behind the tabernacle. 

Once there, I committed to the weekly moms' group - approximately 13 women who meet with all their non-school aged kids to work through a study. 

We also began regularly attending the monthly Adoration group for families.

Travis joined the Men's Group, which is basically the husbands of all the moms' group women. They sit in a workshop, drink beer, eat peanuts, and either build things or light things on fire.

I  also became involved with a monthly Moms' Night group that attracted even more women - women I had noticed at Mass or school pick up or at other events and was so grateful to get to know.

And over the weeks and months and now years I began to really know and trust many of these people. Many of their kids are growing up with my kids and while we are all at slightly different places in our lives we are all walking together towards the same goal. 

This was really great - a huge step towards what I had craved for so long. But I also noticed that I didn't know how to narrow down the large group to really intentionally foster a few good relationships. It felt rude to not always include everyone all the time but the sheer numbers were paralyzing. And then I saw something that was eye-opening for me. 

At a friend's birthday party I was sitting at a table with various women, all of whom I knew to varying degrees and all of whom have children older than mine. They openly discussed their upcoming Super Bowl party, a party I was not invited to. It was just for that group of friends, who had raised their kids together, whose husbands were friends, who had known each other for years. I didn't feel left out, in fact I felt relieved! The community that I had so badly craved for so long was possible! Other people had formed and found their places in them and I could too! Our larger group of wonderful families had already broken down into smaller groups while still remaining part of that larger community.

These smaller groups were not cliques - they are not exclusive or elite - but they are the result of a natural growth towards people with similar interests, beliefs, and season of life. 

With that new understanding I stood back and I looked at the women in my community and saw the friendships that existed already. I thought about Jesus and Peter and James and John - how they are often listed together, just the four of them, in a way that seems to say they were besties. I thought about the women I was most drawn to and realized we were already there. Our husbands were already good friends, as were our kids.

And so, unapologetically I have sought them out as individuals and as a group and in doing so the gestures were reciprocated. Little by little, but also not very slowly, my family has found its place. We have a niche where we are appreciated and cared for. We belong with a circle of friends and I look forward to many years of knowing, serving, and loving them better. I hope I am able to help them carry their crosses and celebrate their joys and successes. I hope that our friendships will bring us all closer to Christ, who I thank for answering my many prayers.

"As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." 
Proverbs 27:17

June 6, 2016

L's First Holy Communion

 L made her First Holy Communion at the beginning of May. She had been preparing for it all year. Her religion classes all worked toward it and at home we discussed the Eucharist, Mass, the state of grace, the foretaste of Heaven. We attended family adoration and began a new nightly family prayer routine.

Earlier in the school year she made her first confession. The church was filled that Wednesday night with the sixty kids from our parish and all their parents. L sat with her list that she had carefully written down in private. She was nervous and excited and afraid, a bit like all of us before confession. When she was done she came back to the pew and said, "That was great! I want to do that again on Saturday!" We went out for ice cream to celebrate - as did several other families.

We didn't go back that Saturday but we did return several times throughout Lent and the weeks before her First Communion. The week before we went to confession one last time in preparation and then bought a treat to celebrate the sweetness of God's mercy.

We also gave her a sip of red wine so she would know what to expect when the time came. ;)

All the kids made a banner to hang on their family's reserved pew. L made hers all by herself. She cut out the felt chalices and hearts (okay, I did even and smooth those out a bit) and then she stitched them on to the white felt banner. She picked out a baby picture and attached it. She fixed on her letters, provided by her religion teacher, and I was so proud of her. It's a perfect glimpse of my little girl.

And then the day came. We baked cookies - shaped in crosses and hosts, per L's request. We cleaned the house in preparation of guests. We made pink lemonade and L's godmother wrote a fitting Fulton Sheen quote on our chalkboard. We arranged for the chalice from Sheen's traveling Mass kit to be used at the Mass, thanks to the thoughtfulness and kindness of some friends.

We did her hair, put on her dress, tied her sash, and placed her veil. The veil had been mine, the blusher from my wedding day. L's godmother adorned it with flowers to make it special. Her great-grandmother gave her a special bracelet, which she loved and immediately wore.
Our parish has the entire family - parents and siblings - go up with the first communicant. So when the time came L and Travis and B, J, T, J and I all headed up. Baby Tee stayed with Grandma B but Trav and I were able to receive Holy Communion right with our daughter.

Afterwards (and before, actually) there were lots of pictures. Family and godparents came and we celebrated. And L loved it.

Thank You, Jesus.

May 17, 2016

Podcasts I Love - Newbies and Oldies

Hey friends!

Recently I have been listening to a bunch of new podcasts and I wanted to share the list with you in case you're also looking for something interesting. Many thanks to my Facebook friends for all the great suggestions!

Stuff You Missed in History Class Love. it. Super interesting. This is filled with all the stories that make up the broad picture history you sorta remember from high school.

The Moth Regular people and not so average people tell their stories. I have enjoyed hearing from people with different beliefs, morals, and life experiences because nothing is told in a "If you don't agree you're a jerk" sort of way - which is so common in most other forms of social media - but in a "Here's my story, which can be part of your story since we're all in this together" sort of a way.

Girlfriends with Danielle Bean I started listening when my friend Kathryn Whitaker was a guest and I haven't stopped. Danielle has so much wisdom and a great personality to go with it. Plus each episode has a special guest and each guest answers the same list of questions. It's interesting to hear how everyone's answers vary.

How They Blog This is a niche one, I know, but lots of good content for any bloggers.

Lanky Guys These priests give a break down on the Sunday readings. It's great since sometimes I'm so busy keeping the kids in line and soothing the baby I miss the homily.

The Right Heart I just started this one but it's been wonderful and came highly recommended. Really great interviews with a lot of Catholic moms I love and admire.

The Simple Show This one was a bit of a surprise for me because I've never followed Tsh or her blog. But her podcast has been so great and she is so humble and warm-hearted. I know she didn't set out to win me over, but that's what happened.

Plus, here's three more that I have to add to this list even though I've loved them for awhile now:

Ghost Fawn  Cari and Ken are homesteaders and geeks and Catholic converts and passionate people. I love hearing them talk about their homesteading adventures and really appreciate the formatting of their podcast. I am so inspired by them.

Fountains of Carrots It's friends chatting and you get to eaves drop. Books, movies, interviewing interesting people - they've got it all. These podcasts are longer so I have to stop and start but Haley and Christy are the bees' knees.

Catholic Stuff You Should Know My apologies to all my podcasting friends but this one is simply my absolute favorite. Hands down. All the way. They get me.

There's a few more on my list - including my own radio show The Visitation Project, but if I've missed one of yours please let me know.

PS - Danielle Bean actually had me on her show! It was super fun and I'm so grateful for the chance to talk about Sheen's cause, my mom's cinnamon rolls, and what I have in common with a Biblical leper. You can listen here.

May 16, 2016

Two of My Favorite Ways to Pray

If you read the daily devotions from Blessed Is She than you might have already seen me over there today. In reading today's Gospel I was reminded of one of my favorite ways to pray - simple but powerful - and since it was a tip I didn't receive until later in life I wanted to be sure to pass it on. 

Catholic vocab lesson: an “aspiration” is a short prayer, a one liner that says it all without many words.
“I do believe, help my unbelief,” is one such aspiration. The father in today’s Gospel called it out to Jesus in desperation and, truthfully, it is one of my favorite lines of Scripture. I can relate to the sentiment strongly—a prayer asking God to fill in the gaps—and I pray it often, especially when I am struggling with Church teaching. “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”
You can read the rest here. If you've never used aspirations before I really encourage you to give them a try. I find that having the words written in my heart helps me to pray when I don't know how to pray.

And then there is something else I love: praying with other women of faith. I don't mean praying with holy rollers, or spotless and perfect women, or other youngish moms who meet a certain standard of being good enough. I mean that I love praying with a group of women who are real. Women who believe and who love God and sometimes are really struggling. Cross-carrying, doing-their-best, open-hearted women - that's what I mean.

If that's you then I hope you will be able to join a group of us this June at the Finding Your Fiat Conference. The conference is not a way for any of us to get rich - it really is just an opportunity to for women to get together so we can be encouraged and inspired, so we can love and worship God together, and so we can enjoy each other's companionship.

We are nearing capacity but there are still tickets available. (You can buy yours here.) AND there is still the opportunity for you to win one of TWO FREE tickets to the Finding Your Fiat Conference! The giveaway ends tomorrow night at midnight! Hustle over and enter