Tuesday, March 3, 2015

TVP is coming soon


TVP is The Visitation Project and what it is, is a radio show co-hosted by Heather Renshaw, Rebecca Frech, and Bonnie Engstrom.

Did you see that?

The last name in that trio of names is mine! It's me! For some crazy reason Heather and Rebecca wanted to do a totally legit radio show with not-really-legit me!

I feel like my co-hosts don't need an introduction, but just in case, allow me the honors:

Heather blogs at Real Catholic Mom. She is a wife and mother, a speaker, a musician, and a fellow contributor at Blessed Is She.

Rebecca blogs at Shoved to Them as a part of the Patheos' Catholic Channel. She is also the author of Teaching in Your Tiarra, a CrossFit fanatic, and a homeschoolin' mom.

I was able to meet both of them at last summer's Edel. (I think Heather let me use her deodorant and Rebecca asked if I knew how to do a certain dance move. I did not.)

The Visitation Project is a show that is meant to meet women wherever they are. Mary went to the hill country to meet up with Elizabeth, we'll be coming to your hill country too, so to speak. We're going to chat about life, our faith, motherhood, womanhood, fun stuff, hard stuff, all of it!

And let it be known that this is not going to be a stuffy, super pious radio show. No way! One of the things I so love about the three of us doing this together is that we all come from different places and stages. If anything, this show will be proof positive that there's more than one way to be a Catholic woman.

Sounds great, right?!

Our website is currently under construction but you can stay connected and keep up to date with Heather, Rebecca, and all The Visitation Project awesomeness on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Our launch date will be announced next month so be sure to follow us on social media so you don't miss it!

Monday, March 2, 2015

A new look and good friends

What do you think of the new look? No disrespect to Our Lady, but I was really itching for something fresh and pretty and bright. I also wanted something that looked a little bit more like my home. I think if you came to my house for a chat it would look and feel more like the blog does now than before.

And Our Lady is still here, as a patron of the blog.

I also freshened up my About page. I felt a little bit like a hypocrite, advising other bloggers to add links and pictures to their About page and there sat mine, with very few links and no pictures.


Totally changing the topic, if you're following Imagine Sisters on Facebook then you might have seen a picture of one of my very best friends - Sr. Miriam Caritas with the Sisters of Life. I am able to see her one or two times a year and I make up reasons to call her a couple more times a year but I really don't see her enough. She is so fabulous and I miss her a bunch. It was a real thrill to see her pop up like that.


Finally, my other dear friend Katie made a terrific Lent-like playlist. She shared it on her blog last week and I asked if I could spread the love with you guys. There were several musicians I'd never heard of before - maybe some of them will be new to you, too. Enjoy!

PS - Tomorrow I'll finally be able to share a pretty big secret with you guys so make sure you check back in with me!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Oh Lent

Oh Lent.

You always start off with a bang and then so quickly you trickle off.

"I will pray more and eat less. I will trust in God and not feed my fears and worries."
For one day. Yeeeeah, I'll do that for one day and then just ease up a bit. mmm'kay?

Oh Lent, I am so tired of being half-hearted.

Yesterday in my mom's group I confessed to my friends that I often think, "I need to be merciful because 'the measure with which I measure will be measured out to me' and that is a horrible reason to be merciful."

So Lent, let's work on that. I have looked at what I want and who I want to be and I'm trying, again, to be that person. I think I often look like I'm doing a good job but really I want to actually be doing a good job. The kind that gets a "well done, good and faithful servant" in the end and responds with complete humility and gratitude to God.

Lent, we can do this. There's some things I need to do. Not too much, but not too little either.

How is it, Lent, that you always show me how little I think of myself and how much I think of myself all at the same time.

So my real goals, Lent, have been reset. You asked, "How will you pray more?" And I have answered. 
Midday Prayer and/or Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours.
At least one Stations of the Cross
At least two holy hours.
Confession at least twice.

You have asked, "How will you eat less?" And I have answered.
No desserts through the week. 
All Fridays will be fasting days.
But I will also exercise for just 10 measly minutes every day.

And you want to know how I will trust God more? 
By responding to my kids and household duties foremost, trusting that my vocation should come first and that the other good things you have brought into my life can wait a bit, because that is how you want it.

I'm sure, Lent, that I will have to recommit myself to these goals again and again - and not only during Lent as many of them I want to make a part of my day. But in the meantime, let's celebrate that at least I got my house decorated. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

It was a good weekend (I got Matt Damon)

Monday was a bit of a rough day but the weekend? The weekend was great.

For starters, I got a new laptop. My old one works well but a hinge had broken and it was just a matter of time before the other one went, too. With my upcoming travels we knew I needed a new one and with our tax refund in our bank account that's what we did. During set up the computer wanted to be named. I chose Matt Damon. Travis raised his eyebrows until I explained all the fun things I could say.

"I'm going to the coffee shop with Matt Damon."
"I'm taking Matt Damon with me to Portland."
"Travis, have you seen Matt Damon? I thought he was in the kitchen."
"Kids! Do not touch Matt Damon! He's mine!"

See?! Brilliant!

Then Travis told me he should name his computer Jennifer, for Aniston, Garner, and Lawrence. I didn't think that was funny at all.


Do you remember my friend Laura? She wrote a fabulous guest post on being a creative mom (and if you haven't read it you really, really should!). Well, she won the "People's Choice" at QuiltCon over the weekend. It has nothing to do with me but I am really proud of my friend. I have admired her creativity since the first day I met her almost 20 years ago. I hope you'll forgive me for bragging on her.

But now that you've seen the quilt surely you understand, right? She designed and sewed that! Amazing. You can read about her quilt and see more of her craftiness at her site.


Also, I started watching Doctor Who again a little while ago and this weekend I made it through the Donna Noble episodes. I always cry when the Doctor explains to her mom and granddad  how important she is. I'm to Amelia Pond now. Oh I love this show!


Then, there was the competitive potluck we held Saturday night. I am feeling so restless from all the cold of this Midwestern winter. So Thursday I invited some friends over and a good handful of them came. There were so many kids and so much delicious food. Travis' pizza ended up winning for best in the Savory category and my friend's daughter's brownies won in the Sweet category. There was online voting and and jokes about the Illinois political machine.

Oh and when it was past bedtime and I couldn't take the kids anymore... there was Frozen.


I also had a crazy dream about an upcoming, regional Catholic women's blogging conference I'm helping organize. I dreamed that I hadn't done all the work I was supposed to do so in the end, because of my ball dropping, the group of 30 women were sitting on wooden bleachers in my high school's old gym. A woman with crazy, red, Effie-like hair was doing a horrible introduction; I hadn't arranged for the photographer to do headshots; my college philosophy professor (not a woman, a Catholic, or a blogger) arrived in footie pajamas with a sweater pulled over - ready for his presentation. So today I dotted some 'i's and crossed some 't's. But that dream!

There's about 5 spots left in you will be near the University of Notre Dame on March 7th.


I loooooove Abbey's #HolyLens photo series she does every Lent. If you use the hashtag and prompts let me know so I can follow you!

Mine are sometimes hard to do since Travis takes the ipad to school to use with his coaching, but I really do love that she does this.



After so much searching I came to believe that someone had thrown away 2/3 of my record collection on moving day. It made me sick to my stomach every time I thought about it and I was so sad.

But then:

Billy Joel, Simon and Garfunkel, INXS, soundtracks, Christmas albums from my childhood, The Specials, and Springsteen's iconic Born in the USA. I am so, so, so, so happy!


Finally, today, to fight a good case of the Mondays, Mary from Sometimes Martha Always Mary is having a couple of giveaways in honor of her blog relaunch. After working with me through my blog consulting business Mary hired a graphic artist and a tech guy to help her get her blog to exactly what she wants. The transformation is amazing.

I am really honored to be part of her Giveaway - head on over, tell her how great the site looks, subscribe to follow along, and enter to win a free blog consultation. I would love to work with you! Good luck!

Whew. My first post, written with Matt Damon. ;)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How to be Catholic: More tips you might not get in RCIA

After the first quick list of things you'll want to know as a practicing Catholic but you may not learn in RCIA a few more questions came my way.

What can I say? Our faith is beautiful and fun (and true!) but there's a lot of odd little things that we do. So, here's the second edition.

1 - Genuflect towards Christ in the tabernacle. So if the tabernacle is over on the side of the church, turn your body to face it (Him) and genuflect. If you can't find the tabernacle or if the tabernacle is empty for some reason, bow towards the altar.

2 - You will know if the tabernacle is empty because the door will be open and the candle that burns near it will be blown out.

3 - Fast for an hour before Mass. This means you may only have water. If you are pregnant, nursing, elderly, a child, or have a medical reason you don't have to keep this fast.

4 - Technically you only have to fast for an hour before receiving the Eucharist, but most of us fast for an hour before Mass begins.

5 - Don't chew gum at Mass; if you do you're breaking the fast. If you break the fast you should not receive Holy Communion. That may sound severe but we're talking about Jesus.*

6 - Generally speaking, at Mass in America we sit to listen, stand to pray and out of respect for the Gospel, and we kneel before the Eucharist. Some parishes stand during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which is how it is done in some parts of Europe.

7 - Strike your breast three times during the Penitential Rite as you say "through my fault..." And don't just do it, but think about what it means. We're supposed to be truly sorry, so much so that we physically react by beating our breasts.

8 - Bow during the Nicene Creed at the words, "and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man". At Christmas it is traditional to kneel as that line.

9 - Any woman who wishes may wear a head-covering in church. Traditionally, married women wore black and single women and girls wore white, but anymore it doesn't matter. You can wear a veil, a scarf, a hat, a lace infinity scarf, or nothing at all.

10 - To light a votive candle (usually they are located near a statue or icon) you first put money in the collection box to pay for your candle. (You may need to pull a candle out of a box and place it in the candle holder.) Second, take one of the sticks out of the sand, light it from an already-lit candle, light your candle, snuff the stick by returning it to the sand. Or just use a match, whichever is available. Third, say your prayer, asking for the saint / Jesus to continue to pray for your intention. Fourth, pray for the intentions that are represented by the other candles.

Coming up next, a not definitive guide on how to pray like a Catholic.

Related posts:
Tips you may not get in RCIA

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

For the martyred Coptic Christians

The martyred Coptic Christians.

I can't stop thinking about them.

Milad Makeen Zaky
Abanub Ayad Atiya
Maged Solaiman Shehata
Yusuf Shukry Yunan
Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
Bishoy Astafanus Kamel
Somaily Astafanus Kamel
Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
Girgis Milad Sinweet
Mina Fayez Aziz
Hany Abdelmesih Salib
Bishoy Adel Khalaf
Samuel Alham Wilson
Ezat Bishri Naseef
Loqa Nagaty
Gaber Munir Adly
Esam Badir Samir
Malak Farag Abram
Sameh Salah Faruq
The worker from Awr village whose name we don't know.
May they rest in peace.

Those men, kneeling in a line. Those men, calling out Christ's name as their final act. Those men, killed for their faith. Right there, on the other side of the world, just two days ago.

Surely I am not the only mother worried for my children. What is this world? What is this suffering? What is this evil?

I suppose it has always existed. But my heart is heavy for my children and grandchildren and the wives, children, parents, and loved ones of those men who died. May they be comforted and protected.

I was going to publish another "How to be Catholic" post today but it seemed too trite in light of their martyrdom. Today it doesn't matter when you bow and when you kneel at Mass, when they have knelt for their death.

May the Lord have mercy on us all.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Quotes, books, Sheen, and the great Northwest

Two things I love: a good quote and a good book. 

 Recently I was given a review copy of Ignatius Press' new edition of Fulton Sheen's Remade for Happiness. Folks, this book is amazing. Every page has stars, brackets, exclamation points, and underlines. It is incredibly easy to read while still being incredibly profound. The quote above is from the book, as are the following:

This last one stings a little bit.

The whole  book is like this - filled with gems and phrases that will stay with you. If you're looking for a good introduction to Venerable Fulton Sheen, and you're wondering why I love him so much, well, Remade for Happiness is a great place to start. Bonus: The cover art is attractive and well done, and Jennifer Fulwiler writes a nice introduction.

 Now, maybe you're looking for something a little more heady. In that case, I suggest The Mystical Body of Christ which was recently re-released by Ave Maria Press. The insights in this book are also amazing, though I find this book to be a slower read  because there's so much to think through. Theologians and people who aren't intimidated by a good book will love this one. Bonus: Brandon Vogt, another Sheen lover, wrote the Introduction to this book.

And my favorite quote from it: 

Made over a little prettier: 

Now if you're not looking for a book, well then maybe you'll be interested in this:
Recently I was given a sneak peak at the new film The Art of Preaching, which features never before seen footage of Venerable Sheen preaching. The short film was released by the Dominican Friars of St. Joseph through their ministry, Black Friar Media, and pairs Sheen's preaching on preaching with original footage and new, beautiful imagery. Priests, deacons, seminarians, and anyone who loves Fulton Sheen will be interested in what one of the greatest preachers in Church history believes is necessary for a good homily. 

Finally, come see me, Northwesterners! I'll be sharing about Venerable Sheen, my son's alleged miracle, and the power of prayer at the Women's Lenten Retreat in Vancouver, Washington on Saturday, March 14th. The ladies planning the day have put a lot of thought and care into it and have crafted something that is more retreat than conference, with the opportunity for prayer and the Sacraments.

There will be two other speakers, Angela Rosson and Sterling Jacquith, and a light breakfast and a yummy lunch are included in the day. The best part: the cost of the whole day is only $10!

If any of you live in the great northwest I hope you can make it. (And hey! Will any of you be there? Write a comment or drop me a line and let me know.)

To register or get more information you can go to the parish website or the Facebook page.

PS - Please feel free to download and print off any of the quotes. Share them on social media, set them as your wall paper, slap them in a frame and give them as a gift!

PPS - the links are Amazon affiliate links which means I get pennies if you buy anything through my links, at no extra cost to you.