30 December 2014

The Most Dangerous Prayer.

Caught your eye, huh? ;)

Prayer is dangerous; very powerful but equally dangerous. Why is that you may be wondering?

Well if you mosey on over to Barista Mommy and visit my dear friend Susana, I'll tell you all about the most dangerous prayer.EVER. And how it has been radically changing my life and how I pray.

Susana is creative, caffeinated mommy who is busy raising three under three. Somebody give her a gold medal! She is a beautiful soul, with a huge dose of classy and fun...who also happens to love Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn as much as I do.
Thanks Susana for letting me guest post while you rest up with Baby Aria!!

29 December 2014

Staying on Topic is Hard {a review!}

One of the neat-o things about blogging is the people you meet and encounter. Rachel is one of those people for me. I first "met" Rachel when we were paired up to get to know each other through our blogs. Honestly, hers is one of my favorite blogs to read on a daily basis. Rachel is quite an exceptional storyteller, and it definitely come out through her blog! She has also has recently started a travel blog.

And guess what?! Rachel just became a published author with her first e-book!! You go, girl. Her book "Staying on Topic is Hard" is a collection of short stories and sketches inspired by her own life experiences. Her story consists of opening up about her faith and challenges she has faced in recent years, while writing openly on subjects of all kinds.
Rachel has been kind enough to let me read a copy and review it here today! There's so much to want to share on, but I tried to stick with the ones that most left a lasting impression on me...plus its good to leave you burning with curiosity so you go buy a copy for yourself ;)

Rachel writes on the beauty and uniqueness of interracial marriage to her husband Angel whom is Hispanic. Although combining different culture and traditions Rachel happily writes on how excited she is her future children will be able to grow up in a bilingual home, which I agree is an awesome gift to offer children.

I really appreciated when Rachel opened up about an experience with a Christian woman she encountered in cosmetology school who treated people very poorly because of a poorly done haircut on her son. And Rachel summed up beautifully the lesson in this situation, when she said: "The lesson I learned vividly that day is you never know when people are listening to you and watching you closely enough to know that you are a Christian...and they do notice when you don't act the way you preach. We Christians should be afraid to let a 'bad day' cause us to lash out in such a way that we cause severe damage to others' opinions of Christ." Well said Rachel, well said!

She reflects on her experience of being married at a young age, and shares on how people respond to that when they learn this information. Again, her honest words sum it up well: "What I can do, with my tiny bit of marriage and life experience, is to be a witness to the people around me and show them that marriage can really be something awesome. ... What I feel saying is that, through marriage, I've got a best friend to live with, a permanent date, a sugar daddy, a dance partner, an accountant (he does the taxes!), and a personal-sized, energy-efficient heater for all the cold winter days--and who could argue with a deal like that?" 
And I agree with the whole energy-efficient way to stay warm in cold Michigan winters, another bonus perk to marriage.

A difficult, but eye-opening post was the experience of the great tsunami on December 26, 2004. Thank God Rachel and all her family were safe, but just reading the real perspective of someone who saw and experienced the devastation on such a large scale is mind blowing. Such a reminder to not take things for granted and to be grateful for all that we have.

Along with Rachel's depth and openness, she can make even the tiniest details and adventures of her daily life something lively and funny to share with her readers. Some of my favorites include: the time her hips were deemed suspicious airport security, the great Chicago trip full of mis-haps/adventure, the invention of the MyDream pillow (Seriously. I want this!), and cockroach encounters of the very worst kind.

So how do you get your hands on this literary gem?! I am so glad you asked. The following link is where you can purchase the e-book on smashwords--https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/500483 or you can also purchase it on Amazon for your Kindle

Be sure to check out more of Rachel's writing at The Random Writings and Plan to Vacation
Thank you so much Rachel for letting me read and review your e-book! I definitely enjoyed it:)

26 December 2014

14 Things I Learned in 2014

Its amazing how much can happen and change over one year of life. 365 days is certainly not enough time to learn all the lessons needed to become the person God wants me to be. When I was in elementary school, I thought after I graduated I would be done with learning. Not.so. Part of growth and maturity is realizing that we never stop learning and that there is always opportunities to stretch yourself. And 2014 has kind of been a year like that for me.
So here's a quick recap at what I have learned this year...

1. I really should have started being financially responsible a whole heck of a lot sooner. Enter in our new friend, Mr. Dave Ramsey.

2. SERENITY: Something I often suck at, but desire to grow in. I have learned a lot about serenity this year...this prayer has challenged.stretched.and made me more uncomfortable than any other prayer I have ever prayed. It speaks to me so deeply that I set alarms several times a day to stop and really pray these words from the heart.
I dare you to do it! You'll be blown away at what will happen.

3. Connected to serenity is learning to surrender to the will of God. If the Serenity prayer is my mantra, then this prayer comes close behind in second place.I have learned much and wrestled often with the reality of these words in my own life.

4. No Bible, no breakfast. No Bible, no lunch. Making excuses for not praying daily is not helping me become a saint.

5. You waste way too much time in life worrying about what others think about you. At the end of the day, it really only matter what God thinks.

6. BOUNDARIES. Before this past year, I had no freaking idea what boundaries were. Through a lot of situations in the past year, I have learned so much about myself and how to better deal with people. I need boundaries for myself and with all the other people in my life. Boundaries are not selfish or mean, but meant to keep you safe and about staying in your own yard. Oh boundaries how you have helped me become a stronger and healthier person...

7. Choosing one little word for the year really helped me grow in ways I didn't even think imaginable.

8. After many years of being the girl who didn't exercise because I "didn't like to sweat" I took up running this year. like a lot. I put off getting fit and taking care of my body for a long time. I am getting stronger, setting goals, and feeling great doing it...well most days ;)

9. Sometimes people who you thought were your closest friends or safe people, turn out to not be. And while ending a friendship sucks and is awkward, I see more clearly who are meaningful, treasured friends. I have also been terribly blessed and surprised by new friendships with women who inspire and support me in ways I never imagined.
My safe people. My cheerleaders.

10. Suffering is a bi!$#. Sorry madre for the language. This year I have watched some of the people I love most suffer. Truth be told, I personally have been through what feels like the ringer at times this year. God has and is continuing to teach me.so.much. in this department.

11. Read books more often than you watch T.V. Reading is my drug of choice.

12. Choose how to respond, don't just be reactionary.
i'm from paterson teresa giudice gif

13. Dating shouldn't end when you get married, it should flow into married life. Every other week dates are a nice thing. Consider it.

14. My life, marriage, and home do not have to be perfect to be beautiful.

What have you learned this past year? How has 2014 challenged and stretched you?

23 December 2014

Christmas Traditions {Past and Present}

I grew up in a family where we had traditions it seemed for every little celebration; from Friday family game night to having a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas, we knew how to celebrate life together as a family. Having special traditions was one of the unique things that made us the 'Breen family', it unified us and brought everybody together. When Jim and I got married, I was excited to make new traditions for our little family, while still treasuring the ones from my childhood.

Christmas time seems to always full to the brim of holiday memory making! And combining holiday traditions from my family of origin along with my new family has been a lot of fun to create along the way. Some of the best ones have been...

Making a birthday cake for Baby Jesus
Yup we were that family. Oh and did I forget to mention we also sang happy birthday and even had a chair set aside just for the birthday boy? I remember on one particular Christmas thinking how cool it was we got to have cake at breakfast on Christmas. Though I am quite sure my siblings and I probably teased my Mom for doing it, looking back I think how those actions helped remind us kids of what the true meaning of Christmas is all about. I'm not sure if I'll have enough time tomorrow to make a birthday cake, but we'll definitely bust out some chords of happy birthday.

Watching the wise men travel to Bethlehem
One of the most loved things for us kids to do was move the three wise guys around the living room/kitchen symbolizing their journey to see the newborn King. We took this job very seriously, especially when we were little. Somehow the wise men safely arrived every Epiphany, amid the dangerous twists and turns through the living room bookshelves...I guess I'm actually better at directions than I thought. Currently our three wise guys have left the bookshelf and are slowly making their way through couch terrain.

Breakfast feast for Christmas Eve dinner
On Christmas Eve my Dad would make smoked salmon on cedar log planks, it was amazing! When we got married, I knew I wasn't even about to try and do justice to my Dad's mad cooking skills. A fun tradition we began since year one of marriage is having breakfast food for dinner on Christmas Eve. No it is not just your typical bowl of cereal and yes we do it up all fancy like. The menu for this year? homemade hot chocolate, feta spinach quiche, and chocolate chip orange ricotta pancakes. Oh and bacon...because well, its bacon!

Christmas ornaments from traveling adventures
When my parents first got married they began to collect Christmas ornaments from all the places they traveled together. It was so cool growing up to look at our tree and see a story played out of all of Mom and Dad's fun times together. I always knew as I got older and hopefully traveled to do the same.
Its amazing to look at the tree in our apartment now and see ornaments from all the places I have traveled before I knew Jim. We've carried on this tradition too, and came home with plenty of ornaments from when we went to Alaska and Seattle for our honeymoon. I love to look at our tree and be reminded of shared memories and adventures together. Its crazy because already we have a tree pretty full of ornaments...give it a few more years and we may need a second tree!

Giving presents to Baby Jesus
In the kitchen hutch during Advent, my Mom kept a small bag of hay. Every night after before dinner, she asked us if we had anything to give Jesus that day (kind action, sharing with a sibling, helping Dad out, etc.). If we said yes, she gave us a small piece of hay to put in the empty manger so that way when Jesus was born he would have a nice warm bed to sleep in. So simple, but so sweet.

What are some of your family traditions this time of year? Share away! :)

08 December 2014

Christmas is not about a birthday, its about a wedding.

Often when Jim and I go to church I bring a little notebook in my purse to take notes on the homily. It helps me to jot down the thoughts and ideas that inspire and challenge as I strive to live the coming week intentionally.

Yesterday I was cleaning out my mess of a purse and came across the little journal I have been taking to church on Sunday for the last year. It is cool to look back at the things that struck me and how God used them to get my attention.

One particular page that caught my eye was what I jotted down from midnight Mass on Christmas Eve in 2013. What was so striking to me was the theme the priest used to speak about the glory of this holy night: Christmas is not about a birthday, its about a wedding. Okay technically yes it is the birth of our Savior. We hear about Joseph and Mary looking for an inn in Bethlehem and how she eventually gave birth and laid her baby boy in a feeding trough for animals. But there is something deeper here if we take time to look.

At Christmas, God and humanity become one. The two becoming one and united?...that's a marriage.
Christmas is really about desire...God's passionate desire for each one of us. Jesus wants us. God desires each of us so deeply that He entered our fallen, sinful world to take on human flesh to come be with us. Jesus came to earth to rescue us, to die for us...and ultimately to save us from ourselves. The message of Christmas? You are insanely loved. You are passionately loved. You are ridiculously loved. You are recklessly loved.

What does love want? Love wants union!! Love wants a total and complete union. God is love and He wants to be in union with us. The prophet Isaiah sums it up perfectly: "For as a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you" (Isaiah 62:5). Just as the man who waits at the end of the aisle on his wedding day for his bride, Jesus waits for each one of us.
What happens at Christmas is that God is proposing to each of us...He is ultimately popping the question. And the question? ... 
Will you be Mine?

So you see, Christmas really is ultimately about a wedding; the union of God with humankind. How each of us responds to that question from Jesus has potential to change the rest of our lives, just as a marriage proposal is life changing.

Jesus is on bended knee waiting...what will your response be?

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03 December 2014

Its the Suffering

I am so excited to have one of my blogging crushes writing here today Jenna of Call Her Happy was one of the first bloggers I ever met in person and she's taught me a lot through these awesome classes. Her wit, humor, and honesty are just a few reasons she is one of my favorites to read. Jenna is married and mom-extraordinaire to Ellen, Sam, and baby boy 3#.
With that being said, I'll let Jenna take it from here...

Do you ever wonder why mega-churches are so on fire? People pour into their stadium seats week and after week (and on Wednesday nights too!) to hear a message, fill up and participate in fellowship. But, I suppose you - ideally - can find those things at any community gathering or church, right? So, what is it about these churches? We are a world of sinners looking for solace. We want to know that it is ok. We want to know that we are good people. And we want to feel that we are doing good deeds. But, these churches promise these feel-good messages in bulk. And, they are often able to do so without what many have coined "Catholic Guilt." Who wants to feel bad about themselves when deep down we know we are full of error? Isn't Jesus supposed to make us feel better? Well, yes.


The reason I am Catholic might be the reason that many stay away. Catholicism has the entire package, and it all makes sense. And, while I truly believe that many non-denominational churches are doing wonderful things in the world, by belonging to one I would feel that I was missing out on a lot of important truths.

 I'm not here today to write a long apologetics post. That is another day or days or years. But the message that I want to convey is that the Catholic church all adds up. Everything we believe is rooted in biblical truth and Christian tradition. And nothing contradicts itself. The many traditions and Sacraments we follow aim to amplify these principles. And, more often than not, the consistent nature of Catholicism means that we have to take the feel-good messages along with the ever present and maybe even more important Passion of Christ.

We live in a world of suffering due to our sinful nature, and ignoring that fact can only cause disappointment. We need to recognize that suffering is a part of life in order to fully understand why Jesus came to save us from this world. So, I will say it again: I love the energy and attractiveness of a large church communities, but it is the suffering and Passion of Christ visible in our lives that draws me to being Catholic. Yes, we are an Easter people, but suffering must come first.

Call her Mommy. Call her Wifey. But always, always call her happy. Thanks again Jenna!!
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