20 April 2018

I use and love them. Maybe you would too?

Yes this is a post with affiliate links.

But here is the thing. All of these items (or similar ones) I have in my own home and have benefited me personally.
In case you interested, I want to share them with you. Also I really think you would enjoy them.

I have written here before how much my life has been benefited from the personal friendships that have formed through being a part of Blessed is She. This has been amazing.

But even better, has been the personal spiritual growth and a deeper desire to read and study the Bible.

There are several new products available in the shop, specifically focused on Sacred Scripture and the study and application of it in your home and daily life.

Up first: 

The Blessed is She Academic Planners are on sale right now BUT the pre-order will be ending soon. And yes the planners always sell out.
The cool thing about this year is that there are two sizes now - the standard, 8x10" and now a mini version.

Both of the planners still come with all the popular features - liturgical information, weekly planning sheets, and follow the academic year. They will be shipped this summer, so grab one now before the pre-order ends.


Curious what the lay-out of the mini looks like?
Well here is a sneak peek. There has been feedback for awhile on a smaller size, so here it is.
You can pre-order yours here.




Personally, I love and will be sticking with the academic planner. I like a larger size. My favorite part is the weekly planning pages before each week. It leaves me feeling organized and focused.
You can pre-order yours here





Next:

The four-part study guide on the rosary (Mystery) is still available. I am actually going through Believe right now over Voxer with my friend in California and we've been loving it so far.
You can order all four in a bundle here or individually at the same place.


And, the first ever Catholic Journaling Bible is still for sale. While I have written in my Bible for years, I am learning how to be okay that my Journaling Bible is not terribly colorful or creative.





And:

The brand-new Scripture memory cards are a great way for you to memorize more Scripture on your own or with your family. I am still debating where to hang mine up in my apartment, but I am excited to hang them this weekend.


That's it friends! I hope that was helpful or maybe you at least have a good gift idea for Mom for Mothers Day.

Have a wonderful weekend!

We may hit 50 degrees this weekend in Michigan. #heatwave


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17 April 2018

Hope & Healing Through Annulment

I was super excited to be on the podcast of some dear friends of mine, talking about divorce, annulment, and why the Church has to get better at having this pastoral conversation.



You can listen to it here.

If you have not already subscribed to the Fountains of Carrots podcast, be sure to get on that as well.


Thanks again Haley and Christy for having me on!

I loved being with both of you! :)


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12 April 2018

My Awkward Relationship with the Rosary

There I said it out loud.

I am a cradle Catholic that loves the Blessed Mother. I have went on Marian pilgrimages twice.

But I still struggle or have a hard time when (not very often) I pray the Rosary.
I definitely have a regular daily prayer life.

But with the Rosary? 
Eh, not so much.

My friend Bonnie recently shared some similar honest feelings. She is one of the writers for the newest Blessed Conversations series called Mystery and each book is a study on a different decade of the Rosary.


Gorgeous, right!?

I was pretty excited when I saw this as a new product coming out. 

After finishing the Lent journal, I was looking for something to do in the Easter season. So I am excited to start with the Glorious mysteries. I am actually going to do it virtually (through Voxer!) with my friend Laura.













I know a study on the mysteries will not necessarily translate me to praying the Rosary more frequently. But right now, I think it is a good place for me to start. 
You can order them as a bundle or an individual booklet and they are available as digital downloads too. All of those affiliate links are mine - so thank you for using them! :)

Don't forget that pre-ordering for the academic planner is now open too. And this year we have a second option with a mini planner.

My copies are supposed to arrive in the mail by Wednesday or Thursday. 

I am looking forward to slowly praying my way through the different mysteries this Easter season.



Does anyone else have a sometimes "awkward" relationship with praying the Rosary?

I would love to know what is helpful for you!

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06 April 2018

What Merton is Reminding Me About Being and Doing.


It was the day before Palm Sunday.

I knew I wanted to go to Confession before Easter. 

I also had been driving the spiritual struggle bus for several weeks. Laziness and making excuses in my daily prayer life (or lack thereof) were leading me to feel guilty and beat myself up.

There is a tendency within my spirit to make a personal relationship with God about "doing" lots of spiritual/religious things vs. just showing up and being with God. It is a tendency in my heart that still needs healing and illumination and I know it. 

But when it bubbles up from time time, I get frustrated with myself that Jesus often needs to teach me the same lesson over and over again.


In our diocese, we are blessed that a Capuchin monastery that has Confession available six days a week at several times each day.

So I decided to trek down to Detroit and make an afternoon of Confession and a holy hour.

I was just sitting in the chapel with by Bible and journal, trying to be still and quiet amid the visitors coming in and out.  

I sat with the words from John's Gospel: "One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus ..." I imagine myself as the beloved disciple, just talking to Jesus about all the things on my mind right now and about how frustrated and guilty I was feeling spiritually.

I imagined the scene, putting myself in it with Jesus. I sat with it in silence.

As I was still, the phrase "begin again" just kept repeating in my heart. Softly at first, but then with a more firm conviction.

Just begin again.

Begin again. 

There is no need for shame or guilt or self-condemnation. Just begin again.

I felt peace sitting in those two words. And the longer I sat with them, the more I know it was the Spirit gently reminding me to begin again and not be so hard with myself. It was refreshing. 

And I had not even went to Confession yet! :)

I walked over to a long Confession line. Pulling out the spiritual reading I had brought with me, I opened to the chapter I was reading of No Man I An Island by Thomas Merton.

I took me a minute to realize the title of the chapter was "Being and Doing."

This is what I read: 
"It is necessary, above all in the beginning of our spiritual life, to do certain things at fixed times: fasting on certain days, prayer and meditation at certain hours of the day, regular examinations of conscience, regularity in frequenting the sacraments, systematic application to our duties of state, particular attention to virtues which are most necessary for us.

To desire a spiritual life is, thus, to desire discipline. Otherwise our desire is an illusion. Our asceticism should make us spiritually flexible, not rigid, for rigidity and liberty never agree. But our discipline must, nevertheless, have a certain element of severity about it. Otherwise it will never set us free from our passions. If we are not strict with ourselves, our own flesh will soon deceive us."

I took a deep breath and smiled.

Yes.

This.

An important reminder I very much needed.

Jesus grow me in spiritual flexibility, not rigidity.



Thanks Thomas Merton for reminding me my relationship with God is not about just the doing.

Thank you Holy Spirit for being more gentle with me than I am with myself.



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03 April 2018

Writing, Ministry, Love, and Other Updates

Dust off the blog. 

Tap tap tap, is this thing even on?

I have been driving the struggle bus for awhile working to get back to regular writing around these parts. No real reason other than poor planning, occasional laziness, and some new good things implied in the title.

Bit by bit, I have been dipping my toes into the world of freelance writing. The more I get the opportunity to write, the more I find that I love it.

I was recently asked to write two times a month for Catholic Match Institute, specifically on topics related to divorce and annulment. I have also been approached to be a part of some creative projects by several different Catholic female entrepreneurs.
I am loving new opportunities to write in a more professional setting, but it reminds me I still like having this little space here.



One of the reasons I have not been writing much here is on January 8th I started a new job as a Pastoral Associate in a new parish. I am growing to like it more and more, and really enjoy the staff at the church and school. People tell me they love my weekly bulletin articles and like my approach to life and ministry. 

There is a lot I am still learning and it is a process learning how to read a new pastor, but I feel happy and challenged in new ways. While I miss those teens in youth ministry, I can definitely see I was starting to burn out. This new change is good for me in a lot of ways.

One the things I am most excited about in this new position is I am getting trained in our diocese as a lay person to help men and women with their annulments. Having gone through the process myself, it it has become a personal passion of mine. I look forward to helping other folks who were in a similar situation to myself. 

So yeah, love.

I have met a wonderful man and we have started dating. 

We met through a mutual friend (who actually sent us both a Facebook message about each other last January, but neither of us were ready to date). We both have a lot of mutual connections/interests, and my name kept coming up to said gentleman over this last year. 

When he saw me as a match on Catholic Match, he sent me a message two days after Christmas. 
We went on our first date the same week I started my new job. #hello2018

We are taking things slow, but this truly feels like a healthy, safe relationship with no blaring red flags. 

It all still kind of blows my mind, but I feel very peaceful about where we are and trusting myself that this is something good. 

Kevin has already met with my Dad (also a Kevin) for dinner to get to know each other and ask my Dad if he is comfortable with us dating. Kevin (not my Dad, the one I like) is going out with my Mom and Dad next, and then taking out my siblings.

I have known when I seriously started dating someone, my family would be very protective of me and I love it matters to Kevin we do this the right way with them feeling comfortable with him.

So if you wouldn't mind praying for Kevin and I, we would both appreciate it very much. :)


Some other exciting things are also in the works ...

My sweet friend and fellow Blessed Is She team member Christy has asked me to be on her podcast in the near future to talk about the experience of divorce and annulment as a Catholic woman. I am so excited and we are looking at dates to record the episode soon.

I am also super thrilled to be giving a talk at the Blessed is She Midwest retreat in St. Paul Minnesota on the weekend of August 10-11. 
I was dancing around my office when Beth Davis asked me.

If you are a Midwest girl, and are in need of some retreat time this summer, I would love to see you there!!



What is new and exciting in your lives?!


Happy Easter, friends. :)





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28 February 2018

There Are Some Things We Won't Tolerate.

I had a hard time listening and watching all the news coverage that followed the evil of the whole Larry Nassar trial.

It is heartbreakingly sad and infuriates me at the same time. It triggers my own scars and wounds.
And it just shows me how much work we have ahead of us as a society and Church to do better.


I was asked to write a blog post for a well known Catholic Young Adult ministry in our area on the topic.

It is hard to capture all the words and feelings.

This is an attempt, but certainly so much more needs to be said.


---

I am so sick and tired of this.

As a woman and a Christian, it makes me angry that I live in a world where I constantly hear stories of women and young girls taken advantage of and molested.

I have been heartsick watching bits and pieces of the Larry Nassar trial unfold. I have shed many tears witnessing the pain of more than 150 women as they shared their victim statements during the sentencing. I cannot begin to imagine the hurt and pain those women experience.

Recently, there have been times when I've looked at the crucifix hanging by the entrance to my apartment and I just get angry at Jesus. WHY, LORD?

READ THE REST HERE. 


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21 February 2018

The Church Was My Safe Haven During My Annulment

One of the amazing things about the Internet are seeing different ways people are creating beauty and goodness and using their gifts in creative ways.

I have been following the beautiful of Corynne Staresinic at The Catholic Woman for awhile now.

So when she asked me to write on my experience of divorce and annulment as a young Catholic woman, I was so honored to share my voice in her ministry.



Head over HERE to read the rest of the story ...





If you are not familiar with The Catholic Woman, I would highly encourage you to check out the work of this ministry and follow them on social media.



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09 February 2018

Does Fasting Still Matter in 2018?

I have to be honest.

For most of my life, I have had a crappy relationship with fasting. As a spiritual practice in the Christian life, my track record usually involved lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth. And lots of whining.

Right after Christmas, I went to the One Thing conference at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. 

While there, we attended a Catholic Ecumenical Tract (CET) led by some of the most Spirit-filled people I have met.

One night we heard Lou Engle preach. 
He is a revivalist who is deeply passionate about prayer and fasting. He spoke with such conviction on the power of regular and extended fasting in the Christian life in a way I have never heard before. He prayed over all present for a spirit of fasting to take hold in our hearts and lives.

As the conference continued, I kept going back to the notes I took and words I heard. I sensed inside of me a call to deeper understanding of fasting.


I was so convicted I came home on January and the next day I started 2018 with a five day water fast.

I ended up going four and a half days, but it deeply impacted me. 

It showed me that I can break my attachments to things of this world. Living in the Western Church where we are swallowed up by consumerism and excess, fasting is a powerful way to discipline my will, body, and spirit.


So really, why do we fast?


We fast to acquire mastery over our desires and experience deeper freedom in Jesus.

As a spiritual discipline, the goal of fasting is to reorient our attention, time, and resources to the things that matter in the Kingdom of God.

In fasting, our disordered desires and attachments die: lust, greed, gluttony, laziness, spiritual lethargy, gossip, hate, self-righteousness, anger, etc. When these things die in us, we become strong in the Spirit. Those fruits of the Holy Spirit will replace and fill in our unhealthy attachments.

When you fast you know you want God more than anything: food, coffee, Netflix. 

Fasting enables our physical body to join our heart in prayer.

We find God in the deserts of fasting not in the desserts of feasting. 

Since that initial water fast, I have been thinking and praying a lot what a lifestyle of regular fasting looks like for me in my life right now. 

I am continuing to explore it and talk about it with Jesus.

While it might sound crazy to go on extended days with only water, it doesn't feel crazy to me.


There have been some helpful resources I have come across as I have been learning and praying more about fasting in my life:

- A book called, The Spirituality of Fasting: Rediscovering a Christian Practice by Charles M. Murphy

-A book called The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung. While not a faith-based book, it is more a look at the science behind fasting and its physical effects on the body. I have found it very interesting and helpful.

-A book called, The Jesus Fast: The Call To Awaken The Nations by Lou Engle and Dean Briggs


Please do not hear this as I am a better Christian because I fast a certain way. Fasting will look different for each person.

BUT. 

In the Scriptures Jesus never said "If you fast..." rather He said "When you fast... ." 

Fasting is an ancient Christian practice that would be good for many comfortable hearts and minds...including my own.

No I am not telling you to go home and rustle up some bugs like John the Baptist, and I am not telling you to start a seven day water fast on Monday.

But ask the Holy Spirit what it would look like to fast with a generous spirit in your life. 
And then respond in love.



What has been your experience of fasting on your spiritual journey?

Have you ever done any type of extended fasting?




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13 January 2018

Spend Lent with Women of the Bible

This post does contain affiliate links.


Growing up in my family we were not the type that ever read the Bible together or learned how to pray pray with Scripture. 

I always heard Scripture at Mass and I knew lots of stories about different saints. But I never had a personal relationship with the Word of God. 

It wasn't until my mid to late twenties I really began to fall in love with Scripture in a much more personal, intimate way. 

Several years ago I started to discover the many heroic, strong women of the Old and New Testament. 

I came to see myself and my story in the stories of women like Ruth, Judith, Tamar, Esther, Mary Magdalen, Martha, and Anna the prophetess. Each of them taught me something deeper about myself.

So when I heard the the Blessed Is She Lent Journal would feature a variety women from both the Old and New Testament I got super pumped!



Written by Laura Kelly Fanucci, it promises to be as rich and fruitful as the one she also wrote for Advent this year. Each week will look at different women of the Bible. 

Over the course of Lent we will have spent time praying and reflecting with a variety of women from both the Old and New Testament. Every journal I have used has been a gift to me, some in huge ways and others in a more simple, quiet manner.

Along with the journal itself, we have additional options such as the Lent bundle, which includes a beautiful hand painted print and Marian prayer cards.




And of course we have the first ever Catholic Journaling Bible available! I have been loving mine even though I worry about making it look ugly from time to time ;-). 

Ever since Blessed Is She began, we have always sold out of both the Advent and Lent journals. So please be sure to purchase your copy sooner rather than later. 

Whether it is your first or fifth time doing a liturgical journal with us, I so look forward to spending the 40 days Lent with my sisters in Christ all over the globe.

To purchase your copies of She Who Believed or any other goodies, mosey on over here.


God bless your Lenten journey, sisters. 



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07 January 2018

Merry 2018

... Dusts off the ol' blog ...

Bueller, Bueller? 
Anyone there?

I feel like Christy in that I feel like I forgot how to blog. I don't think if I've ever been great at it but I have enjoyed it and most especially the friends I have made through blogging. 

I have always loved writing but as blogging has changed over time, my commitment to it has had ups and downs. 

It might not earth-shattering or well-polished but I want to make more time this year for putting words here and hopefully having more conversations with you here.



Last week I sat down to go through my PowerSheets from 2017 to reflect and look back on all the moments of the last year.


So many good things. Some hard things too. 


A week into January and it feels like so.much. has already happened in 2018.

I spent the last few days of 2017 at the One Thing conference in Kansas City. 

This weekend at the Encounter Conference with some friends. Let's just say #Encounter2018 is now known as Pentecost Saturday.

Photo by Encounter Ministries
I have spent lots of time snuggling my sweet nephew and getting over a nasty cold.

Tomorrow I start my job as a Pastoral Associate at a new parish.



After Beth did one particular Teachable Tuesday video on a saint and a word for 2018. I have been asking God for a word each new year for several years right now but never done the same with choosing a saint. 

The word I ended up with was PRESENT. When the saint name generator gave me St. Therese of Lisieux I inwardly groaned. 

Before you throw rocks at me, I think part of the reason is Therese and I are definitely opposites of everything from personality, temperament, and Myers-Briggs. After I stopped my whining and gnashing of teeth for not getting someone else, I decided that there are probably some lessons St. Therese has to teach me in the coming year.

Who knows maybe she'll have even more to teach me about being present! :)


Whatever your word or goals for 2018 are, I am hoping the New Year is full of hope and promise.




What is your word or saint for 2018?


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