Sunday, March 30, 2014

Being Blessed by Speakers and Bloggers at the IBT Conference!

Last night I got back from the 12th annual Ignited By Truth Catholic Conference (IBT) that I attended with my 13 year old daughter and 8 month old daughter.  My 13 year old daughter was a big help during the talks as she strolled her baby sister around the venue so I could sit and listen to the wonderful speakers.   There were about 2,000 people registered for the conference and I especially always look forward to the Mass on Saturday evening with our Bishop that concludes the Conference.

As mentioned in my 7 (Really) Quick Takes Friday, Jennifer Fulwiler from Conversion Diary was one of the speakers at the Conference.  I was familiar with her conversion story as a faithful follower of her blog, but during her talks, I learned so much more about her journey and our Catholic faith.

I heard her speak Friday evening where she gave her first talk titled, “Atheist to Catholic:  My Story of Conversion” and just before she went on stage, I approached her and introduced myself and my daughters.  This picture is so dark because we were standing on the side of the stage and the lights were low.  My iPhone did the best it could with the lighting.  Jennifer is super nice and personable and really tall :)  All of Jennifer's talks were excellent and she did an awesome job!  I am in awe of how she found the time to prepare all her talks with her busy family life and still remain sane! :) 

Jennifer also spoke on Saturday and my 13 year old daughter listened to Jennifer speak on “Effectively Using Internet Technology to Spread the Gospel”.  My daughter thought it was very interesting and learned a lot.  I want to get a copy of this talk from a friend to listen to it myself, as I'm sure I can learn a lot from hearing it!

I enjoyed Jennifer's Saturday afternoon talk, “When Your Loved One Is an Atheist”, where she went into more detail about her conversion story and gave us tips to effectively evangelize our faith to family and friends.   I had to go to her table in the vendor area to get a better picture in better lighting this time :)

I also enjoyed meeting Jennifer's sweet Aunt (Jennifer looks a lot like her Mom's sister) and Uncle.  Jennifer's Uncle was her official photographer and in the picture below we are looking at his camera.

In my hand I am holding an excerpt of Jennifer's new book, Something Other Than God,  that will be released at the end of April.  I pre-ordered my copy already and you can order your copy now through, Ignatius Press, or Barnes & Noble
At the Conference she handed out these excerpts that was the 1st Chapter of her book.  I picked up one for myself and one for a friend that Jennifer signed with a sweet, personal message in each. I don't know if I'm more excited about reading her book or reading the free gift Jennifer will give to those who pre-order.  :)  Jennifer mentioned that she wants to do book tours in a previous blog post and I think my area would be a fine place to visit and sign books...hint, hint ;) 

I spoke to Jennifer's Uncle briefly {he's a cool (camera) guy!} and asked him what he thought of his niece's book and conversion.  He said he was quite impressed and inspired by it all. 

Jennifer, if you ever read this post in your "spare" time, I promise I wasn't stalking you, although I have to admit, I felt like I was meeting an awesome "celebrity." :) OK, so maybe I wasn't stalking you, just kind of following you and snapping pictures with you :) LOL!

OK, so this was not the "Jennifer Fulwiler from Conversion Diary Catholic Conference."  There were other great speakers there that I enjoyed listening to as my older daughter and I tried to keep my 8 month old busy.  I loved hearing all the speakers including Scott Hahn and his wife Kimberly.  I met Kimberly Hahn after her “Catholic Education:  Homeward Bound” talk and she is so full of wisdom.

I enjoyed meeting and chatting with other bloggers too including:

PC 3D BookHeather (and her husband) from Upside Down Homeschooling  ( Heather has a great homeschooling blog with tons of great resources and her husband just released a book titled Project Conversion: One Man, 12 Faiths, One Year that chronicles his spiritual journey.)  Photo Credit on left: Project Conversion

Tara from Blessings in Brelinskyville (Tara is a very gifted, faith-filled writer and I am always blessed by her posts)

Angela from Mary Grace Holmes (Angela's faith is inspiring as she blogs about all her blessings, both on earth and in Heaven) 

It was a blessed weekend for sure and I can't wait to get Ignited By Truth at next year's Conference!

Friday, March 28, 2014

7 (Really) Quick Takes: Getting Ignited!

I'm excited to head to the 12th Annual Ignited By Truth Catholic Conference (IBT) this weekend along with a few of my children!  I've been several times before and it is always a faith-filled and fun weekend!  In 2012 at IBT, I was able to meet ImmaculĂ©e Ilibagiza and NFL football player, Phillip Rivers. At the 2011 IBT, I met the oldest child of the Holy Heroes family. My children thought that was neat since we have been a big fan of Holy Heroes for some time now! 
This year at IBT, Jennifer Fulwiler will be speaking from Conversion Diary and I'm excited to hear her speak and possibly meet her.  I'm also looking forward to meeting up with other Catholic bloggers who will be attending the conference (I see a future blog post coming about these meet ups!! :)  ) 
Last Sunday my little sis had her first baby!  My nephew is adorable don't you think?  My children are excited about their new cousin!  We have been holding him in our hearts, but I can't wait to hold him in my arms...someday!  We are miles apart which breaks my heart :(  
My Dad had major heart surgery last week and I'm happy to say, that despite the pain that he has had  to endure, his long recovery is going well.  He's a trooper and he is looking forward to feeling better in the future (and hopefully taking better care of himself too! )

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Happy Feast of the Annunciation! {Coloring Activity}

  Photo Credit:  Boston Catholic Insider

Today, March 25, is the Feast of the Annunciation, which celebrates "the actual Incarnation of Our Savior--the Word made flesh in the womb of His mother, Mary."

9 months from today is December 25 when we celebrate when the Word made flesh is born into the world!  I love my Catholic faith because Marian feast days are celebrated throughout the liturgical calendar, which helps our family focus on the sacred in this secular world throughout the year, not just at Christmas time, when Mary is usually discussed.  

Jennifer over at Catholic Inspired always inspires our family to live and learn our Catholic faith with fun, simple, and faith-filled activities!

She recently posted THIS great coloring activity to celebrate this special Marian feast day and after I downloaded and printed it out, my children enjoyed coloring it in and listing names on the image of the families and people we are keeping in prayer.

Below are pictures of our finished products:

After we read about the Feast of the Annunciation during our "Couch Catechism" time this morning in the Saints for Young Readers for Every Day book (that we LOVE !!!), I thought I would have my children practice some handwriting by adding the Bible verse Luke 1:38 to their coloring activity, which is the part of the annunciation story where Mary follows God's will, despite the fear and doubts she may have had upon hearing the angel's message.  

Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. 
May it be done according to your word."
 -Luke 1:38 

I just traced and cut out a rectangle after I printed out Jennifer's activity so my children would have a space to write the Bible verse, then cut slits at the bottom of each side panel in order to fold it and have it stand up.

May you have a blessed Marian Feast Day!
Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Writing Space Link-Up

This week some major and exciting things are happening in my family!

My Dad just had major heart surgery today and he did well through it all.  Praise God! We are so thankful my parents were able to attend our homeschool group's annual St. Joseph Feast Day celebration this past Sunday since my Dad will be in recovery for some time now...

...AND my younger sister is due any day now with her first baby!  I can't wait to see if I'm going to have a new niece or nephew!  I am so thankful for all the thoughts and prayers from family and friends during this "eventful" week for our family!

Needless to say, I've had some distractions this week, but I thought I would join in on the fun "My Writing Space" link-up hosted by Divina at Beauty of the Picture Book.

Where do I blog?  Where is my writing space?

Right here.
Hmmm....The picture looks kind of crooked and I really hope to go through the pile of papers that are stacking up quickly.  But, it's home. 

Below is a close up photo of my writing space.

At the bottom right are notes as I continue to research homeschooling high school options for my oldest for next year.

Then that green/blue sippy cup for my 7 month-old filled with water shouldn't be there!   Aaaaa...that's one of our rules to not bring food/drink near the computers!

Then I have lots of papers, photos, piano books, religious books and candles surrounding the screen.

At the top left of the above picture is a postcard of our beloved Pope John Paul II.  It is a pencil drawing by the very talented Catholic artist, Cameron Smith (no relation to me, however).  Can you believe this was drawn with a pencil?????  It looks like a photo! 

So where is your writing space?  
Join the "My Writing Space" link-up by linking your post HERE.  While you are there check out where other bloggers do their best work and enjoy the interview with author Kendra Tierney of Catholic All Year.  Check out the giveaway for Kendra's new book too titled A Little Book about Confession for Children.  (I'm keeping my fingers crossed to win it as I prepare Cupcake #4 for First Reconciliation/First Holy Communion next year!)  :) 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Husband's Birthday and St. Joseph Celebration!

This past Sunday, March 16, was my husband's birthday (and his twin brother's).  My husband's twin is on the left (straight hair) while my husband (curly top) is on the right in this picture.  Aren't they adorable along with their outfits?  :)

To celebrate my husband's birthday our family went out in the evening for an ice cream treat.  Here's my crew enjoying their sweet treats!

Sunday was also the day our homeschool group celebrated our annual St. Joseph feast day celebration complete with a St. Joseph Altar. We usually have the celebration on a Sunday around St. Joseph's actual feast day (March 19), so the Dads can attend also.

My post HERE from 2011 tells all about the history of the St. Joseph altars, traditional foods, and black and white photos of the St. Joseph altars my Dad used to have when he was a child!   Our homeschool group has celebrated St. Joseph's Feast Day for 10 years now!  Wow! How time flies!

We decorate the altars each year with the homemade breads that our homeschool group gathers to make a few weeks prior to St. Joseph's feast day.

After all the families brought their dishes to share....

The hostess told all about St. Joseph's feast day and the rich history of the altars

Then we recited a Litany of St. Joseph that my Dad led for everyone. (My Dad is the bald, Italian guy in the green shirt with the camera around his neck :) )   Our family is blessed each year to celebrate this special feast day with my parents.   After grace we all had a delicious meal. 

Our wonderful host family made these goodie bags for each family that had a fava bean, homemade Italian cookies, and a St. Joseph holy card in each bag.

Here is the group that was able to attend this year's celebration.  This was the first time our celebration had to be indoors due to the cold, rainy weather outdoors.  But, despite the dreary weather it was a beautiful day of feasting, fun, and fellowship!