Friday, January 30, 2015

7 Quick Takes: 7 Reasons I Love the Saints and Saints Go Social!

This post contains affiliate links. 

It's another Friday, which means it's another opportunity to link up to 7 Quick Takes hosted by Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum!

For this week's 7 Quick Takes, I thought I'd briefly tell you why I love learning about the Saints' lives

I was born and raised in a Catholic home and went to Catholic school in grades 1st through 6th grade, but I don't have many vivid memories of learning about the lives of the Saints. 

But, I'm also guilty of having a terrible memory. :/  

I knew about St. Mary, the Mother of God, of course, and I did a school report on St. Francis of Assisi in 6th grade (that I still have) and I picked my Confirmation Saint in high school, St. Anne, (only because that's my middle name), but I don't remember learning too much about the many other Saints that the Catholic Church has canonized.  I'm not criticizing the Catholic school I attended or how my parents raised my siblings and me,  it's just what I experienced growing up.

I love you Mom and Dad :)

Part of the our morning routine with my children is to have our Couch Catechism time and one of the books we read from daily is Saints for Young Readers for Every Day Volume I (January - June) and Volume II  (July -December).   They are the best books about Saints that we use literally everyday! 

So here are the 7 reasons why I love the Saints and learning about them alongside my family:

1.  The Saints (men, women, and children) are perfect and pious role models and I pray that our family, especially my children, will look up to them as they grow in their faith.

2.   Their lives are inspirational and many of their life stories have more twists and turns than any novel out on the market. 

3.   The communion of Saints up in Heaven are praying for us as they are more alive in Christ than our mortal bodies here on earth.  I like getting to know these special Saints as they pray for me, just as I can ask a friend to pray for me.

4.   I love knowing that the Saints weren't perfect on earth and many of them strayed from God's ways, but each of them sought God's will in their lives.  This helps me relate to them even more because, like them, I stray and seek

5.   The Saints' lives are filled with miracles while they were living on earth and now while they are living with Christ.  Saint miracle stories, such as this one at Bonnie's blog at A Knotted Life about Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, are just awesome and challenge my faith, but also make my faith stronger. 

6.  Knowing that so many Saints suffered with grace and for the love of Christ gives me strength and courage in my trials and crosses in life.

7.  The Saints want to help us in our time of weakness here on earth and I need all the help I can get.  "Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death" (St. Dominic). "I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth" (St. Therese of Lisieux).

Whether you know a lot about the Saints' lives or if you want to learn more about these holy men, women, and children, I am so excited to announce a tool that brings a whole new way of learning about the Saints!

This new project is fresh off the ground and the team members are still working hard to bring visitors this one place where Saints' resources and materials can be accessed and searched in a great, fun way!

So what's this awesome, fun, and faith-filled site called?  Drum roll........................

Think of SaintNook as a Social Network for Saints where "The Saints are Always Online."  For the first time anywhere, the Saints are presented in all their holy, connected glory!  

At SaintNook, you can browse profiles, explore biographies, see whom they were friends with and whom they might have known from their century.  Read more about SaintNook HERE.

Dominic de Souza, is the founder and chief designer of SaintNook.  His creativity is inspiring and as soon as I heard his SaintNook idea, I knew I wanted to be a part of a new way of teaching others (and myself) about the Saints' lives.  Thanks to Dominic's hard work, creativity, tech knowledge, and patience with our team,  SaintNook has been launched and is ready for visitors! 
SaintNook has a vision to bring together everything possible under one roof, and we’ve started with standardizing Saints' information, creating beautiful, in-depth Pinterest boards and funspirational playlists.

Go check out SaintNook now and tell us what you think!  We would love your feedback to make this one stop social network for Saints as faith-filled, user-friendly and fun for all!  If you have any questions, comment below or contact us at SaintNook!  We have loaded some special February Saints and next up the Saints with March feast days will be getting social so stay tuned!  

For more Quick Takes visit the link-up at This Ain't The Lyceum.

seven quick takes friday 2

This post is also linked up to New Evangelists Monthly - Issue #26

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Our March for Life 2015 Experience in 7 Quick Takes

This post contains affiliate links.

Two days ago on January 22, 2015, the 42nd March for Life took place.  This peaceful demonstration has happened every year on this date since 1973, when abortion was legalized in the United States.  On this somber anniversary, men and women of all ages (the majority are young) and from all walks of life march to stand as a witness to the truth concerning the greatest human rights violation of our time, abortion.

Marchers travel many miles to "be a voice for the voiceless" as the sign below reads.  Those that aren't able to be physically present in Washington, DC each year, support the unborn, mothers, and fathers and the marchers with prayers and sacrifice on this anniversary date and everyday throughout the year.     

I first went to March for Life in 2011 with our then, family of 6, and then back again in 2012.  I was blessed to attend this year's march with my 14 and 10 year old daughters while my wonderful husband stayed home with our 3 other children.

It's difficult to put into a blog post all that is experienced, seen, and heard at the march, but I will try to attempt to capture our 2015 March for Life in another edition of 7 Quick Takes hosted by Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum.

At 4:00 AM on Thursday morning about 35 men, women, and children from our church and local community boarded the bus that would take us to DC.  Before the ride started our priest at our church said a prayer for safe travels and reminded us who we are marching for. (Thank you Fr. Michael for getting up sooo early to give us a blessing!)  While traveling on the bus, we were lead by different volunteers to pray the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary of Saint John Paul II. I used my beautiful pink corded rosary from RealLifeRosary.  A big shout out to Paul for organizing the bus ride and leading our pack throughout the day!  Thank you Paul! 

When we arrived in DC about 11:00 AM, we went straight to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception where all the people from the Charlotte and Raleigh Diocese attended Mass.  Bishop Burbidge (Raleigh Diocese) and Bishop Jugus (Charlotte Diocese) celebrated the Mass. There were also many priests on the altar from around the diocese.  My daughters and I spotted our priest friend, Fr. Ned, before mass started.  He was the celebrant for our wedding on July 12, 1997 ,and it's always a blessing to see him. 

After Mass our bus headed to the march at the National Mall.  We met up with other churches/schools in the Raleigh Diocese and Bishop Burbidge walked with us, as well.  I snapped a quick picture with  our Bishop with my 2 daughters and a friend.  
The amount of people walking peacefully through the streets is always amazing, full of life and energy! It's estimated about 500,000 people attended the march.

It's a good thing we march for life and not for the (lack of) mainstream media coverage!    EWTN does cover the march live stream and we have watched it from our computers the years we haven't been able to attend. 

Each year that I attend the march, the one comment that I hear over and over again and the one thing I notice all the time is that there are so many young people, college age and younger, that are passionate about the fight to save the unborn and save babies, mothers and fathers from pain and suffering. Their energy is contagious and gives so many so much hope!  

There are so many teens and young adults shuffling shoulder to shoulder in the crowds or chanting back and forth "We love babies yes we do, we love babies, how 'bout you!"  

One teen, Adam, who rode on our bus, took this amazing photo during the march.  Yes, the sky was so clear and beautiful and the weather was perfect, not too cold and no snow or freezing rain! Praise God!  Adam is passionate about saving babies and photography, as he has his own photography business called Kapture 7. For  being only 15 years old, I'd say he has great talent and is well on his way to a successful career.  He captured his first March for Life experience through his lens and collected a lifetime of memories with his camera, brother-in-law, and fellow pro-life marchers. 

Here are some videos I took with my phone of the crowd of mostly young people marching, singing and rallying for life: 

While marching, it's also wonderful to see all the signs that people hold up and wave in support for life.  Here are a few that I photographed:  

Our church group held this sign through the crowds...
The sign above in the top left corner reads, "Peace begins in the womb."
The top right corner reads, "Abortion is mean"
The bottom left corner says, "Abortion Don't Buy the Lie"
The bottom right corner says, "We Protect: Rain Forests (check), Animals (check), Whales (check), Unborn Babies (?)"

This was the first year I saw some people marching with yellow umbrellas.  I was told by my friend, Teri, that the yellow means "joy" and the umbrella symbolizes how a mother is to protect and shelter her unborn baby.  I thought this was a beautiful and creative type of "sign" to carry through the crowds.

As we were leaving the march to get onto our bus to take the 6 hour ride back home and grab a bite to eat at a Cracker Barrel, I took a picture of the Capitol under renovation.  I know of about 500,000 people who were present at the march who want to see laws change that happen inside the building to support the unborn.  This photo of the Capitol as half a million people marched around it brings to mind this quote by Saint John Paul II:
I'll end this March for Life post with a status that Abby Johnson: ProWoman, ProChild, ProLife wrote on her Facebook page that I think sums up what the annual March for Life is really about:   
"The March for Life has been great, but I'm ready to get back to fighting in the trenches. I don't come to the March for Life to celebrate. I can't celebrate 57 million deaths. I don't come here to "be seen" as some sort of celebrity...because I can assure you that is never how I want to be seen. I come here to memorialize and honor the children who have been lost, the women who have been forever changed, and the fathers who never had a voice. I come here to show people that God is still our victory, even when we feel defeated. I come because people need to see that no one is beyond conversion.
Now, let's get back to work!
P.S. I'm so honored to stand by all of you as we fight together."

I started a Pinterest Pro-Life board called "L.I.F.E. = Life Is For Everyone" awhile ago, where I have been collecting pro-life posts.  If you are interested in checking out the board or following it go HERE.

Keep marching on! We shall overcome someday!

Have a blessed weekend!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

March for Life 2015: The Trip I Wish I Didn't Have to Take with My Daughters

This past weekend I attended the "Love My Life" Rally in Raleigh, NC with about 1,300 youth from all over our diocese with my oldest daughter and some members in our church youth group/Teens for Life group.   Each year this rally for life takes place near the January 22 date.

January 22, 1973.....the US Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, legalized abortion in America.

Since the legalization of abortion in 1973, there have been approximately 50 million abortions performed in the US.

I wish there was no need for "Love My Life" youth rallies that give voice to the voiceless.  I wish I didn't need to take the trip to support the unborn, youth, and adults in marching for life.  It will be a blessed and beautiful day when the killing of innocent lives will no longer be accepted and legal and rallies and marches will no longer need to be planned and organized.  

But, sadly there is still a great need to stand for life in many ways. (Ex. with prayer and sacrifice, supporting a woman in a crisis pregnancy, or marching peacefully in the streets.)

It was uplifting and encouraging to see so many young people spend their Saturday to be encouraged and encourage others with their stand for life and the unborn.

During the rally, we were under a huge tent and we sang songs and heard a great and funny speaker, Matt Fradd.  He had the youth and adults laughing and engaged for about an hour and his life-changing story was interesting and well received.

We then had a Mass with our Bishop before lunch.

After we ate lunch outside, we hit the streets and marched. Despite the cool temps, the beautiful, warm sun shone brightly during the march. Here are a few pictures and short clip of the Love My Life march.

Each year there are youth rallies, like Love My Life, all over the country.  There is also the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. that will happen this Thursday, January 22, 2015.

This is another trip I wish I didn't have to take because I wish there was no need for a March for Life. I wish there was no need to stand up to defend the millions that have no voice and that have been terminated killed.  But, there is a need and until abortion ends, there will always be a March for Life.

I hear it will be a record number of people from all walks of life, no matter the gender, age, race, religion, who will be marching this year as it was 42 years ago that abortion became legal in the Roe v. Wade case on Jan. 22, 1973. Each year since the Roe v. Wade case, pro-lifers have been marching in Washington D.C. on/near the Jan. 22 date to peacefully and prayerfully protest the abortion industry and to solemnly remember the 55 million + lives that have been lost to abortion. 

"The March for Life began as a small demonstration and rapidly grew to be the largest pro-life event in the world. The peaceful demonstration that has followed on this somber anniversary every year since 1973 is a witness to the truth concerning the greatest human rights violation of our time, abortion." -March for Life 2015

I will be attending this year's March for Life with my older two daughters, ages 14 and 10, along with some other members from our church. Our church is renting a Greyhound bus and we will be departing at 4 AM, attend the March and then turn around and arrive back to the church parking lot late Thursday night around 11:00 PM.

I have been to the annual March for Life in 2011 and 2012.  It is an uplifting experience to see so many people, young and old, marching for babies, women, men, and families.

The years I'm not physically at the march, I have been there in spirit praying for friends and the rest of the 500,000 that attend the March for Life.

The media (if there is any mainstream media coverage at all) usually says a "few thousand" will be marching the streets in D.C., but we know the truth.

I look forward to posting about our March for Life 2015 experience when we get back from our trip, but here are my previous posts about it if you want to check them out complete with words, pictures, and video. Just click on the titles to go directly to that post.

Our First March for Life: In My Own Words and Photos (March for Life 2011)

Capturing March for Life 2012 in My Own Words/Photos/Videos (March for Life 2012) 

March on!  We shall overcome someday! God bless all those that stand up for those who never get a chance to have a life or voice!

I started a Pinterest Pro-Life board called "L.I.F.E. = Life Is For Everyone" awhile ago, where I have been collecting pro-life posts.  If you are interested in checking out the board or following it go HERE.
On a less important topic, but an exciting one, my little blog here has been nominated in 2 categories for the Sheenazing Awards hosted by Bonnie at A Knotted Life!

So what are these cool awards with a cool name?   Bonnie explains:

"The Sheenazing Blogger Awards are named for Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. Sheen was amazing at using the newest forms of media to communicate the beauty of the Catholic Church and his love of Christ to the world. I'm positive that Sheen would be a blogger were he alive today and that he is in Heaven, totally approving of this award."

So why does Bonnie have an award named after the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen???  You must read the (alleged) miracle of her newborn son and find out!

My blog has been nominated in the "Best Lifestyle Blog" and "Miss Congeniality Blog" categories.

To see all the categories and nominations go HERE, which will lead you to the link where you can vote.  You can vote one time in each category for your favorite Catholic blogs.  There are so many great blogs listed!  Go find some new ones to follow and support your favorites with a quick click on the circles! :)

Have a blessed week!

have been approximately 50 million abortions performed in the United States. - See more at:
the United States Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, handed down two rulings legalizing abortion in America - See more at:
the United States Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, handed down two rulings legalizing abortion in America - See more at:
the United States Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, handed down two rulings legalizing abortion in America. - See more at:
the United States Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, handed down two rulings legalizing abortion in America. - See more at:
Thursday, January 15, 2015

7 Quick Takes: 7 Cute Pics of Cupcake #5

Our Cupcake #5 will be 18 months old at the end of January.  It is so hard to homeschool while she is around.  I bet you are thinking homeschooling is a "challenge" with her because she's almost 18 months old and pulling, climbing, running, chasing, dumping, "organizing",  and playing  constantly? 

Well, you are right.

BUT, the other reason and the best reason homeschooling can be challenging with our youngest is because (and darn cute too!)  My older Cupcakes and I literally watch and laugh at her during our Couch Catechism time in the morning and all day.  I love to see the joy she brings to our family, but it's so hard to get anything done in our homeschool day with such wonderful entertainment.  :)

seven quick takes friday 2

For this week's Quick Takes hosted by This Ain't The Lyceum, I thought I would show some cute pictures of our Cupcake #5 just because she's cute, funny, and lately my phone camera is full of her sweet face so I thought I'd share the cuteness :) 

Even when she's under the weather she's cute :)   This was taken over Christmas and she had a fever, but she still loved drinking my Chocolate Green Smoothie from a straw. 


These pictures look like Cupcake #5 was not happy about her big sister's idea to play dress up, but she really liked it and they both had a great time.  

Dressed up again by her older sister, but this time it's the Snow White dress.  Snow White loves to do school work with the big siblings and stand on chairs all.the.time!  Ugggh!  

"Mom-O! Mom-O!" (that's her way of saying "Mom, look!") She was so proud that she got the green bean on her fork at dinner last week so she just had to show me!  Our family got a kick out of  her new skill and how she demanded my attention.  My 10 year old made cookies that night too so the big girl with the green bean fork trick got a cookie for her performance.  :) 

Our "Cradle Catholic" is always fun to watch as she makes the sign of the cross by tapping her fist on her cheek (haven't snapped a picture of that yet) and holds her "prayer hands" together during family prayer time.  She likes her toes too. :)

She got a new pink brush with her name on it since she loves to brush her beautiful hair.  Here she is trying out her new gift from Christmas.  

This video shows how super flexible our youngest is (and how annoying my voice sounds on video!)  Maybe she will be a gymnast or a ballerina (she loves to dance too!)  She makes a straight split and it always amazes our family when she does this little talent. 

If you have made it this far in my post, thank you for letting me "brag" a little about our cute Cupcake #5.  :)  She is such a joy and delight, don't ya think? ;) 

Have a blessed weekend! 
Monday, January 12, 2015

Support your Favorite Catholic Blogs: Nominations for the 2015 Sheenazing Awards are OPEN!

Bonnie over at A Knotted Life is hosting the annual Sheenazing Awards and nominations for your favorite Catholic blogs are now open!

So what are these cool awards with a cool name?   Bonnie explains:

"The Sheenazing Blogger Awards are named for Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. Sheen was amazing at using the newest forms of media to communicate the beauty of the Catholic Church and his love of Christ to the world. I'm positive that Sheen would be a blogger were he alive today and that he is in Heaven, totally approving of this award."

photo credit: A Knotted Life

There are 12 categories to place your nominations.

Read more about the 2015 Sheenazing Blogger Awards HERE and go support your favorite Catholic blogs!

Friday, January 9, 2015

7 Quick Takes: 7 Reasons Why I Love THIS Conversion Story Post!

Recently, a popular Catholic blogger, Leila Miller, at Little Catholic Bubble, wrote a series of three posts about her mother-in-law, Carol.  In the posts, Leila tells of Carol's fascinating journey into the Catholic Church.  Leila is very open and honest in the posts about all that she and her family were thinking and feeling during this time of searching and questioning in Carol's spiritual journey.

Below I list 7 brief reasons why I loved reading Leila Miller's story about Carol's conversion in this edition of 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted at This Ain't The Lyceum.

seven quick takes friday 2

Before reading my reasons be sure to read Leila's series here:

Part One: My Mother-in-Law Carol's Conversion Story

Part Two: My Mother-in-Law Carol's Conversion Story

Part Three: My Mother-in-Law Carol's Conversion Story

 Now onto 7 reasons why I loved reading about Carol's conversion by Leila Miller.

Leila is a great writer.  You know what I mean if you read the conversion story links above. You wanted to hear what happened next after each part was over, didn't you?  I know I did!

I enjoyed reading what Leila and her family were thinking during each part of Carol's journey. I too have had similar thoughts cross my mind as Leila in my own personal life. 

I loved seeing how the Holy Spirit worked in Carol's soul as she was eager to watch Father Robert Barron's CATHOLICISM  DVD series that happened to be laying out in Leila's home.  My parish has shown these DVDs a few times and last year I watched all of them at my parish in a group setting.  EXCELLENT and thought-provoking!  Must see!   

 I loved reading how Leila's perception of her mother-in-law changed through the entire journey.

As a cradle Catholic (meaning I was born into the Catholic faith because both of my parents are Catholic), conversion stories, especially this one, always fascinate me since it's amazing to read how the Holy Spirit touches those who are open to find Truth.  Carol's heart was open and thirsting for the Truth she longed for during her life.

Carol's story gave me "God" bumps, made me smile and made me tear up.  It is a beautiful story of conversion, forgiveness, Truth, family, faith, hope, love and peace.

Carol's life and story gave me inspiration and hope for those I continue to pray for daily.

What are your thoughts about Leila's posts and Carol's conversion story?  I would love to hear your take on it in the comments!  

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015 Epiphany "Season" For Our House

This post contains affiliate links.

Wait?  You may be thinking you have heard of the feast of the Epiphany as just a day and not a season, unlike Christmas, which is really a season and not a day.  Did ya get all that? 

Well, you are right!  The feast of the Epiphany is celebrated as a day, but in our house we extended the celebration into a 4 day "season".  More explanation below.

This past Sunday, January 4, the Epiphany was celebrated in the Catholic Church.  The traditional date of Epiphany is January 6, but in the United States it is celebrated on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8.  It's a little confusing and it's one reason why we had an Epiphany "season" at our house.

On Sunday we started celebrating Epiphany as the Wandering Wise Men finally found Baby Jesus!  I also made a King Cake for breakfast and you can find the recipe HERE.   A King Cake is similar to a Twelfth Night Cake as explained HERE

One tradition of the King Cake is to hide a ring/coin/Baby Jesus in the cake and the person who finds the piece with the trinket gets a big hug from Dad and Mom (I made that part up because our 7 year old found the piece with Baby Jesus and a hug was her reward :) )

We were also FINALLY able to attend Mass together on Epiphany Sunday as a family since our Christmas was filled with festivities and fevers which only allowed our healthy family members to attend Masses over the Christmas break.  

On Tuesday, January 6, the actual Epiphany feast day on the liturgical calendar, we spent some time during our homeschool day to make these 3 Kings Ornament craft that was part of the Printable Advent Saints pack from Lacy's blog at Catholic Icing.

Then today, Wednesday, January 7,  my husband was home for lunch and I forgot to do the blessing of the home and household Epiphany prayers yesterday, so we said the blessing today at lunch time.

We said the Blessing of the Home and Household on Epiphany and used chalk (I forgot to have our chalk blessed by our priest on Sunday) to write 20 + C + M + B + 15.  On the Epiphany it's traditional to ask God's blessing on our homes.  The current year and the initials C, M, B are marked above the main doorway.  However, we just mark a black piece of cardstock and tape it to the back of our door inside our home and leave it up all year.

There are two explanations for the three initials:  Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means, "May Christ bless this home."  These are also the initails of the legendary Magi (Casper, Melchior, and Balthazar).  While placing this blessing above the doorway of our home we said:

"May all who come to our home this year rejoice to find Christ living among us; and may we seek and serve Christ in everyone we meet.  Amen."

We ended our Epiphany "season"  tonight by reading Small Camel Follows the Star and The Last Straw.   Our family really enjoyed these two books about the adventures of the camels that carried gifts for Baby Jesus.  (I refer to Epiphany this year as a season for our family since we spread out the celebration since Sunday)

We usually have an annual Epiphany party with our homeschool group like last year, but this year due to fevers and coughs for several of our families, we canceled our usual celebration.  But, hopefully next year we can pick up the tradition once again and celebrate the Epiphany with our homeschool group!

And finally to conclude our Epiphany 2015 for our family, I thought I would share this drawing by my 7 year old daughter of the Holy Family:  Jesus is in Mary's womb with Saint Joseph.  She drew this today during our homeschool lessons.  Her beautiful drawing blessed my day more than she knows.

I hope you are having a blessed week!


This post is linked to Catholic Inspired Wandering Wise Men Link-Up   

This post is also linked to Twelve Days of Christmas Instagram Recap @ Shower of Roses


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