Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Pro-Life Blog

Thank you to Michele, who wrote me to share information about her new Pro-life blog, which started publication on Pentecost Sunday. Michele shares the following about Unborn Word of the Day:

We wanted to let you know about our new blog, Unborn Word of the day The blog’s subtitle is: Honoring the Unborn Christ Child, promoting the Gospel of Life, one day at a time. We plan to post pro-life quotes each day – some attempt will be made to follow the Church calendar when that is possible. (There will be an emphasis on the Unborn Christ Child and the Gospel of Life but we will be highlighting other Church documents and having quotes from Bishops, priests and everyday pro-lifers.)

Heidi at CE

One of our beloved Catholic Mom Columnists, Heidi Hess Saxton, has the lead article today over at Catholic Exchange. Her work, The HPV Vacine: Should Your Daughter Receive It? has brought up an interesting debate on this topic. Head over to CE and read Heidi's article and chime in with your comments.

This is also a great time to remind you that Heidi is the editor of Canticle Magazine. I just received my May issue yesterday and am enjoying it immensely. It’s not too late to order a subscription to Canticle and get $1 off each subscription ordered. Just call 800-558-5452 or order online by June 10, and mention Code SC07.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What's In Your Yearbook?

My son Eric is polishing off the waning days of his Freshman year of high school. Between studying for finals and saying goodbye to teachers and buddies, a major pastime this week has been collection of signatures in his first high school yearbook.

Since I just attended a 25th high school reunion last year, I know how long-lasting the effects of those signatures can be. In our pre-reunion preparations, of course my girlfriends and I dragged out our old yearbooks and combed through the pages of those "good old days". The highlight was reading what our friends had thought about us way back when. I was "too cool", "awesome" and "super fun"! Friends told me to "have a blast at ND" and that my high school boyfriend and I were "such a cute couple" who would be "together forever!!!" Some of those predictions came true (the ones about me having a blast at Notre Dame) and others fell short (I'm now a "cute couple" with my husband of 21 years!).

Today, Eric and I were driving home from school. I was asking the usual "open-ended prompting" mom-type questions like, "How did you feel about your geometry final?" But my fifteen year old was decidedly distracted by his yearbook. He was reading a long, sprawling signature that covered most of the page. Since I'm blind without my reading glasses, my furtive attempts to glance sideways and read it while driving were futile! But I did manage to sneak a peek (with his permission!) once we got home. Turns out, that very long signature was from his English/Religion teacher! Reading her sentiments about the respect and educational bond she has built with my son this year brought tears of pride and thankfulness to my eyes. How special for Eric that he will look back years from now and be able to recall a relationship with a teacher who helped formed his mind and heart back in his "good old days".

As a grown up and a mom, I'd love to have a yearbook for this past year. It would show all the events of my life since September: the continued growth of my web site, my fledgling attempts at learning to write, the development of this blog, and lots of hours spent in school parking lots and next to fields and courts and stages. The pages would contain prayers said for my husband and my children and photos of how much we've all grown up this year. It would be signed by other moms from the school parking lot, by my wonderful family and siblings, and by cyber-friends (my new "BFF"s) with whom I've solidified relationships this year. These are my "good old days" after all!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Calling All Gulf Coast Catholics

For those of you who live in or near Gulfport, Mississippi, you are invited to a book signing this weekend, where you'll have the chance to meet a very special, young author.

Jessica Kelly, a recent graduate of St. John High School, will be signing her new book My Heart Exposed: A Collection of Poetry tomorrow, Saturday May 26 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at the Barnes and Noble in the Crossroads Mall in Gulfport. Proceeds from Jessica's collection of poetry will go to benefit the new library at St. Patrick's High School in Biloxi.

Next year, Jessica will be a freshman at Franciscan University in Steubenville, studying English with a concentration in writing. I must say that I'm impressed with any 18 year old lady who can not only write and accomplish publication of a book, but who also has a heart large enough to donate her profits to other students for their benefit.

Our world needs more Jessica Kelly's! Please join me in supporting her work.

Becoming Financially Free

We tend to think about finances at certain times of the year - Christmas, when we budget for gift giving and end of the year donations; after New Year's, when those credit card bills start to come in from the holidays; and of course, April 15 - Tax Day!

How many of us think seriously about family finances in the end of May? We're too busy planning family cookouts and summer vacations. But before we know it, next year's Tax Day will be upon us again.

I've been receiving information about a parish program that looks to have some wonderful potential. Our Sunday Visitor's 7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free Catholic Small-Group Study is based on six 90-minute weekly sessions, with an additional orientation “meet and greet” and post-program graduation celebration. The study is based on the wonderful book by Catholic author Phil Lenahan .

I personally plan to use Phil's book this summer to work my way to "Financial Freedom", and would love to see this program implemented at my parish. I've heard wonderful things about the work of Dave Ramsey and his "Total Money Makeover", but Lenahan's 7 Steps program offers the benefit of being uniquely Catholic. If you've used either program, I'd love to hear your comments.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Support an important project

Over at Write In Between, my friend Pat Gohn is encouraging support for a project being championed by Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Baker - the Safe Children Project. We've all had various experiences with our various parish and diocesan "Safe Environment" programs. Please take time to read Pat's remarks and consider a donation in support of Bishop Vasa's work.

Being a Person of Excellence

This morning, I was sitting in a Weight Watchers meeting when I heard I line which really impacted me: "I want to be a person of excellence!"

The speaker was my WW leader, a very motivational person. I've known her for over four years as a part of my weight loss journey, so I often have my radar tuned in for the little gems she shares with us. I continue to attend WW meetings as a Lifetime Member because it helps me to stay on track in many areas of my life beyond just weight.

Teri challenged us: "Do you want to be a person of excellence? Do you believe you can make the changes necessary in life to become that person?" Our group responded with a resounding "yes" to the first question and a sort of half hearted mumble to the second. Of course we all want to be "excellent", but do we have what it takes to make the hard choices to overcome that which separates us from excellence?

I had to stop and ask myself, what does being a "person of excellence" look like for me, in all aspects of my life? Without having a goal or a concept of what that looks like, it's pretty tough to come up with a cohesive plan for how to get there! What does spiritual excellence look like? Or familial excellence, relational excellence, financial or physical excellence? How often do I settle for "just alright" as opposed to striving for true excellence? Pretty often, I'm sad to say.

Teri gave me a kick in the behind this morning to begin to re-examine my own journey towards becoming a "person of excellence". It's not a short trip, but thanks be to God it's one each of us can make. Let today be our continuation of that journey, or our start if it's a trip we're just beginning.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Prayers and Patience Please

This morning, I need your prayers for a very stressful personal situation. Blessedly, it does not involve personal injury or illness, but it will require my full attention for the next several days and will likely keep me away from the blog. Thanks for any little prayers you can send my way!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Heidi Hess Saxton is the editor of “Canticle” magazine and the mother of two young children regularly featured in the adoption column. In honor of Mother’s Day, Heidi extends a special offer to readers: Subscribe to “Canticle” by June 10, and get $1 off your subscription! Mention code SC07 when you place your order by calling 800-558-5452 or going online at

Canticle is one of my favorite resources and I feel compelled to ask for your support of the important work Heidi and her colleagues are doing at the magazine. If you already subscribe, please consider this opportunity to present a wonderful gift to a special woman in your life. Your mother, sister, aunt or friend would love Canticle! I plan to order a subscription for my parish library, to be accessible to all of the women in my faith community. Heidi and Canticle need and deserve our support! Thanks for your prayerful consideration of this special offer.

  • Subscribe to Canticle Magazine - Mention code SC07 when you place your order by calling 800-558-5452 or going online at

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Perfect Mother's Day Gift

Just in time for Mother's Day, I have posted my review of The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home by one of my favorite authors, Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle. This book was released last October and I am dreadfully tardy in reviewing it, but I want to give it my highest recommendation. Donna-Marie's writing style is so very inspirational and the book is a great read for any mother.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Happy First Communion Patrick!

This weekend, I had the joy of celebrating First Holy Communion with my nephew Patrick. My trip to Gulfport, Mississippi was seamless - God has blessed all of my sacramental travels this year.

Time spent with Patrick is a treat. He is already a true southern gentleman. "Yes or No" questions are always answered with a "Yes, ma'am" and a sweet smile. Patrick's golf game is phenomenal for an 8 year old, but even more astounding is his golf etiquette! I loved every minute of every day of this trip, because I love Patrick so very much. I love his passion for animals, the fact that he loves to run and play, and the way he drapes himself over you to cuddle when you're sitting next to him on the couch. I love his "Notre Dame" bedroom and the fact that he beats me every time in basketball. But most of all, I love his sweet spirit and his caring soul. I really wonder if there is anyone more holy and in love with Jesus than a second grader anticipating receiving Him in the Eucharist for the very first time.

This was my first trip back to Gulfport since Hurricane Katrina. I was mentally prepared for the damage of the storm, but not emotionally prepared. On Saturday, after a delicious brunch at the Beau Rivage, my family took me on a "devastation tour" along the coastline. I was truly shocked by what I saw (or rather, what I didn't see). The shore that had previously been lined with lovely homes and businesses was barren and empty. Foundations marked the spots of many of the buildings that were washed away by the storm surge, but little else remained.

At St. Thomas, my family's church and Patrick's former school, there was very little left of what had once been such a vibrant faith community. The remnants of a gym and playground were the only signs that anything had ever existed on the property. Having attended this parish in the past, my heart hurt for all that had been lost.

That hurt, however, was replaced on Sunday by a sense of amazement. St. Thomas has rebuilt in temporary quarters. Children attend school and the parish worships together in what was formerly a roller skating rink. When my family pulled up in front of what looked to me like a really big trailer, my heart sank - "This is where my nephew is going to school? There aren't even any windows!" I thought silently to myself.

But I was wrong - what was lost has been found in this compact space, and I'm willing to bet that the faith and spirit of those who worship at St. Thomas has grown in the process. As we celebrated the First Communion mass, serenaded by a children's choir and led in worship by one of the most wonderful priests I've ever met, I found myself having a change of heart. My sense of pity for the poor people of St. Thomas was quickly shifting to a sense of envy - truly "Church" is the people, not the building. The love of Jesus and of life was so tangible to me during that Mass that I felt a great sense of joy for my nephew Patrick and for my family who have the opportunity to be a part of that special faith family.

My sister Brady, one of the heroes in my life, is a Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist at St. Thomas. On Sunday, after Patrick had received his First Communion from Fr. Louis, he lined up in front of his mother to receive the precious Blood of Christ. The joy of watching Brady share this moment with Patrick is something I will always remember - I am so very happy that I was able to make the trip and be present with them.

St. Thomas is still rebuilding and the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans still desperately need our help and support. I think it will take years for them to rebuild all that has been lost materially. But in the end, they will be better off because of the sense of faith and community that is so clearly present in their parish.

Patrick, thank you for the opportunity to share your special weekend, and for the joy you bring to my life and to all of your family. You are a precious gift from God! I love you!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Do You Cover Your Head for Mass

I received the following email and am happy to pass along Rose's request. Please feel free to contact her directly if you would like to participate in this project:

Hi, I'm Rose from San Antonio, TX. I am a cradle Catholic who left the church for 15 years during which time I worshiped in Evangelical Protestant churches. I "reverted" to Catholicism in 2000 at the calling of the Holy Spirit.

I am an aspiring Catholic author with a passion and zeal for writing about my faith. I am currently working on my first book, Veiled Hearts, about Catholic American women who are heeding the leading of the Holy Spirit and covering their heads (veils/hats) in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

I am currently seeking personal accounts from American Catholic women who cover their heads in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. If you know of anyone who might be interested in sharing their story with me, please contact me at, or visit to submit accounts, or call (210) 316-3340 for more information.

Happy Birthday Greg!

I was too busy having fun on Sunday to acknowledge my wonderful husband's special day, but I wanted to take a moment to wish him a happy belated birthday! For the next month and a half, I can tease him about how much older than me he is.

To celebrate, we took Arnold (our 1974 VW Bus) to a VW show in Madera. Greg has had fun for the past few years fixing up Arnold, so this is how he wanted to spend his day. We spent a lot of time looking at other buses - some amazing, and very cool examples. The stories people share about their VWs are pretty fun too! One man was showing his '64 bus, incredibly restored, with a large map of Europe nearby. He told us about the two years that he, his wife, and four young children spent traveling around Europe in the bus camping. We were just relieved that Arnold made the twenty mile trip to Madera intact, so we couldn't imagine driving him all over Europe!

I'm so lucky to have a husband like Greg - as we grow old together, I discover new things to love and appreciate about him every day. He is truly a blessing to me, the boys, and the many people he cares for every day. Happy birthday Greg, I love you!

Thanks Mom!

Adam went off to school today for one of the year's most beloved activities: "Walk Through Ancient Times". As a sixth grader, Adam has been studying ancient cultures in social studies this year and has learned so much. The sixth graders dress as assigned Greek or Roman personalities and act out their parts.

Adam is Hercules. You probably can't tell that by the costume, but this mom had a kid who had definite ideas about his costume. When you google image "Hercules" for costume ideas, you get either the Disney version, or the "authentic" version: a naked Greek god. Neither version is acceptable for a sixth grade Catholic school kid, so Adam broke out his sketch pad and designed his own costume. We took a quick trip to the fabric store and this was the end result. Hopefully, none of his classmates will look at the seams!

Several times a day, I thank my mom mentally for all of the things she's taught me. One of those things is rudimentary sewing skills. My mom could sew anything, from costumes to prom dresses. She taught me how to thread and operate my sewing machine (which is now a 20+ year old singer on its last legs) and how to follow a pattern. She also taught me how to think creatively and to improvise. I offered to buy Adam a costume, but he was actually really wanting a home made one that met his specifications. I think the most important part for him was the shield and "sword", made of a yard stake and painted to look authentic. He's still in the "stick" phase, where anything he picks up can be used for swashbuckling.

I don't know how many more of these dress up occasions we'll have - probably not too many. So it's fun to make Adam smile with a few yards of fabric, a stick, and some pretty wobbly hems. Thanks Mom, for teaching me that with a little love, a costume can turn out just right!