The Agony and the Ecstasy of Autism
April 1, 2016

World Autism Awareness Day is Saturday, April 2. To hear the special podcast of “Good Things Radio” dedicated to this theme, click here.

Autism affects 70 million people, globally. Each person is different. I do not seek to speak for anyone else. But since our family is counted among that number, I do want to take a minute and share something I wrote about our journey. It is a tribute to my daughter, Karolina. If even one person finds this and feels a sense of solidarity in these words, I thank God for that. You are not alone. May we be a people of the Beatitudes, and celebrate the saints in our midst.

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Autism

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Autism

The secrets of the universe you hold in your mind.

Yet words to voice your wisdom you’ve been unable to find.

You live in a world of silence, and so often I feel left out.

I long to connect with you. In desperation, I want to shout.

The days you scream in endless frustration for reasons I can’t find.

This is the agony that makes me nearly lose my mind.

Lord, how can I do justice to a child such as this?

When she cannot tell me what she needs, and every hug she will dismiss?

 Friends and peers pass you by, in spades

And the dreams of a miracle slowly start to fade.

But in you I also see

Something holy, and powerful beyond this world and me.

A song that rises from an inner depth of light

That comes from within you, to serenade the night.

Your life is a symphony of rejoicing through the tears

Your music keeps me dancing and helps release my fears

As you flap your arms and jump and tiptoe merrily

You give me strength to fly with you and take in your melody

If you can do it, I know I can too.

My precious sinless child, I pray to be more like you.

You teach me patience, joy, faith, and amazing fortitude

An understanding of the cross with breathtaking magnitude.

God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;

And autism is such a perfect disguise.

God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

And in you, I’ve seen this hidden strength all along.

You are the light of my life, and the daughter of my soul

You are the North Star that points to heaven to help make me whole.

How blessed are we who love autistic saints

Because on the canvas of their lives, we see the promise of heaven God paints.

-Brooke Taylor

Amen +

National Bible Week: A Book for the Family
November 16, 2015
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“The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly so that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s Word”

(-Sacrosanctum Concililum 51)

The USCCB has declared November 15-21 National Bible Week, in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum. This year’s theme is “A Book for the Family.”  Any time is the perfect time to study sacred Scripture but I am especially thankful for the opportunity this week.

Three weeks ago, I started a free Bible Study called “Good Morning Girls” (which I talked about on episode #028 my podcast “Good Things Radio.” ) I’ve known about this for years because of a friend, Courtney Joseph who began the ministry several years ago. I just always had an excuse as to why I couldn’t do it. I was too busy, it wasn’t a Catholic-specific, I was working on something else, or reading something else. However, the more I looked into it, the more I knew I had to try it.  For the last decade, I’ve poured over the daily readings of the liturgical year but I’ve never really studied the Word of God in a formal way and it was long overdue.

“Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ.” -St. Jerome

Since I have a Catholic Bible, that is my trusted resource, and all that was needed to begin. We are currently in the book of Numbers and it has been richer and deeper than I even expected. It simply requires reading one chapter a day. That’s it. I ordered a journal from the website:


I started the study alone. Then a small group began to form. Just a few of us who act as accountability partners, as well as share our reflections from the chapter that day, via text…



“Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. ” (Hebrews 13:7)

In the evenings, we re-read the chapter as a family. What surprised me most about this, is that we’ve actually been able to keep up with it. My initial thought of not having any time to fit in a bible study, has not only been proven untrue but I’m finding time for two sessions a day? God is so good!

Needless to say, I was excited about the timing of the USCCB’s announcement of National Bible Week and the encouraging words to families about the importance of studying sacred Scripture.

“Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince,reprimand, and encourage through all patience and teaching. “– 2 Timothy 4:2

The USSCB website has wonderful resources for this week and beyond. Including a contest to test your Bible IQ! Additionally, I also ran across a website launched by the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, called Biblia Clerus.  It allows researchers to access Bible verses with exegesis from doctors of the Church or cross reference liturgical texts with commentaries from Church Fathers. That may be more of the “advanced” level, but it’s worth noting for all the armchair theologians out there!

May The Good News of Jesus Christ bless you today and always!


Halloween Liturgical Year Resurrection Uncategorized
Observing All Souls Day
October 29, 2015

We are just a few days away from the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls.  It’s times like this that I am reminded how much I love the Liturgical cadence of the year. November is the Month of Holy Souls. A time of change, darkness sets in earlier, vibrant colors fade away, and animals head into hibernation. It also coincides with the end of the Church year and the reminder of our own mortal “end” and what lies ahead. Not usually something we like to think about! But, there is a certain beauty in honoring the souls that have touched our lives and paved the way before us.  Since it’s not something I wanted to just blow by in one day, I decided to start a little early to prepare as a family. Granted, this is about as simple as it gets, but I entrust the rest to the Holy Spirit. This is our little mantle for All Saints Day (Nov.1) and All Souls Day (Nov 2.):

Simple Ways to Observe the Feast of All Souls' Day


Here’s a breakdown of what we have displayed:

The candle:
We went around the table and wrote the names of the faithful departed. Those (mostly within the last year) that we have loved and lost, and want to remember in a special way. This was surprisingly emotional for me (although I’m always emotional, so that should’t be a surprise! ha). It was a very powerful time of recollection, joy and somber reflection after writing the names of each soul.

Anita Kennedy, Mr. Costanzi, Grandpa, Francois, Ruth Howser, Louis Zamperini, Abigail, and many others.


The clock. I included this as the centerpiece behind the crucifix as a tie-in to both All Souls and All Saints day. A reminder that our minutes are numbered, and we must love and serve God and others with the precious time we have. Inspired by the following story:

“Once there was a king who desired not to forget that, like other men, he must die, and he had a man whose duty it was to come before him each hour and repeat the words: “Remember thou art mortal!”
That is, every hour he had this man remind him that sometime he would have to die. Each time the man came in before the king, he was reminded that he had one hour less to live; so, each and every time that you hear the clock strike, you should be reminded of the fact that another hour has passed, and that you have one less to live. In this sense every clock has a tongue, and when it strikes it tells us that we will now have one hour less to live upon the earth.

Redeem the time: Ephesians v. 16

“Did you ever stop to think that a man who is thirty-five years old has had five solid years of Sundays? And the man who is seventy years old, has had ten solid years of Sundays? With the years given to worship and the study of God’s Word, a man at seventy ought know a great deal concerning the teachings of the Bible. May God teach us so to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

-Sylvanus Stall

With that, I also printed out Psalm 90: 12:

“So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”

I also have my Dad’s memory card from his funeral service (Love that strong smile. Miss you, so much. xoxo). As well as holy cards of the Saints (the Church Triumphant) and a blessing cup chalice.

For All Saints Day, I purchased “Brother Francis presents The Saints Coloring and Activity Book”  for Mr. Gus (although this is probably better suited for 5-10 year olds).

AllSaintsColoringBookI’m hoping we can get to the cemetery over the weekend and pray the Rosary too. Oddly, it’s one of my favorite things to do as a family (I know that sounded weird, but it’s really me)! Lol. I love praying for the families as we stop at each grave stone. These are people we will never know this side of heaven, but the Lord hears the prayers and applies grace to the people/families who need it, and I just love that.

Do you celebrate the Feasts of All Saints and/or All Souls Day? I would love to hear how you observe them!

Finally, I wanted to share a “soul exercise” I ran across Fr. Ed Hays’ blog. He says the following:

Today the soul is commonly considered to be the totality of the self as a living conscious subject. But what are your thoughts about the soul? One thing for sure, talking about or to your soul would make you more conscious of its invisible mysterious existence. If you care to experiment, the following examples can be a beginning of your own Soul Language Lexicon.

*Coming home tired: “Oh, my poor weary soul, I’m dead on my feet.”
*During a long sermon: “My sorry soul aches for him to stop preaching.”
*Upon winning anything: “O my soul, dance with joy—I’ve won!”
*Finding place to park: “Look, my soul, an empty parking space. God is good!”
*Awakening at dawn: “O my soul—I’m alive! I’ve been gifted with another day.”

 -From the Haystack Blog.

May God bless your soul! xoxo



Testing the Spirit
October 18, 2015
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Testing the spirit:

Several weeks ago, my spiritual director challenged me to “test the Spirit” about a little flame that had been flickering in my heart. The little flame, was a retreat. Specifically, a Good Things Radio retreat, which my friend Jennifer and I have dreamed about since our first “Weary Women’s Weekend” getaway in 2012. We didn’t know the “how” or “where” or “when” at the time, but the desire to have a soul-sabattical with other sisters in Christ has remained like a little glowing ember.  I have come to learn that when you intend to “test the Spirit…buckle up!  Thanks to the blessed wise counsel of this dear priest and the generous support of Walsh University the retreat has come to life! GO Holy Spirit! Jesus, I trust in you!

The last year has brought many hills and valleys and I wasn’t sure I had the stamina to take on something like this but now that it’s happening, I am so energized by stories and souls of those who are being called to attend. Last year when Jennifer and I began the podcast, we floated a little “test balloon” to the listeners to ask the question: are you interested in going on a retreat? Would you come? I thought maybe a few hardy souls might reach out (I hoped!)  but what we received was an overwhelming response from women in 22 states who expressed interest. That little light is in the hearts of so many others as well, just waiting to be called to this special place. So it is happening and the prayer going forward now is that those who have been summoned will be there to receive the blessing. My mind is so full of details about the actual gathering that it’s hard to know where to begin. I think the most important aspect is to communicate why these weekends are so important. Retreats can have an immeasurable benefit. In Matthew 14:22-23-Our Lord himself receives profound blessings from “retreating” to the mountains. He is tempted; He preaches, He prays, He is transfigured, He speaks his last words to his disciples. In each instance, Jesus comes and remains close to God by retreating, by praying.That is the purpose of a gathering such as this.

To slow down our breathing.

Relax our souls.

Pull away from the world and graft ourselves onto HIM.

Make new friends.

Learn new things.

Laugh like schoolgirls.

Pray like saints. And enjoy our lives by awakening our souls to the infinite gifts around us.

Here’s the scoop.

The retreat will be held at Loyola Retreat House in Clinton, OH…


Testing the Spirit-Arise Women’s Retreat

Thursday evening, March 10, through Sunday morning, March 14, 2016. (please listen to GTR episode #24 entitled “Retreating” to find out more about why we chose Thurs-Sunday).



Testing the Spirit-Arise Women’s Retreat

Featuring: Fr. Nathan Cromly, Jennifer Willits, Lisa Hendey (founder of and author), Sarah Reinhard (author and speaker), Ben Walther (worship leader), Andrea Singarella (craft workshop leader) and most importantly: The Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit. To have an opportunity to “Be Still and know that I Am God.” (Psalms 46:10). To steal away with the Savior in sweet moments of quietude. To enter into the Liturgy of the Hours and draw close enough to His heart to really feel His presence.

As the deer longs for streams of water,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, the living God.
When can I enter and see the face of God? (-Psalms 42: 2-3)

I love how Fr. Nathan pulls people around him into his prayer life, and that will be the case for this retreat. For those called to join in Holy Mass, and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Reconciliation and more. In working with him to build the itinerary, I was overcome with emotion just thinking about the tender way God cares for us, and anticipating the holy gifts that will be unwrapped during these few days.


The ticket includes lodging, all meals unlimited beverages, one-on-one spiritual direction, workshops, presentations and so much more. Pre-sale tickets go on sale for our Good Things Radio listeners on Thursday, October 22 (and if you aren’t a Good Things Radio friend yet, I encourage you to “Like” our page on Facebook) :) We will share the link on the page soon. After that, tickets will go on sale to the public but space is very limited (only 50), so I am just praying that those who are supposed to be there will come.

I thank my wonderful priest friend for challenging me to “test the Spirit” even when I was afraid. I hope you will consider testing the Spirit as well!

Faith family Home Uncategorized
A Season of Change
September 25, 2015

Well hello there! I am so happy to be back after a bit of an unexpected blogging hiatus. I am even happier that you are still here with me. Thank you. The last few months have brought so much change that I hardly know where to begin. The biggest development has been our move. We settled in to our new home about four months ago, about a 10 minute drive from our old neighborhood. The transition has been a little tough, in all honesty. The kids miss their old friends and I miss my old comforts, like our well-loved kitchen and my backyard garden. Our new home is in a quiet neighborhood with heavenly peace and that has been like balm for my introverted soul, but like all things in life, there is the sweet with the sour.

I love the morning room: 20150514_180628050_iOS For some reason, I didn’t have the “feet” on the bottom of the chair yet, so it looks a bit cattywampus. Please just go ahead and disregard that oddity (now that I pointed it out. Ha ha),:)  We painted the room (it had been a mint green) and changed it to “Aged beige” which I would love to paint the entire house in at some point. When we moved in, everything was a rose/pink color. Perhaps that should’ve been a sign of things to come (i.e. lots of work ahead), but we were in house-love and wearing rose colored glasses, so for us, the work ahead seemed more like “fun weekend projects” as opposed to a potential full time (and expensive) hobby. As we’ve settled in, we’ve begun to notice ever more “warts” (just like real- life relationship I suppose). The honeymoon officially came to an end recently when a portion of our ceiling collapsed. The cause was a water overflow on the top floor from the toilet. The good news was that it was clean water. The bad news was, it was a gusher and we didn’t see it until our ceiling was already saturated. We had been praying a family rosary in the morning room and were totally oblivious of the toilet turmoil until we walked out into the kitchen and noticed a mysterious dripping in the living room. We made a collective sprint up the stairs and activated a family flood-drill (translation: total chaos), with all hands on deck getting towels and sealing the gush, but this was the end result:

Warning. This is not pretty.


It was a good thing we had just prayed the rosary or something very different than “Hail Mary” could’ve easily have slipped out of my mouth! The good news….it could’ve been worse. This is just one panel of drywall when you think about it. What we thought at first would be a total loss of carpet in two rooms, a major celling repair, sanitation and painting, ended up being much less than we feared.

“This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” 

So many things flowed through my heart that day. The gratitude of the community and so many who prayed for our family. The gift of a sturdy home. Visiting Haiti and Guatemala, I remember seeing an entire home collapse from a typical storm. Leaky roofs and crude stick walls are the reality of so many on the planet. We just had one small hole and soaked carpet. All which can be repaired without much inconvenience.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]? -Matthew 6: 25-28

Pray. Trust. Don’t worry. Wise words from St. Padre Pio. In the midst of this trial, there was also something to laugh about…

Another new change to our family is the addition of our foreign exchange student, Vivian. She is from China and attends high school with my oldest son. Her presence in the home as been a wonderful gift and we’ve had many laughs so far, including this! An unforgettable (mis) adventure!  Wherever she goes in her life, she will always remember that crazy day when her American home flooded and the ceiling collapsed!CedarPointTheSacredSink

Welcome to the family, Vivian!:)

Even with that commode calamity, financial strains, busy kids and balancing schedules,  life has been good. So rich with the sweet nectar of God’s grace. Stretching me, pulling me, and pushing me down to my knees at the foot of the cross. I need to be there more. It is there, looking up, that I can see so clearly how He loves me and cares for me when I am unable to do it on my own. He has the answers when I have none. The water that gushes from his side gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit when I am dry. How can I do anything but rejoice and reach up to embrace his sacred feet? Through times of crisis, he sustains me. This has been the reality and revelation over the last few months that I’ve been going back to. With our lives behind somewhat upended with the move, adjustment, constant flow of  home”projects” and the challenge of plugging Karolina into a new county for care and services, it’s been so difficult to get into any sort of rhythm. Prayer or otherwise. That reality has made an already challenging transition, even more difficult. So, the home crisis was almost like a gift, in an odd way. An opportunity to be in the presence of the Lord. For my soul to be disposed to hear His summons.

And with that, I feel the summons of my droopy eyelids calling me to rest (at 4:15am)!!  I may be a little rusty after so long, but thank you for your grace and patience. If you are interested in a certain theme or topic for my next post, I would be so grateful for your feedback. Do you desire more posts about prayer, meditations and reflections? Do you enjoy the family stories or more of the health/beauty/recipes? Please let me know! And thank you, friend, for journeying with me, even when the sky falls down and the posts aren’t pretty. God bless you.