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April Showers of Grace
April 29, 2015
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Hello, and happy Spring! Happy Easter! 20150404_185745048_iOS

As the month April comes to a close, I can’t turn the calendar page without first sharing an update with you. It’s been one of those months that has been jam-packed with so many things that honestly, it’s a bit of a blur. But, since the Good Lord was especially good this month, I feel the need to stop. Reflect. Take it in, and do a little blog-dance of gratitude and share the latest news with you! First, was the unexpected news that we sold our home! I say unexpected because it wasn’t on the market, and not something we were actively pursuing. But when the Lord moves…He moves (and in this case…literally!) :)

Needless to say, it’s been a complete whirlwind and a ball of emotions as we searched for a new home, went through the loan process and packed up our home of 10 years. With seven people and nearly a decade of stuff, it’s been quite a fun (and lengthy!) walk down memory lane.

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Don’t you just love it when kids explore “antiques” and laugh at how “old stuff” used to work?! Ha ha. YES KIDS, this is how we used to video tape, in the old days! :) It’s so easy to get sidetracked and get lost in boxes of old memories (okay, I will admit it’s easier for me to do that, than my husband).:) Kudos to Jim for staying on task, while I procrastinate. But all in all, I think we are in good shape to move (tomorrow!) and begin a new chapter of our lives. As I write this, we are hours away from Closing! Thanks be to God!

I can’t wait to tell you all about the new house! If you listen to the Good Things Radio podcast, you will know all about it. And if you haven’t listened yet, I hope you will. You can find us in iTunes and also at GoodThingsRadio.com.

The new place is  currently undergoing a bit of a paint transformation, and I’m excited to share some of the before/after pics, once it’s complete. Here’a a bit of sampling of some of the colors:

PaintColorsI never knew how many shades of neutral there are out there! I am awful at visualizing things, so I’m just hoping and praying this looks okay. I need to ask for the intercession of Michelangelo on this one I think! Lol.

Another big April blessing was Gabriel’s Confirmation.

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I am so proud of this Godly young man! It was a happy day. We pray the full outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit on all those Confirmed!

Jim and I thought a long time about what gift we should give Gabe for his Confirmation. He already has so many rosaries, Bibles, holy medals, books and religious items (not that you can have too much), but we wanted it to be something unique and very significant. After much thought, we decided to get him a nice watch. I feel that a good watch is a kind of a “coming of age” gift for a man.

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Initially I was going to have it engraved with Psalm 90: 12- “Teach us to number our days, so that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” But after brainstorming with my podcast partner Jennifer, she suggested “Be Not Afraid.” Gabe chose St. John Paul II as his Confirmation Saint, and  “Be Not Afraid” became somewhat of a theme of JPII’s pontificate. In fact uttered the words three times on October 22, 1978, at the beginning of his pontificate. It is replete with meaning and power and I wrote Gabe a letter with some of the history behind that phrase, so he could better appreciate the significance. Not only is it a call to action in life, but in evangelization and faith as well!

For more ideas about how to make the sacraments special, check out my friend Becky’s article, posted over at Catholic-Link! 

April has also been a busy month for our podcast, planning a possible retreat, and enjoying some speaking events here in Ohio.

I was blessed to emcee a “Hearts for Heaven” conference with my dear friend, Nora White, as the keynote. What a testimony she has! 20150418_171411260_iOS

The speaking ministry has been a gift beyond measure since I left The Fish. It’s such a blessing to still be able to connect with beautiful hearts, even though I’m no longer on a daily radio program. Lord knows, I like to talk! Ha. So I’m grateful to God for allowing me to still serve Him in that way. If you would like to book me for an event, please head over to Saint Gabriel Media. I would love to visit your church or group!

And on just a little fun note, I wanted to share a neat lecture I recently heard. It’s from The Teaching Company (and if they don’t carry Great Courses at your local library, request it! They will). It’s been a wonderful bit of information and inspiration during the packing process:

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Great for anyone who has kids, or works with kids of any age! Very interesting stuff. In fact, I need to check it out again, just to take notes!

 

I pray that your April was abundantly blessed, and your Easter was a beautiful celebration of LIFE! I’ve got so much more to share with you, and I hope you’ll check out the podcast, if you haven’t already! Blessings to you, and may you enjoy the richness of this Spring season with Easter-eyes…seeing all the life, colors, and beauty that God has made! xoxo

Podcast Prayer
A Prayer of Hope
March 8, 2015
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On our last episode of  Good Things Radio (Episode #006: Tidal Wave of Emotions”) one of the things Jennifer and I talked about was a recent trip to Florida, and some of the highs and lows from that experience.

The “highs” were many! Warm sunshine, visiting family, seeing new places, and no dishes to wash (high-five! :)).

APrayerofHopeBrookeTaylorWe also went to Walt Disney World! I was worried that Karolina would struggle with all the stimulation, but she LOVED it! Seeing her joy was the greatest gift ever. Recalling that she was once in an orphanage halfway across the world and was now floating with happiness at Disney, was an overwhelming moment! Our Polish Princess! :) Just look at that smile:

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God is so good. The giver and source of all good things!

But of course, life is filled with light and dark, hills and valleys. For instance, see that picture-perfect scene in photo #1? Just moments after that was taken, one of my sons pushed the other into the reflecting pool behind us. Oh, and did I mention we were at a holy shrine?! And my poor, unsuspecting son was fully clothed (then subsequently fully soaked). It was a moment of true parental humility, in every sense of the word! I accepted the claim that it was a complete accident, and my soaked son accepted an apology from his bro. But needless to say, I walked away thinking we could never show our faces in that place again. The silver lining was that my son got some badly needed new summer shoes (since we were far from the hotel and his sneakers were dripping), and I also believe they will always  remember visiting that church! Lol.

We also struggled with meltdowns (which I described in our Podcast) but in the end, it was another reminder to just “lay it down” at the cross. To do the best I could, then surrender everything else to the Lord. I’m still working on that, but prayers and chocolate help. :) One of the prayers I ran across is called “A Prayer for Hope” by Bernard of Clairvaux. We shared it at the end of our Podcast and I wanted to post it here, for you.

“O you, whoever you are, who feel that in the tidal wave of this world you are nearer to being tossed about among the squalls and gales than treading on dry land, if you do not want to founder in the tempest, do not avert your eyes from the brightness of this star.  When the wind of temptation blows up within you, when you strike upon the rock of temptation, gaze up at this star, call out to Mary.  Whether you are being tossed about by the waves of pride or ambition or slander or jealousy, gaze up at this star, call out to Mary.  When rage or greed or fleshly desires are battering the skiff of your soul, gaze up at Mary.    In dangers, in hardships, in every doubt, think of Mary, call out to Mary.  Keep her in your mouth, keep her in your heart. Follow the example of her life and you will obtain the favor of her prayer.  Following her, you will never go astray.  Asking her help, you will never despair.  Keeping her in your thoughts, you will never wander away.  With your hand in hers, you will never stumble.  With her protecting you, you will not be afraid.  With her leading you, you will never tire.  Her kindness will see you through.” 

Our beautiful Mother!

I pray you all have a wonderful week. Thank you everyone who has ordered our new CD. Your encouragement and support means more than you know.

God bless you, my friends!

Prayer Prayers
Exciting Announcement!
March 6, 2015
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I’m so delighted to finally share a project that has been in the works for a very long time. At long last, it’s here! It is with great excitement and admittedly, some fear and trembling, I am overjoyed to reveal it now! It’s a new CD called:

 “Pray With Me: A Treasury of Catholic Family Prayers.”

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Here’s the description: ” An album containing a treasury of Catholic family prayers set to original music compositions, many prayers containing a narrative historical description pointing out the origins and importance of the prayer, and several prayers recited in Latin.”

The project was dormant in my heart for many years, and was born out of working at 95.5 The Fish and encountering so many families who simply weren’t quite sure how to “live out” their faith at home and what that is supposed to look like. Having felt the same way myself for many years, I could relate. However, as we slowly incorporated daily prayer into our family life, a transformation began to occur. A spark was ignited! That was the inspiration. This project not only offers some of the most common, traditional Catholic prayers but also the significance, historically and theologically, of why they are important. This allows the listener to enter into a deeper understanding and appreciation of the prayers.

It took six months of research, writing, composing original background music (thanks to Mark Coming!) and production, to get to this point.

My sincere prayer is that this project will bless and strengthen families and also inspire a deeper personal faith. Through my own journey with the Lord and developing a personal relationship with Him, I have come to rely very much on the power of the prayers included in this CD. When you realize the power of the words, it becomes much more than dry recitation, but a proclamation of the heart!

The CD has 31 tracks, including brief introductions like, why do we make the Sign of the Cross? The story behind such famous prayers as Hail, Holy Queen and the Nicene Creed. I think my sentimental favorite is the section on Latin. A scholar, I am not, and in truth, these few prayers are about the only Latin I really know…but that’s also what I love about it. It’s simple and accessible for anyone to learn. I also explain “Why Latin?” It’s been the most rewarding aspect of the project so far, because even the few friends who’ve been privy to the “preview” of the project have taken on the task of learning the prayers (and from what I hear, it’s been pretty easy for them)!:)  The CD is only $13 and also comes with a 2-page fold out of all the prayers written down so families can read, follow along and learn! The best part for me, personally, was the opportunity to do this project as a family.

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Please consider this a gift from the heart of our family to the heart of your family.

If you are interested in purchasing a CD, please click on our store link in the right sidebar. You can also e-mail me directly at SaintGabrielMedia@gmail.com. Additionally, they will be available at my speaking events this year, and online at iTunes and Amazon.com (soon)! :)  God bless you and thank you for support and love over so many years! Thank you for sharing this journey! xoxo

Lent
Lent, 2015
February 15, 2015
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“With its calls to conversion, Lent comes providentially to rouse us, to shake us from our torpor, from the risk of moving forward [merely] by inertia. The exhortation that the Lord speaks to us through the prophet Joel is loud and clear: “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). Why must we return to God? Because something is wrong in us, in society, in the Church – and we need to change, to turn things around, to repent! Once again Lent comes to make its prophetic appeal, to remind us that it is possible to realize something new within ourselves and around us, simply because God is faithful, continues to be full of goodness and mercy, and is always ready to forgive and start over from scratch. With this filial confidence, let us set out on our way!” -Pope Francis

Another season of Lent is upon us!  Once again friends, we are blessed to journey together yet another year. I’ve probably done a better job in years past of offering resources, so I promise to link you up to some additional helpful posts and sites, but I at least wanted to share what we’re planning so far. One of the big focal points over the years has been our little kitchen mantle. A little humble area we try to decorate to coincide with the Liturgical year. We just started assembling our mantle which I think I’d like to try to modify/switch up here and there over the 40 day journey.  For now, here’s what it looks like:

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Starting from the left:

Basket with photo from the Food for the Poor trip to Guatemala (in front). In this basket, we hope to fill (hopefully a few times over) with change for the poor. As we multiply our efforts as a family, our prayer is to offer not only a monetary gift, but prayers for the “least of these” in our own homes and communities, to those around the world.

Inside the basket is a very special version of the “Stations of the Cross.” I saw this in the Food for the Poor office in Haiti last year and never forgot the powerful images. They have haunted my heart.  In an incredible coincidence (or GOD-incidence) I was going through two bags of prayer books and holy cards today…from a friend who gave them to me after her mother died (they were the mothers’). In the midst of probably 100 items, was THE SAME Food for the Poor “Stations of the Cross” from a mailing she received in 2007! A Lenten gift from the Lord!

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I remember starting at this image and trying not to outright sob, standing in the FFTP office in Haiti. To see the picture framed and blown up in size (along with the caption) was an experience of profound emotion. These visuals are a powerful way to enter into the Passion, death and Resurrection of Christ. I pray it will be a source of contemplation for our family too,  as we pray the Stations on Friday’s during Lent. You can order or download the exact set here. 

Next on the mantle is a twig and twine wreath that I brought at Michael’s for just a few dollars. I added toothpicks to create a “Crown of Thorns.” Grant created this “IRNI” banner. It’s an abbreviation for: “Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum” (“Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”). The sign was nailed on the cross and meant to humiliate Jesus (along with the “crown.”). This reminds us of the power of God’s sacrifice. By his stripes, we are healed (-Isaiah 53: 4-5).  Lent is time of dying to the things of this world, cutting away the things that tempt us, tie us down, and keep us from Christ. Hopefully these sobering symbols will enkindle a revolution of the heart.

The pitcher is a reminder of Jesus-healer and servant-Savior (John 13: 1-7).

The nail, hangs from the tree.

I have incense and ashes (which we’ll probably replace after Ash Wednesday) Memento, homo … quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris” (cf. Gn 3:19). “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.”

 

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(Here in the United States, we receive ashes traced in the sign of the cross, on our forehead. When my husband and I were in Rome for Ash Wednesday several years ago however, the ashes were sprinkled on the top of our head (as Saint JP II is receiving)). We learned that sprinkling ashes on the crown of the head recalls the biblical method of putting on sackcloth and ashes as a sign of penance.

And finally, a wooden cross, hand-carved in Haiti.We have not opted to veil the cross yet, but plan to do so after Palm Sunday until Easter. There is a reason for veiling crosses (and sometimes other holy images). I’ve read several historical and theological reasons behind this. Including this one:

“It probably derives from a custom, noted in Germany from the ninth century, of extending a large cloth before the altar from the beginning of Lent. This cloth, called the ‘Hungertuch’ (hunger cloth), hid the altar entirely from the faithful during Lent and was not removed until during the reading of the Passion on Holy Wednesday at the words ‘the veil of the temple was rent in two.” (you can read more about that, here).

Although these mantle symbols may seem intense, heavy, and sorrowful, they are mere reminders of the power of the season..not the state of our hearts! As a family, we have a “teamwork” mentality as we condition our hearts and minds in preparation of Easter, but that doesn’t mean joy is absent. Lent is such a great reminder of how GREAT our God is…His faithfulness, His love…His mercy!

 

For wonderful resources and creative ideas, check out  “The Kennedy Adventures” blog (Dianna is amazing)!

“Fiat Blog for Women” also has a fantastic post with “40 Creative and Meaningful Things to Do for Lent.” 

Here is my post from last year about Lent (a little more comprehensive. Includes recommended movies)

I wish you a prayerful, joyful, holy journey with the Lord this year! God bless you during Lent, 2015, and always.

xoxo

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Uncategorized
Good Things Radio!
February 3, 2015
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I am delighted to share some exciting news with you! My dear friend Jennifer Willits and I have teamed up to bring you a brand new show. It’s called “Good Things Radio.” This has been a much dreamed about endeavor and I am so grateful that it’s finally happening! To celebrate, we are giving away a $25 Amazon gift card. All you have to do is sign up for our newsletter and you are automatically entered. You’ll be one of the first to be notified of new episodes and exciting giveaways and goodies. Click here to check it out!

Jennifer and I met five years ago, and although our friendship has always been long-distance, she’s about as close to me as a sister. We are both in the broadcast business, have five kids, love our faith, family, chocolate and sweat pants. What more could a girl want in a bosom friend?! :)  Since leaving The Fish six months ago to be a full-time mom, we’ve both had fun talking about the “what if” idea of merging all of those things and making a show about life, faith, and sharing this crazy adventure together…all of us. She’s in Colorado and I’m in Ohio, but I think no matter where we reside, there are many things that unite us as women, as Christians, and pilgrims in this crazy world.  Just trying to figure it out, as we all search for friends who can relate to the joys and struggles. So, that is our hope! That whether you hear our podcast while folding a load of laundry, walking on the treadmill or driving to work, that it will be a little lift to your day and a hug for your heart.

I will say this though. Although I’ve been in broadcasting  practically a wee one, podcasting is a completely different beast. Thankfully, I’ve teamed up with a veteran in the podcast biz, and I am grateful for that! Six months  out of radio has left this mama a little rusty, I’ll admit. Not only that, but I’ve never done a straight talk-show. My old-school radio brain is saying “we need to take a commercial break, or play a song!” I’m not used to talking so long without a break.  After we recorded our very first episode I started getting cold feet and focusing on all of my verbal crutches and imperfections. It’s a radio rule that the worst show you will ever do, is your very first one as a new team. Even with a great friend, it’s actually harder than you might think to gauge the timing, transition topics and remain entertaining. Even still, I found myself laughing as I listened back, and I hope you do too! In time, I look forward to growing with my friend in this new project, and I hope you will join the journey!  You can find our Podcast on iTunes (please, kindly consider leaving a review if you like what you hear). You can also find us on GoodThingsRadio.com and the Podcast app.IMG_3755To still be home with the kids but also have the opportunity to fit in a show, is really a dream come true. Right now we are doing it as a hobby/experiment.  If people listen, and if it grows, we hope to do it for as long as the Lord allows. It’s in His hands, and I am grateful for that. If you have any feedback, questions, or just want to submit a topic for the show, please leave us your thoughts on our new website! We would love to hear from you.

God bless you