Thursday, November 20, 2014

At CatholicMom: Keeping Advent Holy

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I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but I'm a planner, and I'm writing this column for myself.  I'm going to print it off, stick it to my refrigerator, and remind myself of these words when Advent is upon us.  As our family grows, the Advent and Christmas seasons get a little more chaotic with each year.  I thought I'd come up with some survival tips for those trying to keep the time holy...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Put It To Work 6

Put It To Work
Put It To Work

Happy Monday morning!  It’s time for Put It To Work, our weekly opportunity to swap prayer intentions.  The goal of Put It To Work is to actively unite our intentions to the cross for one another, putting the prayer intentions “to work”–especially in times of suffering (no matter how small).  

Thank you for continuing to share your prayer intentions with me.  My weeks have been transformed by the power of your prayers.  Being able to lift up your intentions throughout the ordinariness of my days sanctifies and blesses my work.  Thank you for the honor of entrusting some of the most private and painful intentions to me.  I continue to pray for all of them.

Please put these intentions to work this week:
  • Strength, peace, and comfort for those who struggle with depression, anger, and loneliness during the holiday season.
  • For a softening of heart and a warm homecoming for those loved ones who have left the Faith  
  • Safe travels for my family members as they journey here on Saturday for our first Thanksgiving celebration in our new home
  • As we prepare to host my (large!) family this week, for Philip and I to prioritize and remember what really matters when snafus arise 
  • For my patience as I learn how to coach Jane and Walt through the preschool years
  • That Philip and I will continue to work everyday to further strengthen our marriage
I know you've been seeing those last 2 intentions on here week after week.  I'll probably keep asking for prayers for my patience and for continued strengthening of our marriage for a long, long time because, well, who doesn't need more patience, and who doesn't want an even stronger marriage?

What about you?  What prayer intentions can I start “putting to work” for you this week?  I’ll add them to my prayer journal and bring them with me to my prayer time throughout the week.

Thank you for praying for us!  You’re in my prayers this week, too!

Friday, November 14, 2014

7QT: 10 minute challenge edition

7 Quick Takes Friday Hosted at Conversion Diary
7 Quick Takes Friday
This week, I'm going to try and write my post in ten minutes.  Timer begins NOW!


Head over to Brandon Vogt's blog to enter his "Behold Your Mother" Book Giveaway!  I already did, and I'm hoping I win one of the books.  If not, I'll just have to buy myself a copy anyway!  Can't wait to feast my eyes on this compilation of everything there is to know about the Blessed Mother.  As a cradle Catholic, I suppose I've taken a lot of the misconceptions and objections about her for granted.  


I love Jen Fulwiler, I love the Gaffigan family, and those two worlds splendidly collided in a Catholic girl's fantasy world!  Jen Fulwiler just had Jeannie Gaffigan on her new Sirius radio show AND Sirius made a podcast of the show available!  YAY!  I haven't heard it yet, but I have a date to listen to it tonight while I fold laundry.  You know you're jealous!


Are you going to the Edel Gathering this year?  I'm going with one of my dearest friends, and I CANNOT WAIT!  Is it July yet?  Hallie just announced the speakers, and I'm LOVING them already!  They are Rachel Balducci and Kelly Mantoan.  I just started following their blogs and reading about them.  Edel '15 is already shaping up to be living up to the hype!  Tickets go on sale next Wednesday.  Hope I'll see ya there!  


Remember my friends Amanda and Jonathan?  Their precious baby, Josephine Rose Teixeira is here!!!  BABY TEX IS HERE!  I can't wait to squeeze that little cutie pie!  Thank you so much for all of your prayers, especially this week.  God will not be outdone in generosity, people!  Isn't it the best when we can see His faithfulness in the lives of the people we love?!  Search for the hashtag #babytex for their latest updates on Amanda and Jonathan's journey with Josie.  


I'm turning 30 on the 26th.  Am I the only one whose reaction to turning 30 is, "Meh"?  The number just isn't fazing me.  (Yes, it's "fazing" and not "phasing."  Read why here.)  Perhaps I should feel old when I think about my big gift wishes.  I don't want jewelry, a big party, roses, or a fancy dinner.  The only thing I want for my birthday (and Christmas and Valentine's Day) is someone to help clean the house so that I can focus more on doing the mom thing.  If someone could deep clean the bathrooms and kitchen for me on a semi-regular basis, that would be heavenly!  If that makes me old and lame, that's okay.  I'm okay with being old and lame if it means I can spend more time enjoying our family. 


We had this Slow Cooker Stout and Chicken Stew for dinner the other night.  DELICIOUS!  It involves chicken thighs, bacon, and a stout.  Need I say more?  I recommend adding a little more salt and some spices (garlic & thyme) to give it a little more pizazz.  We loved it!



Philip is deer hunting with the other guys in my family this weekend.  Please pray for their safety and that they each bag a deer ASAP so that us ladies can get our husbands back!  Should I be concerned that Philip felt the need to pack all of these gloves and suturing supplies???

supplies copy

Okay, I wrote it in 20 minutes, but I had several interruptions.  Maybe next time.

If you want to read more 7QT posts from real bloggers, head over to Kelly Mantoan's blog to join in the fun!  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thirsting Thursday: "I'm Sorry"

I know, I'm crazy, but I have another harebrained idea for a new regular series on the blog.  I'm calling it "Thirsting Thursday."  No, no, I'm not talking about the "Thirsty Thursday" from your college days.  J.C. gave me the idea when he said, "I thirst" (John 19:28).

I don't know about you, but by Thursday, I'm usually thirsting.  With the weekend nearly in sight and the exhaustion of the week building up, I.  Am.  Thirsty.  I'm thirsting for inspiration, for encouragement, for a break.  

Amen, brother!

On those Thursdays when I'm needing a little pick-me-up, I thought it would be fun to revisit my previous blog posts.  I've been writing for three years, so I've accumulated all kinds of posts with fun dialogues from you readers.  On Thirsting Thursdays, let's go back to those treasured posts, pull out the nuggets, ask some new questions, add new insights, share how we're STILL struggling, and encourage each other to keep going!  

Today, let's go back to my post called, "I'm Sorry."  I published it in August 2012.  It's all about how a Catholic Answers Live episode taught Philip and I how to readily forgive one another when we're fighting.  
Philip says, "It's helpful if both people are willing to say they're sorry because usually both people contributed to the problem.  Even if you don't feel like you're wrong, saying you're sorry doesn't mean that you're wrong, but that the way you approached making your point might have been the issue rather than what you were saying.  Saying 'I'm sorry' doesn't mean 'I was wrong.'" 
He had this to add:  "Show the other person that you understand where they are coming from and show them that you understand their reaction.  Keeping the focus on their feelings and not just on the problem helps you both to move on.

When you get to a standstill, focus on understanding where the other person is coming from rather than trying to make them understand your point of view.  That helps us to move on faster and spend more time together."
Read the rest here.

After you (re)read the post, I'd love to discuss:
  • Do you and your spouse have a strategy for moving through conflict faster?
  • Have you noticed any patterns to your fights?  
  • Are you guilty of keeping "I'm sorry score"?
  • When was the last time you said the words, "I forgive you"?
  • When was the last time you heard the words, "I forgive you"?
Cheers to you this Thirsting Thursday!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Put It To Work 5

Hey!  Look!  This is #5 in the "Put It To Work" series!  This just *might* stick as a regular feature!

Put It To Work
Put It To Work
It’s another Monday morning, so it’s time for Put It To Work, our weekly opportunity to swap prayer intentions.  The goal of Put It To Work is to actively unite our intentions to the cross for one another, putting the prayer intentions “to work”–especially in times of suffering (no matter how small).  Thank you for sharing your prayer intentions with me last week.  I continue to bring your intentions with me to my prayer time.

My intentions this week:
  • Remember my friends Amanda and Jonathan Teixeira?  Today is their baby's birthday!!!  Please pray for them, their baby, and their courageous birth mother.  Check out their blog for information on how to follow along today.  Look for the hashtag #BabyTex.  They have an 11:30 a.m. (Pacific Time) scheduled c-section.  Please lift them all up in prayer at that time!
  • For the repose of the souls of my Grandpa Gene and Philip's Grandma Pat.  They both had November birthdays, and we're missing them this month.
  • For the safety of all of the guys in the family as they prepare for their big hunting trip this weekend.  Safety first, boys!
  • For my patience as I learn how to coach Jane and Walt through the preschool years
  • That Philip and I will continue to work everyday to further strengthen our marriage
What about you?  What prayer intentions can I start “putting to work” for you this week?  I’ll add them to my prayer journal and bring them with me to my prayer time throughout the week.

Thank you for praying for us!  You’re in my prayers this week, too!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Meeting Trent Horn

Trent Horn, one of my favorite Catholic apologists and speakers, came to St. Michael's Catholic Church in Lincoln yesterday.  I got to attend his talk with my sister and brother-in-law.  What a fun way to spend a Saturday morning!  (A Christian apologist, from the Greek word meaning "to give an account," is a person answering Paul's call in 1 Peter 3:15 to always be ready to give a defense of the faith.)
Trent Horn, photo from Catholic Answers Live
Trent Horn, photo from Catholic Answers Live
Trent is a regular guest on Catholic Answers Live.  As I've mentioned several times before on the blog, Catholic Answers Live is a dynamo call-in radio show.  It airs for two hours Monday-Friday.  The show has a range of topics related to Catholicism.  When Trent Horn is the guest, the hosts kiddingly say they "discriminate against the Catholic guests" and ask only non-Catholics to call-in.  The show topics include:
(Click on any of the above links to listen to podcasts of the archived Catholic Answers shows with Trent Horn.)

I love it when Trent Horn is on Catholic Answers because of his unique ability to defend the Faith.  When many Christians get riled up by the vitriol spewed at them from those that call themselves pro-choice, atheists, or anti-theists, Trent remains calm.  By using the Socratic Method (asking a whole lotta good questions), Trent gently and lovingly exposes the weak or false beliefs of the caller.  While many callers do not hang up convinced of the Catholic worldview, many thank Trent and Catholic Answers Live for offering a venue to discuss these matters in ways that are rarely achieved elsewhere.  In fact, many of the callers say that they are leaving the call with more questions and that they look forward to talking again.

Yesterday at St. Michael's, Trent shared a talk that he called a "Beginner's guide to defending your faith."  Before the talk began, he greeted the guests and signed his materials in the vestibule.  A few of our GodTeens call themselves atheists, so I thought it would be wise to get Trent's DVD and book Answering Atheism.  I noticed he had a DVD called "Why Believe in Jesus?" too, so I asked him which would be better for our GodTeens group.  He said that he believed in getting the materials to as many people as possible, so he said that he would give me one for free if I bought the other.  So, I got them all!  He graciously signed the DVDs and book for me.


I love how he signed the book's title page:


I wonder if Trent regularly listens to Fr. John Riccardo too, because Fr. Riccardo regularly says that Sirach 2 is going to be to focus of the eulogy at his funeral Mass.  It was endearing to meet Trent in person and get to talk with him for a few minutes.  I even got to ask him what he, his wife, and Pope Francis were giggling about in his Facebook cover photo.  Ha!

Trent's talk gave all of us helpful insights into how to defend the faith rationally.  When we get stumped, he recommended these 4 steps:
  1. Pray, pray, pray!
  2. Ask the person, "What do you think?" about the topic you're discussing.
  3. After they've answered, ask, "Why do you think that?"
  4. If you're still stumped, say, "Let me think about it, and I will get back to you."
IMG_6963 - Version 2
How adorable is the guy in the suspenders in front of me???

I appreciated the practical tips on how to defend the faith.  I felt like I had gained a handy dandy toolbox for handling the tough questions that get hurled my way, especially with our GodTeens.


Trent took some time to answer questions at the end.  I raised my hand and said, "Let's say you are leading a small youth group, and a few of the young people struggle with anger toward God and doubt in His existence because of their childhoods.  What would you say is the most convincing argument for a young person that God loves them and that they should have a relationship with Christ?"

I loved, loved, loved Trent's answer.  I have to paraphrase because I can't remember every word he said, but the gist was this:
  • First, give the rational defense of God's creation of the world.  God's creation of the world and our existence demonstrates His love.
  • Second, reflect on Christ's Passion, Death, and Resurrection.  God is omnipotent, so He didn't have to send His Only Son to die for us, but He did.  Aquinas reflects on God's choosing to send Christ and have Him die on the cross.  God's choice to send Christ on our behalf is a visible, tangible way for us to remember that He loves us enough to do that (pointing to the crucifix).
We all want to know that we are loved, that we are precious, and that we matter.  When we look at the crucifix, how can we not be convinced of His Love for us?  Great answer, Trent!

Thank you for coming to Lincoln and for sharing your wisdom with all of us, Trent!  You, your ministry, and the Catholic Answers apostolate are in our prayers!

Friday, November 7, 2014

7QT: Harry the Monkey Edition

This week, it's all about Mr. Harry!  Just shy of 15 months, Harry is a full-fledged MONKEY!  The little guy has serious climbing skills.  He's our most coordinated kiddo yet, and he's having fun trying to keep up with Jane & Walt.


His current favorite spot is on top of this kiddie table in Jane's room.  (The table used to be Philip's when he was a little boy.  Cool, huh?!  Thanks for saving it all of these years, Janet!)


Philip had the ladder out to change some lightbulbs the other day.  When Philip left the room to get more bulbs, Harry took it upon himself to try the ladder out.  Fortunately, I was there to peel the little daredevil away before he fell off!


Our parish had their Holiday Fair last Sunday.  We got a fantastic basket from the silent auction full of children's books, superhero capes, and a dinosaur tail.  Harry wears his dinosaur tail EVERYWHERE! Here's dinosaur Harry, cookin' up something in the kitchen.


Second only to Jane, Harry is Monty's biggest fan!  While I was making our bed, Harry decided he'd keep Monty company.  I love how he put his left arm around Monty for the pic.  Monty's still not so sure about all of the attention, but he's a good sport about tolerating it!  He'll simply lick Harry until he stops when he's had enough attention.


Jane and Walt are enjoying their evening swim lessons.  (Hallelujah!)  Two nights a week, Harry and I get to watch them below from the observation deck.  Harry loves the one-on-one time with me, and he has a fun spot to play around.  Here he is, lounging against the window, watching the big kids swim.


While Walt was at preschool yesterday, I took Jane and Harry to SAM's & Walmart for our weekly grocery run.  I decided Harry was finally ready to sit next to Jane in the BIG cart.  Oh my goodness, he LOVED it!  He giggled the whole time and shamelessly flirted with all of the ladies we passed by.


Now that he's tall enough to see over the windowsill, this is Harry's favorite spot.  He loves to watch the action outside from this window.  Early this morning, he ran to the window as soon as he was done with his breakfast to watch the neighbors' cars leave for school and work.  

Head over to Conversion Diary to read more 7QT posts!  Hope you have a great weekend!