Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ten Easter Eggs in the Wild and TEE and me on Inkygirl

I'm on Inkygirl (Debbie Ohi's blog). Hop on over to see how my manuscript turned into a novelty book!

And here it is in the wild! I hope they have boxes of it in the back because I'm doing story-time and book-signing at 11 am Apr. 8th at the Mount Pleasant Towne Center. See you there!  












Friday, March 24, 2017

Reading Amy Krouse Rosenthal RIP

I've been reading so many good books and have to share a few. 

Amy Krouse Rosenthal died ten days after the publication of her Modern Love essay. Heartbreakingly beautiful. I am thankful for putting into words what I've often pondered myself. I remembered how much I loved her picture books. Imagine my delight at seeing how many more she'd published since Little Pea. It was such a treat to have a AKR read-a-thon. I think my favorite is I Wish You More. Requiescat in pace, Amy. I wish -- no, I pray -- you heaven now and forever more.

Other books gave me much enjoyment. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon was a delightful love story between a Haitian girl and a Korean-American boy. I enjoyed the conversations the kids had, reminiscent of the conversations Michael and I shared as we ate Ferdinand's ice cream in the afternoons on the campus of WSU. I laughed so hard over the depiction of the Korean family. I think some things are common to all immigrant families.

I love a good historical and The Mapmaker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy was a rich imagining of the life of Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown. McCoy alternates the Sarah chapters with the modern-day story of Eden, a woman struggling with infertility. The two stories intersect beautifully. The book asks what it means to be a woman, to be childless. I kept thinking how much these characters would've appreciated Pope St. John Paul's II apostolic letter On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.


It's been a tough week with relentless migraines. I hate losing writing days. I don't think Jules minds though. It's easier to rub her pretty belly than write. Praying for relief. Michael wonders how I manage to read but at times like these, when taking a shower seems like a major accomplishment, books like these make me happy. Thank you to all the writers who tell their stories. Never give up!




 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Meets, Movies, and Music

How convenient! The three or four things I wanted to write about all start with an M. I have a fondness for alliteration. I'm finally caught up for a little while ... until the next deadline and it feels wonderful.

It's been busy with track season in full swing. Here's my girl! I'm so proud of her. I can no longer run so I take pleasure in the kids who do. This is what we do Wed. evenings. We miss Stations, soup, and choir practice, but we are able to pray and practice at home. We'll be singing Byrd's Mass for 3 voices again for Laetare Sunday.

 

Max is finished with robotics and they did so well in their competition, placing 20th out of 70+ teams. Each year they have improved. Right after, he participated in the intergenerational forum/debate. I was so impressed with the young men and women who competed and was very pleased with Max's points even though he did not win first place. Later he had a chance to speak with Senator Grooms and he complimented Max highly.

 
 


This Sat. we all slept in with robotics behind us. Rugby is still in session but we had a bye week. So Michael announced he'd like to take me out on a date! We went to see La La Land. The kids had already seen it and assured me I would love it and I wouldn't get a migraine. I've been doing so much better in Feb. so was game. It's been a couple of years that I've stepped into a theatre. La La Land is a modern love story but with the timeless theme of chasing our dreams and what it costs. It could be our story. It's a musical and reminded me of older movies of the 1940s. I may get sheet music for this. The theme song was beautiful but the song I choked up on was when Mia goes for an audition and has to make up a story. She talks about her aunt who inspired her. At first, her voice falters but then it turns into a song, strong and confident: "here's to the dreamers, here's to the heartache, here's to the mess we make." Indeed.

Coincidentally I read a few thoughts by Christopher West in the Catholic Miscellany. He said, "We’re often afraid to feel that deep “ache” of our hearts because we intuit that to feel it is to lose control of our nice, orderly lives. Yes, that is correct. In Christian terms, it’s called surrender or abandonment to God. Those who have the courage to feel the abyss of longing in their souls and in their bodies and open it up in complete abandonment to the One who put it there will, indeed, have “messy” lives … but messy in a beautifully hopeful way." 

I have always believed that our deepest regrets come from not pursuing the dreams God has placed upon our hearts. Falling in love complicates things. I've always believed that people are more important than things but to follow a person, you should have lifelong commitment, like marriage. For when it comes to dreams, it is far better to chase them together than apart. I think this is why my writing dreams are so sweet, because I am doing them with my family. As the children predicted, I did not get a migraine. Thanks be to God! Later we went out for Vietnamese Pho. Heaven!!! I've missed this so much. 

This is how I usually watch a movie: at home with a kitten purring on my lap :) I have to  entice them with their favorite toy because that's what they love best. We've watched many good movies but the big screen is a thrill, especially when there's beautiful choreography.

I've also been reading a lot of good books but I think this is enough for one post. But I must mention TEN EASTER EGGS. It's Lent, but if you wait until Easter, the books will be gone, even though the Easter season lasts 50 days. So if you have little ones in your lives, might I suggest it for their Easter basket? Happy Pi day :)
 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Writing and the Spiritual Life

In my email box I receive some choice quotes from the Bible and from the saints on a particular topic daily for Nineveh 90. Fr. Heilman has been including a meditation and in the past few days they've been from the writings of Fr. John Hardon. I'd never heard of him but his meditations are so beautiful, I decided to look him up and what a treasure I find in his archives. I recently bought a book for Max: How I Stayed Catholic at Harvard by Aurora Griffin: 40 Tips for Faithful College Students and one of her tips includes daily spiritual reading and writing (mine usually includes the pets). She references an article online by Fr. John Hardon. I love how God makes me pay attention. There are no coincidences. So without further ado, some quotes from Fr. Hardon on Why Write?


We have in life to master our minds, to control our thoughts. Writing disciplines the mind.

Writing controls and enables us to master our thinking. With our thoughts in control, as we know, every thought leads to a desire. Every desire leads to an action. Every action leads to a habit. Every habit shapes our character. And our character determines our destiny. It all begins in the mind.

Cardinal Newman explains why more people do not write. The reason, he explains, is that “I have to read what I have written. I must look at myself as I really am.” Writing is a mirror of our minds. And what we see, we blink [at]. What fool wrote this? I must see the vagueness of my thinking, the inconsistencies of my logic, the triviality my life; and the experience is humiliating.

Writing cultivates the memory.

Writing provides us with a moral inventory. St. Ignatius Loyola stressed the importance of a daily review of our conduct and it put into written form.

...writing in the spiritual life is so important to cultivate the art of speaking.

Too often we speak without first thinking. But we cannot write without thinking.

...“why write?” For the practice of charity in sharing our souls.

Oh dear. So many quotations. I cut out a few. Do yourself a favor and read the article. God bless and happy writing!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Gift of a Child

Eighteen years ago, I met this sweet baby, my son Max. Michael was the first to hold him, do everything for him. I managed to take a picture from my bed a few hours later of my two loves. We were in the hospital for two weeks because of ABO-blood incompatibility. Max was severely jaundiced. Even when we came home, he had to be on bili-lights for the first month. He avoided having to have a blood transfusion in the nick of time. But after a difficult start, he thrived, tripling his birth weight in just 6 months. He was such a roly-poly baby I thought I'd have a baby elephant on my hands. Thankfully he slowed down and I was glad when he learned to walk because he was getting too heavy for me to carry about. And then along came Dagny ... and Max has been a very good big brother.     






 


 




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Max is a strapping young man now, ready to leave the nest thanks to God's abundant blessings. We are grateful for all our wonderful relatives, teachers, coaches, priests, and friends in his life who've helped him develop his various talents. Michael and I feel like Tevye and Golde as we sing Sunrise, Sunset and reflect upon the great gift God has given us in Max. Swiftly fly the years. One season following another, laden with happiness and tears. My dear Max, I pray always you grow closer to Jesus, discern your vocation, and do God's holy will with joy. Happy Birthday Max! God bless you and make you a saint! I love you more than you'll ever know. Mom.

 

Friday, February 17, 2017

POTUS at Boeing SC

I hardly ever turn on the TV but today was a very special day. Historic. Boeing rolled out its new 787-10 and President Trump came to celebrate it with us!!! The factory was shut down for first shift, both for celebration and extra security. Michael got to go as an employee and he said it was great. I got to watch and listen to the speeches on TV. One thing that struck me was how the two pastors, of Mother Emmanuel and of the Baptist Church in Columbia, thanked God for everything and asked for His blessing now and always. I love how God is not forgotten even as we celebrate the work of human hands.

I also appreciated the acknowledgment President Trump made to American engineering and manufacturing. Boeing is doing it right! We are so grateful to God for bringing us here and for all that He continues to do.

Here are some pictures I took for memory's sake. The kittens and I also had some playtime :)   


 


 

 
 


 
 
 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Doing the Nineveh 90

Last year, I read about Nineveh 90 on Fr. Heilman’s blog. Briefly, it's a 3 month program of intense physical and spiritual discipline as we strive for personal holiness and pray for special intentions.

I balked at the program because it *is* intense. I doubt I can do everything, especially that intense physical exercise. I can't even do a pushup without falling over. So yeah, I'm weak. And sometimes I get very sleepy at Adoration. Fasting is okay but we are a foodie family so it's always a struggle and there is CAKE that is tempting me right now. But God is so good. He gave me some help from Matthew Kelly. It's got practical suggestions for developing discipline, both physical and spiritual. For instance, every hour I say a quick prayer and offer up that hour's work for a person who comes to mind. This way my work becomes a prayer.  

With God's grace I hope to live Ephesians 6. It even  includes instructions for battling evil:
 
Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Nineveh 90 begins Feb. 13, 2017 and ends on May 13, 2017 (on the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima). We’ve been preparing for this all of January. I am so grateful to have a faithful partner right here at home. Yesterday was Septuagesima Sunday (the first of 3 Sundays before Lent so that we’re not caught unawares when Ash Wed comes along) and we had a lovely celebration for our newly ordained deacon with a High Mass with Byrd’s Mass for 3 Voices. He chanted the Epistle and Gospel so beautifully and I kept thinking how much we could use such a talented tenor in our choir!
 
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Pray for us. I'm stepping away from unnecessary Internet use even though I enjoy reading about and sharing good books, movies, kitten nonsense, proud mama moments, photos and so much more. I'll miss it but I should probably be reading more of the Bible and Saints and less of the news. I leave you with this quote from St. Catherine of Siena: "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!" Thank you, Fr. Heilman, for organizing Nineveh 90 (this is the dedicated website).

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.