Monday, December 31, 2012

Counting Blessings

I am counting my blessings by singing Te Deum on this last day of the year. Here is a faithful translation (Holy God we praise Thy name). For life, family, friends, church, school, country, work, comforts, sufferings, joys, and my Lord, who continually draws me nearer to Him. Let me share these blessings with you (thanks to my son who has taken most of these pictures) ... one for each month of this wonderful year.


May Christmas joy remain with you now and always. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Holy Innocents and the Problem of Evil

Today, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, is especially poignant given the murder of the children in Sandy Hook, CT just two weeks ago. I lost my faith at the age of twelve when I learned about the Jewish Holocaust. I still struggle with the problem of evil, why God allows it. I know it has to do with free will, but my little mind cannot wrap around why it has to be. The serpent had to be ...

Perhaps many of you have a difficult time with this as well. Here is today's reflection in Laudamus Te from Mother St. Paul. It doesn't explain the problem of evil, but it can give us a model to live in the face of evil.

"Only one child escaped the cruel sword of Herod, and that one was Mary's Son. He was safe in the arms of His Mother, who was fleeing with Him into Egypt, with an anguish of heart so great that it constituted the Second Dolor. But no design of Herod, however powerful and clever, could touch the life before His hour was come. The Child knew it, and His Mother knew it -- yet they fled from those who sought His life; for in all things Mary's Son must be made like unto His brethren. He could have protected Himself, had He so wished, without giving so much trouble and anxiety to His parents. He heard Rachel bewailing her children; He heard the cry of each one of those little Innocents, who was giving his life for Him -- yet He did not raise a finger to prevent all the misery, because He had come to do His Father's Will, and He left all in His Hands, and also because He is our model, and He was showing us how to act. He wants us to have perfect acquiescence in God's will, a boundless confidence, a profound peace, and even joy, in the midst of the most trying and perplexing circumstances. He wants us to lie quiet in God's arms, as He lay in His Mother's, content to know nothing except that God's will is being done."

It is hard to sit and do nothing in the culture of death that surrounds us. Millions of children are murdered in the womb. How can we reverse this? Prayer is my weapon.

O God, whose praise the martyred Innocents did this day proclaim, not by speaking, but by dying, do so put to death in us all the malice of sinfulness, that our lives may also proclaim Thy faith, which our tongue profess. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who with Thee lives and reigns. Amen.

Before midnight Mass we sang the Coventry Carol. We can never celebrate the birth of our Lord without also remembering those who die for Him. The Christmas Octave is quite bloody.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Nativity Scene (Anton Raphael Mengs 1728-79)

At every Mass, we end with the very poetic opening of John's Gospel ...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Oh, happy day!

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Mail

Holy Family (Forever)Madonna of the Candelabra by Raphael (Forever)
I was hoping to use these beautiful stamps issued by the USPS to send out Christmas cards and letters, but in the midst of house-guests, activities, and revisions, I never got around to it. Perhaps next year :) Notice I am being purposely ambiguous -- I may send out cards either in Jan or Dec :)

I leave you with this beautiful prayer we sang last year for the 4th Sunday of Advent -- Rorate Coeli.
Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just
Let the earth be opened and send forth a Saviour.  
May you have an abundance of blessings this Christmas and a New Year filled with peace and joy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Prayers for a Priest

On the eve of the one-week anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, let me share this letter from the sister of the priest who serves the community at Newtown, CT and a link to the blog from which I swiped both the letter and the picture:

My friends,

All of you, I am sure, have heard so much about the tragedy in Newtown, CT. Many of you have received emails from me about my younger brother, Father Luke Suarez, who is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish, a Catholic church just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary. He, and his pastor, Monsignor Weiss, arrived at the school within moments of the shooting, and have been caring for the community ever since. The picture I have included was taken at the school.

Father Luke has an impossible task before him. His diocese is without a bishop right now. . .Monsignor…is personally devastated by the losses. The parish is very large…The rectory has received serious threats, and as my brother gave the homily Sunday at the noon mass, the church had to be evacuated by SWAT teams. After experiencing identity theft and online hacking incidents, he had to erase all of his internet accounts. After a weekend of endless media requests, notifications and vigils with heartbroken families, and little sleep, he now has two wakes and two funerals every day, until the fourth Sunday of Advent. Father Luke has not even been ordained two years.

My large family has been trying to send Father Luke our love and support from afar, and one of my brothers was able to visit with him briefly a couple times. All he asks for is prayer.

I have been wracking my brain, trying to think of a way that our beautiful, loving community could tangibly reach out to Father Luke, Monsignor Weiss, and the St. Rose parish, to support them in this most awful of times. I have sent many prayer requests, and I am asking for more prayers again. But I also want to ask everyone to search their hearts, and if the Holy Spirit moves you, please consider sending one of your family’s Christmas cards to the rectory, with a few words of love and encouragement. Here is his address:

Father Luke Suarez
46 Church Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470

My brother has said over and over again that without the prayer support he is receiving, he could not keep going. And this week is only the beginning. Everyone there is still in shock. Their peaceful home has been desecrated by violence. They will need to live with this sorrow forever.

But in our weakness is His strength. Grace abounds. Can you help me carry him through this time of trial?

On a hopeful note, Father Luke did say that no media coverage has even touched the deep, beautiful awakening of faith that has occurred there. Their tiny church, where my children have received sacraments and where Luke was ordained, has been full of people in prayer without ceasing since this tragedy happened. Love is stronger than death.

Please feel free to share the address with your family, friends, and community. An outpouring of love will sustain these good priests through their impossible ministry–impossible on their own, but possible with God.

Pax Christi

Monday, December 17, 2012


Taken this morning from the back porch with birds singing the glory of God.

We are so blessed to be reminded of God's promises.

God said...I set my rainbow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between me and the earth. (Genesis 9:12-13)

and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matt: 28:20)

Have a beautiful and blessed day.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hug Your Children

It is with horror I read about another young man going on a shooting rampage in a CT elementary school, killing primarily children, and a few adults, including himself.

Lord, have mercy.

And in another story, a small town in Texas adopting needy children. They don't have much, but they share what they have, giving these children not only food and shelter, but love.

Thank you, Lord.

I know I'm going to hug my children a bit longer tonight. Tragedy can strike anywhere, anytime.

Pax Christi.

ETA: Here is a thoughtful article about the mystery of why there is suffering at all by Rev. Msgr. Pope.

Highlights Workshops

As a recipient of a generous grant from the Highlights Foundation, I am always happy to share news of their programs. I hope to go again some day ...

Three Brand New Highlights Foundation Workshops Coming Soon

Take another step toward realizing your dreams in 2013—come to a Highlights Foundation Workshop and hone your craft. No matter what your interest, we probably have a workshop for you. In addition to fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and illustration, workshops on special topics are being presented at the Barn.

Starting off the new year, Cris Peterson, children’s author and dairy farmer, along with nationally renowned Agriculture in the Classroom educator Kevin Daugherty will walk you through the process of creating accurate, fascinating nonfiction on farming and introduce you to the large network of support available for putting books about farming into the hands of children. Click here to read more about Writing Books About Agriculture, January 24–27.

Rich Wallace, Lenore Look, and Bruce Coville lead Writing for Boys, February 7–10, 2013. They will help you delve deeply into your characters’ psyches, exploring their motivations, frustrations, and personalities to truly bring them to life on the page. Weaving action and humor into your stories will be a focal point of the program, which will explore the intricacies of creating fiction for boys.

Join award-winning children’s authors Loreen Leedy and M.W. Penn at Writing that Counts: Discover the Story in Math and learn to write engaging children’s stories that highlight math concepts. The authors will discuss teaching mathematics based on common core standards and review noted picture books in the field to determine their quality. As mentors, they will teach you how to weave accurate and relevant math concepts into story through engaging lessons, hands-on practice, and one-on-one attention. This class is set for February 15–18.

For complete details on these and other 2013 workshops, visit our website:

To secure your spot or for more information, contact Jo Lloyd at 570-253-1192, or via e-mail at or request an application online.

Please feel free to share this e-mail with others who might have an interest, or to include the information in blog posts or through other social networking forums.

The Highlights Foundation is a public, not-for-profit 501©3 organization. We dedicate our efforts to connecting, nurturing, and inspiring children’s book writers and illustrators.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Grandpa let this 13-soon-to-be-14-year-old drive the Mustang! Holy Smokes! I'm not ready for this. Is any parent ever ready?

Bring on the driving tales.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Art, Cats, St. Nick, & Endless Rewriting

Because I love great art and cats, I was delighted to come across cats posing as in famous paintings.


On this Feast of Saint Nicholas, who wasn't fat or jolly, but rather cantankerous. Read more here!

Why, yes! I'm procrastinating ... watching funny cats, reading articles about St. Nick, writing a single scene three times, discarding all of them, writing it yet another way, and realizing I. Must. Move. Forward. to the even more difficult scene I must write. Today!

How do you get through the hard scenes?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Season of Hope

My thoughts are centered around my family and friends. I hope for good health and happiness, peace and joy. I hope for good writing days. I hope for the right agent, the right editor to bring our books into the world. But above all ... Adveniat regnuum tuum!

Wishing you all a very blessed Advent. Come sing!

Light a candle, eat some chocolate, read God's promises. I stuff these in our Advent house!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

He is Found!

The little guy is back! Praise the Lord!!!!! This morning, we found some food near his cage (we had moved it to the floor and left it open for the past three days) and when we checked his food bowl, all the tasty bits were gone. Just the pellets remained. My daughter reached her hand into the cage and there was quite a bit of scrabbling. Our idea worked! He loves his cage -- it is his safe haven. He's been drinking fresh water and food all morning, and exercising on his wheel. Oh, it's good to have him back. Here he is, taking a teensy break from running to pose for me.

My first reaction was to think of the fifth joyful mystery: the child Jesus is found in the temple! My daughter said, "Oh, praying the rosary really does help!" Indeed. Thank God. I can't stop smiling. I have a little Christmas story to write up!!!

Have a great week. And take joy!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Home Writing Retreat

It started out badly. Migraines. Need I say more? I spent half of both Mon and Tue in bed with my pets beside me for comfort. I took the dog for a short walk during the day and then let her run around in the evening … I was grateful for the quiet. 

I made a decent outline, looked through old pages, cringing at the thought that five years ago I believed the first half was in “pretty good shape.” NOT. Oh, there were good parts (scenes). But lots had to go (summary). I also spread out all my research papers, books, and notes to immerse myself in the period and the story. That was probably the most fun part, just reading and soaking it all up.

Wed. morning I woke up to my normal self. Praise God! By evening, I hit a writing stride. It was fabulous to be able to revise old pages and write new scenes. I had three big writing sessions per day. In between, walks for the dog and me, prayers, goof-off time, reading time. Books are like good friends, always there. Stein on Writing kept me company, as well as encouragement from writing friends.

I had tasty leftovers for the whole week, some frozen food (I can highly recommend Udupi Masala dosa), cups and cups of minty tea, and you bet I helped myself to the kids’ Halloween candy! They don’t realize what a favor I’m doing for them, trying to save them from rotting teeth.

So, did I finish the book? Nope. My grand total – 80 pages revised. I already had 60 done over the past six weeks. I’m nearly at the end of Act II and I’m confident I will reach the finish line before Christmas. It's great having my family home again ... 

The writing retreat ended badly. Very badly. I decided to clean house, including the hamster cage. And I lost this little guy …

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 23, 2012

My Mother, Curry, Purgatory, Thanksgiving and Revision Update: Do I have a bit much on my mind?

This is my mother as a young woman. She died over twenty-five years ago and her birthday always falls around Thanksgiving. Funny story: my mother loved curried vegetables and so the first time she fixed turkey, it was curried. I don't think any of us cared for it (but we ate it). She did the same to broccoli, and for a long time I detested broccoli. At the time, I did not appreciate her willingness to experiment with new foods. We ended up having chicken curry on Thanksgiving in later years. And I prefer my broccoli stir-fried with minimal spices or with cheese or raw. Never curried. And we like our turkey roasted! With cranberry sauce, squash, stuffing, the works. We typically host Thanksgiving and I've always wished she could partake. I ask that you remember her in your prayers. I used to always think she was up in heaven, but I realize I don't actually know this.

The people in heaven do not need our prayers, the people in hell have rejected God and don't want our prayers, so why in the world should we pray for the dead? For the people who are being purified and refined into perfection. It took me a long time to understand why we ought to pray for our dead. I figured that Jesus has already paid the price, and I could never do anything that would even compare. So why? Because our prayers do make a difference. I will appreciate your prayers for my mother. And another thing ... prayers stand outside of time and space, so your prayers for your parents and grandparents might be the very thing that helped them not to despair or make the wrong decision before you were born. I'm thinking how to use this in a book ...  
Back to purgatory. The word never appears in the Bible, but the concept is there.
Mt. 5:48 -- be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect
Heb. 12:14 -- strive for that holiness without which cannot see God
2 Macc 12:44-46 -- atoned for dead to free them from sin
and there are many more references.

Here is a wonderful article that explains the biblical roots of purgatory.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I kept thinking of the first Thanksgiving -- the Passover meal where Jesus instituted the Eucharist (which means Thanksgiving in Greek). And since we'd just made a trip to St. Augustine, I realized that the first Thanksgiving on US soil happened not at Plymouth Rock in 1621, but here, in St. Augustine on Sept. 8, 1565.

Anybody want to write a picture book about this? I have a novel to finish revising. And this itch to work on another book is typical when I get to the middle of a novel, no matter whether it's a first draft, second, fifth or tenth. Not only do I have several new ideas, but I had to turn down a project that I would love to have taken on. The sacrifice! I'm committed to finishing this round of revisions before the end of this year. I'm more than half-done, past page 120 ... so must keep trucking along.

My family returns tomorrow, and I'll be very thankful to have them back, and you'll be spared the musings of a person with a too-full brain.

Thank you for hanging around, for your love and friendship, for inspiration, for just being!
God bless you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Laudamus te

Laudamus te, Advent 2012Although we already have the Roman Missal of 1962 at home, and I already have a subscription to daily Mass readings for the Novos Ordo, when I discovered Laudamus te, I had to get a subscription for ourselves.

We fell in love with the traditional Latin Mass. The prayers are so exquisite, and beauty in all its forms draws me nearer to our blessed Lord. It took me about a year to get used to the Latin (singing in the choir really helps, and it always surprises me that I can understand some of it -- we always have a translation). I realize that even if I do not understand particular words, the mystery of faith remains. Perhaps it even draws me deeper into it because I'm not trying to use my limited human mind. I can't quite explain it. It's a paradox that my understanding is greater with a language I do not know.

Of course, many days you'll catch me singing the Gloria in Latin, so some of it is seeping into my brain cells.

Laudamus te is the Latin equivalent of the Magnificat or Word Among Us. Daily readings. So just like I do both sets of Sunday readings, I am looking forward to doing my daily prayers using both the Novos Ordo and the TLM. I like them both for different reasons.

With the Novos Ordo, I read more of the Old Testament. But the TLM is on a single year cycle which somehow suits my seasonal nature. I don't have to think about Year A,B,C -- there is a sameness that is comforting week to week.

Anyway, I'm so excited, and I hope my first issue arrives before Advent. If you know someone who loves the TLM, perhaps you can pass on the news of Laudamus Te.

Okay, I know most of you have turkey on your minds, but do think about it after your pie.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Thanksgiving Writing Retreat ... Yes, Really!

Book in a Month: The Fool-Proof System for Writing a Novel in 30 DaysSo, I was reading this book last week, and my husband pipes up, "What's this, another fantasy novel?"

Laugh. He knows me too well. I am a slow writer. Methodical. Even scientific. Checking facts. I can be highly distractible. Procrastinator extraordinaire. I don't actually expect to ever participate in NanoWriMo and I suspect many of you are pounding the keyboard right now. I am in awe of you. I'm cheering you on. So although it may be too late for you this year, this might be the perfect little preparatory tool for next time.

But even for slowpokes like me, this is a fantastic resource. It works great not only for giving the idea shape, but also for revising. So while most folks are gearing up for Thanksgiving madness, I am having a *very quiet* home writing retreat with my pets!




Yeah, I know. I'm crazy. But writers are allowed this. My husband planned a trip to Disney World, invited his parents for a longish visit, and so ... I bailed out. I was in the process of figuring out pet care and knew the best solution would be for me to stay home, take care of the furry critters, and write like a madwoman. I've already had a very productive morning scribbling in my notebook.

Can I finish the whole thing in a week? Is it a fantasy? Come back next week and find out. 

Until then, have a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving holiday*. Do eat an extra slice of pie on my behalf.

ETA: I took a picture of my new work area, the entire dining room table, all tidied up! The oak leaves are from our backyard. I love all the color in my kitchen.

*And if you are struggling to balance writing with family and food preparations this week, you have my sympathy. Oftentimes, it's easier to simply put the writing aside. Enjoy your family. Maybe you can plot and plan a family vacation while doing dishes ...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Writing with a Christian Worldview

My interview with Sally Matheny on Writing with a Christian Worldview is up at the Write 2 Ignite blog. I'll be on the faculty in March 2013. And as you know, I'm on fire for our faith!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Honoring our Veterans

We honored our veterans at Mass yesterday ... and I think it's equally fitting to share this quote from St. Martin of Tours, the patron saint of soldiers.

He refused a war bonus, telling his commander: "I have served you as a soldier; now let me serve Christ. Give the bounty to those who are going to fight. But I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight."  But fight he did! For the Gospel and the Truth, with great justice and mercy.

Thank you, dear Veterans, for your service and for the sacrifices you make so that we may enjoy our life and liberty.

Listen to this classic Navy hymn asking to keep our seamen safe from all peril. The version we sing in church covers sea, land, and air.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Enthronement and Consecration

Today is the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica -- the Pope's local parish, from where he guides not only the local Catholics, but also the bishops. It is by coincidence that this is the date we enthrone the Sacred Heart of Jesus in our family. The family is the domestic church, from where we guide our children to follow Christ. We've been preparing for several months now, but more intensely for this past month, by examining our conscience and praying to do this worthily. Just like the consecration to Jesus through Mary changed my life, so will consecration to His Sacred Heart.

This is the image we loved the best because it has the entire Holy Family:

The readings for today are particularly fitting, especially the one from Ezekiel:
"The angel brought me back to the entrance of the temple and I saw water flowing out from beneath the threshold ..."

The Church has stood for 2,000 years and this is the legacy I see. From the domestic church to the Vatican, the Spirit of the Lord flows in the followers of Christ. The Catholic church is the largest charitable organization, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, educating the children, and protecting the most vulnerable in our society -- the unborn, the old, the sick, the dying. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. Lord, let Your river of love flow fast and strong from my heart.

I leave you with this beautiful hymn.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

On Democracy

This quote from H.L. Mencken seems especially appropriate today: Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

How can half the country think we're going in the right direction? Thud! For our own selfish interests, we are going to have four more years of this morally bankrupt administration. This is what we've voted for: in the name of choice, abortion on demand; in the name of mercy, euthanasia; in the name of separation of church from state, erosion of religious liberty; in the name of tolerance, assault on family life; in the name of charity, uncontrolled spending. We're going to have a taste of Europe. Don't people see what has happened there? It's a dying culture ... well, that's what we get for embracing the culture of death.

But I am neither despondent nor discouraged. The election results reflect the state of our culture. And it too shall pass. Prepare for the good fight.

I leave you with Ephesians 6:10-18

Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power.
Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.
For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.
Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice,
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace:
In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.
And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).
By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints:

Remember that the faithful have friends up high: St. Michael, St. Joseph, Mary our Mother. Pray for us.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dean Koontz Interview

Take a break from the election news, make a cup of tea or coffee, steal some Halloween candy, and listen to this wonderful interview with best-selling suspense novelist Dean Koontz. It's about an hour, but I promise you it be worth your time. Shop talk at its best.

Now go write!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Pilgrimage

We made our first pilgrimage -- a whirlwind trip to Florida this weekend -- to attend a healing Mass (from generational sins). The healing prayers were said during Adoration. We're talking spiritual warfare folks. I am so very grateful for Fr. Jose's healing ministry. We will go again. I would love to have complete healing from the migraines. Ironically, I have one now. Sigh.

I hope our family can make many more pilgrimages. The journey itself changes you because it is intentional. Have any of you made a pilgrimage -- to Fatima, Lourdes, Rome, Jerusalem? I'd appreciate if you share in the comments.

Sunday, we went to St. Augustine and visited the shrine of Our Lady La Leche. We prayed for ourselves and our friends who long to have another child again. What a beautiful and peaceful place.

You can imagine the Holy Sacrifice of Mass offered at this rustic altar by the Spanish missionaries. Actually, the first Mass ever offered in the US was in St. Augustine in 1565 AD. There are many beautiful religious icons and statues to lift your heart heavenwards. We all enjoyed walking and praying here. Yes, our dog came along too! 

Most of the people buried here had headstones from the 1800s -- we said prayers for the dead, for the holy souls in purgatory. I didn't know this until recently, but Catholic teaching tells us that our offerings can help souls fly to heaven. Here is a quick explanation.


Remember to vote tomorrow! Many Christians are split on the issue of pro-life/family vs. social justice. They tend to equate pro-life issues with the Republican party and social justice with the Democratic party. But folks, defending life is right and just. There can be no health care, no education, and no jobs for the dead. Death ought not to the be the cure for our social problems. It shows a lack of trust in God's providence. Unfortunately, the Democratic party has aligned itself with the culture of death. It is immoral. The Republican party is far from perfect, but cutting taxes and letting charity return to the local level is the best way for this country to recover economically. Amercians are the most generous people I know, giving of their time, treasure and talent to those in need. Let the government take a role in protecting the voiceless and vulnerable in our society -- the unborn and the old. So, please, folks. Vote with your conscience, a conscience formed by God's laws. Choose life.

Vote Romeny/Ryan 2012!!!

Mary, Queen of Peace, Empress and Protectress of the Americas, pray for us.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On Sandy

Given that my mind is on the four last things -- heaven, hell, judgment, death -- I really appreciated this post on keeping Sandy in perspective.

God bless.


Happy All Hallow's Eve! We're not doing much at all, not even carving pumpkins, because it's been busy with sports and such. Our gourds from last year have lost their color; I should've thrown them out months ago. My daughter put some fall things out -- leaves, plastic pumpkins. I do love the bright colors, and our maple tree is turning red. Sandy brought a cold snap and that ought to speed up the process.

We'd debated not going out at all, but the kids want their candy. Heaven forbid they should go trick-or-treating as Saints or Angels. They said, "nobody will know who we're supposed to be." Well, wouldn't it be a great way to bring the story of a couple of Saints to folks in the neighborhood? But my children are far too embarrassed to speak of saints to the general public. That is sad on just too many levels.

As converts to Catholicism, we now bear the burden of having to undo things, and some things we simply cannot seem to. After years of being part of the secular culture, it is very difficult to give some of it up. Halloween was all about ghosts and goblins, pumpkins and candy. And that's pretty much what we transmitted to our children. When they were little, they dressed as cars or cats or tigers or mad scientists. That's all fine and good, but we missed the boat on something far deeper and spiritual. I can only thank God that Nov. 1st is the Feast of All Saints!

This year, my son wants to be Mitt Romney. We have some great oven mitts for him, and the political jokes are flying ... I suspect my son has been reading a bit too much Mark Steyn. My daughter wants to be a witch. A good one, I presume. I remember the longing to have powers ... Shh, I still do! And I'll probably don my cat ears. Meow. 

My children may never dress up as a Saint, but I pray they become saints.

Do click on the links if your girls or boys are interested in dressing up as a saint.

Good luck and God bless!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Feast Day!

This Sunday we celebrated the Feast of Christ our King in the traditional Latin Mass! Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925 in response to growing nationalism and secularism. After Vatican II, this feast was shifted to the last Sunday before Advent, so most of you will celebrate it in a month.

Here is a link to Christus vincit, Christus Regnat.

Given that it's an election year, I couldn't be more pleased to celebrate this feast before the elections. What a great reminder. We have the laws of the land, but they can never, ever supersede God's laws. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Although economics might be high on most people's minds, I hope folks will look to Our Father ...

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  

Interestingly, the first Latin Mass we ever attended was in Seattle at the Church of North American Martyrs, and it was at the Feast of Christ our King. I was transported to a different plane with that High Mass. Although I *know* Mass is heaven on earth, it took the beautiful Gregorian music and incense for me to be utterly lost in it. Now that we sing in the choir, I find that I can get distracted by having to keep place, mark time, and making sure I don't butcher the Latin, but I try to remind myself I am joining angels in worship even if I mess up. And I think the Lord looks with affection at his servants who try hard.

We are preparing Faure's Requiem Mass for All Souls Day. Here's an excerpt of the Sanctus. I realize many of you might have heard this in a concert, but it is unbelievable to hear this during Mass. I hope you get a chance. Pray for all our beloved dead. And given Hurricane Sandy's destructive path, I can't help but say, prepare and pray. Not just for safety but also for death. We could all disappear from earth in a blink. Are we ready to meet our Maker?
May the Lord bless and protect us all, and grant us mercy.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

On Editors

Have you said "thank you" to your editor recently?

Just this week, I finished a project that made me very appreciative of the good editors I've been blessed to work with. I started out writing for magazines and pretty much took my editors for granted ... until the time I worked with an editor who wasn't so very good. It made me realize how valuable and essential they are in helping me become a better writer, guiding me to say what I mean to say, untangling the messes I get myself into at time. Some of my favorites are ones I've worked with over and over again, like Paula Morrow, Beth Lindstrom, Marileta Robinson, Matthew Broadhurst, Sue Thies, and Mel Boring (RIP). Others I've worked with on only a single project, like Mary Jo Gediman, Sarah Schuette, Marianne Knowles, and others. Every one of them has taught me so much. If you ever get a chance to work with them, think of it as a great gift. Some of them are freelancing, so if you're in need of one, check them out. 

Thank you, my dear editors.

Here I am working with one of my dream editors, Stephen Roxburgh, at Chautauqua. He's the only one I've ever met. Others I'd like to work with some day -- Molly O'Neill, Cheryl Klein, Andrew Karre, and Sharyn November.

And here's a book that every children's writer should read: Dear Genius: the Letters of  Ursula Nordstrom. Great wit and wisdom.

In the meantime, do you have a favorite editor? Do share.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


We all need courage from time to time ... I'm passing on this lovely quote my friend found in The Poem of the Man God.

Jesus said, "...remember this: if you always wish to do the will of God, where the creature cannot persist, God comes with his angel to support the exhausted hero. When you are in anguish, do not be afraid of falling into cowardice or abjuration, if you persist in wanting what God wants. God will make you giants of heroism, if you remain faithful to his will. Remember that!"

God bless you.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cotton Picking

Seventh and eighth graders at school got to go cotton picking! They learned all about the cotton gin, separating the cotton from the seed, and so much more. We have a little bag full of cotton, and my daughter and I will make some pillows for the dolls. My kids have loved the nonfiction books on all sorts of processes -- apple to pie, cotton to clothes -- but nothing beats seeing and doing for oneself. Thank you, Mrs. Hughes, for setting up this wonderful field trip.


I missed this event due to pressing deadlines and the need to get back to revisions on my historical YA, but you'll be sure I won't miss it the next time it is offered. Who knows, maybe I'll get to drive this thing ...

Have a great weekend.

Monday, October 15, 2012

On Russia

We had a visiting priest from Vladivostok, Russia this Sunday at Mass. Sometimes it takes an outsider to preach the truth, we are so complacent about the rights we take for granted in this country.

Fr. Myron spoke about the terrible toll abortion-on-demand takes, not just on the babies who lose their lives, but on the women. He cited the statistics. An audible gasp came when we heard the number eight. The average woman in Russia has eight abortions. He asked, what does this do to a woman? To kill her own child. It destroys marriages. It destroys society. It destroys her soul. And men are not immune. Right now older men have the highest rate of suicide. Why? Because 80% of marriages fail and the men get old and have nobody to take care of  them. There is no family. Oh, the government talks about social policies and what-not, but family is the unit of society and with the destruction of family life, old men commit suicide. He spoke about China's one-child policy and Europe's contraceptive mentality and how these societies are dying ... dying because they have no children.

He spoke about the lack of religious freedom and I'm so glad he made clear that it's not about freedom to believe whatever you want in your head. You can do that in any oppressive regime. But in a free society, one must be able to practice faith in the public square. You cannot say, go worship in your temple and mosques and churches, but don't bring it out into public. No, religious freedom means that you can gather in schools and places of work and talk about God and religion. That you should be able to pray at a football game. Those who do not wish to pray do not need to. It means you should not be forced to do things that go against religion.

This is where I am surprised at people who say they are Catholics, and say they accept the teachings of the Church, but do not practice it. There should be no disconnect between your faith and your life. If you believe that life begins at conception and is sacred, how can you support a law that says it is okay for a woman to snuff out that life?

Fr. Myron asked, you don't think we could become a country like Russia, with abortion-on-demand, where you cannot practice your religion? Think again. Politicians slowly eroded all religion from a nation that was Christian for 900 years. It can happen here, too. If we let it. If we elect leaders who do not have our country's best interest at heart. Vote carefully, with your conscience. Do not simply choose the leader because you belong to a particular party or race. Choose the leaders that will preserve your basic rights. The first of which is the right to life. All other rights stem from this first principle.


Choose life.

Here is a beautiful song by Matt Maher about turning around.

Below is help for those who are suffering:

And know that you can go to your parish priest for confession and absolution. It is one of the sacraments of healing. It can restore you to a full life.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.