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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Show Us Your List

Welcome the day before Lent-often called Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, etc. It's usually the last plunge before we go 40 days into repentance; preparing for the great feast of Easter. While many people are indulging. there is a challenge in the blogosphere today. It’s called Show Us Your List.  It stemmed from other authors who are frustrated by the 50 Shades craze. 

Since this blog is about Random Thoughts About God, I’m curious to know what would God say about this recent craze. Is 50 Shades the gift He gave us so long ago? Aside from demeaning what that gift is supposed to be, there’ s a scarier theme about violence against women. Don’t believe me? Check out this list from The Rambling Curl.  

However, back to the  purpose of today’s post: to offer books to read instead of “those books.” That’s today’s challenge of #showusyourlist, and I’ve accepted. 

1. The Mind Speak Series by Heather Sunseri
Why I chose Them: While some characters have morally questionable characteristics, they are portrayed as the antagonist. The protagonist works hard in all three books of the series to fight the evil she discovers. I'm pretty sure the next series by this author will have a similar theme, as I've previewed two chapters. 

Summary: Lexi Matthews, daughter to a controversial geneticist, has the ability to influence people's thoughts. When she meets Jack, who mysteriously heals her broken arm, strange things begin happening. Her father goes missing and she begins receiving threats. Soon, Lexi and Jack both struggle to learn about their abilities and what it means to have them. The series explores these abilities, the consequences of using them, and how the craving for power can become evil despite the intent to do good. 

Where to Get Them: MindSpeak is free right now at Amazon. 

2.  Neb The Great by  A.K. Frailey

Why I Chose It: Good fiction doesn't have to be boring. This book has all the elements a good book has: adventure, finding oneself, relationships, good vs evil, and (yes) war. The difference is, again, good is not confused with evil. 

Summary: From the blurb: "Neb the Great was raised to conquer and conquer he did until he met a woman who challenged his heart and enslaved him in a way he never thought possible. From their union is born two sons, one who would change the course of history by becoming the father of a new generation which would lead to the birth of Aram, while the other would descend into further corruption by embracing his grandfather’s name and his gods."

Where to Get It:  Neb the Great  on  Amazon

3. Don't You Forget About Me by Erin McCole Cupp 

Why I Chose It: This is actually on my To Read list. I heard all about it at the author event I went to on Valentine's Day. Read about that visit here. It has old school memories, mystery and suspense.  It sounds interesting and I can't wait to read it.

20130713-095421.jpgSummary:   From the blurb:  "Mary Catherine Whelihan made it out of Walkerville alive once before.  Can she pull it off this time? Bullies, sexual harassment, finding a corpse in the local creek…. Cate’s childhood in 1980s Walkerville was murder!  So what could possibly tempt her to return?  A cryptic email from Eugene Marcasian, MD, her grade school crush, might do the trick.  Can Cate and Gene find the cause of the mysterious illness afflicting nearly all of the girls in their graduating class, including Cate herself?  Or will corporate bullies continue to take down anyone who gets in their way?  More importantly, can Cate stay alive long enough to get one more slice of tomato pie?"

Where to Get It: Amazon or Full Quiver Publishing 

*********New Addition to the List********
4.  The Faerie Guardian Trilogy by Rachel Morgan

Why I Chose It: I can't believe I forgot about this one. I just love this author!  While it is certainly not Catholic fiction, I really enjoyed this. But I chose it because it is still one of my favorite series. I like a little fantasy when I read, so this was perfect. It wasn't too dark so I didn't have to worry about that. I enjoyed the way two main characters' relationship thrived. At first Ryn seems like a pain in the neck - and Vi tells him so too. As the series goes on, their relationship develops more. I chose this because Ryn is everything Grey isn't. He's a gentleman, sweet, sincere, and goes out of his way to the point of danger to right a wrong. He also GROWS. He may start off like that annoying kid in class trying to anger you, but you see him transform and learn from his mistakes. THAT is what makes a good story.

Summary: The Faerie Guardian Trilogy is about Vi's journey as a Guardian - a protector of humans from the Fae World. She struggles to graduate at the top of her class and lives for her assignments. She meets Nate and they quickly become a couple...until a strange twist occurs. Then Vi is left with feelings of betrayal and confusion. Its up to her and Ryn to get to the bottom of all the strange things happening around Creepy Hollow. That's all I'm saying to avoid spoilers. But if you like adventure, missions, romance (CLEAN romance), then check out this series.

Where to Get It: The Faerie Guardian at Amazon. You can get the rest there too. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Grace of Yes Day: Saying Yes to God

A great friend of mine and founder of Catholic Mom website , Lisa Hendey , recently wrote a book about the graces of saying yes to God. When we say yes to God, we are participating in His great plan.

Many years ago, the Blessed Mother, Mary, said yes in the ultimate Fiat. Now, in our own lives, we are sharing the ways we say our own yes to God by joining this campaign called, "The Grace of Yes."

We all have our stories, large or small, in how we say yes. I try to make it a point to say yes to God daily - even if it is in some small way.  One larger way I said yes to God was when I began My Light Magazine for Children. While it is not as lively as it was a few years ago, I try to keep it going as much as I can.

When I first started the magazine, I felt a call in my heart to reach our children and inspire them to learn more about their faith. Even though I was not sure of how I would do such a great task, I went through with it using full "blind faith" in Him. I knew that no matter what, God would help me with this because it was His call in the first place. When we cooperate in His plan, things always come through.

While my work has slowed a little due to working, I still try to add content to the magazine as much as possible. See, just in working alone is another Yes. I teach children in a Catholic school now which takes up much of my time before, during, and after work. However, I see this as more "training" from God so that I may continue His work. I will continue His work teaching children daily and I will continue His work in offering a small, safe , spiritual and educational place online.

So how will you say yes to God today? To join in the fun, create a post on social media telling how you "say yes to God". Be sure to add the #graceofyesday to your post. Visit the link below for more resources! 

To learn more about how to participate in this movement, please visit Ave Maria Press-Grace of Yes

If you join in, feel free to leave a comment below to tell me where I can find your post. 

Be sure to visit Catholic Mom as well to read about other stories of YES.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Catholic Writer's Conference

Love the Catholic Faith? Love writing? If so, you should check out the Catholic Writer's Guild Live Conference. Every year they work in conjunction with the Catholic Marketing Network's annual trade show.

What should you expect if you make it out there?

There will be:

  • workshops
  • pitch sessions to publishers
  • a chance to market your books to Catholic bookstores
  • plus much more.  

This year it is held from July 29th through August 1st.

Here's the Scoop:
Place: Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center and Hotel
1551 N. Thoreau Drive
Schaumburg, IL 60173

CWG Member Price: $80.00

Non CWG Member: $85.00

CWG Membership plus registration: $110.00

Student : $45.00

Click the link to register for the Catholic Writer's Conference.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Beyond this Life

Today, on Good Shepherd Sunday, we have read about the Good Shepherd and how He is the gate to a new and abundant life--a life beyond this one.

During the Homily, our priest Fr Mike, talked to us about the intriguing topic of the afterlife. That was a smart idea, because no matter where you are in your faith, this topic is bound to grab attention. If some one's mind drifted off, I'm sure the topic brought them back.

Father pointed to three examples of miraculous events which point to the proof of Heaven. There were several examples, but the one that spoke to me the most was an example of a young girl, Akiane.  Her entire family was atheist and the little girl was an exceptional artist. She began having visions of Jesus and Heaven at the age of four.

When she was eight years old, she painted this amazing picture of Jesus. Father also mentioned this painting matches Jesus' burial shroud - The Shroud of Turin by 90%.

The story reminded me of an experience I had once. A wonderful Christian friend of mine wanted to show me a music video inspired by the film The Passion of the Christ. I always have a hard time with the Passion because it's painful to see Jesus in such a way. The one who gave up everything for us is being treated so poorly and violently. My friend convinced me to watch the video and I watched as much as I could stomach. That night I had an amazing dream. It was set in Jerusalem around the time of Jesus. The colors everywhere were so pure: pure white stones on which we sat, pure bright sunshine, perfect temperature. I remember having a discussion with Jesus without words.

 It was like He was reading my heart and responded to my anxieties.  It was a calm and reassuring "conversation" that I will never forget. Ever since that night, I've handled the Passion much better. I still might not be able to bring myself to watch graphic shows depicting it, but it no longer tears me to shreds when I think about it. It's because the "conversation" with Him showed me that the Passion was only part of the story. And that is true. We can't leave out the best part: the part where He defeats death and opens the gates of Heaven for us.

The wonderful thing about God, though, is that whether we experience Him through super miracles like Akiane's visions or not, He speaks to us all the time. Sometimes in big ways such as my experience above, on in smaller ways: maybe a song or reading at church touched your heart, maybe it is in something you've seen or read, or maybe it's an inspirational thought in your heart.No matter what, though, when we pay attention and speak with our God, wonderful things happen. And that is proof enough for me that there is more Beyond this Life.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Presenting the Mass

Since today is the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, our parish priest celebrated Mass with a small addition. He gave us a Presentation of the Mass. What does that mean exactly? It is very simple, hopefully not controversial, and highly educational. He explained the "whats" and the "whys" of Mass. I know, I know. I can hear the statements now: "But I'm a cradle Catholic. I KNOW what the Mass is." However, even though I've gone to church every week for many, many years, am a Catholic author and teacher and Editor-in-Chief of an online Catholic magazine, I still learned something new this morning. I think everyone there did.

At the beginning, he told us instead of a long homily, he was going to explain why he is doing something or why our responses are important. It may have been a little unorthodox, but the gift he gave us was monumental and certainly served Christ. He gave us a better understanding of what is happening at Mass. When we get the meaning - the true meaning- of something, it means more to us. We're not just going to say a few prayers and mumble some responses. No!

We are clearing our souls of venial sins,

 praying in unison with the saints and angels,

 and participating in the miracle that joins heaven and earth.

People of all different levels in their faith journey were there. We will never know the lengths of this great service caused today. There could have been a person who usually misses Mass, but made it today. Imagine the good it did if anything Father said today touched this person's heart. That goes for everyone there. We all learned something new, all grew a little more and hopefully deepened our faith a bit more. Two thousand years ago Mary and Joseph gave gifts in celebration of Jesus' Presentation. Today, our priest did the same.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Thread

Sometimes people hurt us. It may be people close to us or acquaintances. No matter who it comes from, if the attack is a personal one, it hurts just the same. As humans, we often run through a range of emotions when this happens: Anger, discontent, hurt and frustration. These are all normal, human reactions especially if the offender's actions are chronic.

However, as Christians we are called to a higher behavior. Jesus calls on us repeatedly to "forgive" each other.In Matthew18:21 He tells us we should forgive not 7 times, but seventy times seven. In the Lord's Prayer it even states, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." These are meaningful words-we are asking God to forgive us the way we forgive others. So if we expect God to be merciful to us, we must be merciful to others.

But, not only are we called to forgive those who hurt us, but we are called to pray for them.Praying for those who hurt us seems like a daunting task. Pray for the person who called you those degrading names? Pray for that person who bullies you? Yes! Hurtful people probably need many prayers.

However, this really is as much for us as it is for them. Prayer pulls us closer to God and brings us in His presence. Often times, an offense may be so hurtful that we may be "hanging on by a thread" before giving into the temptations of anger, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. But, I have noticed the times I've been at that point that prayer is the one thing that keeps the "thread" intact. If we pray enough, our hearts will soften, and we let go of the desire for revenge. Instead of a racing mind on "what to say the next time I see them," our hearts and minds will be at peace. Sometimes it may take a few "Hail Marys", other times it could take much more.  But once we have prayed, we can rest peacefully knowing we did right by God and our offender. The peacefulness in our hearts is a much better feeling than the snapping of the "thread" we've been hanging on to.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Why is the Mass so Important

Even the most devout families hear it from the kids:

 "But Moooommmm, do we have to go? Again?"

"We just went last week."

"We go every week!"

And so went our discussion at breakfast this morning. I discussed how attending Mass is something God asks of us, how it is part of the ten commandments, and how it is the only time during the week in which we participate in the Miracle of the Eucharist. After all, we are responsible for our choices. God will not force us to go to church,. He will not force us to choose Him. However, when we make a choice, we also choose the consequences of that choice.

Some were not impressed, and once again it turned into  a "Well, we're going to Church, deal with it," situation.

We make our way to church, with some grumbling along the way. We pick our seats and kneel down in prayer before Mass starts. Part of my prayer was that my children see the benefit of the Mass and why it is so important. I finish my prayer and sit in the pew. I lean over and whisper to the kids, "I want you to be sure to pay attention to what Father says during the Homily." My hope was that in paying attention, the may see some spiritual benefit in going to church in  addition to Holy Communion. I hoped they would hear something that made them "get it".

The time for the Homily came and I was flabbergasted. Did God just answer my prayer? Already? The Homily was mostly about the importance of a funeral mass (tying into today's Gospel) but the priest also stressed why the Mass is important. He stressed Mass and general prayer (for example a prayer service) are not equal. Mass is The Great Prayer. THE prayer. Why? Because we are joining our living and spiritual brothers and sisters in witnessing the miracle of the Eucharist. Mass is the highest form of prayer.

Our priest gave several examples illustrating all his points.During this homily, I watched my children's hearts soften as they began to understand that the Mass is more than an obligation in which people talk and sing for an hour. As Mass continued, I was in awe. Once again (it happens often) being at Mass addressed an issue I have been struggling with. How wonderful that what I had just been teaching my children at breakfast, had been reiterated by a respected priest.

Thank you God for hearing my prayers once again. And thank you for the gift of a devout and holy priest!