Sporadic Writing Until April

Hello! My writing on the blog will be sporadic as I prepare for my Christology final exam. Anyone who has taken a graduate level Christology course will understand just how intense of a class it is and how much information one is required to absorb. It is an incredible and humbling class, but will require hours upon hours of studying to prepare for the final. I hope all of you have a very blessed Holy Week and beginning of the Easter season. Pax Christi.

Blogging Again: Good Practice and Open Forum

A few months ago I gave up blogging. It was getting to be a bit of a burden to me and I didn’t care for the direction my writing was taking as a blogger. I decided to step back for a while and focus on my other writing projects and my journey as a freelance writer. I continue to write regularly for Catholic Exchange which has been a great blessing in launching me into freelance writing. I believe in their mission and purpose as a Catholic website.

I also took some time to submit a few pieces here and there on topics of importance to me. I learned a few things along the way. Being a writer is difficult. There are editors who will immediately see potential or like your work and there are others who will not. That is reality and an understandable one at that. Rejection is a part of any art and that includes writing. I also discovered, however, that as Catholic writers we can become entangled or stuck in ruts on topics. There can only be so many articles on abortion or “gay marriage” before we start to sound like a one note trumpet. I see this as a real danger for many Catholic sites. We must be well rounded and willing to vary the discussion.

I found in a topic that is of importance to me, which is the disconnect between the treatment of miscarriage and the Church’s call to a Culture of Life, to be met with some level of apathy. I sent pieces to multiple groups, one of them I understand was not the right approach. It is difficult to get forcefulness through in writing without it coming off as anger and I realized that I need a new approach to garner any interest on that topic. I need a virtuous approach in order to help people see the necessity of the discussion. How can we call people to pray at abortion clinics while ignoring families suffering and grieving miscarriages in the pews? I must temper my own pain and frustration with the Church in this area in order for anything to get done or else I will just stand beating a brick wall.

Since I see that certain topics aren’t going to get a lot of air time right now, I decided to practice and work through them on my blog. I won’t write for publications which tow the line in orthodoxy, as was recommended in one instance. I also did something very few writers see themselves doing this day-in-age and I got rid of my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Social media is seen as a staple in writing and I see the point, but I found social media to be too much of a distraction and full of noise. In fact, it was cacophonous. There is so much fighting these days and very little thought out discourse. I easily became ensnared in disagreements and discovered they had become a major time-waster for me. In other words, Facebook and Twitter were not helping me on my path to holiness, so I pruned them out.

In giving up social media, my husband and I developed a keener sense of being in the present and able to move towards God in a quieter manner that was not there before. I no longer think in terms of “This should go on Facebook” or “How do I get this article to go on Twitter?” I do use Pinterest to save recipes and articles, but that’s it. Now I stay in moments and only take pictures when I truly want to remember a moment. I missed social media at first, but now I don’t want to go back. Social media is a good, but for some of us it is a hindrance in the way we use it. Yes, social media is how most writers find work or make connections, but I am trusting that God will use the connections he has already given me to serve Him as a writer. He has already blessed me with an almost weekly contribution over at Catholic Exchange. As a full-time graduate student and homeschooling mom, my current pace as a freelance writer is right where it needs to be until I graduate next year. The most unexpected development that has occurred recently are the multiple radio interviews I have been asked to give on Teresa Tomeo’s radio show Catholic Connections. I was stunned and grateful for those opportunities.

I am not sure how often I will write here. I hope to write about three times per week and focus on quality over quantity. I still struggle with haste and imprudence, so I want to focus on pieces which will aid people in the journey, while also confronting the realities of the world and the Church. I am working on a term paper on the cardinal virtues for my Moral Theology class, so perhaps I will begin with a series on the cardinal virtues. I briefly covered the topic on the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas over at Catholic Exchange which you can read here. I have learned an entirely different approach to Ethics this semester which focuses on beatitude and virtue over a legalism. It is the Scholastic view of morality. It has been a real blessing and aided me in my journey. I’ve already begun to apply what I have learned about temperance in how I treat my body.

Thank you very much for reading. I will be praying for all of you. Pax Christi.

Giving Up the Blog

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I have been in a major pruning phase lately. If I don’t need it, or if it is not adding to my already heavy workload, then it needs to be cut. I wrote a blog yesterday on The Responsibility of Catholic Writers and I once again started to consider my own place as a writer. I have never been much of a blogger. I have tried different formats, but in reality, I am a formal writer. I prefer to do researched articles or pieces, whether they are theological in nature or something to help people on the path to holiness. I was really struggling to find my voice when Michael Lichens at Catholic Exchange recruited me. I was shocked because it was one of my favorite Catholic sites and I had made it a year goal to get a submission to them. In a great turn of events, I have been writing nearly weekly for them since April. I love writing for CE. It is a wonderful fit for me and I really believe in their mission.

Since I began writing as a contributor at CE and submitting pieces elsewhere it has become increasingly more difficult for me to keep up a personal blog. I am already a graduate student, homeschooling my daughter, and writing two books. I have a full plate of writing projects. Writing an article like the ones I write at CE takes a lot more time than a blog post. I have to read or re-read Church documents, biographies, or other works before I can even begin writing. There is a definite research component and then I spend the hours needed to write the piece. It just doesn’t leave a lot of extra time for blogging here.

I think I finally need to admit that I don’t particularly like being a blogger. I am thankful that this blog has opened up avenues that I had never previously dreamed of and that God has blessed me through this endeavor. It was my theological response in charity to an error that changed everything for me. Michael and I find it amusing that he recruited me because I criticized one of the pieces at CE for theological confusion. God has a sense of humor.

I don’t particularly like blogging because I just don’t use social media much these days. That is one of the main avenues for getting work out to the masses. I deleted my Facebook pages and I plan to delete Twitter this morning. I use Pinterest for recipes and homeschooling ideas. The huge uptick in views on my blog over the last few months is quite simply because people read one of my articles at CE, or one that has been picked up elsewhere, and they stop by. I don’t have the time to offer the same quality pieces on a daily basis here on the blog. I will have more time after grad school. This month is looking to be the highest views I have ever had since doing this blog. In my mind that means I am doing double duty. I don’t particularly want my own blog per say. I really enjoy being a part of a larger mission at places like Catholic Exchange, and when I have the time, Crisis Magazine, First Things, and other more formal Catholic sites. Catholic Exchange is one of the largest Catholic platforms on the Internet. Why not focus on their beautiful mission, instead of my own blog?! It’s nice to see when an article gets picked up by uCatholic, New Advent, The American Conservative, or other sites where people have shared my work. It has been an awe-inspiring and humbling ride so far and sanctifying because pride is always a danger for writers, most especially me.

It actually feels pretty good to admit that I am not a blogger and don’t particularly enjoy it. There are bloggers whose websites have really helped me over the years and will continue to do so. I would rather serve and write articles that I am good at, and those are of a more formal and researched nature. There is nothing wrong with that. It is how God made me. Giving up on the battle with this blog also frees up more time for the two books that I have started in earnest, most especially the book I am writing on miscarriage. Blogging takes up valuable time. I guess I am more old-school. I like to write articles and books. I love paper!

I do want to thank each and every person who has stopped by and those who have left comments or emails. I appreciate the encouragement that you have given me and I will be sure to give Michael my email address so that people can still email me. I will leave this content up for a bit. I do get a lot of visitors on the days I post beauty themes, so I will keep those available for a while. I’ve paid for the domain, so why not?!

So here ends my journey as a blogger and a new phase as a writer begins. I pray God blesses all of you on your journey to holiness. Pax Christi.

Dear Readers, Writers Have to Make Choices and So Do You in Your Comments

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Being a writer on the Internet is tough business these days. The criticism that is leveled at writers on a daily basis can be demoralizing and downright inhumane. Much of the criticism I see is from people who have not even read the piece that I wrote on that particular day. They make a comment purely based on the title. Since we pour ourselves into our pieces, we can tell when someone has actually read an article we’ve written. Either that, or I missed someone’s favorite item in the article and I hear about it.

When you finally land a freelance gig, you have to keep the momentum going that landed you that position in the first place. That momentum can slow when criticism begins to pile up. It is easy to criticize individuals who write on the Internet, whether as bloggers or professional writers. We can easily believe that our own worldview is the only worldview and we share that on the comments sections of various articles or blogs. The Catholic world, where I primarily write these days, is no different. We nit-pick at each other. There always has to be someone who criticizes or points out a believed oversight. Today I want to share with you a few thoughts on being a writer as well as suggestions for commenting on the published work of a brother or sister in Christ. I am going to share my view and experience, so that you can consider it the next time you go to comment.

1. Writers have a word limit, usually around 1500 words.

Most websites have a word limit around 1500 words. Some have even lower word counts and a longer article is usually for a special project. For people who do not like to write, 1500 can seem like a lot of words, but for a writer that is a very limiting space. It is even more limiting when we want to back up our articles with quotes or historical information. Bloggers are not limited because it’s their own space and they can write as much as they want, but to write for a publication means limits. Consider that the next time you are on Catholic Exchange, Crisis, First Things, Catholic Culture, National Catholic Register, etc.

2. We have to make choices in our work.

Much of what I write about is theological in nature and related to the Catholic Church in some way. When I write for the websites that I contribute to, I have to consider the audience, the mission of the site, and a topic. It is impossible for me to cover every single topic in one post. It is impossible for me to completely cover a topic in 1500 words. That’s what books are for. I do the best that I can to give the important information. When I worked as a linguist for the Navy, we called giving the main points a gist. When I write an article about a saint, theological point, or contemporary topic, I am giving you the gist. I give the most pertinent information. When I write about a saint, I have to pick ONE saint for the day. I cannot cover multiple saints in one article without doing an injustice to one of them. I pick the saint who speaks to me at that moment and I make the choice to learn more about them through research, intercessory prayer, and the writing of the piece. Most of the topics that I write about could fill a library, so keep that in mind when reading an article on the Internet.

3. We make inadvertent mistakes.

One of the hallmarks of charity is that we learn to give people the benefit of the doubt. I have chosen three websites to contribute to at this point, and they chose me. All of us are orthodox and desire to share the mission of evangelizing the world. These three websites do it in vastly different ways, but all with the same goal in mind. When a writer types a wrong date, phrases something wrong, or misses a typo, expect that it was an accident. If it turns out the phrasing was intentional, then consider if you have the knowledge, humility, charity, and ability to correct them. You may not be called to fraternal correction and maybe you are. Be prudent.

4. Writing is a very difficult discipline.

Writing is tough business. It is truly a gift that God gives certain people to be used in service of Him. There are days we have to force ourselves to write despite our mood or schedule. We have to come up with topics out of thin air. Yes, much of daily life and cyberspace provide a wide range of topics, but that doesn’t mean each article is easy. Some things flow out of us and other times it is like pulling teeth. Don’t assume because it is on the screen that it came easily to the author. Many pieces come from sweat and tears. Pieces that are written from deeply painful personal experience may have been written with a lot of sobbing involved.

5. Sharing our work in public is hard, and I mean hard.

Every single time I submit a piece to one of my editors or write on my own blog my heart begins to race. I get embarrassed because I have shared a part of myself in my work. It doesn’t matter the topic, there is a little piece of me in every article I write. I wait for the hammer to fall as people come out of the woodwork to criticize what I worked so hard to share. I write to share the Faith, but even that is not good enough for many people.

6. Editors are human beings too.

If we are a freelance writer for a large website, then we have an editor. They read every single one of our pieces and try to catch anything we may have missed during our editing process. They miss things every now and then. Many editors read more than 20-25,000 words per week from their writers. So cut them a break. Cut all of us a break. Yes, we will all make grammatical errors every now and then. It is not the end of the world.

A Few Words on Commenting About Our Work

Consider your training before you comment.

There are a great many lay Catholic writers out there, which is a good thing. There are a lot who have no formal theological training, which is fine. There are plenty of theologians out there who do write. Every Catholic should read the Catechism, but reading the Catechism is not even close to be the same thing as being a theologian. Theologians don’t just read the Catechism, they read the documents that are in the footnotes of the Catechism, while also learning thousands of ecclesial terms in Latin and Greek. Both serve the Church and are needed, but they are not the same thing. When we read an article by someone who is formally trained (I do not include myself here because I am still a student) we should consider whether or not we have the knowledge base to correct them. Humilitas is a good thing! Not every MA or PhD is correct, but someone armed with the CCC is going to be out of their depth pretty quickly. So, the Internet is not where we are King of the Mountain, it is where we can learn.

Do you really think the author intentionally missed your favorite thing?

Once again this goes with humility. It is not a bad thing if an author missed your favorite saint, item, song, book, theologian, etc. As I said above, we have a limited amount of space and we have to make choices. When there is more than one saint on any given feast day, I pick one saint to write about. I am trying to go deeper into the faith and that individual’s life. If I try to include multiple saints then I can only remain at a superficial level. If I am writing about Theology of the Body or some other theological school, there is no way I can give a full picture in 1500 words. Read the books I cite if you want more information! That’s how I learned. I read the books. Writers are limited and correcting us on your favorite item does no good. We are aware of those things, but chose to leave them out.

Stay on topic.

Please, please, please, if you are going to comment on one of our pieces, stay on topic. I do not respond to comments on my work that are not on topic. I don’t have time for those rabbit trails. If I write about St. Thomas More, then he is the only saint I am focused on for that day in my writing. If I write about Magisterial teaching authority, then all I am talking about is our obligation to obedience on that day, not prudential judgment. If I write about science and the Church, I am talking about the Catholic Church and not Young Earth Creationism (Catholics are not). If you are interested in genuine dialogue with the author, then write thoughtful, patient, charitable, and on point comments. We love to engage with our readers, but not when we can’t even understand what a person is talking about.

Check the sinful anger.

There is such a thing as righteous anger. It is the type of anger that leads us to pray Rosaries outside of abortion clinics and give up our job when people try to force us to violate our conscience. Ad hominem attacks, however, fall into the sinful anger category. Do not call an author names, even if they are the biggest jerk on the planet. You see what I did there. I personally leave discussions the minute they turn into personal attacks. It’s not worth it and the conversation has turned from discourse to a fight. When you become angry because of an article, consider first why you are angry. Did they strike a nerve? I can understand heresy making a person angry, but not sinfully so. Pray for them. There have always been heretics. If you can keep your cool and discuss the issue with them, then fine, but yelling, ranting, screaming, etc. does no good.

Think before you go full Grammar Nazi on us.

If we are writing for larger publications it is because somewhere, somehow, someone has seen our potential as a writer. You don’t have to agree with them, but that is what happened. Most of us have some knowledge of the English language. It doesn’t mean that we will not make mistakes, but it does mean that we are not uneducated and illiterate. Many of us are in, or have achieved advanced education of some kind. I am in graduate school. So, when you find an error, don’t go all English teacher on us. It is condescending and annoying. For me, I am quite happy to have readers correct my typos or errors. I pass them along to my editors. I don’t mind correction, but I mind people talking down to me. I am an adult and not sitting in your English class. Offer a quick, “There’s a typo here or a probable grammar error here.” I can figure it out without the English lesson. Fraternal correction, whether in the spiritual life or in matters of grammar, has a lot to do with presentation and tone. Just point out the error and leave it at that.

The Internet is a great place where people can exchange ideas and share the Faith. It is also a place of rabid anger and vitriol and that includes by self-professed Catholics. Let’s learn charity and humility in our dealings with people in social media. Before you share a comment, consider your tone and its applicability to the topic. If a writer doesn’t respond to your comment it is probably because it was too angry, off point, or unclear, or they are just too busy. All writers greatly appreciate their readers. We just ask that you treat us with the dignity and respect that human beings deserve. God bless.

In Which I Respond to an Amusing Critique of My Blog

Yesterday I chanced upon a random, short, and sarcastic review of the look and content of my blog on Reddit. I don’t even know the purpose of Reddit, by the way. It made me chuckle. I wasn’t angry, I thought it was funny. I found it amusing because it is so typical of us human beings to misunderstand, judge, and label people, even based on their Internet blog choices or writing. Since I found it amusing, I thought I would answer some of their complaints. This is not meant to be snarky at all and is really a reflection of my amusement with it all.

The commenter is clearly fed up with the Catholic Blogosphere and it’s declaration that it is its own Magisterium. I completely understand. I have argued against the same mentality and took a break from writing for that very reason. I no longer wanted to be a part of the problem, at least not intentionally. I could see that a great many people make their living in the Catholic world the same way the secular world does, through shock jock tactics and click bait headlines. I get it. It sells, but in my mind, it doesn’t serve the mission which is the conversion of souls. I examined my own tactics and style not only on my blog, but in social media and realized that I was a part of the problem. When I started graduate school last year, I started to see the wealth and beauty of the faith that can be shared with others. So I decided to focus on those things that will help people on the journey and steer clear of polemics as much as possible. I am not saying that my writing is the greatest out there, not even close, but I would encourage readers to pay attention to a new breed of Catholic writers who are coming up. We are also fed up with the fighting and want to focus on holiness. That is why I am so honored and love writing for Catholic Exchange. Their mission is the conversion of souls, not Catholic in-fighting and politics.

Moving from the topic of the Catholic blogosphere, they complained that I was just another self-proclaimed theologian. That’s not entirely accurate. In my About section I make it clear that I am a “student theologian”, which is what my professors call me and my fellow graduate students. I did this so that readers understand and are aware of my education status and knowledge level. Much to my shock, folks with doctorates and who are way more knowledgeable than I am, have visited my site. I want them to know where I am at, so that if I inadvertently make an error, they can offer the intellectual and fraternal correction that may be necessary. I am not sure what constitutes theologian in this person’s mind, but advanced study is a typical pre-requisite, which I am trying to fulfill. By virtue of my vocation, I am limited in my ability to study as much as I would like and may have to stop at the Master’s level. So, no, I will never be a great theologian, but perhaps God will use me in some manner because of the gifts and interests he has given me. For now I am focused on theological study at the graduate level.

The rest of the complaints were visual, and that is really what had me amused. They complained that Catholic blogs always have a specific look or name to them. Well, that makes sense. Catholic writers tend to be lovers of beauty, sacred art, and Catholic Culture, so that is what is reflected on our blog. Beauty is a very big theme on my blog. I don’t write every day because sometimes people just need a chance to marvel at the beauty of the universe. I go out of my way to make it easy for people to find some form of beauty on Mondays and Fridays. It’s not great intellectual work, but it is one of the very specific ways that God reveals Himself to us through reason. So, yes, my blog is a typical Catholic blog.

They complained that my picture was black and white, in they guessed, some attempt to be artsy. Actually, and this is why judgment is a silly thing to do, I found this picture on my phone after my daughter had change it to black and white. Being iPhone illiterate, I didn’t even know that my phone did that, and I was impressed that my daughter, who is 3 years old mind you, had changed it. So my profile picture is me, but it is also a reminder of my daughter. She made my profile picture. I guess it is easy to mock people when we have no back story or understanding of why they choose certain things.

They also complained about the self promotion of Catholic writers. I get that, but much of that is based on perception of the individual, not reality. I absolutely loathe self promotion. I hate that I have to “promote” my writing in social media. I especially dislike Twitter. I don’t like to use it and it is so much information that I don’t know how anyone finds anything in their feed. I essentially post and run. I share a few random things on Twitter, but not because I am particularly engaged. I use Facebook more because I think that it is a useful social media platform and I am connected to many learned Catholics who are smarter than I am. I feel awkward every single time I have to share something that I have written, whether it is from this blog or my professional writing for Catholic Exchange. I also try to promote my fellow writers at Catholic Exchange in social media since we are all trying to fulfill the mission of bringing the Good News to the world.

They also made fun of the title of my blog. I have actually struggled over the years finding my niche as a Catholic writer. I am not a mommy blogger. I came up with this title when I was contemplating the vastness of the Blessed Trinity during my first semester of graduate school. In my mind, I felt like I was swimming into an infinitely deep and vast pool. Swimming the Depths just made sense to me and it is my own private devotion to the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. People don’t have to like it, but it is a profound reminder to me personally of how small I am in light of the Beatific Vision.

I think what people like this forget, is that God does call certain people to writing. I love writing. It just flows out of me. Most of the time I read my own writing and think “How on earth did that come from me?!”. I use my writing to serve God, not myself. Yes, I have to fight pride, but as I told my Confessor earlier this week, that is part of the great struggle in public work. Many people write as a hobby, much like people who paint or draw. I was writing as a hobby until recently when, by the grace of God and the charity of an editor, I became a “professional writer”. I am not entirely sure what that means, but it does mean that I will occasionally get paid for my musings. We also need to remember that in this digital age, self promotion is a part of the task of becoming a professional writer. I don’t like it, but if I want to be a writer then I have to share my stuff. I think there are a great many writers who feel the same way. Perhaps some enjoy it, but most of the writers I know despise promoting their work.

I will end with these thoughts. Feel free to dislike my choices for theme and picture. Those items are a matter of taste. The picture on my site of the rose is something that I took in Charleston, SC, which is a beautiful city. I like the picture very much. Please feel free to disagree with me, although, any Catholics disagreeing because they are not submitting to the Magisterium should take that up with their priest. This blogger submits completely and totally to ALL teachings of the Catholic Church. If you want to discuss items that are open for theological debate, please do. I would say that it’s important to move from superficial judgments, however, or we may find ourselves thrown into pride and envy. I know. I’ve done it and still do it, which is why I write quite a bit about the great blessings of frequent Confession. I thank anyone who stops by and I truly hope you leave this little basement corner of the Internet better than when you came. I just ask that you give me the benefit of the doubt and not let superficial prejudices keep you from Catholic websites. God bless.

The Shock and Awe of Becoming a Contributor for Catholic Exchange

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I learned a few lessons yesterday as I began my contributor relationship with Catholic Exchange. The story of how I ended up writing periodically for them is one that I can only look back at in wonder. A few weeks before I was asked by the editor to become a contributor, I had emailed a good friend of mine and told him that my writing goal for this year was to get a piece published on Catholic Exchange. I had seen on their editorial page that they take submissions, as do a whole host of other Catholic websites, some of which I am waiting to complete my Master’s before I write more scholarly submissions. My friend thought it was a great idea and wished me success. I had set the thought aside as I began to prepare for final essays and exams for the January semester. Then something completely unexpected happened.

I read Catholic Exchange articles throughout my week because their focus is on deepening the Catholic faith of their readers and inviting others to investigate the greatness that is Christ and His Church. I happened to see an article that stopped me in my tracks in that the title was a theological error. For some reason I felt compelled to write a theological response on my own blog and share it on their Facebook page and in the comments section.  I didn’t expect a response and had written it so that readers could see a theological argument in response and study the subject more. I will not re-hash my post here, as it was quickly corrected by the author and editor. What happened next greatly humbled and amazed me. The editor contacted me to tell me a correction had been made and asked if I wanted to become a contributor for the website. I was stunned and over-joyed. This was a site I read regularly that I felt truly represented the Catholic mission to the world in its refusal to fall strictly into polemics. They are striving to help us grow in holiness. After a few years in polemics, I had found their website and had seen what type of writer I truly wanted to be.

I was exhausted from the battles that Catholics wage with one another constantly over every minute detail. I see that parts of social media are tearing the Mystical Body down rather than lifting it up. I contemplated this last night after having survived my first day as a contributor for a major Catholic site that reaches hundreds of thousands of people.

Honestly, I was stunned by the level of support and sharing my piece generated, as well as the other amazing authors at Catholic Exchange. I saw that thousands of people were reading and sharing the articles from yesterday. It made me wonder, do sites focused on polemics generate this kind of buzz? I looked over a few of the major Catholic political sites and saw very quickly that they are not nearly as popular. While this was an anecdotal and small pool of research, I could see that people are thirsting for the authentic Catholic Christian message. Yes, polemics are interesting. I still sit back and watch the arguments on my friends’ social media pages, but arguments don’t quench that thirst. Messages of hope, reflections on Scripture, the lives of the saints, and deepening of theological understanding feeds the soul in social media and in real life. The world is noisy and places like Catholic Exchange invite their readers into the silence of God. That is precisely why they are so popular. They are feeding Christ’s sheep.

My experience of joining them as a contributor was one of deep humility and shock. I struggle with pride, intellectual pride, and God completely stunned me with this direction in my writing. I quickly discovered that this is one of His tools for teaching me humility. I was nervous when my post was published. I was worried that I had made unintentional errors, and I actually did. They were quickly fixed. As a natural debater, I learned that I don’t have to respond to every comment posted. In fact, I really didn’t want to engage in debate since that is not the goal of my writing these days. I merely want to share the beauty of the Catholic faith with others and let God do the work. So while I responded to a few comments on my article yesterday, I realized very quickly that I didn’t need to and that is how I will keep things in the future unless any major questions arise. I want people to offer fraternal correction when necessary and I will happily contact the editor to make sure my mistakes are fixed, but I want my writing to help with silence and peace, not turn into fights over minutiae. So this natural born debater learned to trust and let things go. If the editor has approved my piece, then it is fine. Both of us are orthodox and never intend to lead people astray.

To write for a large website is to offer yourself up to the readership. It is to trust that God is using the talent he has given me to serve Him, not myself. I write because I want people to deepen their love of the Blessed Trinity. I am also human and I have to fight pride daily. There is a real danger of pride in being a writer. We can lose sight of the mission, but I see now that God is using this to teach me humility. I don’t like every writer that I read, so it is impossible for everyone to like my writing all of the time. People will tell me such and that is a great reminder to be humble and serve God, not myself. It is also deeply humbling to see so many people using this website to grow in their Catholic faith.

As a writer and a student, I tend to walk forward in fear and trembling. This is what we all should be doing, but I am amazed at what God has done with me in the past few months, especially as I go further into my Master’s program. I am learning so much and it makes me want to share it with others. I am growing in wonder and amazement as I delve deeper into the truths of Christ and His Church. I will even be teaching high school theology online this coming fall for Kolbe Academy Home School.

Yes, my primary vocation is wife and mother. That is the greatest gift, but I am thankful that he is using me precisely in my vocation. I can teach and write from home. He is fulfilling that deep intellectual yearning that He gave me, but also keeping me firmly planted at home with my daughter and husband. What a tremendous gift! The last few years have been hard. I suffered three miscarriages, post-partum depression, and a long period of refinement in the furnace of suffering, as one of my Confessors called it. The grief was painful and I was constantly reminded of Christ on the Cross. Through all of that suffering Christ has conformed me more closely to Himself that I may serve Him in charity, truth, and humility. So here I am in awe of what He is doing in my life. I hope you have a great weekend and a blessed Easter season.

Changes in My Writing

For some of you who have been reading my blog off and on for months, you may have noticed a shift in focus in my writing.  Yes, my writing is sporadic.  I am a wife, mother, Lay Dominican, and now, a full-time graduate student in Theology.  So my time is limited.  The shift you will notice is a changing in my own understanding and deepening of what it means to be a member of the Mystical Body of Christ.  It is to suffer with the other Members.

The world will change drastically over the next few decades.  Demographically, the rise of Islam and secular humanism will be great.  The world has always been Fallen, but we are here to serve now.  I am no longer in a position to rush to the aid of those in need.  Instead, my vocation is teaching me that I must pray, fast, give alms, and raise awareness of different issues.  We can no longer go about woefully ignorant.  In our decadence we have forgotten that we are engaging in very serious, and very real, spiritual warfare.  There may come a day, on THIS side of eternity, where you and I will have to give testament to what we believe.

This is not meant to be gloomy.  Rather, it is a reminder of the things that truly matter, namely our Faith in Christ and His Church.  We must prepare and grow in holiness.  We must remain vigilant because the Enemy is on the move.  Yes, I post a lot about Help Nasara right now and that is because over a hundred thousand Christians are being openly and violently persecuted in Iraq and Syria alone.  That does not include the countless other countries being impacted.  We are not impotent.  God hears our prayers and cries for justice.  Trust in God and that he will answer our prayers.  Fast for others, but also to prepare and discipline our own bodies.  Give alms to help others.  This is how we will defeat this enemy.  God bless you and thanks for reading my blog.

Remember this prayer daily.  My dad sent it to me when I was a 9-11 relief worker.  It brings great courage and hope.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen..

Blog Award Nominations

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A little while ago, Terry over at 8 Kids and a Business nominated me for a few blog awards, my first. Being the space-cadet that I am, I completely forgot to nominate some people of my own until Cristina at Filling My Prayer Closet, also nominated me for some blog awards. Thank you, Ladies! I greatly enjoy your blogs. It is humbling to know that God uses my writing to reach others.

I would also like to nominate a few bloggers for these awards. These bloggers are both edifying and inspirational. Some of them are people I am friends with personally, and others are people I only “know” through the Internets. Thank you for making the Internet a more uplifting place to visit.

Here are the rules for the three awards (so you know what to expect and should you be nominated, know how to handle your excitement:

Use the award logo in the post.
Link to whoever nominated you.
Write 10 pieces of information about yourself.
Nominate fellow bloggers who meet the indicated criteria.
Leave a comment on the nominees’ blogs to tell them of the award.
Without further ado, here are some of my favorite blogs that I nominate for these auspicious awards. Try to hold your acceptance speech to 30 seconds. Your cooperation is much appreciated.

Domestic Vocation
Absolute Grace
Life of a Catholic Librarian
Serious Thoughts Taken Not So Seriously
Roses Near Running Waters
Saintly Sages

And here are a few blogs that I just enjoy reading that you might like too:

Dominicana
Conversion Diary
A Holy Experience
Anything at the National Catholic Register
Catholic Vote
Standing on My Head
On This Rock
Bad Catholic

I am supposed to share 10 pieces of information about myself. Hmmmm.

1. I am a U.S. Navy Veteran. I spent 6 years serving as a Russian Linguist, including a stint in the UK.
2. My favorite color is purple, because it’s purple.
3. I wrote my first book in the 4th grade called Ferdy in Pizzaland. It was about my pet ferret that had died. She loved to eat pizza and ice cream.
4. If I could be anywhere in the world it would be in front of a Tabernacle or the exposed Blessed Sacrament. I have a 2 year old, so that is difficult these days.
5. I met my husband on CatholicMatch.com in 2009.
6. I have met Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, and Gary Sinise (a great supporter of our military).
7. If you ask my friends, they would say I have lived everywhere, because I usually have a story or recommendations for places they travel. I have lived a lot of places.
8. My favorite spot in the U.S. is on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC at sunset.
9. I am a native Montanan who has made my home in Southwest Virginia. I don’t miss the winters!!!!
10. My favorite flower is the tulip.

7 Quick Takes for this Gray and Occasionally Sunny November Day

Today I am linked up over at Jennifer Fulwiler’s Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes. Join us with your quick takes for the week here:

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1.  My husband and I bought our first home together in May of this year.  We actually ended up in the town where our parish is located (long story as to why we drove 30 minutes to Mass…let’s just say “spirit of Vatican II” and leave it at that).  My husband now commutes every day, but we think that it is worth it.  We have been blessed with even more friendships through our church and have been able to get more involved.  We have become good friends with a family with four girls.  I teach junior high religious ed with the dad/husband.  They are our board game friends.  We have almost made Sunday dinner and games a ritual.  We chat after Mass and then end up planning to play games and have dinner later that day.  It has been a great blessing for us.  When we lived in Boone, NC we had a couple we used to play Settlers of Cataan and pinochle with.  Now we play all kinds of games with our friends from church, including a Star Trek version of Settlers (so awesome!).
2.  I am learning to enjoy reading the same book over and over again to my toddler.  One of my blog readers from CatholicMom.com pointed out that I  need to foster a love of “nonsense” with my child.  I thought about it and decided that she is right.  I used to have a great imagination and I am working on my first novel, so I should be able to read Pinkalicious to my daughter and enjoy it, even if it is not one of my favorite books.  Michaela is even “reading” to herself these days and that makes me so proud.
3.  Conquering my coffee addiction is not going so well (she says while slurping down a peppermint mocha).  Facebook was easy for me, compared to coffee.  I think that some of my readers are misunderstanding my conquering addictions.  Holiness is about letting go of the things we allow to control us, so that we are free to enjoy them in moderation.  Facebook was leading me to sin. Coffee is an addiction, not something that I merely enjoy.  God gave us these gifts as “pleasant inns” to borrow from CS Lewis.  That means we enjoy them, but not allow them to consume us.  If we read the works of the Saints, we will see how they call us to detach from those things that control us, which really means things that replace God in our lives.  Today, I did not do as well as I wanted with the coffee, but I will try again tomorrow and by God’s grace be freed from my addiction, and hopefully some day just be able to enjoy coffee, rather than feel I “need” it.  A priest told me that I needed to do this in Confession recently.   No one “needs” coffee he said.
4. I got to go on an impromptu date with my husband last  night.  My awesome friend Christine (you can check her blog,, Domestic Vocation, out here) agreed to babysit our toddler with 2 hours notice.  We had not been on a date in over two months.  I am sure all of you parents understand.  We had a nice dinner at a cafe downtown.  We even walked down the street holding hands.  Some day that will embarrass our daughter.  I think when  we kiss it already embarrasses her.  There are such similarities between a two year old’s reactions and a teenager’s.
5.  This past week our junior high religious ed class discussed vocations.  Have you talked about vocations with your kids?  The most important thing we discern is where God is calling us to.  Not everyone is called to marriage, even though that is what our society tells us.  We need to encourage vocations to the Priesthood or religious life.  Here are two great videos to share with your kids about vocations.  The first is for young men on the Priesthood and the second is for young women on becoming a sister or nun.

6.  I have a confession to make.  I do not make my pancakes from scratch.  I think about it, but the box of multi-grain pancakes at Kroger is so much easier.  I just add water, and then, whatever I want.  This morning I made sweet potato pancakes with the leftover mashed sweet potatoes from dinner two nights ago.  I followed the directions on the box and then added 3/4 of mashed sweet potato puree, and a dash of cinnamon.  They were so good.  I did not even use syrup.  You can add whatever you want.  One of my favorites is cottage cheese and blueberries.  Give it a try!  Sneak some healthy stuff into those pancakes for picky eaters.
7.  This song is so beautiful.  I hope it blesses you as you go into your weekend. My husband and I saw Casting Crowns in concert when we were dating.  It was a great show.

A Book About Me?! God Working in My Life

 

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I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember.  Before I began to understand that my calling is to stay home with my daughter, I wanted to get my PhD and be a college professor.  Of course, being a professor requires writing and being published.  I also greatly enjoy teaching, which is one of the many reason’s motherhood is an awesome job.

 
I had forgotten this, but in grade school I was a member of Young Writers and went to the conferences held in the summer.  My first book was about our ferret, Ferdy, who had died.  Ferdy’s favorite things to eat were pizza and ice cream.  So the book was Ferdy in Pizza Land.  I even did the illustrations myself, and I am not a talent at drawing.  I am pretty sure my mom must have helped, since she has the drawing and painting talent in our family.

 
Yesterday an idea for a book starting forming in my head.  At first I thought it sounded ridiculous.  Who would want to read about my spiritual journey?!  Sure I have seen and done some interesting things, but me?!  Then I began to feel like maybe God is calling me to share my story and that this is a good jumping off point for writing.  After all, it is really up to God if my book goes anywhere and it is my job just to write it, with prayer and guidance, and see where it goes.
 
I have had quite a few book ideas over the years.  Some of the ideas were prose, some poetry, and others were non-fiction.  When we were dating, my husband bought me a beautiful soft leather journal.  I am a paper and pen kind of girl.  I love the feeling of smooth paper and a perfectly molded to my hand pen gliding across the page.  It is a good thing my husband is a wood-turner and he makes beautiful pens.  In fact the picture above is of that very journal and one of the lovely pens my husband made.  I decided to find that journal.
 
It was tucked away in my bottom desk drawer, with the rest of my journals.  I own many.  A couple of years ago I had deemed this gift from my husband, my writing idea journal.  I had started on word and idea diagrams, written short synopses of ideas, and written a reminder of why I write;  for the greater glory of God.  I need this reminder.  Like most human beings, I struggle greatly with the sin of pride.  Being a writer can easily become a high altar at the sanctuary of “ME”.  I don’t want to write to fulfill some longing of my ego.  Rather, I want to write to share the Good News with people.  I want to participate in the New Evangelization.  I started to think that maybe my story would help.  I was raised nominally Catholic, joined the military and was a 9-11 relief worker, I lived overseas, interned at a major think tank on Capitol Hill, I completely fell away from the Church, came back, and now I am married and a mother.  Perhaps my story could help others who struggle or who have struggled?  Is that what Our Lord wants of me? 
 
I hammered out an outline in about 10 minutes this morning.  I was shocked by how easy it was.  My other story ideas have taken a lot of thought and struggle.  I have had numerous short story and book ideas in the past.  That is probably why my husband just nods when I tell him a new one.  This one, as crazy as it is to me, seems like the best fit for me right now.  A book about me…ugh.  As a devout Roman Catholic, the last thing I should think about is myself.  But, I guess the book is not so much about me, but about how God has always been at work in my life, even when I ignored Him.
 
Writing takes a lot of sacrifice.  It does not get to be first in my life.  That is a great struggle for me.  When the writing muse hits all I can think about is writing, but I have two vocations ahead of it:  wife/mother, Lay Dominican in training.  My duties to my husband and daughter come first.  Really my prayer life and obligation to God comes first, but my vocation is woven in with my duty to God.  Second, my prayer life and continued education as a Dominican, which I have decided to pursue after prayer and thought, must come second.  That means that the time wasters in my life need to be minimized, most notably Facebook and TV.
 
The real sacrifice comes with when to write.  Since I have an obligation to my family first and prayer, that means that those times when I am not actively taking care of my family are the times I can write.  That means I must get up early, before everyone else to write, that I must write in the evenings when my daughter is in bed or when my husband can watch her, and during nap times.  I am not a night person, so staying up late is not the best creative time for me, early in the morning is the best time for me.  I just need to get my butt out of bed earlier and this time of year that is difficult.  I personally like to rise for the day with the sun.  The sun is not coming up until 715a these days.  By that time my daughter is awake.  She is an early riser and is up by 630am most days.  That means depending on how much I want to write, I  need to get up at 530a or 600am and also have time to make my husband breakfast before he leaves at 7pm.  I really do need to get better about making him breakfast in the mornings.  Ugh, discipline…Perhaps God has more than one lesson in store for me?
 
I am taking a big gulp before I take the plunge.  Writing is a beautiful, yet daunting task.  Perhaps I will enlist St. Thomas Aquinas as my patron to pray for me during my writing.  After all, he was a great writer who truly understood what his work was meant to convey.  This is a man who wrote the Summa and said, after a fit of ecstasy, that all of his work was “mere straw”.  Talk about humility!  I think I will also ask St. Therese to pray for me whose feast day is today.  She is a reminder of how the normal day-to-day leads us to Christ.  Her prayers can help me in my vocation.  
 
St. Thomas Aquinas, ora pro nobis.  
 
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St. Therese, ora pro nobis.
 
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What are some writing projects you are working on?