Friday, April 29, 2016

Clerics on the Web - My Favorite Podcasting YouTubing Catholic Priests

The past few months I've been loving on some podcasts and videos by really great priests.  I've found my faith strengthened and nourished and am so grateful for the ways that these men put themselves out there and use social media to bring the Gospel to the world.  New Evangelization is this, you know.  What a gift to be able to pull up a homily or talk on my phone while I change sheets or drive or nurse or shower or whatever.  If you're a Catholic looking for some extra spiritual nourishment or you are someone simply interested in learning more about Catholicism, I'd highly recommend these favorites:

Bishop Robert Barron

Bishop Barron was only recently named a bishop for the archdiocese of Los Angeles.  Before that he was Father Barron who ran the seminary in Chicago and who started Word on Fire, a multimedia evangelization and catechetical apostolate.  If you're not a Catholic and don't know where to start learning about this crazy faith, my advice would be to get yourself a copy of The Catechism of the Catholic Church and Father Barron's Catholicism DVD series and start there.  I consider Bishop Barron the Fulton Sheen for our age.  He clearly and beautifully explains the faith for those who have never learned and invites everyone into a deeper relationship with Christ and the Church.

Father John Riccardo

I first heard Father Riccardo about four years ago on our local Catholic radio station.  They played him right at 10 a.m. on Sunday mornings just as we were getting out of Mass.  We called it our second homily despite it not being formally coordinated with the readings for that Sunday.  His talks and homilies made up for a certain lack we were experiencing in our normal Sunday Mass.  His focus on living in real relationship with Jesus Christ and what that means are challenging and poignant.  He so clearly allows the Spirit to move in his life and in that of his parish in Michigan.  What I wouldn't give to be a member there!

Father Dave Pivonka

I met Father Dave in college when he worked at Franciscan University and he is well known for his gift of preaching and evangelization.  I was blessed to have him as a spiritual director for a bit and even got to travel to Tanzania with him.  He is a man on fire for God and his recently released video series called The Wild Goose is a powerful and well produced series on the Holy Spirit.  Brian and I have been watching them together and they are phenomenal.  All videos are available and free at the site.

Catholic Stuff You Should Know

I was introduced to the hilarious and informative Catholic Stuff podcast just this year but it's been around for three years.  It features a group of six or seven priests who chat about different teachings of Catholicism or current events or other relevant topics of the spiritual life.  I have to admit, Father Nathan Goebel and Father Michael O'Loughlin's casts are my favorite.  

Father Mike Schmitz

Father Mike Schmitz is the chaplain at the University of Minnesota Duluth.  His homilies are on point, focused, and even though you can tell he's addressing them to the college age crowd, they're still relevant and applicable to anyone.  I've really enjoyed his recent series on heroic confidence.  His videos for Ascension Press are succinct and easily understood, answering common questions and misconceptions about Catholicism.

Father Mark Noonan

Father Mark is a local priest and personal friend.  I'm so glad he now makes his homilies available to the public since the previous bishop moved him to a parish over an hour away from us and that's been sad.  He's a humble and faithful priest preaching the Gospel at a little country church and we're blessed to have him in our diocese and grateful that we can still get to hear him through his podcasts.

Father Larry Richards

Father Larry is the pull-no-punches priest.  He shares the truth without apology and his no fluff approach is especially good for men.  He is the pastor at a parish in Erie, Pennsylvania but travels around the country for talks and retreats and also makes his homilies and talks available online. Listening to Father Larry will most definitely challenge you in your faith.

I know there are many more priests out there using the media to evangelize and catechize...I didn't even touch on blogs!  What are your favorites that I missed?

Linking up with Kelly and Seven Quick Takes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Homemade Chain Mail Mini Tutorial (yes.)

John Paul is one of those kids that zeroes in on something and it takes over his world.  He eats sleeps, breathes, and thinks it until he's understood everything he can on the topic to his satisfaction.  He's had a passion this past year for medieval history and warfare.  Last summer found him making a huge wooden catapult, trebuchet, and ballista for the yard.  (And, I might add, I graciously squelched my inclination to not freak out about the mess or what the neighbors must think).  He just finished a huge project of building real metal chain mail and for a few weeks he's been wearing it almost constantly. I love this kid.  He wanted to share here about this latest project of his and (checking off history/English/writing/photography/media) I'm letting him.  So today, I turn it over to him...

For the past few months I’ve been working on making a hauberk of chain mail.

It is made entirely out of steel wire rings.  I estimate there are about 6000 rings altogether.  After watching a few videos on YouTube I figured out how it is done.  I made the rings by wrapping steel wire around a wooden dowel with this machine that I made with a few pieces of scrap wood.

The dowel, which is ⅜ in. thick, goes in the bigger hole.  The wire goes through a ⅛ in. hole in the side.  It is then bent 90° and pushed into a ⅛ in. hole in the dowel. 

I bought the wire from Tractor Supply with money from Christmas.  It's 14 gauge galvanized steel electric fence wire that was sold for thirty dollars.  

A drill on low power is attached to the other end of the dowel.  As the drill spins, it winds the wire up into a spring.  The spring is then slid off the dowel and a pair of angle cutters is used to cut it up into little rings.  Those rings can then be bent and joined together to form chain mail.

Here’s a video on how I make the rings:
{I apologize for poor video quality.  It's much clearer on my phone but I'm not sure how to fix that here!}

Putting the rings together is pretty easy once you get the hang of it.  There are many different ways you can do it, but I start by taking one open ring and putting two closed rings on it.  Then I bend it closed with pliers and take another open ring and put the two closed rings on it.  Then I put two more closed rings on it.  I continue like this until I have a chain as long as I want then I take a few of those chains and join them together with new rings.  I was using a different method but I switched to this method because it was easier. 

I had to figure out how to make the correct pieces and them fit them all together to be a hauberk.  Here it is completed and laying flat.

The hauberk is 80 rings tall and 40 wide.  I made it in rows of 8 rings.  For the front I started by making a strip 80 rings long and attaching a strip 64 rings long to it.  Then I attached two more 64-ring strips to it.  I made another 80 ring long strip and attached it onto the rest.  Finally, I added two triangles.  The back was pretty simple since it was just a big rectangle.  Here’s a picture of the front divided into the segments that I pieced together.

After joining it all together I have a complete chainmail hauberk.  It took about a month to make and it is about 15 lbs., though when you have it on it only feels like 5 lbs.  Making medieval things is one of my favorite hobbies.  I’ve wanted to have a suit of chain mail for a while, but all of the suits online were crazy expensive and too big.  A complete chain mail hauberk can be over $100 on Amazon.  I found by making my own chain mail I was saving myself a lot of money.  I bought a quarter mile (1,320 feet) of wire for $30 but I only ended up using half of it.   

The next project I’m working on is a rope powered medieval catapult.  If you have any questions about how I made the hauberk, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I can try to answer them.

Friday, April 22, 2016

7 Post-Doulaing High Quick Takes

So much so much so much going on.  With so little blogging to account for it all.
A Quick Takes cure it is...

I got roughly two hours of sleep last night and have been up since about 3 but it's alllll good because I got to attend a great birth for a repeat client.  It is such an honor and privilege and this mom rocked it. The doctor didn't get there in time and I was thisclose to catching my first baby but alas, the on staff midwife had the nerve to step in.

Let's see how coherent we can make these takes, shall we?


Praise Jesus, it is spring!

My porch (with the redone floor, remember that?) is ready!

My favorite view of spring

"Can I read my history out on the porch?"  
YES.  A million times yes.

Disgusting swamp water plus homemade bubbles equals an hour at least of (really gross) play.


We started a few seedlings inside.  I have no idea how they are going to grow because we have such a small amount of good light in the house but I figured it couldn't hurt to start them.  We had the seeds from last year because I ordered them and then was too overwhelmed at the thought of digging a new garden in the same month that Ben was due.  Rumor has it we're going to have a garden this year, though.  It's quite sad that the raised beds of yore did not hold up and we needed to take them down. We plan on direct tilling a different spot of yard that's higher up and away from all the pear trees. We'll see.  I have a love/hate relationship with having a garden.

Luke has been VERY eager to plant things.  

Fanciest greenhouse on the block


Can I show you something awesome?  

I stopped by my uncle's house to go through some of my grandma's things and he showed me this treasure of a box filled with 90 year old love letters that she had kept from courting with my grandpa. I only got to read through a few but I was floored.  I would never ever ever have thought my grandma was the type to save love letters (or heck, even GET love letters).  My grandpa died when I was in high school but I never would have pictured him being the type to write these.  And yet here they are. One of the letters I happened to pick out and read asks her to marry him!!  In a letter!  I don't even know what to think about it all except that I'm reminded yet again that people are so much more than the caricatures I'm tempted to make of them in my head.  I just wish she had shared this side and these letters with us when she was here.


I'd love for you to offer up a prayer if you could?
A week ago my nephew was riding bikes with his friend and witnessed his friend get hit by a car and killed.  He's 11 years old as was his friend.  Please pray for his heart and mind to heal and for the soul and family of this little boy Nathan.  I'd really appreciate it.


Freebie bouquet from the lovely Trader Joe's folks because my husband told them something either incredibly charming or incredibly desperate about me.  Here!  Give that wife lady some flowers stat!


My sister and brother-in-law's food truck is now officially open!  I'm so ridiculously proud of how hard they have worked to make this happen and I've gotten to get a few delicious tastes.  If you're in the area be sure to check out Gourm-Asian Bistro and like them on Facebook to get the updates of where they'll be next!


ELEVEN months today.
Stop it.

Lately Mr. Ben Baby is either like this:
can't stop won't stop

or like this:

He's our earliest teether already sporting four.  Two more are currently coming in so snuggly nursing clingy monkey baby lately appears whenever I am in view.

And that's all she wrote.  Stop by Kelly's for more Quick Takers.  Goodbye and good night.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

She Is Her Beloved's {The Life of Consecrated Virginity}


Things here have been so so crazy lately.  I've been going a mile a minute trying to keep up with so many (wonderful blessed happy difficult tragic ordinary and extraordinary) things.  The moments I do have where I can sit for a hot second, my mind is just spinning so I give up on writing anything of substance.  But I just have to sit down and share with you the joy I was privileged to witness this past weekend.  There's no way I can't.  Last Saturday my dear friend Kate was consecrated to the life of holy virginity and it was (is!) amazing.

....the what now?...

The consecrated virgin is one of the oldest vocations of the Church but one that in the past few centuries hasn't been seen much.  In fact, consecrated virginity began way back in the ancient Church as women embraced the Gospel and decided to dedicate their entire lives and selves to Christ.  The Catechism says: "Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.  By this solemn rite (Consecratio virginum), the virgin is 'constituted . . . a sacred person, a transcendent sign of the Church's love for Christ, and an eschatological image of this heavenly Bride of Christ and of the life to come.'"  CCC 923

Saints like Lucy and Cecilia and Agnes were all women, consecrated virgins, who decided to forsake earthly marriage for a higher one.  They officially vowed before God and their fellow Christians to have one divine Spouse and to live their life in service to Him and His Church.  This was long before the Holy Spirit began to call women to do so in formal community with other women (sisters and nuns).  Many people don't realize that the call of consecrated virginity still exists today and there are women in each diocese who have answered that call.  Much like the resurgence of the permanent diaconate, it is a vocation that was 'buried' for a bit but is now being rediscovered.  Before Saturday, our diocese had two consecrated.  And now, praise God, we have three.

Photo courtesy of 9Ten Photography and used with permission

Before Consecration, a woman goes through a lengthy discernment process with both a private spiritual director and the bishop.  Similar to priestly ordination, there are many steps to discern and a process that must be followed to make sure the candidate is making a choice in full knowledge, free will and is, in fact, being called by God to this consecrated life.

Photo courtesy of 9Ten Photography and used with permission

The homilist poignantly reminded us that we are ALL called to holiness and that Kate's life will now be a visible reminder of that.  He spoke of how the life lived in Christ is a share in the cross and recalled the extraordinary witness that the early virgins give us in their lives and deaths.

Photo courtesy of 9Ten Photography and used with permission

After Consecration, she lives a life in the world but not of it.  She is independent of an order so she still provides for her own living.  She is a bride of Christ living as His hands and feet in the world.  She is obliged to pray the Divine Office and serve the Church in whatever capacity the local bishop decides.

Photo courtesy of 9Ten Photography and used with permission

The Rite of Consecration includes the Litany of the Saints where the candidate lies prostrate as a beautiful testimony to her complete and humble gift of self to her Lord.

Photo courtesy of 9Ten Photography and used with permission

She takes her vows to Him led by the bishop and witnessed by attendants and the rest of the congregation.

Photo courtesy of 9Ten Photography and used with permission

He extends his hands and consecrates her to the Lord.

Photo courtesy of 9Ten Photography and used with permission

Because this truly is her wedding day to her Beloved, she wears the appropriate dress and receives the veil and ring as a sign of her union.

Photo courtesy of 9Ten Photography and used with permission

Completely, totally, faithfully, fruitfully His. 

Photo courtesy of 9Ten Photography and used with permission

She is her Beloved's and He is hers.

And her friends get to celebrate with them, too ;)

Our diocese is so incredibly blessed to have another of His brides living among us.  Kate's call has been years in the making, her engagement to Him a joy to behold, and her life a constant witness of His joy and faithfulness.   Please pray for Kate as she begins to live this vocation and also for her recovery from surgery (Jesus plans interesting and appropriate honeymoons ;)  I know she will be praying for you, too.

For more information on Consecrated Virginity please visit The United States Association of Consecrated Virgins.

If you are a young unmarried woman who feels that God may be whispering this call in your heart, please contact your diocesan director of vocations and they should be able to help you begin the process of discernment.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Little Warrior's First Confession

A few months ago a friend said something in conversation about it being an injustice to a child who is ready to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation to hold off on it too long.  And she was right!  If a child knows the difference between right and wrong but for whatever reason, is not being allowed the opportunity for that extra sacramental grace in the confessional to help them avoid the wrong in the future, that doesn't seem fair.  Of course they can still be forgiven, but it puts them at a disadvantage to hold out on them the extra grace that can help them.  And so it was that I made a call a few days later to get David on the parish First Reconciliation list.  I had been forgetting and putting it off but when we thought about it we knew he was ready.

So yesterday our little warrior made his First Confession!  He was so excited and worked on his list all week long.  This boy is little but a huge force to be reckoned with, so much like his namesake. Here's hoping this new opportunity for joy and grace keeps his heart loving the things of God and giving him the means to become the saint he wants to be.

He got to go with Father Augustine who we love!

The Luke had to get in on a picture.

"David!  You did it!"

"Yeah!  And now the devil is SO mad!!"

His forgiven face

 He right away gathered up all the brothers so he could burn his list.

The afternoon held a quick baseball practice for Michael and then the older boys were scheduled to serve at Mass so back to church we went.  But after that we got to head out to Olive Garden because super classy gift cards.  I haven't been to the ol' OG but when you have free money...

The boys loved it, at least, and thought it was very fancy.  Michael's face when he realized that the waitress would restock the breadstick supply at just a word was priceless.

(Black and white makes it look much fancier.)
Mr. David got to have his favorite eggplant parmesan to celebrate.

And just before throwing them upstairs for bed when we got home, he opened up his gift from us.
Each of the boys get a big crucifix from us on this day to keep as a reminder of God's mercy and grace in response to our sin.  I'm so happy I had the mind to pick up two in Rome when we were there to save for David and for Luke!  (Sorry, Ben.)  So this one was blessed by the Pope!

Sweet David, you are amazing.  May you always use that fire in your belly for the true, good, and beautiful.  And when you fail, may you always know and run to the merciful love of our Lord.  Thank you, Lord, for your mercy and grace and the joy of redemption.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Fearless Fiat

The Scripture readings for Mass from the past few weeks have been shots in the heart. Snippets of each day are like teeny tiny arrows right in there.  They're the kind that I could shake off and ignore if I wanted.  Gradually the little pierce would heal and I'd forget about it.  Or I could feel the pierce, allow the arrow sink in, and open my heart just a bit more for His grace to permeate.  

The other day as I read the reading Peter and John's words in the face of their arrest shot in. 

"It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard."

They probably seemed like freak shows, right?  Street preaching and all?  But there they are. They're arrested and questioned and their super fancy defense strategy is "sorry, officer, we can't not speak." Is it impossible for me?  Or can I make excuses about needing to be diplomatic and approachable (read: silent)?  Not that I need to be waving a sign on the side of the highway but how often to I just speak about Jesus unafraid, unfiltered, unabsorbed with self because it is simply impossible for me not to speak?  Because I love Him so much that I can't contain it?  I could share of how the Lord has worked in my life, of the things I have seen and heard, but really, no one listens to a Jesus freak, right?  Do I let my fear of looking ridiculous or losing a follower or opening myself up to judgement and criticism silence the Gospel from ever reaching my lips?  Do I hide behind the (false #thingsJesusneversaid) idea that it is only our silent life's witness that matters? 

Yesterday's Psalm:
I announced Your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as You, O Lord, know.
Here I am, Lord; I come to do Your will.
Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
Your faithfulness and Your salvation I have spoken of;
I have made no secret of Your kindness and Your truth
in the vast assembly.

So, ummm, yeah.  Again.  There's that insistence that speaking of our faith is part of the deal.  Can I pray this Psalm sincerely?  It's His will for us to praise Him and share Him out loud.  But how often do I restrain my lips and hide Him within my heart?  If we have something we love that has changed our lives, we share it.  If God has rocked our world with His faithfulness and salvation and kindness and truth, it only makes sense that we speak about it.  With the Holy Spirit's guidance giving us words appropriate for the moment, YES, but we allow our mouths to be opened to speak.  

And then, the Christian witness par excellence of Mary who from yesterday's Word gives us the model of the fiat:

May it be done to me according to Your word.

His Word.  His Word where grown men find it impossible to hide their joy and a King dares not restrain his lips from singing the praise of God to all the people.  May it be done to me, Lord, according to Your Word.  Her words in the Magnificat are an unreserved exclamation of the joy of what He has done in her.  Mary kept all the things given her in her heart and reflected on them but she didn't hide them.  It was her heart-treasured memories that gave the evangelists much of the story of her son that fills the pages of the Gospels!  May my soul be so filled with that same Spirit of joy and love that I can't help but share His work in the world.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday!

This morning we woke to this:

And this:

But even so, it was a good and simple day.  It's looking like the cold snap is supposed to last a week or so.  I'll try to be patient since our winter was so easy but it's hard to feel springy and Eastery when there's snow covering the ground and you still have to bundle to go out.  But alleluia still reigns and at least this means procrastinating on the yard work some more.

After Mass and a Ben nap we took a ride out to a spaghetti lunch fundraiser in honor of one of my doula babies.  He was recently hospitalized with RSV which complicated into a collapsed lung.  Poor baby and family.  Praise God he was healed and is beautifully healthy now.  The fundraiser was to celebrate his recovery and support the Ronald McDonald house that helped their family so much while he was there.  And the red and white spaghetti was conveniently appropriate for a Divine Mercy meal!

Two of the boys came home and added some Divine Mercy rays to our crucifix

and begged for a coloring page for which the internet came through.  

After a scrapped together dinner of fruit and cheese and crackers (because prior spaghetti) we got our Divine Mercy cake brownie on (because, really, brownies beat cake forever):

(More details on this super simple cake here.)

It was excellent.

We finished praying the Divine Mercy Novena yesterday (although in full disclosure we did miss several days.).   And tomorrow I just realized is the moved Solemnity of the Annunciation.  The boys were quick to remind me since in this house solemnities means no lessons.  I have a few ideas for simple ways to celebrate the Annunciation here.  You have some popcorn to pop, right?

I'd love to get back in this little space more often to jot down thoughts.  I'm realizing more and more that writing is how I think and reflect and figure out just where my heart is.  When I go for a long time without writing, I can feel it.  But time, you know?  In any case, it's in His hands.  When He gives me the time and the words (at the same time, please Lord?), I'll be around.  

Jesus, we trust in you.

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