Book Review: Letter to a Suffering Church, by Bishop Robert Barron

Letter to a Suffering Church Barron

***I received an electronic copy of “Letter to a Suffering Church” in exchange for an honest review.***

When I saw the marketing email last Monday from Word on Fire advertising the new book Letter to a Suffering Church – a book about the sex abuse crisis plaguing every level of the Church – I stopped in my tracks. Was it possible, with his signature wit and wisdom, Bishop Barron could address wounded Catholics in a way that would begin to soothe the hearts of a devastated flock heartbroken over last summer’s explosive revelations and fallout?

In Letter to a Suffering Church, I believe he does.

Continue reading

It’s Not Easter Yet (or, If Your Lent Didn’t Go Well, There’s Still Time!)

I know for some of us, our Lent chose us in the forms of physical or emotional or spiritual suffering. I know you’re hurting and sad and just want it to all be over. I also know if your Lent wasn’t as Lenty as you’d hoped – if, like me, you failed miserably in your chosen disciplines – you have a chance now to focus on the present.

Live as fully as you can in the spirit of these holiest of days. We’re all busy and we’re all overwhelmed, I know, but look for opportunities in the midst of your vocation to live these days well. If you can, try and make it to some or all of the beautiful Masses and services. These are the highest days in our liturgical year and the rituals we’ll celebrate have been handed down to us as a gift from our beautiful Church. They are powerful and opportunities for such grace.

Easter Triduum Catholic

Continue reading

Kitchen Self-Care

kitchen self care2067751961..jpg

Meal planning and cooking for tiny people {who insist on eating every.single.day.} can get pretty tricky for moms with big families, moms who work, moms who sleep, moms who swim, moms with purple hair…ok, it’s tricky for a lot of moms. My theory is that the process – of meal planning and shopping sales and chopping veggies and cooking, stirring, and sauteeing and everything that comes with it – is all a lost art. No one around us really knows how to do it. Many moms lack the support of someone to help them embrace the deliberate, ordered steps of planning and preparing meals, so the whole idea seems incredibly daunting and unnecessarily time consuming. The catch is, if  behavior isn’t modeled for us, we miss out on seeing the tangible fruits that come from such a discipline. And so, we lack motivation. Frozen pizza sounds a heck of a lot easier (and oh gosh, IT SO IS. And that’s ok, sometimes!) We tend to scoff at those online who sing the praises of meal planning and the beauty found in preparing a meal. We shrug it off because we “don’t have our sh*t together” like those other moms. We have enough to worry about without adding the stress of meal planning to our already crazy lives. Right? Well…maybe. Continue reading

When Your Company Downsizes: 3 Steps To Take

The first time I experienced the terror and uncertainty of a “reduction in force,” I was on a short break away from my desk when I got a frantic text from a coworker. “Joe is gone,” it read. “Sandy is gone, Joe is gone, and I think they just called James from his office.” My stomach dropped. My palms were sweaty. Facing cutbacks is never easy, and until this point our department had remained relatively untouched. The afternoon wore on, and the cuts kept coming. In those fearful moments, I stayed relatively calm. I prayed that I might keep my job, but that if God had different plans for me, I was on board. Like, literally on board. I visualized myself in the boat with Our Lord, who has authority over the wind and the waves and the storms of our lives. I saw myself riding out the storm with Him at the helm, no matter what. Practically speaking, I also packed up my office, just in case. Continue reading

7 Quick Takes – Interview with Audrey Wick, Writer [vol. 20]

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I enrolled in my local junior college as a petrified, fresh-off-of-homeschooling college freshman. My first semester, I met Audrey Wick, who taught Grammar & Rhetoric (ENG 1301 – or 101 for you four-year folks.) I didn’t know it, but I’d lucked into not only a wonderful semester, but a 14 years-and-counting friendship. Over my college career, I took two more classes from Audrey – American Lit II and Pilates – and loved every minute of them. When I found myself in my crisis pregnancy, she was pregnant with her little boy, and she was encouraging and understanding when I began the fall semester at 38 weeks pregnant. She’s really a one-of-a-kind college instructor, and I hope my kids will have the privilege of taking one of her classes in the future!

Besides the encouragement and grace extended to me, she has taught me much about writing prose, specifically the importance of cohesiveness, word choice, and engaging your audience.  Her own writing has been published in several regional newspapers and even college literature textbooks. I’ve enjoyed following her writing career over the years. So, I was THRILLED when she told me early this year that her new book, Finding True North, had found a publisher and would be released this spring! I greedily devoured the story about a newly single mom living in a small town in Texas, and the relationships in her life.  I enjoyed the descriptions of the setting, which was truly representative of what I know small town life to be like. I also appreciated reading about the protagonist’s struggle with the emotions, developments, and decisions that came about as a result of her divorce and the fears and uncertainties around beginning a new chapter in her life. I think it was a nice dose of perspective for me as a married woman, giving insight into what challenges my divorced friends and family might be facing. And that, in turn, gives me a place to start in my encounters with these members of the Body of Christ.

My daughter Elizabeth (11) has recently discovered a love for writing stories. She has gobbled up a few books written to help young writers, notably Writing Magic and Writer to Writer by Gail Carson Levine (she wrote Ella Enchanted!) She still had some questions, though, so we thought it would be fun to ask them of Audrey – a published writer with a kiddo the same age as Elizabeth. Without further ado, here are Elizabeth’s questions, Audrey’s answers, and then a few of my own questions for her about how we as parents can encourage our young writers. Enjoy!

— 1–

Elizabeth: How can I grab the reader’s attention in the opening part of my story?

Audrey: Openings should hook the reader, and one way to do that is to start in the middle of the action. Dialogue can be a powerful way to accomplish this. If the audience can hear your characters and experience the action, they might be hooked!

Continue reading