7 Quick Takes…the #murica version [vol. 4]


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Here’s a quick seven things I am grateful for this 4th of July.  Happy Independence Day, y’all!

— 1 —

Though I have NOT been grateful for the hateful, ugly, and painful discourses it has ignited on social media, I’m glad for the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this week in the Hobby Lobby case.  As Catholics, we certainly identify with the Green family’s moral objection to paying for employees’ abortifacient contraception.  May God bless them, and may those of us who have friends and family lashing out over this decision remember that we are all in different pats of our spiritual journeys, and that we should respond with love and empathy.  Though it may be hard to endure and to not take their insults personally, we must continue to pray for our loved ones and for our nation.  The Gospel reading for Tuesday was Matthew 8:23-27.  When I read this selection, the day after the Supreme Court ruling, I completely identified with the disciples.  I was in the boat, rocking in the wind and waves during that tumultuous storm, and fearing our country would drown.  And Jesus is seemingly asleep!  But oh how convicted I was by Christ’s admonition:

They came and woke him, saying,
“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?
Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea,
and there was great calm.

And just like that, my anxiety lessened.  He will calm the storm.  We are called to great faith.

— 2 —

I’m truly looking forward to celebrating today with some wonderful friends, with whom we’ve spent the last several Independence Days.  When it’s all said and done, over 25 kids and 30 adults will gather for bbq, beverages, fruit, desserts, queso, guacamole, and lots of laughter.  And…my kids’ favorite part…the monster water slide of awesomeness.  What a blessing to be able to share this day amongst our close friends!

— 3 —

Our “Must Make” dessert that we bring to this function every year is the delicious Golden Corral knockoff Banana Pudding.  This stuff is so good, we fill an entire roasting pan by quadrupling the recipe…and we never come home with leftovers! It’s not clean eating, but we only do it a few times a year, so…mmmmmmm.

Look at all that cool whippy goodness!
Look at all that cool whippy goodness!

— 4 —

My brother, who recently graduated high school, is passionate about his patriotism.  While other seniors quoted Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga (I wish I were exaggerating) in their yearbook, he chose a quote from the Declaration of Independence.  He shared this video today on Twitter and his facebook page.  It’s a great, straightforward reading of the Declaration.  If you’ve never read it, or just would like to review, you can find it here:

— 5 —

One of my favorite people in the history of ever – Venerable Fulton J. Sheen – had this to say about liberty:

A spirit of license makes a man refuse to commit himself to any standards. The right time is the way he sets his watch. The yardstick has the number of inches that he wills it to have. Liberty becomes licenseand unbounded license leads to unbounded tyranny. When society reaches this stage, and there is no standard of right and wrong outside of the individual himself, then the individual is defenseless against the onslaughts of cruder and more violent men who proclaim their own subjective sense of values.”

— 6 —

One July 4th when I was a teenager, my mom suggested that we go as a family to Mass in the morning.  We all looked at her strangely.  The pool needed to be vacuumed, there were sparklers and firecrackers to purchase, and Daddy had a brisket that needed to smoke for 10 hours.  We did NOT have time to go to Mass.  Why should we, anyway?  Independence Day isn’t a Holy Day.    Well, she ignored our whining and my dad’s forlorn stare at his marinating brisket sitting in the fridge, and hauled us out the door.  And oh how glad I was that she did!  The hymns were all patriotic, and the priest gave a moving homily on how blessed we are to live in a land free of religious persecution. The 4th degree Knights of Columbus were there, and it was a very beautiful Mass.  Ever since, we’ve done our best to attend, and I’ve been happy to pass this tradition on to our kids.  Do you have a Mass you can attend today?  I encourage you to take an hour out of your celebrations today to give thanks to God for this beautiful land He has given to us. Especially in light of the heightened persecution of Christians around the world presently, has there ever been a better time to offer praise and thanks for the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave?

— 7 —

Dear Lord, through the intercession of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, please bless our country and draw our nation ever closer to You.  Happy Birthday, America!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes [vol 2]


It’s Friday!!  Don’t forget to head over to Team Whitaker for this week’s #7QT blog linkup!

— 1 —

 My very lovable, very unique Therese (aged 2.5) ate a hole in the middle of her hamburger.  No one is sure why.  Is this a sign of a mental genius?  Or just a weirdo?  I need to plan my parenting style accordingly.  Also, we are in the throes of potty-training this little monkey.  We’d appreciate any prayers (or wine) you could send this way to help us out.

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— 2 —

If you like tea, you need to try Traditional Medicinals’ Throat Coat blend.  Oh my goodness.  This stuff is so yummy, you don’t even need to add sweetener.  Apparently, it contains marshmallow root.  Who knew that was an actual plant?  Not this girl.  Anyway, it’s delicious and I can’t get enough.  What is your favorite type of tea?

— 3 —

In our home, I have dubbed the summer of 2014 as “The Summer of the Book.”  Marie has lofty goals of being able to read before Kindergarten starts in the fall (on this point she is insistent,) and Elizabeth has already finished her abridged copy of Little Women and is begging for more.  She started The Patron Saint of First Communicants two days ago, and is almost finished.  She will be reading The Courage of Sarah Noble as her assigned summer reading for school, and we have decided to tackle the entire Little House series this summer as well.  Any other suggestions for the kids’ summer book nook?  As for me, well…this is my “gotta read this soon” stack: wpid-img_20140619_233931.jpg

I’m thinking it will take me well into November.  I just do NOT make the time for reading like I should.  I’m working on getting better about this!

— 4 —

I grew up on the Gulf Coast, and hurricanes have always been a part of my life.  Every June, I add the National Hurricane Center homepage as one of my “Home Tabs” so that it’s up and running when I open my browser.  Watching for storms is in my blood, as my dad studied meteorology in grad school and instilled in my siblings and me a fascination with the majesty and power of the weather.  I have always been intrigued by elements of Catholic tradition that intertwine with hurricanes.  Our Lady of Prompt Succor is the patronness of hurricane season, which runs from June to November each year.  The Archdiocese of New Orleans includes petitions for protection of life and property during the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass during these months, and Gulf Coast Catholics are encouraged to pray for these intentions privately as well.  In 2008, Hurricane Ike hit the Houston area and ravaged St. Mary’s Basilica in Galveston.  After a six-year, $4 million restoration effort led by Fr. Joe Limanni, the church renovations are complete and Mass is again being celebrated in the 166-year-old building.  If you ever have a chance to visit, please do.  The basilica has a rich history, most notably having survived the infamous 1900 Storm that over 8000 Galveston residents in the deadliest hurricane the US has ever seen.  Speaking of the 1900 storm, there’s a great historical fiction novel called Queen of the Waves that explores the impact of the storm in more depth.    Add it to your summer reading list, and tell me what you think!

— 5 —

 This post about allowing others to help you when you find yourself overwhelmed summarizes something it took me seven years as a mom to learn.  The author figured it out in seven weeks.   Join Kristin (daughter-in-law to the beautiful Elizabeth Foss) over at her new blog, Vine of Plenty, for insights on being a new mom and healthy living.  And enjoy the beautiful pics of her sweet baby, Lucy!

— 6 —

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I concocted this tasty little salad this week, while the rest of the family finished off some homemade chicken fried steak. I am trying to clean up my eating, especially at supper time. Holy moly, y’all. Delicious!

1 can tuna, drained

1 green onion, chopped

3 pepperoncini peppers, chopped

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 TBSP unflavored coconut oil

2 TBSP pepperoncini juice (from the jar of peppers – mmmm, vinegar!) or can use apple cider vinegar

Shredded parmesan cheese

Mix everything together.  I ate it over kale, which I usually dislike.  Oh my word.  SO good.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  I was worried about the texture of the coconut oil, but it blended pretty well with everything else and honestly was a great replacement for mayo.  YUM!

— 7 —

 Remember when I said I was going to print out the St. Josemaria quote and put it on my monitor?  Done!  Tell me where you put yours!

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For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

My Very First 7 Quick Takes #7QT


Today, I am ridiculously excited to roll out my very first 7 Quick Takes! Seems like a fitting way to end my first official week of blogging here at OeLeM. And thus, without further ado…

— 1 —

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In a nod to my #7QT host blog, Conversion Diary, I recommend that you get your hot little hands on a copy of Jennifer Fulwiler’s memoir Something Other Than God. It’s a quick read. I laughed, I cried — I couldn’t put it down, then proceeded to buy two more copies to send to friends. (Also, watch the video in that link. You won’t regret it.)

— 2 —

Last weekend, I was blessed to be able to attend the Fullness of Truth conference held at our home parish of St. John Vianney here in Houston. The topic was the New Evangelization, and how we as Catholics have a duty to evangelize not only those who have never heard of Christ, but specifically to those who have heard of Christ but do not yet truly know Him. It was my first time to hear each of the three presenters speak, and I was inspired by the talks from Dr. Scott Hahn, Dr. Michael Barber, and Dr. John Bergsma. The talks for the weekend aren’t uploaded to the Fullness of Truth site for purchase yet, but they should be soon.

— 3 —

Fortnight for Freedom graphicJune 21st marks the beginning of the Third Annual Fortnight for Freedom, led by the United States Conference of Catholic bishops. According to the website, “The Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Serve will take place from June 21 to July 4, 2014, a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. The theme of this year’s Fortnight will focus on the freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable in accord with human dignity and the Church’s teaching.” Check out their website for ideas to celebrate, discuss, and pray for religious freedom in the United States. What is your parish, or family, doing to observe the Fortnight?

— 4 —

I visited London for the first time recently, and one of the things I fell in love with over there was a little eatery called Pret-A-Manger. It’s a Subway-meets-Panera-meets-Starbucks kind of joint, and they are all over London. They have many different varieties of deliciousness crammed into their cafes, but my favorite takeaway was a yummy beverage called “Yoga Bunny Detox.” No, I’m not kidding:

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Oh, to have a Yoga Bunny Detox and a Salmon and Dill Mustard wrap right now…alas, the closest location to this girl is in Chicago. That’s a bit far from the Texas coast, y’all!

— 5 —

My daughter Elizabeth makes her First Communion next spring, and I am already getting excited! I’ve started a whole Pinterest board devoted to possibilities for the dress. I would love to do something that incorporates my wedding dress, but it’s satin, and I had more of a cottony look in mind. Maybe something with smocking? Anyway, the big day is still a way off, but we’ve already started reviewing her Catechism questions. She has eagerly been explaining to anyone who will listen that she is going to be able to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus “in just a few more months!” Seeing her so happy at the mere thought of receiving Our Lord is such a joy to me.

— 6 —

Happy feast of St. Anthony of Padua! St. Anthony is the patron my husband chose for his very own when he was Baptized and Confirmed last year. We celebrate feast days of our patrons in a big way around here — almost as big as our birthday celebrations! This often means that, just like a birthday, I’m up at the crack of dawn baking or cooking a special breakfast for everyone before I leave for work. It’s important to us that we impress upon our children that the Saints in Heaven are our friends and our intercessors, and to make their presence tangible for the kids. We started this morning off with Pain Perdue, or “Lost Bread,” which is a fancy way of saying “french toast.” The bread is considered “lost” because french toast is traditionally made with stale, or “lost” bread that would otherwise be thrown out. This breakfast is the perfect start to the day set aside to honor the patron saint of lost souls and lost articles! We will also have some goldfish later as a snack, in recognition of St. Anthony’s sermon to the fish, and then Daddy gets to choose what’s for supper. If there’s time, we will also attempt to pot some basil plants, another tradition associated with the feast day. And just before bed, we will curl up for some of Fr. Lovasik’s great storytelling as we learn about this great saint!

— 7 —

As I mentioned in my Intro post, I am a huge fan of the Divine Mercy devotion. I particularly like to pray the chaplet during the Hour of Mercy at 3pm every day, but this is not always feasible in the workplace. There are meetings, conference calls, and other types of distractions that keep me from faithfully keeping this devotion during the workweek. Often, I don’t even realize it’s so late in the afternoon already. So, what to do? For now I set an appointment on my calendar, which is synced to my phone and desktop, that reminds me at 3:00 to focus on the Mercy of Christ for one minute. This can consist of something as simple as repeating to myself, “Jesus, I trust in You,” or, “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” I also try to focus on the small Divine Mercy holy card that I have taped near my desk. One minute isn’t much, but it’s better than forgetting altogether or rushing through the devotion just to get back to work faster. I’d love to hear your ideas on how to observe certain prayer times (Divine Mercy hour, the Angelus, Liturgy of the Hours) in the chaos of your day!

Thanks for a great first week of blogging — have a wonderful and safe weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

St. John Paul II on Women Who Work

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Take heart, mamas!  When you come home at the end of each day, exhausted and ready to collapse…remember that by your very motherhood, you are making an ‘indispensable contribution’ to the whole of humanity!  More on this quote and its origin in a future post 🙂

Firetruck Santa

When I was a kid, my mom taught us to say a quick prayer any time we saw an emergency vehicle with its lights or sirens on.  We would usually ask the Blessed Mother’s intercession with a quick Hail Mary.  I’ve passed this little practice on to my kids, though we usually say the Hail Mary accompanied by the Guardian Angel prayer, asking the victim’s guardian angel to watch over and protect them from any spiritual or physical danger.  The kids love this little opportunity to “pray for people.”   I didn’t realize though, just how much they had grown to appreciate it.

In our neighborhood, the local Fire Department sets aside a week in December to bring cheer and good will to the subdivision.  By “cheer and good will,” I mean they assemble a block-long convoy of emergency vehicles, complete with sirens blaring and strobe lights flashing, and meander through the streets throwing candy to children.  The climax, of course, is the very last ladder truck, where Santa sits perched high for all to see.  It’s a pretty neat tradition, and something my siblings and I remember from our childhood growing up in New Orleans.  So I was naturally thrilled the first time I saw it happen here in Texas.

It was a frosty 37 degrees one night last December when I heard the commotion from a few blocks over.  The kids were already in bed, but GET THEM UP! BECAUSE SANTA IS COMING! HE IS COMING RIGHT NOW SO GET YOUR SHOES ON AND THAT’S NOT YOUR COAT AND WHERE ARE YOUR PAJAMA PANTS YOU WENT TO BED WEARING?!  Not knowing what was going on, my husband was dazed and confused, but he obligingly helped me bundle up four kids under the age of 7 and dragged them out into the front yard behind me.  We stood there in the frozen tundra (by this time, I think it had dropped to 36 degrees) and I think I was more excited than the kids were.  I kept telling my son HH (3) how AWESOME this was going to be, because SANTA is on a FIRE TRUCK!  I should’ve known this might not end well — he kept glancing from me, to the clamorous brigade parading down the street, to his puppy slippers, then back at me.  As the trucks got closer, he held me tighter.  Finally, the moment had arrived.  “SANTA IS HERE!  HE’S THROWING CANDY!  LOOOOOOK!”  I yelped, jumping and whooping and laughing with excitement.  HH promptly burst into tears and wailed, “Mommy, nooooooo! I go inside!!”

It took me a second to realize he was NOT enjoying this.  We hurried inside, closing the door as Santa turned the corner.

As I unbuttoned his coat, he was still sniffling.  “HH, what’s wrong, buddy?  Did you see Santa?  Did you see the firetruck?”  “Yes, mommy….but the fire truck is going to help people.”  I was bewildered.  What?  How, exactly, is that a bad thing? I wondered.  “Yes, baby — firetrucks take firefighters to help people.”  “BUT MOMMY!  We didn’t pray for the people!”

Oh my goodness.  This sweet boy.  All the time I’d been gleefully pointing at Santa, and he was upset because he couldn’t figure out why we were happy and celebrating when someone clearly needed help!  I asked him if he wanted to pray for people right then, and he nodded slowly.  So we prayed for the first responders, Santa, and the kids who were all outside in the blizzard cold waiting for Santa to pass their houses.  And a huge grin spread across his face.  “OK, Mommy, I go to sleep now!”  And he bounded down the hall and into bed.

Since that night, he has occasionally had episodes where he wakes up crying after being awakened by a fire truck siren.  He cries and runs to find me. All it takes, though, is for me to suggest we “pray for people,” and he breaks into his precious grin and prays the Hail Mary prayer.  Melts my heart every time!