A blog where families who love and live the Catholic Faith can share, encourage and support each other.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The ultimate Family Meeting

written by Kari

Did you know that in Milan the World Meeting of Families is underway?  I had never heard of it before but this is the seventh World Meeting of Families.  Catholic families from around the world will gather in Milan to promote the value and importance of family.  I cannot tell you how much I wish my own family could be in attendance.

We won't be, of course, but a few months ago, our Teams Of Our Lady (TOOL) chaplain gave us a book entitled, The Family:Work and Celebration which was written as preparation for the meeting.  We have been studying it at our monthly TOOL meetings and it is full of beautiful meditations and explanations of both Scripture and the Catechism which together present God's plan for families.  It also includes ways to live out God's plan.  The book is inspiring and positive and uplifting.  I can only imagine the Meeting itself will be a thousand times more so.

Though I cannot be there with my own family, I will be praying along with the Pope and the families gathered in Milan, that the blessing and the necessity of strong Catholic families will be recognized the world over.  And that all Catholic families will rise to the challenge to become the families that God created us to be and the examples the world so desperately needs us to be.

Please pray with me, that all Catholic families may be beacons of Light and bearers of Truth to those around us.

 About Kari: 
I am a Catholic wife and home schooling mother of 5. I willingly admit that I define myself by my vocation. I do not feel at all diminished as a person to be “only” a wife and mother. I am proud to have a wonderful family to serve and care for. It is enough for me. It is what I've always wanted. It is where I serve God and come to know Him better each and everyday. In addition to my family and my faith, I am also passionate about writing. The blogging world has allowed me the privilege and blessing of bringing together all my passions.

Kari blogs at Overflow. Please visit and share more of her posts.

Remembering Father Kelly's Marriage Talk

Written by Missy Fecas Fillion

I read an article recently that said you should have a vision for your marriage. Companies do it; why shouldn’t couples? I smiled when I read it and was grateful that we already had one. Grateful to the late Msgr. Robert Kelly for giving it to us.
We met with three priests during our six-month engagement. One from our parish in Atlanta for the five sessions of premarital counseling. One who would perform the ceremony in Charleston. And one who meant a lot to our family over the years but was unable to marry us. He was the high school rector and at times parish priest to us from my oldest brother down to me 22 years later. He came to my father’s bedside every day for months before he died and consoled us when my mother passed away. He always made us feel God’s love through his own.
Father Kelly was the quintessential priest who everyone loved. Thousands of people across South Carolina mourned his passing last fall. I will miss the personal touch he had with everyone he knew. He had the ability to make every person feel as if he or she were the most important thing to him at that moment in time. He could immerse himself in your life and make you feel special—a rare quality when it is real.
In the business world something called faked sincerity helps to boost sales and increase morale in the employees. Father Kelly had the “real deal.”
I will miss hearing him say, “We have visitors from Atlanta,” when he would see us in the pew before Mass. I will miss hearing him say, “There goes Missy,” from the pulpit as I carried a wailing baby out of the small church, and then, “Here she comes again,” as I attempted to return.
Most of all I will miss hearing him say, “The Body of Christ, Missy.”
The personal touch deepens profound moments for me. It was one of those profound moments that became our mission.
In 1996, my husband-to-be and I rode out to the small parish in Folly Beach, S.C., to meet with Father Kelly so he could give us his marriage talk. He’d gotten good at it. I know there are hundreds just like us who wanted him for weddings and other life events.
I don’t remember everything Father Kelly said that day. I do remember loving his beach house and how much the picture of him holding an umbrella over Mother Teresa’s head meant to him.
But the thing I remember the most is the vision he gave us about our job in marriage. It’s a very simple statement. Its complexity lies in its implications and applications. It’s not to buy a big house, car or portfolio. It’s not great vacations, sticking to a budget or even having children, though all that is important to us. It is our job as husband and wife to get each other into heaven. That’s it, plain and simple. It means that nothing that we do here on earth matters if it’s not ultimately going to help us get into heaven.
And if that’s not enough, then it’s our job to do the same for our children, family and friends.
This isn’t a pretty hearts and flowers Valentine sentiment. It’s deep and meaningful, sure, and in some ways romantic. But it frankly terrifies me. What responsibility. What seriousness. This God that we love demands everything from us and our marriage. It’s not about being happy and in love, though of course He wants that for us. But the purpose of our marriage is to draw each other to God and to make sure we help each other stay there forever. It’s about always keeping our beloveds and eternity in our minds above ourselves and our petty wants and needs. And every day, not just on Valentine’s Day.
We’ve been married eight years. Getting each other into heaven is the statement we come back to time and again. Three priests, premarital counseling, Engaged Encounter, numerous conversations with friends and family. This was the most important advice. This is what we remember (other than one of my brothers telling my husband Kevin to “run”!) We even joke about it during arguments, as in, “This attitude is not helping me get into heaven, is it?”
Do we understand everything it means, and are we always faithful to it? No. Do we know it is the truth of our life together? Yes.
Thank you Father Kelly. I’ll always miss you.

Missy Fillion is a native of Charleston, South Carolina currently living in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two beautiful children. Though she has an MBA, it was not her educational background that brought her to the door of her work, but rather her family, first as wife, then mother. Her most positive spiritual moments have come through her children or growth opportunities that family life provides. Her day to day life includes chores, reading to the kids, playing clue, going to the library and parkdays, listening, learning, making parenting mistakes, castigating herself, swearing, then praying, seeing Jesus in her children’s eyes, starting again, more humble this time, over and over. All of this is the soil for her writing. Daily she picks up what she often thinks is her cross, and over and over again, she finds it is her salvation. Missy has recently published her debut novel, Retreat to Folly, which is available on Amazon. Her facebook page is www.facebook.com/MissyFillion

Now in paperback!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An Imperfect Perfect Mother

Written by Sue Elvis

The statue was sitting on a shelf in the St Vincent de Paul shop. It looked so sad with its reduced price tag. Its head had been broken off and then inexpertly fixed, the glue thick and visible. But the statue was still beautiful. It was a statue of Our Lady. I looked at the perfect statues in the display case and then up at the damaged statue.   I knew I had to rescue it and take it home. I didn’t need a perfect statue but I did need Our Lady.
For years, this statue has sat on our family altar to the left of a crucifix. To the right is a statue of the Sacred Heart. Once upon a time, the two statues were a matching pair. But that was before an unfortunate accident. A new Sacred Heart statue has taken the place of the one inadvertently dropped on the floor.
Mary has a couple of Miraculous Medals around her neck. Each year on Mother’s Day, our parish priest organises a small gift for all the mothers. As we come out of Mass, an altar boy hands a chrysanthemum tied to a Miraculous Medal to every mother. I bring my gift home. My youngest daughter Gemma-Rose hunts out a small glass to hold the flower and then places it on the family altar next to Mary. The medal is hung around the statue’s neck. (I have my own Miraculous Medal.)
Whenever our children want something they always choose Gemma-Rose as their representative. “Go on Gemma-Rose. You ask Mum!” The innocence of the young has a certain appeal and who can say no to a little girl? I think about Mary and how perfect and beautiful she is. How could Jesus refuse the entreaties of His own spotless mother? And so whenever I want something I am sure to send Mary in my place.
I think about Mary’s sorrow when her son Jesus was crucified. And I find great comfort in her tears. When I lost my own son and my heart ached and I was bowled over by the pain, I often felt guilty: If I had true Faith wouldn’t I rejoice that my son was now in the arms of God? If I truly accepted God’s will, wouldn’t I be happy? And I look at Mary bowed down by grief at the foot of the cross. She did God’s will and she trusted Jesus. She knew He had to die for our sins, that He was Our Saviour, that He would rise again. But still she cried. She cried with a mother’s heart which aches when a child suffers, when a child dies, when a child is no longer here.
Sophie puts her arms about me and hugs me tightly. “I love you Mum! I love you so much.” She thinks for a moment and then adds, “But you are only my second best mother.”
“Yes, I love Mary best and then you and then my Godmother.” I don’t mind coming in second place. How can I compete with Our Lady?
Sophie does some more thinking. “I’m really lucky I have three mothers to look after me, aren’t I?”
And I have to agree.

Please share more of my stories on the blog Sue Elvis Writes

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Nursing Madonna

This beautiful picture of a nursing Madonna was drawn by James Hrkach. It was inspired by Andrea Solari's painting Virgin with Green Cushion

Thank you to Ellen Gable Hrkach for permission to share this drawing on our blog.

Ellen is a freelance writer from Ontario, Canada. She is the author of three novels, Emily's Hope, In Name Only and Stealing Jenny. She has also written Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship.

Emily's Hope
Emily's Hope is the gripping story of one young woman's physical, emotional, spiritual journey from high school to adulthood. Interspersed throughout the story are flashbacks to Emily's great-grandmother's troubled life, with a climax culminating in the surprising revelation that Emily and her great-grandmother are connected more deeply than by ancestral ties alone. Emily's Hope won an Honorable Mention Award for Religious Fiction in the 2006 Independent Publisher Book Awards and in 2009, received the Catholic Writers' Guild Seal of Approval.

In Name Only
Caroline Martin's life has finally taken a turn for the better. After years of hard work, she has met a virtuous and wealthy man whose love seems to promise the kind of life realized only within the comforting novels she keeps on her night table. Tragedy, however, will teach Caroline of the complexity with which God Himself authors the lives of those who turn towards Him. Gold Medal Winner in Religious Fiction, 2010 IPPY Awards.

Stealing Jenny
After three heartbreaking miscarriages, Tom and Jenny Callahan are happily anticipating the birth of their sixth child. A neighbor, however, is secretly hatching a sinister plot which will find Jenny and her unborn baby fighting for their lives.

Come My Beloved
Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship is a celebration of faith and enduring love. This compilation contains 12 courtship/dating stories which will inspire, captivate and entertain readers. Some of the stories include: a widow with eight children meets a widower with six children; a man asks his live-in girlfriend "what if we stopped having sex," and is greeted with tears of joy; an atheist falls in love with her Catholic Prince Charming; a woman prays to God for a husband and years later finds herself falling in love with a seminarian; a sailor prays a novena to marry the right girl. What these and all the stories illustrate is that God is the ideal matchmaker.

Ellen blogs at Plot, Line and Sinker

Ellen and James founded the publishing company Full Quiver Publishing

I have read and enjoyed all Ellen's book immensely. I hope you will read them too!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Special Mother is Born

Written by Theresa Thomas

A Special Mother is Born, by Leticia Velasquez, is an amazing and moving book for and about “special mothers” – ordinary women called to live to their fullest potential by parenting children with special needs such as autism, Down syndrome, Trisomy 18 and Asperger’s syndrome. The book contains touching personal accounts (and pictures!) of families chosen by God to raise children with developmental disabilities and other special needs. Each story, by a different contributor, is an honest look at challenges faced by these families. Each story shares one mother’s fears, hopes, challenges, joys and eventual strong faith.  The stories are riveting, inspirational and … beautiful.

Each story has its own mesmerizing beginning. Contributor Lisa Barker begins, “Boo was born with silvery hair and appeared as if she’d just been whisked away from the fairies.” I was drawn into this description of Lisa’s daughter Rebecca and quickly devoured the account of little Boo’s life and of  her mother’s wisdom and unique perspective interspersed throughout the pages.

Another personal account in the book begins, “Miracles do happen. They just don’t always look the way we think they’re supposed to look.” And I can assure you, after reading this particular story, this was a truly a story of miracles!

Time and time again, the blessings of raising special needs children are revealed. The reader gets a rare peek into the personal thoughts of mothers who are engaged in the challenging but rewarding l task of loving and raising a child who is labeled “different”. “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) is a recurring theme of the book and anyone who needs a dose of hope will find it in the pages of A Special Mother is Born.

After these moving testimonies of life, the author offers a well-documented short history of the eugenics movement and how America has come to reject those persons deemed to be less than perfect.  The history is concise, clear and just the right length for the reader to understand and commit to memory for use perhaps, in later discussions with others.

Next in the book comes an account of Leticia’s debut into the public world and work of speaking up for disabled children and  encouraging others to embrace a pro-life view as she became an activist promoting life on Capitol Hill.  Her moving speech given in Washington, D.C. is reproduced in the book.

One of the most practical and valuable parts of the book is the appendix of pro-life resources for special needs parenting, making A Special Mother is Born a real help for families facing challenges of a special needs diagnosis.

Many hearts will be touched by this beautiful book. I recommend it wholeheartedly!
Here is the link to Leticia’s blog: http://aspecialmotherisborn.blogspot.com/

A Special Mother is Born is available as a paperback book or downloadable ebook from Leticia's A Special Mother is Born blog or from Fishpond in Australia.

Theresa is a Catholic wife and homeschooling mother of nine. She is the co-author of the book Stories for the Homeschool Heart; family columnist for Today's Catholic News; a story contributor to Amazing Grace for Mothers, Amazing Grace for Fathers, and Amazing Grace for Families and she writes for the website Integrated Catholic Life, a site dedicated to helping Catholics integrate their faith in everyday situations.

Theresa is currently working on a second book to be published by Scepter Publishing entitled Big Hearted Families with Patti Armstrong mother of ten - 8 biological and 2 adopted. It will be stories of families who have been open to life (in many different ways) and the blessings that this has brought to them. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Motherhood and Chesterton

Written by Jacinta

“How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone?” – G.K. Chesterton.

The phrase “changing the world” evokes images like being an inspiring teacher to many students, writing tremendous books that move many hearts and being a strong pro-life activist. But being a new mother has taught me that changing the world can look very different, and is often more “ordinary” than one would think...

I was fortunate enough to study my degree at Campion College. It taught me many wonderful ideals- and this developed in me an ambition to go out and do wonderful things. The humdrum simple life wasn’t for me- I was going to get out there and make a huge impact after graduation, wielding my Campion degree like a sword! I would travel and see beautiful sights; be involved in extraordinary events, spreading the Faith wherever I went. On top of this, I would, of course, be a super-mum and a devoted wife. ;-)

And now I have been finished for eighteen months. Hold on... how can I possibly ever change the world?? The only thing I seem to be changing is nappies! I haven’t done any great writing, and have very little time for pro-life work, political activism, teaching, or even any further study to get me going in those directions. I certainly have very few chances to make use of my degree. I’m just trying to find time to get dinner ready each day! This has led me to ask myself the question- what does changing the world actually look like? Is it just about convincing thousands of people to vote to change bad legislation? Winning a huge battle against evil advertising? Can it also look like one child being taught to love God and make good decisions by strong parents? To be involved in bringing about a significant change for good is incredible- but as G.K. Chesterton points out, why should I consider it “... a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe.”?

So perhaps what I am doing, and will be doing for many years to come, is deeply significant. But then, why does this life seem so ordinary? I have been obsessed for years with beauty, often struggling to see it in the world around me- usually expecting it be something more than what I am seeing and living. Reflecting on the simple, seemingly monotonous reality of my world at present, I was reminded of more wisdom from Chesterton that a dear friend had pointed out to me years ago:

“We should always endeavour to wonder at the permanent thing, not at the mere exception. We should be startled by the sun, and not by the eclipse. We should wonder less at the earthquake, and wonder more at the earth.”

These words challenged me to change my perspective and realise that there is an incredible beauty in the ordinary. The white nappies blowing around on the washing line, bright sunshine bouncing off them; singing songs and playing games with a smiling baby; the smell of fresh bread from the breadmaker; clean dishes drying on the rack- all of these things and much more, offer us a reminder that just because they are “ordinary” does not make them ugly or boring.

My life, at present, does not involve working towards the grand schemes I dreamed of. Every day is much the same as the rest with little chance it will change much for a long time. Nothing seems extraordinary and beautiful in the way that I used to imagine. But my husband Stephen and I are endeavouring to love and care for one amazing little boy, hoping to bring him up with faith, love and hope in God. I am learning to take joy in the ordinary and see it for how wonderful it really is. And I am realising that the life I am living is beautiful, extraordinary and has the power to change the world- one person at a time.

“The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.” – G. K. Chesterton

Friday, May 25, 2012


There’s a place they call The Bottom, and friends, I’ve been there once or twice.
It’s dark down there and lonely, and something’s missin’ in your life.

Tonight I thought I’d had enough, when I heard a voice said: ” Don’t give up!”
That whisper had an old familiar ring; I didn’t see the angel, but I felt the comfort of her wings.

Daddy always called her angel, I never knew the reason why.
I was looking for a halo; he was looking in her eyes.

She was always there to guide me with all the love a gentle hand could bring.
I didn’t see the angel, but I felt the comfort of her wings.

Now I’m looking back in time to a young man stumbling through the kitchen door.
How Mama kept on praying when she couldn’t tell me nothing any more.

I woke up in my bed again, I guess she must have tucked me in;
I can’t remember much of any thing.

I didn’t see the angel, but I felt the comfort of her wings.

Daddy always called her angel, I never knew the reason why.
I was looking for a halo; he was looking in her eyes.

She was always there to guide me with all the love a gentle hand could bring.
I didn’t see the angel, but I felt the comfort of her wings.

Now that’s why the Lord made her an angel.
I feel the comfort of her wings ….

Victor blogs at Time for Reflections. Please also visit Victor's website for more information about his books, including his free ebooks.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Day My Daughter Hit Me!

Written by Kari

My oldest child is going to turn 11 in a few weeks. My youngest should be born in less than two weeks. This morning I found myself contemplating my experience of motherhood, and as I looked forward to beginning the journey of a new baby, I was thinking back to the moment I first felt like a mother....

I did not feel like a mother when Tim and I decided, 14 months after our wedding, to forgo our original plan of being married for several years before having children. I had met a woman at work, who was my age and had a two year old daughter. After talking to her I realized I, too, could have a baby if I wanted. Having a baby sounded like so much fun. When I mentioned to Tim I was thinking about it he agreed to try for a month or two and if I did not get pregnant to go back to our original plan of waiting a few years. I felt a mixture of emotions when four weeks after our conversation I was holding a pregnancy test with two pink lines! I felt overwhelming fear, shock and excitement all at once, but I did not really feel like a mother yet.

As Tim and I spent the next nine months preparing for our new baby my excitement grew and my fear faded, at least a little. I worked as a manager at a children's clothing store and I enjoyed choosing little yellow and green baby outfits (we decided not to find out baby's sex ahead of time) and tiny little socks and hats while I was working. I was surrounded by babies and new mothers, and though I talked to them about their experiences I did not feel like one of them yet. Preparing for our baby felt more like playing house. Nevertheless, we shopped for and decorated the baby's room. We poured through baby name books. I counted kicks like my pregnancy book suggested. I talked and read to the baby. My family threw me 2 baby showers, and Tim took pictures monthly of my growing belly. He and I dealt with my mood swings and unpredictable emotions. Though it should have all felt very real, I still had trouble picturing us with a baby of our own.

When my due date came and went without any sign of impending labor it confirmed my doubts that Tim and I would ever really be parents. For five long days I waited for contractions to begin. They never did! On the sixth day past my due date, at about 5 am, my water finally broke. We headed to the hospital and waited some more for contractions, but again they never came! The doctor suggested helping things along with pitocin. It wasn't until about 10:30 am that the labor pains began. All through that day, with the help of more and more pitocin, I made very slow but steady progress. At about 9 pm, the doctor said it was time to push. At last, we were going to meet our new baby. Baby must have been as unsure about our parenting qualifications as I was, because it took another three hours before we got to experience the moment we had been waiting so long for. But thankfully, at 11:49 pm, our beautiful healthy baby girl was born! As I looked at her for the very first time....I still did not feel like a mother! I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I had been convinced we were having a baby boy. And I had pictured, as I had bonded with my unborn baby for so long, a little miniature me, with dark hair and brown eyes. This little squirming baby girl had light brown peach fuss covering her head, and from what we could tell, her eyes were a bright blue. She looked just like her daddy, nothing at all like me, and I felt strangely disconnected from her. In those first few moments, motherhood was nothing like I had imagined. They gave me the baby and I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do.

It was not until a few hours after her birth, when a new nurse came in, introduced herself and said, "I am going to be taking care of your daughter today." that it hit me. I had a daughter! This was my baby. And I think, maybe just a tiny bit of me, understood for the first time that motherhood was not going to be about me and my fun. It was going to be about my daughter. And whether or not I was ready or qualified she was here. 

Was it the pregnancy that made me feel a mother? Was it the nearly 19 hours of labor and delivery? Not really. I think, more than anything, it was that realization that I was responsible for someone else. My daughter was going to depend on me for everything- her health, her safety, her education. Her life was truly in my hands and I had to rise to the challenge, even when it was not fun at all.

Motherhood has been an amazing adventure so far. It is almost never easy and, though there are still days I want it to be about me, it never is. Yet, it is an adventure I feel eternally grateful to God for allowing me to take. My oldest daughter is growing up to be such a wonderful young lady, and though I can take very little credit for that, I am thankful that God has blessed with a front row seat for it. Now, as I look forward to welcoming my new baby daughter I pray that God will again, help me rise to the challenge. Though I still feel unqualified most of the time, I thank Him daily for the gift of this latest journey in parenthood...

About Kari: 
I am a Catholic wife and home schooling mother of 5. I willingly admit that I define myself by my vocation. I do not feel at all diminished as a person to be “only” a wife and mother. I am proud to have a wonderful family to serve and care for. It is enough for me. It is what I've always wanted. It is where I serve God and come to know Him better each and everyday. In addition to my family and my faith, I am also passionate about writing. The blogging world has allowed me the privilege and blessing of bringing together all my passions.

Kari blogs at Overflow. Please visit and share more of her posts.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Serving Christ Through Family

Written by Missy Fecas Fillion

Raising a family is the one of the most obvious ways to serve Christ. There they are, right in front of you. No having to look for opportunities to be a do-gooder. Opportunities abound. Yet everyone takes it for granted.
I think, “Gee, I haven’t volunteered at the Red Cross in four years,” and feel bad that I haven’t done any service work. But taking care of sick children, preparing meals, changing diapers, folding laundry, teaching and playing is all work I volunteered to do in service of the family I helped create. Because it is everyday, commonplace work, somehow I don’t see it as an opportunity to serve Christ. I don’t normally see it as loving my neighbor (in the next room) and serving the least of my brothers, in this case my children. But it does count. My infant son would not live if I did not feed him. Every morsel of food he gets must be fed to him. As dependent as he is, he certainly qualifies as the “least.”
Like many women, I struggle with being a stay-at-home mom. I don’t like all the chores and housework, and I miss time alone without someone depending on me for something. Often I cling to my telephone for adult conversations.
Being a parent can also be one of the hardest of lifestyles. The job doesn’t get left at the office. The constancy of care is overwhelming at times, particularly if someone gets sick. No one tells you how hard it is to be a mother. People always say, “You’d never believe it anyway.” Well, that may be true. However, our culture makes people feel as if being a mother is right up there with sainthood. Seldom is the reality of childcare and formation fully explained. And once you find out about that reality, please don’t complain, or it ruins the whole saintly image thing.
Rearing children is undervalued in many ways. One way is through plain lack of recognition. Why is community service valued more than service for your family? And why is working for pay for some soulless entity valued more than working for your family? This attitude causes some to overlook the significance of some of the most important acts of love and service available: those related to family.
Mother Teresa didn’t see only the face of the poor she was serving. She saw in them the face of Jesus. Yesterday I saw Jesus in my son’s eyes. A song about serving Christ was playing, one I used to sing wholeheartedly, understanding little about how one day soon I would be in the motherhood “trenches” serving Him. I was feeding Dominic in the kitchen. As he smiled at me, I saw Jesus smiling at me through his eyes. The moment was charged with holiness. A simple moment, feeding a baby, suddenly became so much more. It became a connection with Christ. It was one of those moments that you always read about monks having but never have any idea how to make it happen to you. I always wanted to know how they made cooking soup or cleaning dishes or gardening transcendent. I could never figure out how to do it.
Now I know I was approaching it from the wrong angle. I am not the one who does it—Jesus is. I just have to be aware. And by His grace, I was aware at that moment. Maybe if I tune into the fact that I am serving Christ, staying at home will be less of a struggle. Maybe more awareness of our divine connections is the path to contentment in our everyday life and struggles. It was for me that day.

Missy Fillion is a native of Charleston, South Carolina currently living in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two beautiful children. Though she has an MBA, it was not her educational background that brought her to the door of her work, but rather her family, first as wife, then mother. Her most positive spiritual moments have come through her children or growth opportunities that family life provides. Her day to day life includes chores, reading to the kids, playing clue, going to the library and parkdays, listening, learning, making parenting mistakes, castigating herself, swearing, then praying, seeing Jesus in her children’s eyes, starting again, more humble this time, over and over. All of this is the soil for her writing. Daily she picks up what she often thinks is her cross, and over and over again, she finds it is her salvation. Missy has recently published her debut novel, Retreat to Folly, which is available on Amazon. Her facebook page is www.facebook.com/MissyFillion

Now in paperback!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

For the Ascension of Our Lord

A white chocolate mousse. Its simulates a cloud, right?

This is what I'm making tonight. This amounts fits seven wine glasses. 

Whip four egg whites until stiff.

Whip 300ml of thickened cream  with three tablespoons of icing sugar,  till soft peaks form. 

Melt 300g of good white chocolate. Gently fold together the chocolate, the cream and the egg whites. 

Spoon into wine glasses roughly, you want that cloud effect! Allow to set. Chill if desired. 

The Parting Rosary

This poem might inspire you to say the Rosary with your family, especially before being parted...

Written by John O'Brien (Father Patrick Joseph Hartigan)

They have brought the news, my darlin', that I've waited for so long.
Faith, 'twas little news they brought me; every story, every song
That I've heard since you enlisted seemed to bear the one refrain,
Till the whole world used to tell me that you'd never come again,
They've been cruel times, alannah, since you left us for the fight,
Potterin' dazed-like all the daytime, thinkin', thinkin' through the night;
Yerra, what's the use complainin', when the world is all amiss,
When the hopin' and the strivin' ever come to dust like this.
'Twas the green months when you left me; now the brown, brown months have come,
Stand the ripe crops in the paddocks, but the harvesters are dumb.
There'll be flowers again in plenty, and a carpet o'er the plain-
Oh, it's hard you won't be comin' when the green months come again!
Still, I'm thankful, oh, I'm thankful for one golden memory.
That the last time spent together was to say The Rosary.
Don't you mind it, boy? we said it in my own room there beyond,
Where I have the little altar where your early prayers you conned,
By the statue that I cherish of the Holy Mother fair,
With the blue cloak round her shoulders, and her white hands crossed in prayer.
They were singin' in the parlour, them that came to say good-bye;
And they sang their gay songs to me-och, I knew the reason why!
They are always kind in trouble in this big warmhearted land;
Ah, but their way was’t my way, and they mightn't understand.
So I lit the little candles, and I beckoned you away,
And you came-God bless you for it, boy-the partin' prayer to say.
Ay, the partin' Rosary, darlin'-I can see you kneelin' there,
With your big broad shoulders bendin', and your hands joined on the chair,
And your man's voice like an organ rollin' out its soul apart-
Och, to-night, boy, in my dreamin' it is dronin' in my heart.
Yes, we said it with the music strummin' ragtime songs throughout,
Just our two selves there together, answerin' t'other turn about.
'Tis a quare, quare world, alannah, when the storm can work its stress
On the strong limb, while the withered leaf is left in loneliness.
"Lay your treasure up in Heaven," for there's nothing here below;
Och, we Irish mothers learned it in the old land long ago!
Short life's springtime with its blossom; and it comes not back again,
Only haggard trees in winter stretchin' naked limbs in pain.
Oh, I'm thankin' God, my bouhal,* though the achin's in my breast,
'Twas He took you from me, darlin', and He knoweth what is best:
And His Holy Mother Mary, with her Baby on her knee,
Sure she lost Him in His manhood, for He died at thirty-three.
There's a numbin' in my heart, boy; like a cold, cold hand it grips-
Oh, I'm thankful that we parted with the Rosary on your lips.
It has ever been my refuge; it has been my hope and stay,
Been my hymn of sweet thanksgivin' for what good there came my way.
It has been my only comfort when the heart was sick and sore,
When the bad days past the countin' flung their troubles round my door.
I was taught it by my mother; ay, and when we crossed the sea
For to seek the gold we never found-the old man there and me
(Sure he stood six feet and higher then, and coal-black was his hair-
Och, you'd never know 'twas him at all, that bent old man in there)-
We have said it in the slab hut, strong and clear in flood and drought,
Just our two selves there together "answerin' up and "givin' out."
We have said it by the cradle, we have said it by the cot;
When the babes the angels brought us made us happy in our lot.
When the house was full of childer, and the pride of livin' glowed,
Och, we said it till the neighbours heard us, passin’ on the road.
But ye've gone and left me lonely; one by one, my doves, ye flew;
One by one the circle's dwindled, till the Rosary's said by two-
Said by two old husky voices, old and weak and wearin' out,
Just our two old selves together, answerin' t'other turn about.
Sure it won't be long, alannah, till the troubled sea is calm,
And the beads drop from my fingers and they bind them on my arm.
You would tease me with the "trimmin's" in the dear days that are dead,
There's another trimmin' now, boy, every time the Rosary's said.
But there won't be many Rosaries, for the singin's in my ears
And the Holy Mother's beckonin'-I can see her through my tears.
These old feet have done their journey, better leave them restin', then;
They will bring me to the hill-side ere the green months come again.
Sure I'll tread the House of Glory, where the soul is free from harm,
And you'll know 'tis me, alannah, by the Rosary on my arm. 

John O'Brien was the pen name of Patrick Joseph Hartigan, born in 1878 in Yass in New South Wales, Australia. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest for the Goulburn diocese and was appointed inspector of Catholic schools. He later spent 27 years as parish priest for Narrandera. John O'Brien said he wrote his verses for his own amusement and referred to them as mere jingles. But he was too modest: he was a writer of genuine talent. Two volumes of his verse were published: Around the Boree Log and Other Verses (1921) and The Parish of St Mel's in 1954. John O'Brien died in 1952.

From a review by The Age (Melbourne): "Although the beauty of the bush home life and charm of religious faith are almost his exclusive themes, the writer touches a wide range of human emotions. He has proved his title to a worthy place among Australian poets."

John O'Brien's poetry collection, Around the Boree Log is available as a free downloadable ebook

Rosary beads made by Anne at All Beautiful Catholic Beads

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Miraculous Medal Craft

Written by Erin

Today (written 27th November 2007) is the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. In honour of Our Blessed Mother's feast we created out own miraculous medals. Yesterday I posted links to Anne's blog and shared that we were off to the shop to see what our craft shop yielded. Alas, as I thought I found nothing as fantastic as Spotlight but still enough to suit our needs. I purchased 5 flat oval(90cm) craft wood pieces for the older children and 2 small circles of craft wood for the younger two as they never want to be left out.

The children painted these blue. 

For the stars we punched out stars with the paper punch and glued them on. 

I did a google search to come up with a picture of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. I know Anne did many amazing decorative feats with her picture (it really is worth looking at) but the children just wanted to cut and paste and for the little ones particularly this was sufficient. 

Here was where we ran into a slight problem. I was busy supervising elsewhere before I discovered Michelangelo and Princess had glued their picture on the same side as their stars. We discussed how it should be and happily continued.

We then did a further google search asking for 'Immaculate Heart' and 'Sacred Heart' for our pictures on the back. Mum's help was needed to draw a template for the Letter M and the Cross which was cut from felt.

 This completed our 'medal'. 

And of course we didn't forget to 'help' the little ones.

Jack Jack has been walking around all afternoon clutching his 'medal' he is so proud.

 If you'd like to understand more of the symbolism of the Miraculous Medal Anne's explanation is worth reading.

Please share more of Erin's posts at her blog, Seven Little Australians and Counting.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Memories of an Inexperienced Mother

Written by Sue Elvis

When our first child was five days old, I was discharged from the hospital. A nurse carried our brand new daughter to the door, where my husband Andy was waiting to drive me home.  The nurse turned to me and gently placed our baby in my arms, before smiling and wishing us well. And I thought, “She is going to let me walk out the door with this baby. She is going to let me, a mother with absolutely no experience, take a baby home. Surely I need some sort of qualification before I’m allowed to be in charge of such a precious child?” The nurse said goodbye.  Andy and I passed through the door. And no one stopped us. 

It suddenly struck me: I was a mother with full responsibility for a child. Andy and I were about to begin our parenting adventure and we realised we didn’t know much about babies at all. Oh, we’d read a few books, shared ideas with some other parents-to-be, but theory is totally different to reality. And we knew we’d have to be quick learners if we were all to survive.

Everything went reasonably well…  for a few hours... until the first bath. We were excited. Our baby was going to have her first bath at home. We gathered the baby bath and the stand, a soft fluffy towel and a soft face washer, the baby soap, the baby shampoo, the baby bubbles and the baby powder, the rubber duck, a clean soft pink singlet, a tiny pink baby Bonds suit, a hand-knitted cardigan and a nappy,  a baby brush, the camera… and finally, the baby. 

While I carefully peeled off Felicity’s clothing, Andy just as carefully filled the bath with water warmed to the perfect temperature. Then I nervously slid our baby into the bath, being sure to rest her head on my forearm, her nose clear of the water, just as I’d been shown at the hospital.

Now I am not sure what went wrong. Did we think Felicity had stopped breathing? All I remember is Andy and I jumping about in a panic, and me crying, “Karen, next door is a nurse! Quick, she’ll know what to do.”

We hurriedly wrapped our baby in the towel and ran outside and thumped on our neighbour’s front door. We waited. No answer. Some more panicking and some more thumping. And then we looked down at Felicity.

“Andy, she looks perfectly fine. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her at all.” We looked at our clean, pink, breathing child. Sheepishly we retraced our steps, hoping no one had seen us. Later, as we dressed our newborn baby, I thought,” There’s nothing wrong with Felicity. The problem is her inexperienced parents. How will she ever survive life with us?”

Felicity likes to describe herself as our guinea pig child. She was the one we experimented on as we tried to gain some parenting skills.

I was talking to Felicity on the phone the other day. I retold the baby bath story which happened 25 years ago and my eldest daughter giggled. “You’ll have to write about that, Mum!” she encouraged.

“It must have been hard being the guinea pig child,” I said. “All those mistakes Dad and I made while we were bringing you up. The other kids have it so much easier. These days we are a lot calmer and more confident and we know what we’re doing.”

“It wasn’t all that bad, Mum,” Felicity reassured me. “I had a great childhood.”

“So you don’t have bad memories of a dragon mother who couldn't cope?”

Felicity laughed. “No.”

I have been thinking about the mother I was then and the mother I am now. I have changed so much over the years.

 I used to worry about every little thing. I was always rushing down to the doctors with a slightly sick child who always seemed to recover in the waiting room; I’d fuss until my children had perfectly clean faces and perfectly brushed hair; they couldn’t leave the house unless they were wearing pristine matching clothes; I’d be anxious if they didn’t eat and spent so much time trying to make them swallow food they didn’t want; I worried about dirt and mess and an untidy house; when someone accidentally knocked a dinner plate to the floor, I reacted as if it was the end of the world; I became anxious about such things as toilet training and sleeping through the night… the list is endless.

Today I have gone the other way:

“If she’s had enough to eat, take her plate away,” I’ll say.

“But Mum, she’s hardly touched her dinner,” one of the older children will reply.

“Gemma-Rose is wearing odd socks,” someone will observe.

“At least she has socks on. It doesn’t matter about the colour,” I’ll answer.

“Oops! I’ve knocked the peanut butter jar out of the fridge,” someone will confess.

“Go and get the broom and clean up the mess,” I’ll reply, without even getting up to inspect the damage.

I have to admit I’m not perfect. Some days I get overtired and the temptation, to make a fuss about things that aren't really important, threatens to reappear. I had one of those days not so long ago. The girls were cooking a cake and they got the instructions in a muddle which resulted in all the ingredients going to waste.

After I’d thrown my little wobbly and had my say about “reading instructions properly… and how many eggs did you waste…" and so on, I stopped and apologised and immediately began to feel rather bad. What’s a few eggs? They don’t matter nearly as much as my girls’ feelings. Gemma-Rose looked like she was going to cry and I felt like the worse mother in the world. How could I have forgotten the lessons that have taken so long to learn? But all the girls said was, “Don’t worry about it, Mum. It’s all over. We’ve already forgotten about it.”

Sometimes I wish I could go back and fix up all my past mistakes and erase all the not-so-good memories from my children’s minds. I don’t want that easily overwhelmed, emotional dragon mother to live on inside them.

I wonder if Felicity ever thinks: “Gemma-Rose, you’re so lucky. You got the good mother, the calm mother, the gentle mother. She may not be perfect but she’s a whole lot better than the mother  I got. She was hopeless. I wish I was the last-born child and not the first-born guinea pig child.”

Why does it take me so long to learn anything? I have this suspicion that, by the time I have perfected this role of mother, my last child will have finished growing up. She will no longer need a perfect mother. She’ll be ready to slap her P plates to her car and drive off out into the big world to live an independent life.

I think again about that seemingly miraculous moment when I, an inexperienced mother, was allowed to take a precious baby home from the hospital. I didn’t have to present a certificate to the discharge desk, proving I was worthy of the role of mother.

Similarly, God didn’t ask me to prove myself before He blessed us with so many beautiful souls. He sent them to us anyway. How could He have done this? It took me a long time to work things out but eventually I came to realise that God doesn’t expect Andy and I to bring up our children on our own. No. He is always here to give us His strength and His grace. And He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. We only have to do our best. That’s all God expects. He does the rest.

Isn’t that a consoling thought?

Felicity phones for another chat.

"I wrote your baby bath story," I tell my daughter. "It's a post about your very inadequate mother."

"You are a good mother," insists Felicity. "When I was a child I wanted to grow up to be just like you."

"You did?" I am so surprised. "I didn't know that," I say.

A warm feeling is spreading all through me. Yes, God does indeed fill in all the gaps in our parenting.

"I love you, Felicity!"

And my first-born child replies, "And I love you so very much too, Mum!"

Please share more of my stories at my blog Sue Elvis Writes