Friday, May 29, 2015

7QT Review and Giveaway--Holy Heroes

Thank you for bearing with me as I attempt to get back up to speed!  Don't forget about the summer reading bundle giveaway that closes tonight!


Have you heard of Holy Heroes?  If you haven't, you must check them out. I know I have mentioned them before. They really are my favorite Catholic family business, mostly because they are a truly Catholic family who run a business aimed at making everyone's family better Catholics.  There are many small businesses with Catholic stuff, not that there is anything wrong with that but sometimes stuff is just stuff, very few really teach and preach the Faith like Holy Heroes. My family is hooked!


I have so many favorites from Holy Heroes, it is difficult to narrow it down into Seven Quick Takes. So here are five favorite product lines/services from Holy Heroes.  First off are the wonderful "Adventures" sponsored by Holy Heroes. They are free to join and have become a staple in our home for Advent and Lent.  Kids teaching kids to love God and follow His Commands, excellent!  The adventures are entertaining, informative, and truly inspiring for the whole family.  If you are looking for a way to live the Liturgical year at home, look no further. This is the easiest way to bring your faith home, and did I mention it's free!


Glory Stories are CDs or MP3 downloads of dramatized lives of saints. The stories are written and produced by the Holy Heroes family and include actors from their family and community.  Saints come to life and really touch the hearts of all who listen. My children cannot get enough of these. We have about five, I wish I could afford to buy them all, though. Even though we don't have that many, my children listen over and over and over, again, to these stories.  The saints become their friends and inspire them to do better. What I like best is that while these are produced for children, they are not watered down. The story told is the complete story!


As part of the CD line, there are five Rosary cds.  Now, there are many rosary cds out there.  What makes these special is that first they are lead by children. However, my absolute favorite part is that each mystery is so well explained. After the initial presentation of the mystery after each Our Father, there is a Bible verse that tells the story of the mystery read after each Hail Mary of the decade.  It helps everyone focus and really meditate on the mystery, not just say the words.


The final CD that I would like to highlight is the Stations of the Cross.  Ours has gone missing, so I must get a new one before Lent begins. We seriously missed having it this year. It was a wonderful way to fruitfully pass our time in the car during Lent. As with all the Holy Heroes CDs, it is well dramatized, entertaining, yet reverent.


Lastly, Holy Heroes makes coloring books of the Life of Christ. Each book corresponds to a set of mysteries of the Rosary. The books are well laid out, pictures are detailed, but still easy to color.  We have a set that we bring to Adoration for when certain little boys get a little wiggly. :)


Now, for the giveaway!  One of my blessed readers will receive TWO Glory Story CDs, Volumes 1 and 9. (These are my children's favorites, although there isn't any that they don't like.) Also, The Childhood of Jesus coloring book. Simply visit Holy Heroes and tell me what Glory Story you would like to experience in the comments below. Entries close June 12th at midnight. Winner will be announced on the 13th.

Linking up with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Works of Mercy Bouquet: Part 2

This is the second in a series of posts on the works of Mercy and how to live them as a family.  Today we will explore Giving Drink to Those who Thirst.


Like feeding the hungry, reaching out to the poor and homeless is a great first step.  Food pantries can use donations of bottled water or other healthy drinks for those who frequent them.  Likewise, soup kitchens need drinks to distribute to the hungry that pass through. It's a niche that is often overlooked.  Unfortunately, one of the greatest threats to the homeless is dehydration. It is very difficult for them to find adequate ran water supplies and they are most often provided with carbonated or sugary beverages. Soft drinks do nothing for the body in terms of hydration.  So, the next food drive that you choose to support, please consider purchasing a case of water to donate.  Or even better, distribute water bottles, free of charge, during the next heat wave, try to find a spot where homeless people frequent. If you have a local shelter, call and ask if you can bring cases of water to hand out to the homeless as they leave in the morning. Water is so vital, but we take it for granted.


The lack of water for our homeless is nothing compared to the lack of clean, potable water worldwide.  In fact, nearly 800 million people, about 11% of the world's population have no access to clean water. Significantly higher percentages have only occasional access to clean water. We are called the "blue planet" because of our vast oceans, but so many are thirsty.  Here, a bottle of water will not help, we need to provide consistent sources of water to those in need.  This past Christmas, I donated a bio- sand water filter via Gospel for Asia as a gift for my friend Mary.  She said that it was one of the best gifts she ever received.  Long after other presents would have been used up, broken, or disposed, the thirsty will be given water in Mary's name!  Laying bricks in Heaven is the ultimate gift!

If you have the opportunity, there is an even more hands on way to help the thirsty.  Catholic Missionary Trips, Inc. sponsors trips to build wells for those in need everywhere from Appalachia to Cameroon. I have added a trip with CMT to my long range "to do" list.  I don't know how soon I'll get there but it's definitely on my radar.


Not all those who thirst need water. There are many who thirst for justice.  The number of Christians jailed and/or persecuted for their faith continues to dramatically rise.  The imprisoned are tried and convicted without a proper trial, lacking legal representation, and unsubstantiated charges.  In many parts of the world, simply believing in Christ is a crime punishable by death. It's not just third world citizens who are subjected to this treatment. Pastor Saeed Abedini has been jailed for nearly 1,000 days in his native Iran for converting to Christianity--he is an American Citizen!

What can you do?  First, stay informed.  Sites like Voice of the Martyrs and International Christian Concern post the stories that get buried in main stream media. Next, sign petitions, write letters, post updates on Facebook. Do not let these modern day martyrs suffer in silence. Being the light of the world sometimes means shedding a spotlight on injustice.  Get the message out there and support efforts to free the imprisoned in any way you can.  Lastly, pray for the persecuted and conversion of our enemies.


As many thirst for justice, many more thirst for love.  The lost, forgotten, shunned, desperately poor, so many have never known the love of a neighbor.  Share a simple gift and show the world's suffering that not only does someone half a world away love them, but God loves them and always will.  There are many ways to do this but our favorite is Operation Christmas Child.  By packing a little shoebox, our family has been greatly blessed in blessing others. For most children, this simple gift is the first gift they have ever received.

Organizations such as and Mercy Ships, release child from the painful existence of being unaccepted in their society.  Through routine surgeries, these children are filled with promise and shown God's love!


Lastly, there are too many thirsting for God.  While the average American Chistian household owns piles of Bibles, so many wait hoping that someday, somehow, they know will actually own a Bible.  Unfortunately, I have not found a single Catholic charity that distributes Bibles.  I'm planning on investigating that further this summer to see if their are any missionary channels who will accept donated Bibles.  In the meantime, The Bible League distributes Bibles to those thirsty for faith and knowledge. For less than a drive-thru lunch ($5) a Bible will be handed to those most desiring to know Christ better.

As a child, my friend and I spent several summer's stringing rosaries for the missions. This is another way to preach the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. Making rosaries can be as easy or difficult as you want. Here are a few sites to teach you how. If anyone knows of a mission looking for rosaries, please comment below. I plan on reliving this part of my childhood this summer with my children, we are just still looking for a place to send them.

Linking up with Rachel, thanks for hosting!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

We have A Winner!

Congratulations to commenter #4!  Jessica, your prize will be on it's way, soon.  Don't forget, there is still the Summer Reading Giveaway which will close next Friday. Friday also brings a "glorious" new giveaway, please come back and enter.

Thank you everyone for your prayers and patience. I am hoping to get back up to speed this week. God bless!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Little Break

I am sorry that I have been off line all week. It has been a rough week. I lost my grandmother, my best friend, early Thursday morning.  I am really struggling with all the emotions and deep sense of loneliness.  She fell gravely ill on the fifth anniversary of my father's passing and quietly slipped away hours later. I cannot even begin to express how broken my heart is, nor how much I will miss her. I will be taking another week off. So, I am extending both giveaways by one week. Doll dress giveaway will be announced next Saturday, May 23rd. Book giveaway will be announced May 30th. So, there is still time to enter!  Thanks and God bless.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Summer Reading Catholic Book Bundle Giveaway!

In case you haven't heard, I was blessed to attend the CHAPLET 2015 conference with Kelly with whom I am linking up for Seven Quick Takes.


Books are a girl's real best friend!  Keep your diamonds, give me books!  There were plenty of books at the conference. One of my favorite vendors at any Catholic conference is the Pauline Sisters. Who could not just fall in love with beautiful nuns who also love and produce books???


Last year, I picked up a stack of Song to Mary books, they are just beautiful!  Aside from the gorgeous artwork paired with each prayer or litany, everything is printed in both Latin and English.  My hope was to use these as a Latin supplement. Pray and learn--a ponderous plan. I just need to improve my Latin before then!  This little book is a true treasure, suitable for any Catholic, for any occasion.


So once I decided that I HAD to purchase another copy of Song to Mary , I decided to create a little book bundle to giveaway. The Pauline sisters publish so many lovely books, and we've already discussed my book problem!  I encourage you to visit their stores or website to see the great array of books. I chose a stack perfect for summer reading for any child. For independent reading, I would put these at a 3rd grade level.


Here are the additional books that I am giving away:

Now You're Cooking, a book of entertaining short stories paired with delicious, easy to prepare recipes!

Family Ties, thirteen short, easy to read stories about what it means to be a family.

Saints of Note, in comic book style, this is a very colorful and engaging book. It explores the lives of fourteen saints through the eyes of time travelling kids, it also includes pages of interesting facts and amazing stories for each saint.


These books are all "quick reads."  If you are looking for something with more meat, check out  Encounter the Saints series!  We also really enjoy 57 Saints, it is by far our favorite collection of saint stories.


Before we get to the giveaway, since we are celebrating religious vocations both in the Church this year, and in this post, please visit and consider donating to Peter's priesthood discernment fund!

Also, don't forget to enter the 18" doll gown giveaway that ends on May 16th!

Lastly, I am still trying to get in touch with Becky D. who was the winner of the toddler art pack.  If you are Becky or know her, please contact me. Thanks.


Here is the giveaway, four books and a handmade bookmark.

Please visit Pauline books and tell me which book you would like to read by commenting below.One winner will be chosen and announced on May 23rd.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Giving so Other May Serve

You know that I have a heart for religious vocations!  Peter Lyons is running a fundraising campaign to help him begin his priestly discernment.  This boy is such a polished, eloquent young man.

When I donated, although I wish I could have paid for the whole trip, Peter sent me a personal email. It was not a form letter, it was a heartfelt message. He thanked me, promised to pray for me, and then named exact times and places where he would pray for my intentions.  Who couldn't use a some extra prayer, especially when offered by a soul so ablazed for Christ!

We need priests, we pray for priests, let's help get more!  I know that there are so many in need. At times, the health of need is overwhelming. The unbelievable stories of loss and hardship can be more than one can bear!  However, there is always hope. God will always prevail, and while we must respond to those knocked down and bloodied by this fallen world, how much greater it is to raise up light to outshine the darkness.  If you have anything, even $2, $5, or $10, please consider sharing with Peter.

What can those few dollars buy you?  Will they really alter the coarse of your life?  Your few dollars paired with a few dollars from others could change the coarse of history in the hands on this young man.  Support him in learning how to serve Christ with his life and all that he is. We need courageous young people, Peter is a model of such.  If you truly cannot give, please pray for Peter. It may be that God has other plans. Perhaps He will provide the funds in a way we cannot even dream.  Perhaps God has a path prepared that doesn't include Rome, or the priesthood. Perhaps Christ will meet Peter and call him to drop his nets and follow in the coarse of ordinary daily chores and a local, familiar shore. Whatever God's Plan, pray for Peter to have the doors to his vocation flung open and fully funded!  God bless!

Go Fund Peter and send the Good News to the ends of the earth!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Works of Mercy Bouquet: Part 1

To kick off my series on the works of Mercy, I am compiling my five favorite ideas for families to live the virtue of Feeding the Hungry.  There are so many who are hungry out there, it truly is the easiest to start with.  In raising our children, we want them to not just know the faith, but live it.  St Paul said that faith without works is dead. Please join me for this twelve part series on living the works of mercy and see the faith of your family blossom and bear fruit!


Make Bag Lunches for the Homeless

Our parish participates in "Midnight Run" where our priests, youth group, and parent volunteers travel to "the City" and distribute goods to the homeless. Out of the back of minivans, they spend the night handing out clothing, blankets, and toiletries.  They also distribute bag lunches that includes a sandwich, soft fruit, drink, and dessert.  For the past few years, my children and I have packed lunches for this venture. Each family only has to make five lunch bags but it quickly adds up to feed hundreds of people.  I realize that not everyone has this opportunity through their parish. However, there are still ways to participate. If you know of an area where homeless are regularly, make up lunch bags and hand them out as you go down the street, or contact a local charity or ministry that is aimed at the poor for clothing or shelter, offer to drop off x amount of lunch bags for their clients. Packing a lunch bag is so simple but it nourishes the body and soul.


Raid the Pantry to Fill the Pantry

One year for Lent, we took an item a day from our pantry to donate.  In the beginning it was easy, however, since we only grocery shop once a month, it got more difficult by week two and three, and down right sacrificial by week four!  I wanted the children to really experience giving, though. Going out to buy bags of food for the food pantry is a noble effort. However, do you buy the same things that you would want to eat?  It is fun for the children to shop, but are they really learning to give of themselves.  Have a contest to see how many items you can give out of your pantry to serve someone else.  Once you have filled the bag with the items that aren't yours or the kids favorites, challenge yourself to give what you had been looking forward to enjoying. Bless another by giving til it hurts, I promise you won't be sorry.


Have a Nickel Drive

Have you heard of Mary's Meals?  It is one of my favorite charities.  With a nickel, a starving child receives a nourishing meal at a place of education. All food is purchased from local sources, further aiding the community.  Volunteers cook, serve, and guard the food, building a cycle of self sufficiency.  By providing a meal at school, more children are educated and are able to complete school because they are not hungry and sick.  This truly is a hand up!  Best of all 97¢ of every $1 raised goes directly to feeding the children!

Grab a jar and start collecting change. Any change will do, but nickels really hits home the idea. Each nickel saves one child from starving for one day.  Start thinking, or rethinking, about your everyday purchases in terms of Mary's Meals. That coffee on the go is 40 meals. The cheap toy at the dollar store is another 20.  Skipping bagels after Church, another potential 160-200 meals. Once you begin calculating everything in terms of meals, it becomes much easier to go without and simply give.  


Have a Grocery Bag Drop

One Advent, our Teams of Our Lady group created letters asking our neighbors to fill a grocery bag with food for donation to the poor. We then attached the letter to a plastic grocery bag and hung it on each neighbor's doorknob. We requested that those who wished to participate, leave the bag at their mailbox by 10AM on Sunday.  We left early for church and took a trip around the neighborhood to pick up the bags. It was truly humbling to see how many people filled their bag, and how many more decided to fill two!  The children then sorted the food, boxed it up, and helped deliver it to the local food pantry. It was truly one of our favorite Advent activities, ever!


Simply Share a Meal

Feeding the hungry doesn't always just mean the homeless or disadvantaged.  A great opportunity to preach the gospel through our actions is to deliver a meal to a family in crisis. I have been on both the receiving and giving end of this endeavor and I can tell you the meal is always a blessing. It doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to be done!  Have a neighbor whose husband is deployed? Know a friend whose parent is seriously ill?  Parent in your co-op or preschool out of work?  Whatever the reason, share the light of Christ through a hot meal. When asked why you are doing it, tell them because Jesus asked you to love your neighbor as yourself.

Have any other ideas of how to feed the hungry in a hands on, family friendly way? Please share!

Linking up with Rachel.