Sunday, June 28, 2020

Nine 1st Fridays

One of the great devotions of the Church is the observance of nine 1st Friday's. This request was asked of Our Lord to St Margaret Mary with the promise: "I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant all to those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."

All that is required is attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion, and making a good confession eight days before or after, on the first Friday of each month for nine months in a row. It is a beautiful devotion to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and it is a good reminder during this month of the Sacred Heart to persevere in this observance.

Our Lord to St Margaret Mary: “Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify Its love; and in return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the coldness and contempt they have for Me in the Eucharist. But what I feel most keenly is that it is hearts which are consecrated to Me that treat Me thus. Therefore, I ask of you that the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special Feast to honor My Heart, by communicating on that day, and making to It a solemn act in order to make amends for the indignities which It has endured during the time It has been exposed on the altars. I promise you that My Heart will expand Itself to shed in abundance the influence of Its Divine Love upon those who shall thus honor It, and cause It to be honored.”

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Ten Ways to Eat Ice Cream

We just hit the first day of summer and it's hot...but reasons to be excited are swimming, barbecues, fireworks, and picking veggies and fruits from the garden. Now...who doesn't eat ice cream year round? But, I thought a fun summer post would be featuring every kind of ice cream to enjoy this summer and where to get it!

1. Milkshakes

I personally am a huge fan of Chick-fil-a's milkshakes. Their flavors of vanilla, chocolate, cookies and cream, and strawberry offer a decent selection, or you might try their frosted lemonade or coffee. They are the sweetest refreshment to slurp on!

2. Popsicles 

There's only one place you can go for popsicles and that's Steel City Pops (for those in the South). They are creamy, melty, soft, and delicious and even natural/organic, which can be topped with cookies and drizzled. Doesn't get any better!

3. Blizzards

Of course there's your hallmark DQ blizzards with inexhaustible options of flavors. With candy classics like Reese's and Oreo, limited time only like Wonder Woman Cookie Collison, royal options like NY cheesecake, or seasonal like S'mores, there is a flavor for everyone. Or try out their signature sundaes with hot fudge and sprinkles!

4. Sno Balls

Hands down the best New Orleans might get lucky to find a food truck near you that sells these, but sno balls are the best mixture of ice and syrup known to man. Find something you've never tried like the mardi gra king cake sno ball flavor!

5. Frozen Yogurt

The obvious choice for frozen yogurt is Orange Leaf, which I haven't found near me yet! They offer countless flavors that melt in your mouth. If you can't find an Orange Leaf, head over to Yogurt Mountain or TCBY, they're at least second best ;-)

6. Custard

Gotta go to Freddy's for the custard. They have the most unique creations of custard that will whet your appetite. The toppings range from sprinkles, to m&m's, to gummy worms, to chocolate chips, to fudge syrup, to fruit, to nuts...or grab yourself a malt or a shake!

7. Floats

The classic signature root beer float that everyone remembers growing up with can be found at Farm Burger. You simply can't have a good float without root beer, and theirs is local, like most anything on their menu. It is wholistic and delicious and you can't go wrong!

8. Sundae's

If you're just looking for plain old ice cream that's like your classic kind in the store, Hershey's Ice Cream stores are the best. They make the best sundaes with all the classic Hershey's candy for toppings, and provide a nice selection of cones. 

9. Slurpee's

7 Eleven is the creator of the best drink on this earth. If you've never had a slurpee, you've frankly never lived, so track one of these down and . . . slurp! The blue raspberry is out of this world. Try to go on Slurpee Day (July 11th) and get one for free!

10. Sandwiches

Searching for a traditional ice cream sandwich? This one is easy to get . . . go to Trader Joe's and buy a box of Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches . . . vanilla ice cream sandwiched between chocolate chip cookies and rolled in mini chocolate chips . . . need I say more?

Well, here's to a great summer, readers, and I sure hope you found one of your favorites on this fun list! And of course with it being Father's Day, take your dad to one of these fantastic spots, he will thank you later :-)

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Wedding Days

This weekend I had the privilege of being in a dear friend's wedding party. I wanted to write about the beauty of a traditional wedding ceremony and the Nuptial Mass. I have been to a few, but not in a couple years and this time I was really struck by the beautiful prayer that is recited for the new couple. Here is part of it:

"O God, who, by so excellent a mystery hast consecrated the union of man and wife, as to foreshadow in this nuptial bond the union of Christ with His Church: O God, by whom Woman is joined to Man, and the partnership, ordained from the beginning, is endowed with such blessing, that it alone was not withdrawn either by the punishment of original sin, or by the sentence of the flood: graciously look upon this Thy handmaid, who, about to be joined in wedlock, seeks Thy defense and protection."

There are so many beautiful blessings given to the bride and groom to set out on their new life together, and this particular blessing stands out to me that marriage is something so sacred that it has endured throughout the ages as established by God . . . and because of that fact God defends and protects the couple who seek to establish their marriage in Him, that it may reflect His love of the Church. 

The witness of the gift of the bride and groom to each other, and ultimately their gift to God, should inspire us that a loving sacrificial commitment for life is an example to us all that holiness is achieved by a daily commitment to die to ourselves. It is so moving to experience the exchange of vows, and then even more so to watch the new married couple attend their first Mass together, the Nuptial Mass, one that is specifically designed to pray that the two become saints. May God bless my dear friends and all those preparing for the Sacrament of Matrimony!

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Top 5 Things to Do in Orange Beach/Gulf Shores

1. Walk the Beach

Hands down the best part about a trip to the coast is walking along the water. Our time at Orange Beach found us collecting tons of seashells, watching sunsets, and listening to the waves. Certainly the easiest way to relax on your trip!

2. Bike the State Park

A close second was renting bikes and exploring the paved trails of the Gulf State Park. You'll pass through mossy woods, lakes, and boardwalks, making your excursion very scenic. There are over 20 miles of trails! (And make sure you get a mountain bike instead ;-)

3. Visit the Bay

A delightful place to enjoy a picnic is at a dock on the bay. The water is calm with the occasional boats passing by, and you'll hopefully get to watch some pelicans fishing. A less crowded place to catch some sun.

4. Grab a Snack

Everyone discovers a favorite food place on vacation. The one that sticks out for me is the Hershey's Ice Cream shop. It has lots of wonderful flavors and options of cones, sundaes, and floats! This by the way happened to be in Florida, right on the border.

5. Explore the Pier

Finally, a popular place to explore is the Pier. While we didn't take advantage of the option to fish, many people did and it looked like lots of fun. It was a neat place to see all the same and a good photo opportunity, which is something I always (too much so) take advantage of!

Hope you get the chance to visit the Gulf!

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Be Content

If you're like me, you look to change as a way of moving forward. A new job, a new place to live, a new stage of if always looking to the next thing brings happiness and contentment. Creating constant change could be indicative of avoiding seeing life as it is. It takes a constant reminder for me that peace of soul is not dependent upon circumstances or external things. We can find God in whatever situation we find ourselves, or rather He remains with us through it all.

I picked this photo for this blog post because sometimes we can only see our life in our own little jar and forget to look beyond that. Our jar is filled with lots of little beautiful lights that we need only to turn on, and when we connect those lights to the bigger ones our world doesn't feel so small. We need to remember that the small ordinary parts of life that make up so much of life are the ones that carry the greatest power. Like if you forget the baking soda in cookies, they will be completely flat.

I've had several people give me good advice recently to "be content," which defined literally is "the state of happiness and satisfaction." It's easy to feel dissatisfied when we want something we don't have. We can be grateful for what we do have and that reminds us of what we find fulfilling in life, yet it's ok if being content doesn't come easily to us because we have big dreams for our lives. Even though it doesn't come naturally, it should be a good reminder that if we haven't reached e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. yet, that's a good thing! If you accomplished all the things at once in your life, the rest of it would be rather boring.

Sometimes it's nice to "take time to coast" or that "doing nothing leads to the very best of something," in the words of Christopher Robin. This doesn't mean we shouldn't keep up our goals and routines of life, but maybe just maybe being content with life is to stop looking and let life take its own course because the surprises along the way are the very best of all.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Three Moving Tips

On thinking back the last couple years, I moved in both 2018 and 2019 to two different towns. They weren't as challenging as a move out-of-state, but they were places I hadn't lived before and moves I did on my own. They were different than moves for the convent, or moves for college, because those were moving to a community. The two moves I made were to a new home. While it's unlikely I'll move yet again in the year 2020, I have learned never to say never, but I would like to think that I learned something from both moving experiences that hopefully are helpful!

1. Explore.
If you have the opportunity to visit the new place multiple times before the move, try to explore some restaurants, tourist attractions, or drive through neighborhoods to get a feel for what everyday life is like. You could even go to Mass at a church you might end up attending and try to meet some parishioners. In short, picture what it would be like living in that place for the long term. Familiarizing yourself with the new place ahead of time will make the transition smoother.

2. Clean Out.
One thing I learned on both moves was that I had a lot of stuff I didn't need. It is so much easier to move if you go through your stuff before the move. Sort through your clothes closet, organize holiday decor, even clean out your pantry. Anything that makes your move lighter will help in the long run. You might not have enough time if the move is a quick one, but even as you're packing, if you think you won't miss the item, then it's a treasure for someone else by giving it away!

3. Change of Address.
Most people think to change their address for their utilities, their friends, their credit cards. But don't forget places like an Amazon account where you might ship a new item you are really excited about to a house you no longer live in! There's lots of little things that can easily slip your mind when you're moving, so it's helpful to think about your most frequent mailings and change your address a week or two in advance.

No matter how you look at it, moving is one of those top life stressors, so try to round up friends and family for a moving party either at the old place or the new place to help you pack or unpack and make it fun with pizza and milkshakes or whatever makes you happy!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

West of Yesterday

You recall back in November a post where I interviewed Lena Donellan about being an author! Well, it is only fitting to write a book review of her novel that I was privileged to read! 

"To a grieving man, he's a murderer; to an abused boy, he's a savior."

Characters: West of Yesterday shines with its character development. I followed the emotions of the main characters as if I were seeing them in person. Alan Bledsoe, a man struggling with accepting his past, rescues a boy named Scott from an abusive uncle. The two discover an unlikely connection with each other that has each realizing they possess a strength they did not know was there. Wade Belanger is searching for what he believes is justice, which includes capturing Alan. The sheriff in Ayer, John, wants to piece together the different puzzle pieces of each character's story to arrive at the truth. And finally my favorite character, Matt, who accompanies Wade, shows loyalty, dependability, and a search for truth that made him a noble person in my book!

Plot: The story had me captivated from beginning to end. I like to think I am good at predicting how a novel will unfold, but I was truly kept in suspense! I did not know how it would end and was kept guessing. I think I was most surprised (without giving anything away!) by one villain's change of heart and another's hardened heart...the contrast in what can create hope about a broken person and what cannot made you realize that people can change. There were definitely plot twists and a lot of excitement in a small western town. The different points of view served to create colorful pictures in your mind of each character's perspective.

Literary devices: The use of symbolism struck me as well with the name of the town being Ayer, which means yesterday, and in the end certain characters are able to head west of Ayer, as if they are leaving "yesterday" and all the past behind them. I loved the literary use of flashbacks and a gradual revelation of important events through the characters' memories. It blended the past, the present, and the future into a cohesive whole that was powerful. I also appreciated the analysis of grief and how it affects people differently, and that in working toward acceptance a person can ultimately find peace.

West of Yesterday is about a quest for self-discovery, understanding what it truly means to forgive, and sharing the hope that no matter how broken a man is there is a chance for redemption. If you are looking for an enjoyable summer read, then order a copy of Lena's novel here!