Sunday, October 15, 2017

Let Nothing Disturb You


Well I honestly think this is the first time I missed a week of blogging! Life happens.....a lot! Things get away from you, leaving you wondering which way is up sometimes. The Church provides even for moments like this in such a marvelous way through her glorious line of saints. 

Today we have such a special one, St. Teresa of Avila, a great mystic and doctor of the church. But for all her special gifts and knowledge, her simple maxims are the ones that touch the heart. I love this one: "Let nothing disturb you; let nothing frighten you; all things are passing; God never changes; patience obtains all things; nothing is wanting to him who possesses God; God alone suffices."

There is nothing more simple nor more sublime than these words. The "one thing necessary" is God. God is our happiness in this life and in the next. St. Teresa found God in prayer but also among the pots and pans. God is not far from those who love Him and are closest to those who suffer. There is something so consoling in the thought that God never changes even when things around us do. 

Let us pray to St. Teresa today that she may inspire us with a deeper love for God and a greater zeal for souls. Her example encourages us not to settle, but aim for the higher things and our greatest dreams. Even though there is much to be said for being a "little saint", why can't we aim to be a "great saint?" What could be wrong in such a noble desire if we desire this simply to give God greater glory?

A great piece of advice I once received was if you aim for Purgatory, you might miss and end up in Hell. If you aim for Heaven and miss, you could end up in Purgatory. The key? Aim higher! Because if we aim for God, we can't miss!

                                                                                         ~ Therese


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Blondies


Looking for a treat that melts in your mouth? If you eat chocolate and have to have more, this is the dessert for you! And guess what? It's gluten free....but you can't tell!

Ingredients:

1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
4 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 cups GF flour
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (and sprinkle extra on top)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla and blend until mixed. Add flour, baking soda, and salt and stir until well blended. Add chocolate chips and mix. Spread into a greased 7x11 pan and bake for 20-25 minutes (for gooey or chewy blondies) or 30 minutes (for more like a cake). Serves 15-20. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Gentle Saint


If you're looking for a master in the spiritual life who writes in a down-to-earth, understandable format, then St. Francis de Sales is your guide. It is remarkable that a priest with so many demands as St. Francis could write countless letters and treatises, but one could say this is how his apostolate reached more people. To this day, men and women in all states of life are benefiting from his invaluable advice and direction.

It is hard to pick a favorite work from a favorite author, but I really drew much from St. Francis' Introduction to the Devout Life. Perhaps because it is so varied in the practical sense....one could literally find advice about most any situation and how to grow in virtue. From the Sacraments, to meditations, to virtues and vices, to friendship, St. Francis has an encouraging word to say on every topic. His words are truly immortal because they are just as relevant today as when he wrote them.

One great quote from this work is about choosing to be "in the world" but not "of it" and adhering strongly to our devotion to God: "Never heed this blind world, then; let it cry out as it will, like a bat that would disturb the birds of day. Let us be firm in our plans, unchanging in our resolutions; perseverance will show whether we are in earnest in offering ourselves to God and leading a devout life. . . . Hypocrisy and true virtue have a considerable external resemblance, but they are easily distinguished, since hypocrisy does not endure, but soon vanishes like the rising smoke, whilst true virtue abides firm and constant. . . . We are crucified to the world, and the world should be crucified to us. It counts us as fools, let us count its votaries as madmen."

Other inspiring works of his include: Roses Among Thorns, The Sign of the CrossThe Art of Loving God, Consoling Thoughts (4 parts), Serenity of Heart, his Sermons, Treatise on the Love of God, and so many more! St. Francis de Sales is one of my favorite saints because he devoted so much time to writing as a way to really reach souls. People drew profit from his advice because it made the attainment of holiness seem possible. His life was a model of virtue and sacrifice, one example being his tireless efforts to convert the Calvinists resulting in nearly 60,000 people returning to the Catholic Faith. His last word of advice before his death was "humility."

One could write forever about the glories of this amazing saint. He is an ideal saint to pray to because one can tell by his writings how understanding he was of human nature--thus giving him the name of "gentle saint." St. Francis knew above all how to encourage souls in the pursuit of Heaven by carrying our daily crosses for the love of God. Take the time to read one (or many!) of his excellent works. It is well worth it! St. Francis de Sales, pray for us.
                                                                                  ~ Therese

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows


On the 15th of September, we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. It is a great devotion to have/remember because no matter what we suffer we always have an understanding Mother to turn to who will make our sorrows lighter. 

The Seven Sorrows are as follows:

1. Prophecy of Simeon
2. Flight into Egypt
3. Loss of Jesus for three days in Jerusalem
4. Meeting on the way to Calvary
5. Crucifixion/Death of Jesus
6. Jesus taken down from the Cross
7. Burial of Jesus

The chaplet pictured consists of meditating on these mysteries/sorrows of Mary, while praying an Our Father and seven Hail Mary's. (It will soon be available for purchase at handmadecatholicshop.com!) The chaplet originated in the 13th century to honor and meditate upon the moments Our Lady shared most deeply in the Passion of her Son.

Sometimes in our lives when we can't understand why we should suffer and think that God should take away all our troubles because He is God, it is helpful to turn to Mary, who willingly suffered in union with Jesus in order to bring about our salvation. This is all God asks of us---a willingness to suffer, that is, to accept our trials for love of Him and to remember that we can never suffer as much as Jesus and Mary did for us. In our darkest moments, we have to remember that all we endure is but little repayment for the price Our Lord and Our Lady paid for us.

Words of St. Bernard: "All of you, who see yourselves amid the tides of the world, tossed by storms and tempests rather than walking on the land, do not turn your eyes away from this shining star, unless you be overwhelmed by the hurricane. If temptation storms, or you fall upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star: call upon Mary." 

                                                                                ~ Therese

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Song of Bernadette


The Song of Bernadette film opens with the line: "For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible." This 1943 movie gives a stirring presentation of the apparitions and miracles of Lourdes that reflect this statement. With 5,200 cast members and an Academy Award winning lead for "best actress of the year," the efforts to portray the events of 1858 in The Song of Bernadette pay off.

To begin, the movie brings alive the sufferings and poverty of the Soubirous family, who lived in an "old jail" that was not even fit for prisoners. Early in the film we are introduced to Bernadette's humility and generosity despite her poor health. It doesn't take long for the movie to jump right into the heart of the story, that is, the visions the saint had of Our Lady. For a fortnight, Mary would appear to Bernadette, calling for penance and the praying of the rosary. 

One also witnesses the political resistance and general opposition to Bernadette's faith, alongside the acceptance and belief of thousands of the faithful. With the growing miracles of the spring water of the grotto, even the doctors have to admit something unexplainable by earthly means is taking place. Viewers are gratified especially when her parish priest, Peyramale, eventually rallies to her side in so many instances. A particularly good scene is with the Bishop of Tarbes who says: "The Commission (to look into Bernadette's apparitions) can render only one of three decisions. First, 'you're an impostor little Soubirous. Away with you to a home of juvenile delinquents'. Second: 'you're a madwoman little Soubirous. Away with you to an asylum.' Third: . . ." Peyramale cuts in: "You are the rarest of mortal beings, little Soubirous."

When Bernadette shares the name of her Lady as the "Immaculate Conception," debate ensues among the clergy. When one of the priests says he thinks the Lady made some kind of blunder, Bernadette says she will let her know that. Bernadette's simplicity and sincerity render most objectors speechless. She manages to win over many hard-hearted souls through her piety, as well as her conviction in the Lady's messages. Her heroic acceptance of sufferings, especially toward the end of her life in the convent, would inspire anyone to bear all for the love of Christ.

One can hardly appreciate the beauty of the saint's life only by seeing this film or reading books about her, but they do aid in the visualization of the deep wealth of her virtues and gifts. I highly recommend this film to anyone who wishes to revisit such a beautiful event in history as Our Lady appearing at Lourdes.

                                                                                          ~ Therese


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Five First Saturdays


The five first Saturdays devotion is one that is so intimately connected with the anniversary of 100 years since the Fatima apparitions. Our Lady expressly asked for these conditions to be fulfilled for five consecutive first Saturdays:

1. To receive Holy Communion.
2. To make a good Confession (eight days before or after).
3. To recite a five decade Rosary.
4. To spend 15 minutes meditating on one or all of the mysteries of the Rosary.
5. Offer the devotions in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart.

Why five?

1. In reparation for blasphemies uttered against her Immaculate Conception.
2. In reparation for blasphemies uttered against her Divine Maternity.
3. In reparation for blasphemies uttered against her Virginity.
4. In reparation for those who impress hatred for her in the hearts of children.
5. In reparation for insults committed against her sacred images.

Those who observe the five First Saturdays receive the promise of Our Lady who will help at the hour of death with all graces needed for the salvation of their souls. Let us respond generously to the requests of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for a world so in need of God's mercy and for the conversion of poor sinners and the country of Russia.

                                                                                 ~ Therese

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Royal Road of the Cross


The "royal road of pain" is a phrase that Fr. Owen Francis Dudley (English author of several Catholic novels) uses in his book, The Shadow on the Earth. In this work of fiction, the reader is introduced to Father Dudley’s iconic character, the Masterful Monk, also known as Br. Anselm. The novel begins with a mountain climber who has been injured on the Alps and is brought to the monastery of Issano where Brother Anselm lives as a monk. Having served as a doctor in the war, Br. Anselm is called, and it doesn’t take long for him to determine the mountain climber will be crippled for life. The “Cripple” as he is to be called undergoes a search for meaning in a life that has been stripped of all worldly hopes and possibilities for the future.

Three major players in The Shadow on the Earth are the Atheist, Optimist, and Pessimist, all of whom share their ideas about life with the Cripple. Dudley uses Br. Anselm’s character to refute these positions with Catholic teaching to reconcile a good God with a suffering world. While the Atheist, Optimist, and Pessimist all argue from different angles, the answer to their questions is the same. Br. Anselm confirms the goodness of God, Who contains all infinite perfections in Himself and shows that, when understood through the Crucifixion of Christ, suffering is redemptive and valuable. The Cripple’s witness of these arguments sets his mind working on accepting his own sufferings and lot in life through a gradual conversion from despair to hope. Despite the firm objections of the Atheist, Optimist, and Pessimist, the Cripple considers the claims of the Catholic Church, not because of Br. Anselm but because the Cripple has found God. And in finding Him, the Cripple is willing to endure all pain in union with Christ on the Cross.

The idea that inspires me most in this work of Dudley's is the concept of the royal road of the cross. Every suffering no matter how great or small is Jesus asking us if we will share His Cross with Him. To accept is to follow a royal road, a road that our King has chosen before us and laid out for us as the path to Heaven. Dudley's character the "Cripple" asks Br. Anselm, "Supposing you were in my position; supposing you knew that you had to lie on your back for the rest of your days, cut off from the pleasures of life, and having at times to suffer pain like this--how exactly would you take it?" Brother Anselm answers, "How would I take it? I would take it as an honour--an honour to be chosen for the royal road of pain; and I would take it as a privilege, to be asked to share so fully the Cross with Christ."

When seen in this light, suffering becomes a gift--a means of uniting ourselves more closely to God and offering these pains for the salvation of souls. Let us value suffering because through it we share in the great honor of resembling our God Who died for us.

                                                                                          ~ Therese

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Attachment to Heaven

St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption (Covington, KY)
All spiritual writers frequently talk about detachment from the world and earthly things, which is the same as saying "attachment to Heaven." We just celebrated the feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, which helps us remember we are pilgrims on this earth and our true home lies in eternity with God.

Divine Intimacy, one of my favorite books, has an excellent passage on this topic: "The Feast of the Assumption is a strong appeal to us to live ever intent upon heavenly things, and not to allow ourselves to be carried away by the vicissitudes and seductions of the world. . . . Mary's Assumption shows us the route we must follow in our spiritual ascent: detachment from the earth, flight toward God, and union with God." To reach this end, we must fulfill the will of God in our lives and accept all our sufferings because the closer we are to Christ on the Cross in this life, the closer union we shall share in His reign in the next.

To aid us in fulfilling the will of God, we should try to remove all obstacles to His grace acting in our day to day life. This means detaching from the things of this world. Yes we have to live in this world, but we must live in this world as Christ did while on earth, which was with mind and heart always fixed on the things above. If there are worldly things in our lives that are dragging us and attaching us to earth so much that we cannot keep our gaze on the things that are eternal, then we need to examine our situation and see what can be removed so we can better serve God. For example, I recently discovered how much social media was weighing me down (not that it cannot be used for good) but it was leaving a negative impact on my life. Removing social media seems to have made it easier to think on the things of Heaven rather than of earth.

Let us imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary (who appeared to the Fatima children today) and make many sacrifices for sinners who have no one to pray for them, which will keep us focused on God and Heaven.

                                                                    ~ Therese

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Excitement of DIY Projects


Do you like DIY projects? In my book, being able to do something yourself is very important. Why pay someone else to do it if you can? My parents are big on DIY so I guess you could say I grew up with the idea, but with so much information available now anyone can really get into DIY.

There is something very satisfying in stepping back and looking at a project that you brought to completion. And usually (if you did it right) the project will stand the test of time and maybe you can pass it onto your children. 


DIY projects can be as simple as these window boxes which I was very excited to put together! Or as complicated as house renovation with ripping up tile, new kitchen cabinets, or repainting. One of my favorite DIY projects was building bookcases with my dad for either side of the fireplace for my mom's birthday. To me the best part of DIY is the memories.

The memory for these window boxes is the state on the bottom, which comes from my mom's childhood home! It's been brought along through six different houses! So whatever your project is good luck and have fun! And it's always more fun if the whole family gets involved. 

                                                                                    ~ Therese

Friday, August 4, 2017

Blueberry Crumble (Gluten + Dairy Free)


This has become a new family favorite, guys! A must try! 

Ingredients:

3 cups quick oats
1 cup GF flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups (medium sized) blueberries
1 1/2 T maple syrup
1 T corn starch
1 T orange juice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pour oil in slowly until well mixed and/or crumbs begin to form. Take half the mixture and line a 7x11 glass pan with the crumb mixture as the bottom crust (packed firmly). Save the other half for the top. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Put berries, maple syrup, corn starch, and juice in a saucepan and stir over medium heat for two minutes or until juices begin to thicken. (Blueberries should still be round not completely smushed). Pour filling on top of the baked crust and add the rest of the crumb mixture over the top and pack down. Bake entire mixture for additional 25 minutes. Serves eight-ten. Enjoy!

                                                                                   ~ Therese

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fruits of Attending Holy Mass


Because the value of Holy Mass is infinite, we can never truly know the wealth of grace available to us by attending Mass. Here are but a few of the beautiful gifts God bestows on those who attend devoutly!

Through attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass . . . 

. . . your greatest consolation at death will be the Masses you have heard devoutly.
. . . when you are judged each Mass will be with you and plead for your pardon.
. . . you can diminish your temporal punishment due to sin according to your fervor.
. . . you give the greatest homage possible to the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord.
. . . Our Lord supplies for your negligences and omissions.
. . . the venial sins you are determined to avoid are forgiven.
. . . all your unknown sins never confessed are forgiven. 
. . . the power of Satan over your soul is diminished.
. . . you offer those in Purgatory the best possible relief.
. . . one Holy Mass heard during your lifetime is more beneficial than many offered for you after your death.
. . . you are preserved from many dangers and misfortunes that would otherwise have befallen you.
. . . you shorten your Purgatory by each Mass heard devoutly.
. . . you kneel amid a multitude of angels present at each Mass.
. . . you are blessed in temporal goods and affairs.
. . . when offering in honor of a saint or angel you give that saint or angel a new degree of honor and joy, drawing his special protection and love on yourself.

(Info courtesy of St. Benedict Center Still River, MA saintbenedictcenter.com)

"For each Mass we hear with devotion, Our Lord sends a saint to comfort us at death." ~ revelation of Christ to St. Gertrude the Great

                                                                            ~ Therese

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Be At Peace


I am Polish and I have this sign hanging on my fridge to remind me of these simple yet powerful words "Be at Peace." In a world that is suffering and always needing to "de-stress," peace is something that is very much sought after. It is hard when we feel like "our world" is falling apart around us and there seems to be no answers to our problems, but Our Lord said, "I have overcome the world."

St. Therese talks about suffering from moment to moment, which was the only thing that brought her peace. True peace comes from God. I know when things are upside down in my life, it's those quiet moments before the Blessed Sacrament that bring peace to my heart. Our Lord said again, "Come to Me all you who labor and find life burdensome and I will give you rest." Rest is that peace that He alone can give.

Acceptance helps us be at peace as well. There may be things we simply cannot change that are overwhelmingly challenging in our lives. We may have to accept them without understanding. It is then that we must look to Christ Crucified which is the only place that suffering makes any sense.

I love this quote of St. Francis de Sales: “Have no fear for what tomorrow may bring, the same loving God who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. He will either shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.”

                                                                               ~ Therese

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Wholesome Writing


The words "wholesome writing" might deter some folks who are only looking to be amused by things that are not necessarily good. But writing can be genuinely interesting, entertaining, and fun, while remaining wholesome at the same time but without being what is considered "preachy." 

For example, I absolutely love mysteries. So many of them however are twisted, weird, or just depressing. So why can't they be lighthearted and uplifting? Why can't the books we read be clear of all offensive content and enjoyable for any age range? 

Writers have a tremendous responsibility. You can either make someone a better person for having read your creation or a worse person. Every little thing matters. The simplest sentence can have a powerful impact on a person. This means that writers have the beautiful ability of touching hearts and making someone see something in another light.

Stories of heroes are what encourage us in our own lives. Fiction can only encourage us to a certain extent and the stories that are true resonate even deeper. But beneath the fiction of a narrative are messages and themes that apply to our day to day life and inspire us to go forward. Writers can never forget that more important than their stories are the people who read them.

Let's make our writing wholesome in the sense that when readers walk away from our books, they are better and happier people--ready to face troubles in their lives with courage.

                                                                      ~ Therese

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Apple Pie Cake with Cinnamon Glaze


It doesn't get better than this right? Love apple pie? Love cake? So you have to make an apple pie cake! This is also awesome because it's gluten and lactose free! 

Ingredients for Cake:

~ 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
~ 1/2 cup honey
~ 1/2 cup maple syrup (the real stuff not Aunt Jemima's guys)
~ 1 T orange juice
~ 1/2 t salt
~ 8 eggs
~ 3 cups GF flour
~ 2 t cinnamon
~ 1 T vanilla extract

Ingredients for Glaze:

~ 2 cups confectioners sugar
~ 1 T cinnamon
~ water to desired consistency (see below)


Directions for Cake:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10" springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, which can also be greased with oil. Combine the apples, honey, maple syrup, and orange juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Bring down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the apples are tender. Put the eggs, flour, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla in a mixer and stir till combined well. Add the apple/honey/syrup mixture and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes or until knife/fork comes out clean. Let cool for half an hour and place on a serving plate. Spread the glaze over the surface of the cake and allow to drip down the sides. Ready to enjoy! Can also put into the freezer for fifteen minutes to harden the glaze.

Directions for Glaze:

Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Add water slowly. Start with 1 T and stir. Depending on if you want a thick or thin icing, add more water slowly to desired consistency a teaspoon at a time. If it gets too thick add water, or too thin add sugar. Pour over the cooled cake. This cake serves 10-12 people.

Now you can try this out and have it all ready for the Fall! 

                                                                                                             ~ Therese

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Precious Blood Devotion

Pall from Holywell in England
The devotion to the Precious Blood is one of my favorites. The simple prayers below offer such beautiful promises and give much glory to God. Most of us will not likely be actual martyrs, but these prayers offer in the fourth promise that it will be as if we had died martyrs by honoring the Precious Blood through this devotion. How amazing! Let us not miss these simple opportunities of strengthening our Faith and consoling the Heart of Jesus. 

Devotion to the Drops of Blood Lost by Our Lord Jesus Christ
on His Way to Calvary

St. Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary, St. Matilda, and St. Bridget, wishing to know something of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, offered fervent and special prayers, upon which Our Lord revealed to them: 

To all the faithful who shall recite for 3 years each day, 2 Our Father's, 2 Hail Mary's, and 2 Glory Be's in honor of the drops of Blood I lost, I will concede the following 5 graces:

1. The plenary indulgence and remittance of your sins.
2. You will be free from the pains of Purgatory.
3. If you should die before completing the said 3 years, for you it will be the same as if you had completed them.
4. It will be upon your death the same as if you had shed all your blood for the Holy Faith.
5. I will descend from Heaven to take your soul and that of your relatives, until the fourth generation.

(Blessed by Pope St. Leo XIII in Rome April 5, 1890).

Happy Feast Day of the Precious Blood of Jesus!

                                                                            ~ Therese

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Make My Heart Like Unto Thine


"Oh Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine." Yesterday we celebrated the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and this is such a beautiful and fitting prayer for this glorious day. I thought for this blog post I would just share the amazing promises that Our Lord gave to St. Margaret Mary for all those who will honor His Sacred Heart.

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state in life. 
2. I will establish peace in their families. 
3. I will comfort them in their trials. 
4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and, above all, in death. 
5. I will shed abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
6. Sinners will find in My Heart an infinite ocean of mercy. 
7. Lukewarm souls will become fervent. 
8. Fervent souls will rapidly grow in holiness and perfection. 
9. I will bless every place where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored. 
10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts. 
11. The names of those who promote this devotion will be written in My Heart, never to be blotted out. 
12. I promise thee, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Friday of 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. 

One way to honor Him is by having an image exposed in our homes of the Sacred Heart, or perhaps praying the Litany of the Sacred Heart, or even better spending time in adoration before His Eucharistic Heart. Let us not lose a single opportunity to turn our hearts to Our Lord's and ever more be united to Him.

                                                                      ~ Therese

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Home Sweet Home


Not long ago, I wrote a post about the travel bug. That is definitely a common symptom that pops up in our lives, and a healthy dose of "seeing the world" is certainly great. This week, however, I want to write about home.

What does home mean to someone? A place you retire to when not at work? A place where your family lives? A place where you feel loved and secure? I think in a general sense "home" fits all of these definitions. To me, no matter where you travel or how long or short you are gone, there is nothing like that feeling of arriving at your "home sweet home." For unless you are a true nomad or your living conditions are less than ideal, there will always be somewhere special to which you return.

The word home seems to resonate a sense of peace. That in that place is somewhere you can find joy, comfort, security, love . . . all intangibles that reflect God, meaning He should be the center of the home. I like that phrase: "Christ is the Head of this house, the unseen Guest at every meal, the silent Listener to every conversation." 

Since the state of one's physical home can vary, it presents us with the idea that earth is not our final home. We are always traveling as pilgrims to our permanent abode in Heaven. It is a nice thought, is it not? To think of the concept of eternity. Home with all its ups and downs reminds us of this. When home is a place that brings contentment, we want to hold onto that forever. When home brings misunderstandings and frustrations, we want to escape from it. Meaning we all long for that place--for Heaven--where there is no suffering and our peace knows no bounds.

We should thank God every day for our home--somewhere that we have worked for and built up by all our efforts to create a place that you can sit by the hearth and breath a sigh of relief at the end of a long day.

                                                                         ~ Therese

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Amanda Case Files No. 2

Available at:
Amazon, Etsy, and Handmade Catholic Shop

Amanda Case returns for an all new exciting mystery! Jump start your summer vacation with a lighthearted and wholesome fiction novel. From the back cover: "Amanda Case is back for a new mystery that starts out personal. When Christie Henley is arrested for murder at Fielding's Hospital, Liz must discover who would frame her sister and why. Liz sleuths undercover to unveil a motive among doctors, nurses, CEO's, and a janitor. Will Liz find the killer in a plot that gets deeper and deeper? And how will she handle a very unexpected family secret that surfaces during her investigation?"

Here's a sneak peek of the novel! And you can look forward to the third installment for Christmas!

Chapter 1:

Elizabeth Henley stormed into the police station early one Wednesday morning. Nearly a year had passed since that morning when she arrived at old Anderson Manor. Seven cases had come and gone, all solved successfully and rather uneventfully. Not one had been personal . . . until now.
It was a warm June day, but Liz was wearing long pants and a dress shirt. She was walking quickly to a room where she had questioned suspects so often over the years. However, the person she was meeting was the reason for her anger and surprise.
“Liz—” Officer Robert Gray began to say as she entered the room he was waiting in.
“Bob, how could you?” Liz cut him off.
“It’s not my fault—”
“Did you arrest her?” Liz said, crossing her arms.
“No—I—I couldn’t. Captain Walker brought her in.” Bob put his hands in his pockets.
Liz’s face softened. “I’m sorry, Bob.”
“She’s innocent, of course, but the captain is determined to put her in jail—”
“Not while I’m on the case,” Liz said emphatically. “There is no way that a sister of mine will ever be arrested for murder.” She left Bob standing there and opened a door that led into a small room. Liz bit her lip at the sight of her younger sister, Christie, seated at the small table, twisting the ring on her left hand. She didn’t even glance up when Liz walked in the room. “Christie?” Liz said softly.
Christie turned her head and her eyes flickered. “Oh, Liz!” She stood up and gave her a warm hug. “I’m so glad it’s you.” Christie wearily sat back down into the metal chair provided.
Liz took the seat opposite her sister and hesitated before speaking. “I—” She cleared her throat. “I can’t believe I’m sitting here.”
“At least that’s a familiar chair for you. I can’t believe I’m sitting here.”
“Tell me everything,” Liz pleaded.
“Oh what’s the point,” Christie exclaimed. “They all think I’m guilty—”
“Your fiancé doesn’t,” Liz remarked.
Christie looked down and fingered her ring again. “Bob is not going to marry me now—”
“He will.”
“He was just promoted to sergeant after Brown was fired. He’s not going to marry a felon—”
“You are not going to jail. I’m going to get you out of here.” She twisted her curly brown hair.
“How? All the evidence is against me!”
“Start at the beginning,” Liz answered.
Christie sighed. “It’s a long story.”
“I’m all ears.”
Christie shifted her position. “It was Monday that I had the argument with Brittany—”
“The victim?” Liz asked.
“Yes. Brittany Lewis was the head nurse in my unit.” Christie suddenly looked past Liz and stared at the wall. “That glass—is Bob behind it?”
Liz turned around and looked at the glass that acted as a double mirror. “I don’t know, Christie,” she said softly.
“Probably,” Christie said, “and I guess they are recording everything I’m saying?”
Liz nodded.
“Bob might as well know the whole story too.” Christie leaned her head on her arm. “He’s not going to be happy about it . . .”
“What happened on Monday?” Liz asked. “Do you suspect someone?”
Christie’s eyes met her sister’s. “I do suspect someone, but let me continue the story.”
Liz said, “Go on.”
“It was six months to the day that I had started working at Fielding’s Hospital. I was relieved that I had passed the probationary period and would remain full time. It’s all I ever dreamed of. You know I have been talking about this for weeks.”
“I remember,” Liz added.
“Bob took me out to dinner that Monday evening. I had mentioned the argument with Brittany then, never imagining it would lead to . . . this.”
“What was the argument about?”
Christie looked at Liz. “Brittany was neglecting her shifts—asking me to cover for her at times. That’s not an easy thing to do in an ICU.”
“Obviously not.”
“I think Brittany thought she could get away with it because she was a senior nurse and I was the new kid in town. I wouldn’t complain because if I did I wouldn’t stay on at the hospital.”
Liz cut in, “I can see where this is going. Your probationary period was finally up, and you could say something to Brittany.”
Christie nodded. “And I did. I really wouldn’t have minded the extra work, except it was so often that I was endangering my own patients.”
“No one found out about this? No one tried to step in and stop what was happening?”
“Well there was one . . .” Christie continued, “Dr. Taylor. He’s the doctor we work with the most, and he started seeing me more often than Brittany.”
“He started asking questions?”
“Yes. He confronted me on the issue. I was trying to cover for her, but he started to see through it.”
“Why were you covering for her?” Liz asked.
Christie said slowly, “She knew something.”
The statement arrested Liz’s attention. “Knew something? About what?”
Christie didn’t answer. “Is there any way I could get a glass of water?”
Liz said, “Of course.” She walked out of the room and returned with a paper cup filled with water from the cooler.
Christie took the drink gratefully and sipped the water quietly. She then sighed.
“What is it, Christie?”
Christie looked across the room at the mirror. “I hesitate to say anything because I have a feeling Bob is listening to this.”
Liz’s mind was working. “It’s about someone he knows at the hospital?”
“His cousin actually,” Christie remarked.
Liz’s eyes widened. “The CEO?”
Christie swallowed the rest of her water. “Hill.”
“Andrew Hill has worked at Fielding’s for eleven years! He’s the founder of three different foundations and well respected in the community.”
“That’s why my word against his is nothing.”
Liz crossed her legs and paused to think. “What do you know about him? Or what did Brittany know?”
“I don’t really know what Brittany knew.” Christie sighed and whispered slowly, “I think that Andrew is the one who killed Brittany.”
A sound could be heard from behind the wall as if something was knocked over. Then footsteps came from outside the hall followed by the door opening. Bob was standing in the doorway. “Christie?” His mouth was open.
Christie looked away. “I knew you would react that way. I’m sorry, Bob. I have to tell the truth in here.”
“The truth?” Bob exclaimed.
Liz answered for her sister, “I know that Andrew is like a brother to you—”
“You are asking me to choose between believing you or believing Andrew?” Bob asked his fiancé.
“What has Andrew told you?” Christie asked.
“He was already questioned. His alibi is airtight,” Bob said firmly.
Liz looked back and forth between the two. “I wasn’t there for that, Christie. I’ve never seen Andrew other than in the papers.”
“So you believe me?” Christie looked desperately toward her sister.
“But how is it you were framed?” Liz asked.
Bob said uncomfortably, “The weapon was found in her locker, and she was caught on security footage.”
“Doing what?” Liz asked.
“Going in and out of the room where the victim was found dead,” Bob said.
“I found her dead!” Christie protested.
“I don’t doubt that for a minute, Christie,” Bob said sincerely, “but I can’t believe that my own cousin would have killed her. Why in the world would he do a thing like that?”
“I’m going to find out,” Liz said.
“As what? Amanda Case the detective?” Bob said, referring to Liz’s codename used on all the undercover cases assigned to her.
“As Amanda Case, the nursing assistant, who is replacing the accused,” Liz said playfully.
Christie smiled in spite of herself. “You think you can be a nurse?”
Liz looked offended. “I’m already a paramedic. Besides you have talked about it enough.”
“There’s a whole lot more to being an ICU nurse than talking,” Christie emphasized. “Do you really think that—”
“Look, Christie, someone framed you for murder. I’m not taking that lightly. One of us has to go in there and find out the why behind it all—and who better than me?” Liz said enthusiastically.
“Captain Walker is going to keep me here, isn’t he?” Christie looked at Bob.
Bob nodded with a frown. “But, in a sense, the killer can’t reach you here. So whatever he has against you, he’ll have to keep it to himself.”
“Bob—” Liz started to say.
“Liz, can I have a moment with Christie?” Bob asked. “I just need a moment.”
Liz nodded and left the room, closing the door behind her.
“Am I still being recorded?” Christie said, still sitting in the metal chair.
Bob shook his head. “I was the one—” He sat down across from his fiancé. “The captain was having me record you, but I was the only one in there. It’s just us now, Christie.” He reached out for her hand.
“Oh, Bob, what’s going to happen?”
“Liz is going to find the killer like she always does,” Bob answered reassuringly.
“I meant . . . about us?”
Bob’s eyes met Christie’s. “We are going to live happily ever after,” he said sincerely. “It’s only been put on pause, that’s all. This will be cleared up, and we can continue on with our plans.”
“I love you, Bob,” Christie whispered.
“I know you do, and I love you. I’m sorry you are in the middle of all this, and I’m sorry I found the knife in your locker.”
“What else could you have done? It was there . . . and the cameras . . .”
“There’s something awfully fishy about those security cameras.”
“What do you mean?” Christie asked.
“You didn’t kill Brittany—”
“Of course not!”
“I know. That’s what I’m saying. So, why didn’t the footage catch who did?” Bob said.

Happy Reading! 

                                                                           ~ Therese