Sunday, June 16, 2019

A Lifestyle, Not a Diet

That moment you lost the weight you were lifting every day.
I hesitated writing this blog post because I didn't want to sound like I'm patting myself on the back, tooting my own horn, or achieved anything of importance. I felt inspired to share this little 30 day journey I had with you because I think it's encouraging to know that things are not as impossible as they may seem. I didn't think it was possible to overcome what I joked was my "sugar addiction." I have been a stress eater on and off, finding food to be an answer to problems. It was something I looked to in order to alleviate suffering...whether it was stress caused by studies, deadlines, family illnesses, loss, loneliness, or anxiety. 

Food should be something to enjoy and a pleasant part of our lives, but I started to feel like it was taking over my life. Ever since I was in the monastery, I felt like I had to eat a lot at each meal because you had to wait till the next one to have something, and it might not be that much when you got there. Even though that was seven years ago, I don't think I ever shook that anxious feeling that came sometimes when I was hungry. 

Then I started to do some reading and learned that stress eating is a form of alleviating negative emotions. I have negative emotions? I found this very interesting and realized I needed to make some changes in my life. Changes not just in eating habits, but changes to bring in those positive emotions. So I called it my "feel better" program. I didn't follow a specific diet because I knew I would give up. I didn't cut out everything that was unhealthy because I'm too chicken to go cold turkey. (See what I did there?) When it came down to it, I knew I needed a lifestyle not a diet. 

My story included three simple things: exercise, food, and recreation. I set my own goal to lose 10 lbs in 30 days and was determined to achieve it. Not just because I wanted to lose a little weight, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could live a different way. I could change my lifestyle. I could be someone who found ways to overcome a problem I was struggling with. That I was the one who made the decisions rather than my anxiety.

Exercise: I exercised every day, mostly 30-45 minutes on a stationary bike and read books while doing so. This is my preferred exercise because it helps the arthritis in my knees (which seems crazy to be talking about at my age). Or I would supplement with walking my dog two miles for about half an hour to change up the scenery. I would also lift (pathetically) 5 lb weights 30 times and did some sit-ups. Starting my morning with these routines helped me both physically and mentally. Now I actually look forward to that time because it jumpstarts my day on a positive note. 

Food: I personally found a high protein/low carb plan to be fruitful and cooked at home. Note, high and low, meaning I still ate carbs but just not as much. Yes, I cut out processed foods and sugary desserts. But here's what I still ate. Breakfast: yogurt and a piece of fruit, or bacon (yes bacon) and an omelet. Lunch: homemade grass fed beef hamburger with pickles and ketchup (except on Fridays ;-). Dinner: pork and asparagus, eggplant parmesan, tacos, chicken and zucchini, or spaghetti and meatballs.  Snacks: fruit (sometimes with whipped cream) cheese, or yogurt. Drinks: sparkling water, black tea, chamomile tea, and water. I also tried intermittent fasting between 5pm and 9am, which is really helpful to reset your system. Wait...you lost weight eating your favorite foods? I believe it is more what I wasn't eating (like processed sugar) than what I did eat, which still could be healthier. I admit I found it important to cheat once a week with a hot fudge sundae to keep me going ;-) A shoutout to Urban Cookhouse for my sometimes getting healthy meals out!

Recreation: This was the most important to me. I started to create a regular sleep schedule of about 8-9 hours, as well as a routine for myself during the day--a harder challenge when working from home. I would do something relaxing in the evening (not on a screen) like reading or doing puzzles or socializing. I utilized coping skills that I found helpful at stressful moments (one of which was rearranging my whole house). I prayed a LOT. I planned meals ahead and tried to only buy what was on my grocery list. I spent time with supportive family and friends (one of whom was my accountability coach and inspired me in the first place!), and ultimately tried to keep things in perspective.

So what's the point of all this? That if you find yourself struggling with something similar and feel it is unachievable, I want to say you can do it. Goals are possible. That cliche saying of "you can do anything if you set your mind to it" is so true. You just have to want the goal more than what you are giving up.

So do I still go out to eat sometimes? Yes. Do I still eat that occasional hot fudge sundae? Yes. Was it hard to get through the 30 days? Yes. But! Does being hungry bother me like it used to? No. Is food still the answer to my stress? No. It was by filling my life with positive outlets that gave me the answer. Then food became a part of my life rather than my life. I hope I am the better for it.

May this journey of mine helps readers out there in some way! 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Come Holy Ghost


Most people know the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord. I think what is often overlooked are the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit. These are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continence, and chastity.

The great feast of Pentecost is an opportunity to ask for both the gifts and the fruits. One of the fruits that stands out the most to me is peace. God's presence, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our souls, brings the only true and lasting peace to our lives. Peace is the foil to anxiety. I have a feeling it is easier to worry than not to, but harder to be at peace and worry at the same time.

If peace is a "freedom from disturbance" as a literal definition, then the peace that God gives is true freedom indeed. He is the calm amidst the storm and there is not a single person on this earth who does not wish for that calm. What is unfortunate is people often look for it in ways it cannot be found. So if the source of peace is God's grace, then we carry that with us in all moments of our life when our will is united to His. 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Rearrange as Change


I recently discovered a list of coping skills that are helpful for those moments when life is challenging (which in my case is dealing with grief from losing my uncle). One of these was to rearrange a room, which created a domino effect of rearranging the whole house for myself. It is an idea for adding a little change to the ordinary and making the space feel fresh. I found it really helpful, for one it felt like I had all new furniture, for another it felt like a new day, and still more made me appreciate that change can be a good thing.

It's hard when you lose someone to adjust to the life without that person physically in it. It's like finding a new normal and trying to fill a void that you don't want to have to fill. It's acceptance and denial, finding you trying to rationalize and remember. There's moments where you replay the past to preserve it into the future. There's days when you can almost hear their voice or see their smile, or days when you grasp at memories before they slip away.

So rearranging a room reminds me of having to rearrange my life, rearrange my schedule, rearrange my affection so that it is directed to a person who can see it all when he couldn't before. He can see the new arrangement of the room and I can hear him say he would like the swivel chairs, the family photos, the view of the backyard, and Teddy asleep in the corner. Yes change is good, change is growth, change reminds you that life is passing and we belong in a place above.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Freedom Isn't Free

I wanted to share an excerpt from the first letter I ever received from Operation Gratitude back in 2016 when I first heard of their care packages to deployed Troops.

"On behalf of Operation Gratitude and the heroes who receive our care packages, I thank you for your generous donation. Your contribution will enable us to send over 200,000 'chock full' Care Packages this year to the tens of thousands of brave men and women still deployed overseas in harsh and remote areas; to their children anxiously awaiting their return; and to Veterans, New Recruits, First Responders, Wounded Heroes and their Care Givers. . . . 

As one former Navy Sailor and current New York Police Department Officer recently wrote: 'Every box, every piece of paper, every cloth, every book, every pen, every pencil, every notebook, every brush, every tooth paste, every shower gel, every puzzle, every magazine, every letter, every piece of candy . . . means a lot to us when we are away from home. It gives us Hope, Confidence, Happiness, Strength & Pride that somebody thinks about us, that someone is there for us. Thank You all. God Bless America.' . . .

Thank you again for your thoughtfulness and wonderful patriotic spirit. Every single donation we receive furthers our mission of saying 'Thank You' to those who serve. The recipients of your generosity will remember your kindness forever. . . ."

Last month I received the tenth letter from them with similar words, made possible by your purchases from my shop. Every Memorial Day I like to write a blog post to encourage Americans to support our Troops. Operation Gratitude even makes it easy with an Amazon wish list to send directly to their assembly station in CA. Check out their needed items here! Let's not forget that freedom isn't free. We should think of them as they think of us, as individuals with families and loved ones and dreams that they risk their lives for day after day.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Forever a Friend


"Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I'll miss you. Until we meet again."

I have never lost anyone so close to me as my uncle. The relation of a niece may seem like a distant relative to some, but not to me. An uncle for me was always that person in your life who made you laugh, who gave you hugs, who met your eye and gave you that twinkle of teasing, who did things not because he had to but because he loved you. That was my uncle to me.

My heart became so united with his by sitting at his bedside for the last eight months, watching a disease slowly steal him away. Not once did he forget who I was. I showed him pictures of my dog, my home, my shop. I said I love you and he said I love you too. He welcomed my kisses, he listened to my stories, he held my hand. One thing I'll never forget is meeting his gaze the week before he left this earth. I gave him a stuffed animal turtle (fondly known ever after as Mr. Turtle) from my trip to the beach. I swallowed hard at that gaze because I knew he was thanking me, even though he couldn't voice it.

I feel him in my moments of Adoration, I see him in the rainbows, I hear him in the sound of laughter, I taste him in chocolate brownies, I smell him in cutting the grass, I hug him in Mr. Turtle. I look for him in my everyday moments and let a tear fall when I feel his absence. But then I remember...

"Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I'll miss you. Until we meet again." Until we meet again, I will always love you...

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Only One Chance


This past week has taught me there are not always second chances in life. That may sound like a depressing thought, but to me it means for the one chance we may have, we have to be all in.

I had never seen someone die before two days ago when I lost my beloved uncle. Somehow that whole week I had a feeling I would be there, which gave me this oxymoron of an uneasy calm. That morning something (or someone) wouldn't let me sleep, a nagging, nagging, nagging thought woke me up and brought me to my uncle's bedside. It was his final moments.

My aunt, cousin, and dear friend/aide were there...my cousin made it within two minutes to say goodbye to her father. The last thing I remember saying to my uncle is that my mother (his sister) was on the phone and said she loved him. I have never seen anything so peaceful, so grace-filled, so remarkably connected to up above.

I watched my family tirelessly care for him in his illness; emotionally, by making his room always a happy place; physically, by medical care down to the nitty gritty of spoon feeding and giving drinks with a syringe; spiritually, by providing him with Holy Communion weekly and the Last Rites; mentally, by keeping him engaged with the family and playing his favorite cop shows, and above all socially by maintaining a constant presence in his life.

This dedicated care and those final moments taught me that you can't go back, you can't turn back the clock, you can't waste time... Sometimes we do only get that one chance not to miss what's truly important. I thank God for every minute I had with my uncle and long to hold his hand once more.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

A Mystery is Coming

The long awaited third entry into the Amanda Case Files Series is on its way! The hoped for release date is July 26th, the feast of St Anne as the book is dedicated to my sister. After two years since the last installment, this novel is long overdue!

Liz Henley is back once again as Amanda Case to solve once and for all the murder of her beloved parents. She goes undercover at the inn where her parents were investigating and follows clue after clue to uncover the killer. This mysterious bed and breakfast near a lighthouse in Maine quickly proves to be its own puzzle.

Who can Liz trust in this case, when suspects begin to point closer and closer to those she loves? A double agent is in her midst and seems to be tracking her every move. When her uncle, who shared the most vital clue, is kidnapped, Amanda Case must discover long unanswered questions before its too late.

Will Officer Fred McNally, who joins her on this mission, figure out the enigma of the key in the watch? Will her brother Sam, who can't stay uninvolved, wind up as the cook at the inn? Will life long family friend Captain Walker betray her?

Find out in two months!!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Solitary Envoy


The Solitary Envoy follows an independent young woman named Erica Langston on a journey as a merchant in revolutionary times in both America and England. She is dealt a tough hand early in life to defend her family's good name and must stand strong amidst powerful adversaries. An enemy in her eyes, Major Powers, falls in love with the intelligent Erica, and seeks to win her affections. Will love triumph in Erica's life or will it be justice?

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical novel, a refreshing read compared to most books written in our times. A truly Christian novel with themes of hope against all odds and perseverance in the worst of trials. The characters were dynamic and filled with depth, responding to critical plot points in the most human of ways. 

The idea I took away from this story was that life is a journey, a journey in which we can choose to take alone or rely on the friends God places in our life, even if we do not recognize them as such. There is no greater treasure in life than a true friend, and Erica must decide if that is the road she has the courage to take.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

364 Yesterdays


When a birthday comes around, I love to look back at the 364 yesterday's that were between the birthday last year and the birthday this year. It can be hard to look back at the struggles and trials and sufferings that made you a year older, but somehow those aren't the moments that stick out. When it comes down to it, the days that come readily to mind are the ones filled with triumphs, fun times, and happy memories.

Those moments fill your heart with gratitude. For all the gifts that God gives, the difficulties don't seem to matter anymore. I think that's what Heaven must be like, where there are no tears. Up there, one can only see the purpose those hard days had and they don't seem like a burden at all. 

My uncle is terminally ill, and on my birthday I get to attend Mass in his bedroom. I think that is the greatest gift I will ever receive. It's only happened a handful of times, and somehow this treasure landed on my birthday. He attended Mass twice a day for years and years, and his devotion to the Holy Eucharist was what made me love Adoration, Mass, and the Faith. 

When I look back next year at the days between birthdays, out of all 364 days, this memory I will treasure for the rest of my life. Here's to my uncle, who words cannot describe how he made my yesterdays special.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

What God Thinks


So here we are at the start of Holy Week and preparing for the solemn feast of Easter. Some of us may feel satisfied with how our Lent went and some of us may feel disappointed. I think that when we are on the disappointed side, we forget how God thinks. Because what He looks at is if we did our best in the moment. We have all heard the phrase "if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans." Well it's the same as what our plans were for Lent. We make plans to accomplish certain resolutions, but life happens. 

Maybe we didn't get that extra penance or spiritual work in, but we persevered in our daily duties with a smile. Maybe we ate dessert when we gave that up, but it was to cheer up a friend with an ice cream. Maybe we weren't as patient as we wanted, but we were undergoing physical suffering that was offered to God that tried our patience. Whatever it may have been, what God thinks is the intention of our hearts. It doesn't matter what someone else thinks or what we even tell ourselves sometimes, but only what God sees.

I love these words of Mother Teresa, "People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Our Tastes


Something I found interesting this Lent is how certain things are penances for one person but not for another. Do you think that means our tastes/preferences reflect our personality or something that is uniquely you? Are tangible aspects of ourselves rooted in our souls? I found this a thought provoking concept that I don't really know the answer to, but it makes one wonder.

For example, one thing I chose to do was give up ketchup. Many will laugh at this penance, but for those who don't know my food habits, ketchup will find itself on pretty much anything I am eating. I don't know why I like this condiment so much, but it if it is missing, my food experience is truly subpar. 

So this image of a hamburger with pickles and ranch dressing/dip may look like I am complaining by saying it was difficult to eat, but for some reason a hamburger without ketchup is a challenge for me. Does that seem petty? Well yes, yes it is when put in perspective, but I chose something that I would find difficult but not impossible so as to focus more on the love behind the sacrifice. 

Did I fail at times the last couple weeks? Yes, yes I did, but that made me realize I am too attached to things of this world and need to keep trying, which I think is also a valuable lesson. On the flip side, it also showed me that there is variety out there. I found myself trying/experimenting with other flavors I wouldn't have otherwise tried and it turned out I enjoyed! 

So what is my point about ketchup? I think our tastes show how truly unique each individual person is and the infinite value we are to God. And that should be a reminder as we approach Holy Week, that Christ gave His life for us and thought of you individually on the Cross.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Overcoming Overwhelm


Have you ever seen Father of the Bride with Steve Martin? A true classic in my book. If so, you will recall well this scene when George is overwhelmed by all the wedding preparations, turning his house into a place for the ceremony, and above all "losing" his daughter to her new husband, and can't take one more frustration like not having the right amount of hot dog buns in the grocery store.

George: "I want to buy eight hot dogs and eight hot dog buns to go with them. But no one sells eight hot dog buns. They only sell twelve hot dog buns. So I end up paying for four buns I don't need. So I am removing the superfluous buns. . . . Some big shot over at the weiner company got together with some big shot over at the bun company and decided to rip off the American public because they think the American public is a bunch of trusting nitwits who pay for things they don't need rather than make a stink. Well they're not ripping off this nitwit anymore because I'm not paying for one more thing I don't need. George Banks is saying no! {Grocer: Why don't we just calm down now sir?} I'll tell you why we don't calm down, because you're not excited. It takes two people for a we to calm down, doesn't it?"

Overwhelm literally means to "drown or bury beneath a huge mass, feeling a strong emotional effect from an event, or to defeat completely." I often wonder why the smallest things in life seem to be the ones that upset us the most, but when you think about the fact if you are overwhelmed and you can't go lower than being "defeated completely" the smallest of frustrations can quite simply be too much. 

I think the answer to this question can be found in George Banks realization of hitting a low point when ending up in jail for splitting open the hot dog packages in the grocery store. It is ALL about perspective and taking a step back. Separate in your mind what is important and what is not and let some things drop off. Remember what you want to value in this moment when you look back on it at the end of the year. Find quiet moments for gratitude and a lifting of your heart to God. And above all . . . breathe. By the way it's nice to know they now sell hot dog buns in quantities of eight ;-)

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Me Time


I think this phrase "me time" has been given the wrong connotation. People associate that phrase with a selfish form of relaxation--a relaxation that neglects certain duties or obligations. What people fail to think about is the healthy meaning of taking moments for ourselves so we can take a step back. 

It is important to have time, be it ever so short, in every day that is some form of peace. For many this is one's prayer time, for others it could be exercise, still more talking to a friend, or reading a book. In some way, it is the time of day we utilize a coping skill that helps us deal with stress. In taking those moments, we can tackle our duties with more calmness than if we plugged through with no break.

"Me time" is not selfish--it is taking a moment to better our mental health, which is as real or more important than physical health sometimes. We need to have part of each day dedicated to rejuvenating our minds that so often are going in a million directions at once. It is in a way a form of being "unplugged" from our problems for one moment so that it does not consume us.

So this week, take a moment out of every day for you. Make that time the best way to lighten your heart and help you to breathe, especially when it's a hard day. It's a real confidence builder because it reminds you that God is at the center of it all, and He wants us to have calm and peaceful hearts.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

St Joseph's Silence


Every year I love writing about this great saint. He is my very favorite and has never let a prayer go unanswered for me. St Joseph is a very powerful intercessor for any need and a model for all families in all virtues. I love that we get to celebrate his feast on both March 19th and May 1st.

I wanted to focus on his great silence . . . I believe that there are no words recorded in Scripture that St Joseph spoke. He is mentioned of course, but I don't think there are any words by him. I find it interesting that there were none recorded, but maybe he was a man of few words.

I can imagine this great saint being so absorbed in the love of Jesus and Mary that he could hardly help from being in a constant state of mental prayer. He must have been wholly at peace despite any hardship or suffering because there were beside him the two holiest beings that ever walked the earth. That doesn't mean that life was easy...quite the contrary...but the knowledge of God's constant presence must bring tranquility.

Can't we imagine our own lives like this? That God is present in all our life situations as to never leave us alone? We may not see Him in the physical sense like St Joseph, but He is there just as lovingly all the same. And in the silence of His presence, we can be silent ourselves just like St Joseph, absorbed in the peace of our God.

May St Joseph keep our families close to his most pure heart and draw us deeper into the preparation of Lent.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Captain Marvel


So I usually only write a movie review for a film that truly blows me away . . . while this wasn't what would become a "classic" in my opinion . . . it was something that I will most likely enjoy more every time I rewatch it.

I think what struck me about this movie the most was I had no expectations of what it should be. Isn't it the case that so often we walk away more satisfied if we haven't had any preconceptions of what a movie (or anything else for that matter) may do for us? 

The story was both original and suspenseful with satisfying character development and a nice dash of humor. The encouraging message of owning your identity and the importance of becoming who you are meant to be was a powerful thought. I also enjoyed the throwback to a 90's setting.

If you're looking for a lighthearted, action-packed, nice special effects, and entertaining film, I feel Captain Marvel will fit your bill. Brie Larson shines as Carol Danvers, a woman searching to be a true hero for all.

Best quote: Nick Fury: "You know anything about a lady blowing up a Blockbuster? Witnesses say she was dressed for laser tag."

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Miraculous Novena of Grace


A dear friend passed along this beautiful prayer! The Miraculous Novena of Grace can be prayed March 4th through March 12th or November 25th through December 3rd. Great way to begin Lent!

Prayer to St. Francis Xavier
Attributed to Father Marcello Mastrilli, S.J. (17th century)

"Most amiable and loving St. Francis Xavier, in union with thee I reverently adore the Divine Majesty. I rejoice exceedingly on account of the marvelous gifts which God bestowed upon thee. I thank God for the special graces He gave thee during thy life on earth and for the great glory that came to thee after thy death. I implore thee to obtain for me, through thy powerful intercession, the greatest of all blessings--that of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beg of thee to secure for me the special favor I ask in this novena. (Here you may mention the grace, spiritual or temporal, that you wish to obtain.) In asking this favor I am fully resigned to the Divine Will. I pray and desire only to obtain that which is most conducive to the greater glory of God and the greater good of my soul."

V. Pray for us, St. Francis Xavier.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

"O God, Who didst vouchsafe, by the preaching and miracles of St. Francis Xavier, to join unto Thy Church the nations of the Indies, grant, we beseech Thee, that we who reverence his glorious merits may also imitate his example, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen."

Add an Our Father and Hail Mary three times in memory of St. Francis Xavier's devotion to the Most Holy Trinity, and a Glory Be ten times in thanksgiving for the graces received during his ten years of apostleship.

History/Promise: The Novena of Grace, which begins March 4th and ends on the 12th, the day of the canonization of St. Francis Xavier, owes its origin to the Saint himself. At Naples, in December, 1633, Father Marcello Mastrilli, S.J. was at the point of death. The Saint appeared to him and, bidding him renew a vow he had made to labor in Japan, said, "All those who implore my help daily for nine consecutive days, from the 4th to the 12th of March included, and worthily receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist on one of the nine days, will experience my protection and may hope with entire assurance to obtain from God any grace they ask for the good of their souls and the glory of God."

The Father arose, instantly cured. So well has the Saint kept this promise that this devotion in his honor became universally known as the Novena of Grace. Its efficacy is not restricted to the dates mentioned. It may be made very appropriately from November 25th to December 3rd, the feast of St. Francis Xavier. Though any prayers can be said in honor of the Saint, the foregoing are generally recommended. 

~ from My Prayerbook by Fr. Lasance

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Catholic Fairy Tale Kingdoms

Angela Marie's latest novel! Available on Amazon!

Hey readers! I had the opportunity to interview fellow Catholic author, Angela Marie! If you're looking for fairy tale romances with faith based plots, you've come to the right place! Owning most of her books myself, I can attest to their originality, suspenseful plots, dynamic characters, and happily ever after endings! Check out what inspired Angela Marie to become an author, her favorite books and characters, and advice to aspiring writers! Click here to view her books and see her book trailers here!

1. What inspired you to become an author?

My eldest sister always wrote fictional stories when we were growing up. Even before we started using the computer to type, she would have stacks of notebooks filled with humorous and exciting handwritten stories that she would let us read.  I looked up to my eldest sister and wanted to imitate her, so I began writing stories too.  And I enjoyed thinking up new characters and plots so much, that I’ve been writing ever since!  It was my eldest sister who strongly encouraged me to look into self-publishing options after I wrote the first five volumes of the Catholic Kingdom Series as a birthday gift for her in 2013.  Now my eldest sister and I make a great team; she helps me to think of ideas for new stories, along with giving me invaluable input for scenes. She and my youngest sister–my #1 fan–also provide me with indispensable “prayer support.”  None of my writing endeavors would go so well without the continued kind intercession of Our Lady of Good Success, St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Jude, St. Michael, the holy angels, and so many others!!

2. What is your favorite book that you have written and why?

Impossible to answer!  I honestly like them all, in their own way.  The Catholic Kingdom Series began my self-publishing efforts, so that makes it rather special. Night Falls Over Sol took a “darker” direction that I thoroughly enjoyed–such a fun mixture of “drama” and humor in that one!, while To Fynde a Husband started out as a little “something” that my youngest sister and I were going to write together.  We came up with the initial characters and the first couple of chapters, and then I got stuck, and I had to set aside that project to work on something else; I later returned to it with my eldest sister, the two of us surprising our youngest sister with a completed book for her birthday.  I really enjoy how that unique, lighthearted tale turned out.  Once Upon a Time Stories marked a new phase in my writing.  I’m extremely pleased with those first two parts and how my writing improved with each new volume of the “fairytales retold” series.  The five books of the Evangelistae Kingdom Chronicles comprise my most “epic” story.  The Catholic Colonies was something quite different from anything that I had been writing up until that point and it was neat doing a “mysterious” plot; I loved the strained relations and conflict between two of the main characters.  Lastly, I consider my most recent standalone novel, The Prodigal and the King’s Daughter, to be my “masterpiece,” Dei gratia.  You’ll soon see why!  It will be officially available on Amazon in mid-April of this year. 

3. Who is your favorite character from your novels and why?

That’s really hard; I have so many characters, and they all have their different personalities.  They do fall into certain categories though, and I have to say that I find it the most fun to write the blunt, tactless, short-tempered type of characters, such as Ross (from Once Upon a Time Stories), Macaire (The Evangelistae Kingdom Chronicles), and the Prodigal.  Why?  I think because they add another level of emotion to the scenes, and get to say some of the best lines.  That being said, I love it when all of the different characters interact and react to each other.

4. What is your favorite book that you have read and why?

This is much easier to answer!  My favorite fictional book is Enemy Brothers, by Constance Savery (1943).  I love everything about it: Miss Savery’s excellent style of writing, the plot, the characters, and Dym is my absolute favorite fictional character ever,–never to be topped.  Honorable mention goes to Bond and Free by Jean Connor (1913).  That one’s a gem!

5. Who has been the most influential author in your writing?

My eldest sister, first and foremost!  Then, some of the greatest Catholic authors of the 1800’s and early 1900’s: Eleanor C. Donnelly, Fr. Francis J. Finn, Mary T. Waggaman (Shipmates is another gem!), Meriol Trevor, Fr. Lasance, and the Very Rev. J. A. Keller, D.D. (with special mention of Jean Connor for Bond and Free).  Also, Constance Savery: specifically for, Enemy Brothers,Reb and the Redcoats, and Emeralds for the King.  My sisters and I love to read a lot of “old books.” What I read affects how I write, so I’m always careful about what literature I look at when working on a project.  I often turn to the authors that I mentioned for inspiration.  And, speaking of inspiration, Therese, it was hearing about your latest novel, Act of Hope, which providentially inspired me with an intriguing idea for a plot that led to the writing of The Prodigal and the King’s Daughter.  Thanks bunches!

6. How does your Catholic Faith contribute to your writing?

My main reason for entering the self-publishing business was to counteract the many bad, immoral books available on the market with wholesome, enjoyable, and truly Catholic fiction.  There are so many fantasy books that create their own worlds, “religions,” and use magic, excluding Our Lord from the story.  While I know that a book does not need specific mention of the Catholic Faith to be good and moral, I prefer to be a Catholic novelist in the fullest sense of the word.  So, the True Faith contributes everything to what I write!  I am most happy when creating fictional lands set in the “real world,” and being able to share the beauty of Holy Mother Church through situations based on actual supernatural events in the lives of the saints, with a full awareness of God and His Divine Providence, Our Lady, the angels, the spiritual realm present everywhere around us, Purgatory, and the preternatural activities of the devils.  This beautiful quote from Fr. Finn is my main inspiration to write books that are wholly, traditionally Catholic, while still providing a fun and thrilling reading experience: One of the greatest things in the world is to get the right book into the hands of the right boy or girl.  No one can indulge in reading to any extent without being largely influenced for better or worse. 

7. What advice would you give to someone who wants to be an author?

Why do you want to be an author?  If you love to write, then write!  If you think that others would enjoy reading your stories,–that they’re really good and worth printing, and you want to share them with a wider audience, then self-publishing is a great way to make your books available to the public without any hassle.  I have found CreateSpace, now KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), to be the most reasonable, free, and easy to use service provided at the moment; the major plus for me is being able to have full control over my own works.  There’s no harm in trying to show your manuscript to a big publishing company, too, if you want to go with that route.  On a more serious note, I would add: Every word that we authors pen and publish will be marked down either for or against us at our particular judgment.  For the sake of your immortal soul, never write anything that would offend your guardian Angel, ever at your side.  And last of all,–(and this is simply a personal quibble of mine): When formatting a book document, always justify your main text!

Thank you, Angela Marie, for your inspiring interview! Look for her next novel in April!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Pre-Lent


In the traditional liturgical calendar, there is a season called Septuagesima, or 70 days until Lent. When I first discovered this, I was intimidated by the extended length of the Lenten season. There is an extension of Lent? Isn't Lent long to begin with? There is such a thing as a pre-Lenten season? I admit I had all of these questions in my mind because I didn't understand. 

The more I thought and prayed about this beautiful season called Septuagesima, the more I realized the wisdom of these liturgical days. When we come upon Ash Wednesday with no thought of Lent or Easter before this day, we are completely unprepared. How many of us say, I still don't know what to do for Lent, or I guess I'll have to do the same as last year because here Lent is already?!

The purpose of Septuagesima is to prepare our hearts and minds for this great season of Lent. This season reminds us of the significance of being prepared. This is a very important aspect of our lives...and of our deaths. We want to be prepared for when we will meet the face of God...whenever that is...and also to meet Him at Easter with peaceful hearts...hearts willing to sacrifice for Him.

Let us use this old season of Septuagesima...sadly lost in the new calendar...to truly make this Lent our best yet, by preparing beforehand and knowing truly how to please Our Lord this season. Think about it? What goes wrong when we aren't prepared? Everything! 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Lady of Lourdes


Tomorrow is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. This title of Our Lady is a particular favorite of mine. I am drawn to St Bernadette's simplicity and grace that attracted the Blessed Virgin to appear to her. Our Lady's message remains the same in all her apparitions...prayer and penance. I love how Mary and Bernadette prayed the rosary together in these visions. I love how Our Lady came to heal as well, allowing miracles to take place at the Grotto. I love the significance of the visions of 15 days...15 decades of the rosary. And above all the Virgin's saying to Bernadette, "I do not promise you happiness in this life, only in the next."

The visions at Lourdes give so much cause for hope...the care of Our Lady for poor sinners and those who are sick. Mary, in revealing herself as the "Immaculate Conception," shows her deep union with God being without sin. Her love for us extends magnanimously by her purity and grace. Our Lady of Lourdes calls us to higher virtue and sanctity, while at the same time, has compassion and pity on those who invoke her aid.

St Bernadette lived a hidden life from the world following these apparitions. Her humility is astounding and her joy and peace in the midst of suffering even more so. St Bernadette declined the miraculous springs of the Grotto, and united herself intimately with Christ on the Cross through intense sufferings of tuberculosis. 

I hope to have the privilege of going to Lourdes one day. The Virgin's title of Lourdes holds a special place in my heart. Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Sneak Peek!


So . . . when is this novel really coming out? I am VERY excited to share that Act of Hope is now complete! It is available for purchase on my blog here or on Amazon. I would love to hear your thoughts about the cover design, and check out a sneak peek of the first chapter!

Chapter One of Act of Hope (Copyrighted by Therese J. Roberts)


“I decided to send him a letter,” she said thoughtfully and looked out the window of their apartment. The traffic was backed up all along the highway in Los Angeles, California. The young woman noticed a little red car in the row near their building.
“What?” Ruth said to her cousin.
Penny Adams turned her head slowly repeating, “I’m going to send him a letter.”
“A letter,” Ruth mused. “No one writes letters anymore. You will be wasting your time.”
“Maybe not,” Penny murmured.
Ruth sighed.
“Don’t you like the sound of an old-fashioned fan letter? One you get in the mail?” Penny asked with a note of excitement in her tone.
Ruth finished pouring her coffee. “I do, certainly. Matt Snow is another story.”
Penny looked out the window again. The traffic had not moved. She stared at the same red car.
“I have to get to work now,” Ruth said as she prepared for her evening shift as hotel manager. She could conveniently walk to work.
“I hope you have a good night, Ruth,” Penny responded absentmindedly.
“And don’t even think about turning on that news again,” Ruth warned her. “It’s obviously doing you no good.”
Penny sighed as Ruth closed the door of their apartment. Penny, who never listened to her cousin, turned the television on once Ruth left the room. She flipped the channels until she found a broadcast that offered an update.
Addie Morn, the red-haired, petite woman who often reported Hollywood news, related, “Millions of fans all over the world were devastated at the news of the near death of Matt Snow. Policemen have the driver of the taxi in custody, who bowled through Snow’s limo this evening. The heartthrob actor had been heading to a multi-million dollar opportunity of starring in the final chapter of the saga that made his name famous, Cold News.”
An image of the series popped up on the screen. It was a familiar picture to Penny. “We have been waiting for hours on an update from the hospital after Snow was rushed into surgery, and now we have it. Watch this harrowing clip from Matt Snow’s manager, Ivan Clark.”
Penny leaned forward on the window seat as the voice of Mr. Clark pealed through in a gruff tone. He was tall, thin, and very polished. “There’s not much to say. We are afraid the unthinkable has happened. Snow may never act again.”
Penny’s eyes widened.
Addie Morn commented soberly, “Definitely a bold statement from Snow’s manager, if I ever heard one. The details of his injury have been kept secret, but we’re sure to find out. Everyone in Hollywood is asking the same question . . . is this the end for the great Matt Snow?”
Penny clicked off the television and leaned back on the pillow. “Matt Snow . . .” she whispered. Then she walked with determination to the desk in the corner and pulled out a sheet of stationery. It had roses along the edges. She scribbled the pen on a piece of scrap paper to get the ink to run down to the tip and then commenced writing her letter to the injured actor.

Dear Matt Snow,

My cousin says you will not appreciate an old-fashioned fan letter . . . but I want to prove her wrong. I know that your following is great and your messages so frequent that a simple note written on a piece of paper may seem meaningless, but what if it is not?
What does one write to their favorite actor at such a difficult time? I can say I’m sorry and feel your great loss, but those are simply words. No one can feel what you are feeling. No one can say they understand.
I saw on the news that your accident was very severe. You must be thinking a thousand thoughts right now of how life will be different. Don’t think, Matt. Just live each moment one at a time. You will get better. I know you will because I asked God to make you better. Don’t give up!

Signed your friend,

Penny held her writing instrument in mid-air. “Hmm . . .” she said meditatively. “How should I sign this?” Penny suddenly smiled to herself and finished her letter. She knew someone who worked at the hospital that was going there the next morning. Penny sealed the envelope and made her way to the entranceway of their apartment. Her neighbor down the hall received a knock at her door.


Early the next morning, a young priest in a long black cassock was standing outside an occupied hospital room, watching a motionless patient inside. He had given the famous actor the Last Rites the night before on his way into surgery. The emergency operation pieced him back together but there was no question—the legs were paralyzed—at least for the time being.
“Father Charles,” a short, middle-aged woman with curly blonde hair suddenly said.
There was no answer.
“Father?” she repeated.
The young priest with dark hair roused himself. “I’m sorry, Pat.” He turned and tried to focus on the nurse in front of him.
“You have done everything you can for him, Father,” Pat Covington said encouragingly.
The priest nodded.
“Have you had any sleep?”
Father Charles shook his head.
“Maybe it’s time you did.”
Father nodded again. “Thank you, Pat. Please let me know if there’s any change in him.” He walked away slowly.
Pat entered the room and closed the door behind her. She approached the bedside and checked the vitals of the unconscious patient. She read the previous nurse’s chart noting his stable condition post-surgery. The actor had been in and out of fits of pain with no obvious improvement in his legs.
Pat returned the chart beside the hospital bed and looked over the patient. He was scratched up badly and had a broken arm, ribs, and shoulder. His usual perfectly arranged dark hair was a complete mess. Pat administered more pain medicine through his IV, which brought no more than a slight movement from the patient.
After finishing up and writing notes on his chart, Pat left a hand written letter in a sealed envelope on the side table. Upon closing the door again, Pat nearly crashed into Ivan Clark, Snow’s manager. “Excuse me,” she said.
“You’re excused,” he returned rudely. “What’s going on in that room?” he demanded.
“Same as it was an hour ago and the hour before that,” Pat said, trying to be patient with the overly polished man before her.
“Well, what’s the doctor’s verdict about it?” Ivan raised his voice.
Pat said testily, “The doctor is down the hall,” and pointed in the opposite direction. She walked away with that statement.
Ivan Clark barely glanced in the room of the actor and flew down the hallway in the direction of the doctor. Upon finding him, Ivan presented the same question, “What’s your verdict?” he demanded with his arms crossed.
Dr. Morgan stiffened. “I said I would speak with you half an hour from now. I’m in the middle of taking care of another patient,” he said as he took a chart from one of the nurses at the station and began looking it over.
“A meeting in half an hour is not good enough. Our production team was supposed to be underway yesterday,” Ivan practically yelled.
The doctor seemed almost amused. “If you think that actor is going to get up and start filming in half an hour, you are kidding yourself. In fact, he may not get up at all.”
“So, that’s your verdict?”
Dr. Morgan looked away and lowered his voice. “I said I would speak with you in half an hour.” He suddenly turned back to the manager. “And you said there is no family?”
It was Ivan’s turn to look amused. “Matt Snow left his family twenty years ago at the age of fifteen to become an actor and never looked back. He doesn’t know or care where any of his family is now. Does that answer your question?”
Dr. Morgan shrugged. “It seems that this would be an important time to bring them back together. If Mr. Snow has no family, does he have any kind of religion or faith?”
“Snow’s god is fame and money,” Ivan said flatly, his eyes cold.
“That actor is going to need someone . . .”
“As far as I’m concerned, no one needs him any longer,” Ivan said.
The doctor shook his head in amazement as the manager walked away down the hall.
Ivan turned the corner and bumped into a hoard of reporters. “Back off you leeches!” He brushed past them and went into an empty waiting area. The phone started dialing as he held the receiver to his ear. “Get me Craig Evans,” he demanded.


The eyes of Matt Snow started flickering later that afternoon. The room around him felt like riding a merry-go-round. He moaned and waited to open his eyes again until the carousel slowed down. His eyes fell on a little boy sitting on a chair beside him. The actor swallowed and whispered hoarsely, “Do I know you?”
The eight-year-old boy smiled at the question directed to him by his favorite actor. “No, you don’t, Mr. Snow.”
Matt stared at the ceiling and whispered, “Where am I?”
“You almost died!” the boy said with eyes wide open. He was holding a small notebook and pen, waiting for the right moment to ask.
Matt’s eyes returned to the boy. “What’s your name, kid?”
“Billy,” he said softly to his hero. “I’m William Matthew Covington.”
Matt nodded as well as he could. “It’s nice to meet you . . . William Matthew Covington.”
“Did you pay attention when I said my middle name? Just like your first name!” Billy said, hardly containing his excitement.
Matt said, “I noticed.”
Billy glanced down at his notebook again and fingered the outside.
Matt turned his head slightly. “What have you got there, little guy?”
“Well . . .” Billy hesitated. “It’s a notebook . . . for my favorite actors to sign.”
“How many signatures do you have?” the man with dark hair wanted to know.
Billy looked into the deep brown eyes of the actor. “You will be my first,” he said simply.
Matt tried to hide a smile. He glanced down at his broken right arm that rested in a cast. He moved the fingers of his left hand. “Well, if you don’t mind a crooked signature?” He leaned toward the boy and then suddenly felt his handicap. The actor’s eyes grew large. “My legs!”
Billy looked worried. “Oh my gosh, are they . . . gone?”
Matt no longer noticed Billy. “My legs!” he cried out again.
“Oh no, something’s wrong,” Billy said. “I better push the special button.” The call button for the nurse started blinking and the boy’s mother came in a few seconds later.
“What’s going on?” Pat said quickly. Matt was breathing heavily. “Billy, wait for me outside the room,” she said to her son.
“But, Mom . . .”
“No but’s.”
Billy closed his notebook and walked to the door, exiting quietly.
“Mr. Snow, please calm down. You are not helping yourself.” She checked his vital signs.
“Calm down? Calm down? I can’t feel my legs! They won’t move!” His eyes were flashing.
Pat hesitated. “I know, Mr. Snow. You were in an accident. You are lucky to be alive.”
“Lucky? You call this lucky? I can’t get up!” Matt yelled in frustration.
Pat sighed. “Mr. Snow, with physical therapy you may easily regain the use of your legs. Please, calm down.”
Matt’s eyes moved restlessly around the room. He swallowed hard. “My life is over.”
“No, it’s not.”
“My . . . my manager . . . where is he?” Snow suddenly asked.
Pat looked away. “You’re going to be all right.”
“Where is Ivan Clark?” the actor demanded.
“I don’t think now is the time to discuss this. The doctor wants you to rest. You are still considered in critical condition.”
The reality of the situation started to dawn on the actor. “I’m alone then.”
Pat glanced over at the door where a young boy was peering through the glass, all his attention on his hero. “I wouldn’t say that.”
Matt followed her gaze. The boy’s face lit up at the recognition by the actor and he waved. Matt looked up at the ceiling again.
“You also have a letter beside you from a person who seems to care a lot about you,” Pat added.
“From two million fans to two single fans,” the actor murmured to himself.
“You are going to be all right,” Pat repeated, trying to reassure him.
Matt was still staring at the ceiling.
“Read the letter, Mr. Snow,” Pat said and left the hospital room.
Matt hesitated before picking up a single page with delicate script filling the space. He tried to focus on the words and read:

Dear Matt Snow,

My cousin says you will not appreciate an old-fashioned fan letter . . . but I want to prove her wrong. I know that your following is great and your messages frequent that a simple note written on a piece of paper may seem meaningless, but what if it is not?
What does one write to their favorite actor at such a difficult time? I can say I’m sorry and feel your great loss, but those are simply words. No one can feel what you are feeling. No one can say they understand.
I saw on the news that your accident was very severe. You must be thinking a thousand thoughts right now of how life will be different. Don’t think, Matt. Just live each moment one at a time. You will get better. I know you will because I asked God to make you better. Don’t give up!

Signed your friend, Hope

Matt fingered the page thoughtfully.

Enjoy readers!!!