Saturday, November 29, 2014

Free Shipping on Mother-Daughter Christmas Package!

We are offering FREE SHIPPING 

on a limited number of 
Mother-Daughter Christmas Packages 

The package?

For mom...a copy of Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage

For daughter...a copy of Erin's Ring (But we are sure mom will love reading this one, too!)

Order your $17.99 Mother-Daughter Package Here: 

(this offer is good for shipping to U.S. contiguous states only and one per address)
For Christmas delivery orders must be placed by December 12, 2014.
picture: ID 35001761 © Roman Dekan |

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Irish-Catholic Women Who Quietly Made A Difference

I come from a long line of strong women.

Women who overcame difficult odds and overwhelming heartache. Women who will never be known to anyone other than those in their immediate family.

The older I get, the more I think about these incredible women. I wonder if I am made of the same stock and marvel at the way they lived their lives. Faced with the difficulties they had faced, how would I have fared?

Every woman I know is able to say the same thing: Strong women are part of their history.

In that way, we all share a common thread.

I remember when the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding came out and the clever promotion that replaced the word “Greek” with “Polish” and “Italian” and any number of different heritages. It is because that thread runs through all of us. We can all relate to some of the same things when we take the time to look into our history.

That’s what Laura Pearl has given us in Erin’s RingErin’s Ring is the wonderful new book that explores the Irish-Catholic heritage in America—but we don’t have to be Irish to love, enjoy and relate to the story of perseverance and faith.

Pearl’s nod to the strong Irish women who worked in the mills of Dover, New Hampshire is a nod to all women who have overcome the most difficult of circumstances: those in my family and in yours.

The way Pearl has woven the story of these immigrant women into the modern day story of 12 year old Molly and Theresa is quite extraordinary and will speak to the 12 year old in each of us! Erin’sRing is a wonderfully warm, endearing read that will capture the hearts of many and has already captured the hearts of such popular writers as Nancy Carabio Belanger who says of Erin’s Ring, “This wholesome novel had me shed tears of sadness and joy, and these brave young Irish-Catholic women from different generations drew me in. Lovingly and tenderly written, Erin's Ring is a story of true friendship, sacrificial love, and above all, the God Who is never bound by time or space.”

Erin’s Ring is now available and really is the perfect read for the snowy winter days ahead!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

#1 New Release in Recovery by Adult Children of Alcoholics

Little Girl Lost, Little Girl Found is a fictional account of a woman’s journey of recovery and is the #1 New Release in Recovery by Adult Children of Alcoholics on Amazon.

Written by Helen A. Scieszka, Ph.D., affectionately known as "Dr. Helen," Little GirlLost, Little Girl Found is the first book in a trilogy which gently and lovingly approaches the journey of self-discovery and healing. Dr. Helen has degrees in Clinical Psychology and a special master’s level certification in Theology. Once retiring from her careers as an advertising executive, therapist, college professor, parish Pastoral Associate and diocesan Married and Family life director she was finally able to focus on her lifetime love of writing with the focus on using fiction as a tool for healing.

Little Girl Lost,Little Girl Found is highly recommended reading for all adults looking for inspirational fiction and is particularly valuable to adults seeking to heal wounds of the past and embrace the future. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Don't Let This Upcoming Advent Slip By!

Did you ever notice that the Advent season seems to come and go in the blink of an eye? All of a sudden you find yourself at Christmas Mass wondering how your time to prepare for Christ so easily slipped through your fingers.

Darn! You had promised yourself that this Advent would be different. You wouldn’t be caught by surprise, yet again! You bought Advent prayer books and an Advent wreath kit. You had great intentions to make this Advent season very different from last.

However, that doesn’t have to be the case. You can make the conscious choice—right here, right now—to stop in your busy tracks and embrace the coming season of Advent; and its purpose.

Advent is a season of preparing.

If you have ever entertained guests, or even made the slightest effort to get ready for any company, you will see how those experiences lend themselves well to your own groundwork this Advent to invite Christ to dwell within your heart—and thus truly be ready for His second coming.

1.      Prepare room at the Inn: Your heart is where Christ wishes to dwell and Advent is the perfect time to make room in it for His presence. If your heart is filled with unforgiveness, it has no room for Christ. Begin Advent by an Examination of Conscience wherein you ask your Heavenly Father to reveal to you any unforgiveness that exists in your heart. Remember that as God has forgiven you, you are also asked to forgive others.
2.      Clean out the cobwebs: After an Examination of Conscience where you ask God to reveal any unforgiveness that you are holding, it is important to clean out the vestiges of cobwebs that may still be lurking in the dark corners of your heart. This means that you should make a point of getting to Confession during Advent. Mark your calendar now! See it as one of the most important things you will do this Advent. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an important part of preparing your heart for Jesus; this is because the priest acts in the person of Christ in helping you identify the cobwebs that you may not be seeing on your own—typically those ones that have been hanging on for so long they no longer get your attention.
3.      Hang new curtains: The room of your heart is now ready: unforgiveness and cobwebs have been cleared out. Now it is time to hang new curtains! Many of us fall into a rut in our daily lives and forget how to live in joy. You are preparing for Christ’s indwelling and He abides best in those who have joy in their hearts. So throw out the old curtains of fear and despair and exhaustion and hang new curtains of hope and joy and anticipation.
4.      Get out the fine china and set the table: Company is on its way! We aren’t doubtfully thinking that maybe He’s going to drop by and thus making only superficial efforts to get ready. We are certain in our belief of His arrival and every cell in our body joyfully shouts, “He’s on His way!” This is the time we get the fine china out of the cupboard—our attitude is one of enthusiastic expectation. Our hearts pound in anticipation of His presence. Our fine china goes so well with our new curtains!
5.      Open the front door: Whenever we have company in our home, after all the preparation is complete, we open our front door and wait expectantly on our couch. We can see through the glass screen door as our company approaches. It is a time of quiet for us—all the work is finished and we are ready. So in preparing our hearts for Christ this Advent, the last step after all the prep work is to simply “be.” In this state of “be-ing” we don’t question how time slipped through our fingers; we don’t worry if there was more we should have done. We’ve been good and faithful servants and are ready for Christ.

May your heart be made ready for Christ and may your upcoming Advent season be a blessed one!

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Great Sconce Standoff of 2014

The sconces that hung above the fireplace were a bit medieval-looking. Sort of blackened silver and with ornate, swirly designs on the plating that was attached to the wall, they really needed to go. I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking when I bought them but since my husband wasn’t keen on them from the beginning—and I was the one who insisted they were “perfect”—well, I had to live with them.

Preparing for the painting of the living room was, finally, the perfect time for them to be replaced and for me to keep my deep dark secret about the mistake of purchasing them in the first place.


So while we moved furniture out of the way and into the center of the room to get covered in drop cloths, my husband also removed the sconces from the wall. He was happy to get rid of them—but probably not as happy as was I! Now, instead of ugly sconces, the living room had, as its focal point, two 5” round holes with a bit of insulation sticking out and some wires that had little plastic caps on the end.

I quickly went about locating replacement sconces—now more discerning about my choice and understanding of the impact they would have in the room. After a few days I found (once again) the “perfect” sconces. (But these ones really were with their pretty white shades and a few carefully-placed dangling crystals.) I sent the link to my hubby with the subject line “please order asap.” After all, the room was just days away from being finished and I wanted to have the sconces at the ready for installation.

Every day I gently asked, “Did you order the sconces?”

“No. Not yet. Remind me tomorrow,” would be hubby’s beleaguered response.

This went on for weeks—and weeks. The room was painted and the furniture back in order. The holidays were fast approaching and still I had no sconces. The gaping holes in the walls mocked me with every passing day. I’m pretty sure they became larger as time wore on—for sure the faceless holes became more irritating. But I wasn’t going to give in. The Great Sconce Standoff of 2014 was underway and I was up to the challenge.

(I would have ordered them myself but I’ve found over the years that when I order items from the Internet, my husband doesn’t appreciate the little torn piece of paper with the date and amount I’ve handwritten as my idea of a receipt so I’m okay with him being in charge of Internet ordering—and now it was just a matter of principle: who would win the Great Sconce Standoff of 2014?)

Each inquiry from me about the sconces became quieter, more subdued, more “I don’t care if you don’t care.”

Here’s the problem with that tactic: I actually cared and he really, truly didn’t!

A month into the Great Sconce Standoff of 2014 I had a serious dilemma. Two increasingly large black holes were overtaking my living room and I had to somehow get my husband to order sconces. There was no wiggle room in the war that waged between us in that I’m positive that he didn’t even notice the holes while I was becoming fixated on them—obsessed even.

How to get out of the standoff, save face, and get sconces became my daily goal.

I tried this maneuver: I said to him, incredibly nonchalantly, “You can go ahead and put the old sconces back up.” I thought this artful twist would push him to order the scones.

Imagine my horror when he said, “Okay.”

OKAY?! Now I knew that I was in trouble.

Not only was I going to lose the Great Sconce Standoff but I was going to be subjected to the reminder everyday as I looked at the medieval sconces that were going back up. I had to think quickly! I had to recover without him knowing that he almost won!

“Although I don’t want to do that to you. I know you don’t like them,” was my clever comeback.

Three decades of marriage has taught my husband well so his response, while pleasing, was frustrating as hell, “I know you like them so they will be fine with me.”


Now it was likely going to turn into a new standoff: who was going to be the better, selfless spouse!

Was this ever going to end? I wondered.

Then it hit me. “I know you are busy. Let me order them because I think with the newly painted room, new sconces will be much better. I know you are busy so I don’t mind ordering them.”

That did it. The idea of getting a receipt that was just a scrap piece of paper with the date and amount handwritten on it was more than he could take. I found his weak spot and am unashamed that I used it! That day he ordered the scones and a few days later they arrived.

I’m not proud of what I’ve done, but it was necessary. Someone had to lose the Great Sconce Standoff of 2014—and it wasn’t going to be me…

Friday, November 7, 2014

Beat Stress Before it Beats You!

The Christmas season—which ought to be one of peace and good cheer—is often everything other than tranquility and happiness. For many people (women especially), family events, shopping, and fractured relationships bring stress and steal the joy of Christmas.

Before the stress sets in, consider these few tips to take into the Christmas season so that this year it will truly be a season of harmony, peace and pleasure.

1.     Remember that Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of Christ; see others through His eyes. If you are in the process of forgiving someone, don’t feel you’ve failed if this Christmas you aren’t jumping up and down with joy to see that person. Forgiveness is a process. Take it one step at a time—and be okay with that.

2.     The physiological aspect of stress can be countered by breathing. That’s right—breathe this Christmas season! Breathe deep. Studies show that when we are stressed we don’t breathe deeply and thus only increase the way our bodies are succumbing to stress. Become conscious of your breathing during the Christmas season and make sure to take time to breathe deep and relax.

3.     Drink plenty of water. Water is a great part of staying physically healthy—which is a great way to combat stress. Water washes your body of toxins and keeps your “parts” in good order. Green tea is also a good choice. The point is: make sure that you are staying hydrated as this will help keep you feeling physically well.

4.     Invite the Holy Spirit into your life. Don’t pick up the phone or get in the car without asking the Holy Spirit to be part of whatever it is you are doing. Heading over to your in-law’s or company party? Breathe deep and ask the Holy Spirit to be part of the experience with you. This will allow you to rest in the spirit and see everyone through Christ’s eyes and speak words of love. Inviting the Holy Spirit into whatever you happen to be doing will also help you hear the words of others with kindness and charity. That friend who always seems to throw verbal zingers your way will be heard differently when you listen with the Holy Spirit in you.

5.     Finally, keep Christmas simple. The biggest gift has already been purchased: Your Salvation through Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. Use this Christmas season as a time for personal relationships—more reflective of the one you have with Christ or are developing with Christ. The Christmas presents you give shouldn’t be bought in a frenzy or in haste. Let them become more special, more personal and more fun this year.

Christmas is about the birth of Christ.

It is a time of peace and goodwill. It is a time of simplicity.

All the Black Friday deals in the world cannot beat the deal of a Savior being born. So as the stores ramp up their promotions and the hype increases everywhere that you are connected, take a step back, breathe deep, and rejoice in the birth of Christ in a purposeful, peaceful way.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What Angels Are...And Are Not

There isn’t anyone among us who hasn’t enjoyed a Christmas movie wherein an angel earns his or her wings. We love to hear the bell jingle because at that moment we know that heaven’s angel population has increased by one.


As much as those movies endear themselves to us, the fact is, the angel population neither increases nor decreases over time. But it does make those of us interested in angels sit up and take notice—and want to learn more about these heavenly creatures.

What are they?

Who are they?

Why are they?

Angels are spirits created by God (Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:14).

They are the invisible created things that have a hierarchy. These invisible created things are spirits meant to serve those who are to inherit salvation—fallen man who now freely chooses Christ. This establishes our relationship with angels in that they are to help us in ways that we may not fully know or understand; however, we shouldn’t be trying to discover how to boss them around or manipulate them! They are meant to help us usher our souls into an eternity with God.

As the lowest of the three groups of celestial beings, angels have taken on the appearance of human males to act as an interface between God and man but are never to be worshipped (Romans 1:24-25). In Genesis 32, Jacob clearly sees angels and recognizes them as such. On the other hand, in Tobit, Archangel Raphael was sent as a healer and was not recognized. It may be for this reason that Scripture reminds us in Hebrews 13:2 to always be kind and charitable to strangers for we never know when we will be entertaining angels.

Angels do not reproduce and are countless in number (Hebrews 12:22). Angels have what many feel is a confusing relationship to man in that man is made a bit lower than angels and yet man will attain a higher status than angels at the fullness of God’s kingdom (Luke 20:26).

Psalm 91:11 is where we find that God “commands the angels to guard you in all your ways.” Yet this should not translate into assuming we have a “get out of jail free card” wherein we foolishly live our lives on the edge; rather it is to remind us of the great call we have upon our lives as sons and daughters of the King. Isaiah 26:3 indicates that God’s angels are needed as much for the spiritual warfare that is taking place around us as they are needed in our earthly circumstances.

Angels, those Chariots of God (Psalm 68:17), will be part of the end-times. Their countless number will be made known (Revelation 5:11) and their joyful praises of God will gladden our hearts; our suffering will make sense as Jesus will reveal himself with his mighty angels and administer just judgment on behalf of the heavenly Father. What is invisible will be made visible and there will undoubtedly be a collective “Aha!” moment for us all!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Preparing Kids to Vote

The following copyrighted excerpt is reprinted with permission from All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man that Matters written for Catholic boys aged 9-14:

"Along with patriotism, there is citizenship. You are a citizen of a country. This is what makes you American, Mexican, or French for example. There are a lot of rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship in a country. In many instances, people have died to help obtain the rights and freedoms everyone enjoys.

"This is why gratitude to those who are in your history—and obviously knowing about them—is important. Just like there are Catholics who have gone before you in your faith history, so there are county-men who have gone before you in your nation’s history.

"However, first and foremost your citizenship is in Heaven. You have a place there because you were baptized. This is your calling—your destiny. Granted, you're not there yet. You have some work to do in order to get there. It began with your baptism and continues each day that you do your best to live for Jesus. Always remember that you have to know, love and serve God before you can become a citizen of Heaven for good! But you can do it if you persevere in this life on earth. 

"Think about it: in order to be a good citizen here on earth you have responsibilities. As you grow up and become a man, it's important that you learn about your country and what goes on in it. That’ll be part history and part current events. You need to know what happened before—so mistakes don’t have to be made over and over again—and what’s happening now."