Tag Archives: books

Five Favorites (vol. 11)

1 Jul

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It’s time for another Five Favorites with Hallie!

I mentioned a couple weeks ago, that I was in the middle of reading Matthew Kelly’s The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. I have now finished it, and there were a handful of quotes that really stood out to me, although most of the book is highlight-worthy! So, here are five of my favorite passages from this book!

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I just love all of these quotes – so inspirational and so true!

Have you read The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic yet? What inspired you?

Interview with an Everyday Catholic: Theresa Thomas {June’s Dreamer in the Spotlight}

28 Jun

Theresa Thomas
Source: The Integrated Catholic Life

I am so honored to be featuring Wife/Mother/Home-schooler/Writer Theresa Thomas, as this month’s Dreamer in the Spotlight! She is the co-author of the recently released book, BIG HEARTED: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and blogs at Theresa Thomas~Everyday Catholic. She also writes articles for The Integrated Catholic Life and Today’s Catholic.

A funny thing that I have to share is that while preparing to do this interview, I discovered that Theresa’s family and my family actually went to the same small parish at the same time until I moved to Tennessee. When I saw her beautiful family photo on her blog some members looked familiar, but I didn’t make the connection until I discovered that she lives in South Bend, Indiana. It’s a small world for sure! I often marveled at how well- behaved all her children were during Mass!

Anyway, without postponing this inspirational interview any longer, here it is! As you’ll see, it’s packed with great wisdom and touching moments!

How do you balance writing, homeschooling, and caring for a large family?

Well, it’s like golfing. You aim toward the pin (set your goals) then you hit the ball where it lies (roll with the punches). If you think too much you’ll ruin your swing (rhythm, routine). You have to find your own personal feel, react decisively on instinct and be natural. Yes, I’m married to a golfer. 🙂

Seriously, balancing these things can be like a tightrope walk, but the best way I’ve found to approach it is with love and humor. Things go wrong sometimes- that’s just life. Also, I’m going to make mistakes- we all make mistakes- but just diving in, trying hard with focus, keeping a smile on my face and love in my heart (even when the rice spills all over the floor or I can’t find my car keys or someone loses her spelling book, or one of the girls informs me that her toe poked through her ballet slipper and her instructor said she has to have new ones by next class in one hour) is my best advice and the way I balance!

I try always to put family first. I made a vow to my husband and to God. So everything –and I mean everything- comes after my responsibility to them. That being said, taking care of myself is part of that- it’s important because I’m no good unless I’m well nourished and rested. Moms can only give what they have, so I try to take the time to eat well, exercise, pray and get enough sleep. I do that for all of us. 🙂 I wrote about this all here.

Raising a large family is a challenging endeavor. Children need attention in a myriad of ways. Meals have to be made. The house has to be cleaned. My first responsibility is my vocation of wife and mother, and homeschooling is part of that vocation, a chosen part of that vocation so it is integrated into our daily life.

Photo by Scott Leonard of Valentino's Photographics (Granger, IN)

Photo by Scott Leonard of Valentino’s Photographics (Granger, IN)

Writing mostly comes early in the morning or late at night, when everyone is in bed. I have a column due each month for Today’s Catholic and I try be organized and write ahead, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say sometimes I’ll have a noon Friday deadline and it’s 11:25 and I’m still punching out at the computer! That’s just life! Because of the topics of my writing, I’m often invited to speak on various radio programs. Twice I’ve forgotten a scheduled interview and had to wing it. Once was at 6:50 a.m. and I was actually still in bed when the phone rang. I jumped up and seeing the caller ID was the radio station, I cleared my throat about six times before I answered. I scrambled around while it was a commercial and I was able to quickly make some coffee while the producer was putting me on hold for the host. Once we got talking the interview actually went fine but boy, was my adrenaline pumping at first! So, am I balanced? Sort of. Most things get done, although not always perfectly! And thank goodness for radio where you can do interviews in your pajamas. 🙂

In regards to homeschooling—

David and I determined after much research, prayer and discernment 18 years ago that God was leading our family to homeschool (until high school), and it takes 100% of our time. Homeschooling is a way of life. It’s a way we parent. It’s just part of the rhythm of our days, and one way we try to say ‘I love you’ to our children. Homeschooling isn’t for everybody, but it is for us, and I believe that somehow it is an important part of my children’s formation for their eventual mission in the world.

God gives different families different charisms, different gifts, and as parents we are to discover God’s will not just for us and our children individually, but also for our individual families. I believe that homeschooling is part of what God is calling our family to do. Other families have other callings. This is ours.

I struggle just the same as everyone else with balancing work and play in a large family. My house is not always in order, and worries and concerns pop up here just like everywhere else. Sometimes, like any other mother I slump down in a chair and look up to heaven and ask, “Really, God?” One day, in the midst of a particularly trying day, I sat down at the kitchen table and started laughing hysterically- nothing more could have gone wrong that day and it was the only thing left to do. One of the girls walked in and I’m sure was like, “Mom has lost it.” No, that’s how I find it- peace that is. You have to be able to laugh. Life is ironic and funny and challenging, sad and sorrowful and a million other things. There’s time for seriousness for sure, but knowing when to laugh keeps levity and right perspective.

Being a mother is like being a baby who is learning to walk- you try, you fall, you get up and try again. It’s the only way, really. You just keep moving forward with joy and hope. Then one day you’ll be standing there and look back and say, “Hey, I did that!”

How would you define what it means to be big-hearted, especially in the context of family life?

Being big hearted is a way of thinking and acting. It is putting others first. We have a few little favorite catchphrases in our family. One is “it is a privilege to serve.” Ten and twelve-year-old big sisters know this when their little sister asks for a drink of water. Big brothers know this when a younger sibling asks if they’ll play catch. My older sons who have graduated from college and are out of the house are great. They will phone or text their younger siblings to find out what is happening in their lives and give advice and encouragement. Being big hearted is looking out for others ahead of yourself, and that starts first with siblings and family, and extends out to the rest of the world.

Being ‘big hearted’ doesn’t necessarily mean having a big family- it can mean that of course, but families are big hearted when they welcome a child with a disability, adopt, open their home to grandparents, or in a thousand other ways serve others. Being big hearted can be doing small things in the home with great love. Big-hearted families are easy to spot. They are not perfect. They simply try to love radically. Inevitably, these families are marked by joy. Their hearts are open. We can all be big-hearted.

You shared some great personal stories of your own family in BIG HEARTED. Could you share another special big-hearted moment that wasn’t in the book?

Well, I don’t frequently share that I battled cancer eight years ago, but I did. I was personally challenged to big-heartedness in April of 2005. I had to accept the cross that was offered to me. On April 5, 2005 I gave birth to my ninth baby. Within two weeks, my 20-year-old youngest brother was killed in a car accident, and the day of his rosary at the funeral home I went in for a biopsy. Two days later I was diagnosed with cancer- Hodgkins lymphoma to be exact. The story of part of my struggle was published here.

Through this experience I was challenged to be true to my Catholic faith and reject artificial birth control. It wasn’t easy.

On a lighter note, one personal family big-hearted moment occurred recently when my husband and I were sitting in the family room after dinner together. Our two youngest daughters surprised us by calling us in the basement to visit their ‘restaurant’. Of course we dropped what we were doing and went downstairs. Children need the gift of our time and when we gave it to them that night, we were really the ones who were blessed. The whole story of that is here.

Being big hearted is not just doing amazing things outside your own family, but by doing little things with great love inside the family too. Parents can be big-hearted daily simply by giving their children their time and attention. They will find that that type of big-heartedness reaps big rewards.

Do you have a favorite book, quote, song, or movie that motivates and inspires you?

Yes!

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Source: Wikipedia

It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my all time favorite movies. What a gift to be able to know what your sacrifices and love have done for others! I think some day in heaven we will all look back and see the ripple effect we had on others’ lives, both good and bad. This movie is great on so many levels- it has a hardworking, feminine, beautiful loving mother (Mary), a selfless, honorable, full-of-hope-and-dreams father (George). It’s a story of integrity, hope, love and meaning. It captures so much about what life is all about. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is truly a big screen big-hearted story!

I have several favorite quotes:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” (Mother Teresa)

“Do small things with great love.” (I think this has been attributed to several sources including St. Therese and Mother Teresa)

And this, which I’ve had taped on my wall for many many years.

“Let nothing disturb thee. Let nothing dismay thee. All things pass; God never changes. Patience attains all that it strives for. He who has God finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.” -St. Teresa of Avila

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Thank you, Theresa, for sharing so much of yourself with us today!

For more about BIG HEARTED, please read Theresa’s interview with Randy Hain.

Have a blessed weekend, everyone!

Five Favorites (vol. 10)

18 Jun

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Happy to be back for another week of Five Favorites with Hallie!

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MAKE UP FOR EVER 5 Camouflage Cream Palette

MAKE UP FOR EVER - 5 Camouflage Cream Palette

I usually don’t spend a lot of money on makeup, but one of my must-have items is this concealer pallete. I bought it nearly a year ago and will still be able to get several more months of use out of it! I love how all of the colors are in one compact – salmon to neutralize under eye circles, green for red areas and blemishes, and skin tone shades. There are some great YouTube tutorials out there and those videos are actually what convinced me to invest in this product. I’m glad I did!

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PB&J Smoothie

Recipe: PB&J Smoothie - 100 Days of Real Food

This recipe is delish! It sounds kind of weird at first, but it is one of the best smoothies that I’ve had! My husband thought it was a little too peanut butter-y for his taste, but I had no problem with it! My girls loved it, too! I even snuck some spinach in there and it still tasted amazing!

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Clearblue Fertility Monitor

I’ve been doing Natural Family Planning now for about eight years. Two years ago, after my second daughter was born, I decided to invest in the Clearblue Fertility Monitor as an extra measure to make sure I was reading my signs of fertility and infertility correctly. I am pretty aware of my bodily symptoms, but sometimes I’d forget to take my temperature at a certain time or whatever and my chart would be a little incomplete. I love that there is a three-hour window each morning to, er, tinkle on a stick so it can check hormone levels. I’m sure several women reading the post are familiar with this, but for more information on how to use this product for NFP, check out the Marquette Model.

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The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic

The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic

I’m currently reading this book by Matthew Kelly, one of my favorite authors/speakers! I love what he is doing with The Dynamic Catholic Institute! Anyway, I’m about halfway through the book and there are so many great passages worth highlighting, as is common with many of his books! I really love what he has to say about prayer. I’ve been reading/listening to some great stuff on prayer lately and plan to do a post in the near future about this essential element of pursuing God’s will!

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Speaking of prayer, here is a great visual metaphor…

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Have a great week!

Finding Hope Amidst Tragedy {7 Quick Takes (#10)}

19 Apr

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 213)

My prayers are with Jennifer and her family as they welcome home their baby boy, finally! Thanks for hosting this week, Grace!

This week’s 7QT’s post is probably the most depressing one that I have done!  There is so much evil and sadness going on in the world, but we must remember that God reigns and love conquers all!

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Did you participate or notice the two #Gosnell Tweetfests that took place in the past week?  It was definitely a great way to spread truth and get the mainstream media’s attention.  Too bad this trial and the ‘house of horrors’ is still not getting as much attention it deserves.  Yes, Kermit Gosnell is a very sick man, but the reality is:

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This leads me to a related topic of the racist roots of Planned Parenthood.  According to BlackGenocide.org, “78% of their clinics are in minority communities.” 

A few months ago, my husband and I watched a 2009 pro-life documentary on this issue, Maafa 21.  It’s sad that so many people are ignorant about all of this or don’t care, especially the Black community.

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Speaking of documentaries, there is another one that is definitely worth watching that talks about a massive problem in our society right now.

  Absent, by Justin Hunt, discusses the impact that uninvolved fathers have on their children. It features John Eldredge, Father Richard Rohr, Metallica frontman James Hetfield, and others. This movie has definitely added to Adam’s passion for promoting the importance of fathers.  I believe that it is available on Netflix.

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 Of course, I can’t neglect the tragedies that have occured in Boston, MA and West, TX this week.  Things like this can be difficult to understand.  I’m reminded of a short book that I heard about last year on EWTN’s Women of Grace, titled Why Me? When Bad Things Happen, by Mike Aquilina. 

I haven’t read it yet, but saw an interview with the author discussing the book.  It may be helpful for some people.

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Alright, 1-4 were pretty intense, so here’s a bible verse about hope:

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

-John 14:16-18

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And here’s another one…

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

-James 1:2-4

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 Changing gears a little bit… I am excited to feature a talented singer/songwriter next week, who is bringing hope to others with her music!  She is getting lots of airplay in London right now and you may have heard one of her songs played on Fox News a few times. Be sure to read April’s Dreamer in the Spotlight post next Friday to learn more about this artist and her music! 

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Have a blessed weekend!  Be sure to check out the other 7 Quick Takes posts, as well!

Five Favorites (vol. 2)

13 Mar

I’m excited to participate in the Five Favorites link-up again this week with Hallie at MoxieWife! If you haven’t joined in the fun yet, you should! It’s so much fun to read everyone’s favorites and discover new things and common interests!

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My brand-new CND Shellac kit!

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I’m definitely considering this my splurge purchase of 2013! I sold some of my Silpada jewelry from when I was an independent representative, so I could invest in this kit to do my own Shellac nails at home! Even though it is pretty expensive (at least I scored it at the lowest price I had ever seen two weeks ago), I know it will last awhile and it is sooo worth it to not worry about chipped nails for 2 weeks straight!  When I did this for the first time the other night, it was weird to not have to wait for my nails to dry!  LOVE IT!

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My Life with the Saints

I’m almost finished with this insightful book by Fr. James Martin. It has been very interesting to read how specific saints have had an effect on his life and vocation as a priest! It has motivated me to read more biographies on the saints.

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My little pomeranian’s latest pet bed!

This entire dog bed is machine washable! What’s not to love?!

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Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara II

First of all, I love Allrecipes.com! I recently made this Spaghetti Carbonara dish for the first time and it was delicious and easy! AND both of my girls ate it up mixed with some peas!

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90-Day Bible Reading Challenge

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I’ve always struggled with consistently spending time in scripture. I was happy when I found out about the 90-Day Bible Reading Challenge put together by Sarah Christmyer to celeberate The Year of Faith in the Catholic Church. This daily e-newsletter started in January, but all of the posts are available in the archives on the website. I may not get to each reading every day, but I manage to catch up and hang with the timeline for the most part. After this, I hope to consistently keep up with daily readings on the Laudate app.

Eric Metaxas Stops in Nashville on Bonhoeffer Tour

8 Mar

In January, I posted about five life-changing books I read in 2012. One of those, was Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. If you have not read it yet, I highly recommend it! It is a vital read for this day and time! I am a HUGE Dietrich Bonhoeffer fan now and a few of his published books are on my ever-growing to-read list!

I’m also an Eric Metaxas fan, as well! I recently read his short book, No Pressure, Mr. President! The Power of Belief in a Time of Crisis, about his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast last year and I just downloaded the Kindle edition of another book he wrote, Amazing Grace, which is only $2.99 on Amazon for the month of March!

Courtesy of ericmetaxas.com

Eric Metaxas / Courtesy of ericmetaxas.com

This past Tuesday, I was fortunate to be able to attend the Bonhoeffer Tour: An Evening with Eric Metaxas New York Times #1 Best Selling Author sold-out engagement in Nashville!  I loved how Doug Hudson, who introduced Metaxas, set the tone for the event in his brief speech.  Hudson commented that the night was not to celebrate Bonhoeffer or Metaxas, but “to celebrate Jesus Christ who is the root of our courage.” Can I get an “Amen”?!  It was such a blessing to be able to attend a talk that focused on two men striving to do God’s will so that others may know the love and grace of Jesus!

Having read two of Metaxas’ books already, I had a lot of background information prior to this event.  The Q & A session at the end was a great opportunity to hear Metaxas expand on certain issues and concerns.  One of the biggest, is the fact that there are so many parallels between the state of America today and that of early Nazi Germany.

Metaxas discussed that Hitler and the Nazis started out by “resricting religious liberty,” which was enabled because the church didn’t “seem to be willing to fight.” Metaxas went on to acknowledge later, “Religious liberty is genuinely being threatened right now.”  Of course, this is clear based on the pending  implementation of the HHS mandate and attacks on the vocation of marriage.  Metaxas also made this point:

If you don’t stand up early, it’s a lot harder to speak up later on.

Due to being in the blogging world, I have had the opportunity to read so many great posts by other Catholics.  I am very encouraged that there are so many Christians in this country who are standing up and writing about truth and striving to do God’s will!  If you are one of these amazing evangelists, please continue your good work!  Let us imitate Bonhoeffer’s saintly example by praying and acting!  Metaxas stated that Bonhoeffer believed that “prayer must lead to action.”  He truly lived his life based on this truth.  Metaxas also commented, “God calls us to live fully in this world” and “God blesses us to be a blessing.”  Amazing words!  Thank you for your work and example, Mr. Metaxas!  To learn more about Eric Metaxas, check out his conversion story!

May we have the courage to stand up for the right to live our faith, so that we may encourage others to do the same!

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***GIVEAWAY: WIN THIS NEW ADVANCE READER’S COPY of SEVEN MEN: AND THE SECRET OF THEIR GREATNESS!***

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TO ENTER, JUST COMMENT ON THIS POST OR RETWEET/SHARE MY LINK TO THIS POST ON TWITTER (@a_dreamers_wife)!  IF YOU DO BOTH, YOUR NAME WILL BE ENTERED IN THE DRAWING TWICE!  ONE WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN AT RANDOM.  THIS SWEEPSTAKES ENDS 8:00 PM EST MARCH 15, 2013.  WINNER WILL BE NOTIFIED VIA THIS POST, EMAIL, AND/OR TWITTER.  GOOD LUCK!

Top Life-Changing Reads of 2012

18 Jan

Books

Image courtesy of The Photoholic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you looking for something insightful and life-changing to read this year?  If you’re like me, you probably already have quite a list but I highly recommend the following five books that I read last year!  (And when I say life-changing, I’m not exaggerating!)

1. Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis

After reading Kisses from Katie, my passion and trust grew to another level.  We all have a special role to play while on earth and what we are capable of doing with God’s grace is amazing!  This book will make you view the world and yourself differently – guaranteed!

2. What Happens When Women Say Yes to God: Experiencing Life in Extraordinary Ways by Lysa TerKeurst

Lysa reminds readers that throughout each day there are several opportunities to “say yes to God”.  This book helped me to see that there are so many times that I dismiss promptings from the Holy Spirit or come up with excuses why I shouldn’t do something.  We never know how our interactions with others can bring them closer to God and strengthen our own relationship.

3. The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose by Matthew Kelly

I read this book for the first time a couple years ago, but I listened to the audio version again and there are so many truths and great nuggets in this book!  If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know that I love me some Matthew Kelly!  No matter what stage of life that we are in, nothing is impossible with God!  He wants what is best for us!  This is a great motivational book!

4. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

Do you want a role-model who stands up for others and really lives their faith?  This biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer will energize you and make you examine how far you would go to do God’s will.  Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor and anti-Nazi activist who was executed just a few weeks before Hitler committed suicide.  Bonhoeffer is truly inspiring and more people are needed like him now in America!  This book is long, but worth the read!

5. Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into your Comfortable Life by Jeff Goins

When I randomly stumbled upon this book three times in one day online, I figured God was trying to tell me to read it, so I did!  Wrecked is another great book that gets readers to let go of personal dreams and follow God’s will.  I don’t think these things are necessarily mutually exclusive, but responding to God’s call will always require courage and sacrifice and it may not line up with our idyllic vision.  His plan is always better than ours, though!

If you have read any of the above books, how did they challenge you?  Any other books that you would recommend?  If you read any of these books in the future, please come back and let me know what you think!

7 Quick Takes (#3)

12 Oct

Below is a list of highlights from the past few weeks and some other fun stuff to come…

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The latest thing that I’m really excited about is learning more about website design! I signed up for the very first month of courses offered by Ro Little of Mommy Blog Designs! The courses include Photoshop, HTML/CSS, and WordPress, and I have learned a lot so far! (She also offers courses on Blogger and other topics). I have been experiencing some frustration, though, because one of our computers refuses to download the trial version of Adobe Photoshop (or any comparable free photo editing software) and the other does not have enough free space for me to do anything productive! I have spent all week trying to fix our desktop but it looks like we are close to having to wipe the whole thing clean and start over if I ever want to be able to download anything from the internet ever again! Anyway, my husband bought another hard drive and removed tons of files from the laptop, so now I can get back to some hands-on learning… hopefully!

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Another thing that I’m excited about is the fall wreath that I made (and hung on the door with an hour left to spare on the first day of autumn)! I ran across instructions for this DIY fall wreath on Blissfully Domestic. It was pretty simple to make, but did seem to take a lot of leaves. I think I used about 8 stems worth of leaves for an 18-inch wire wreath. Good thing they were half off at Michaels!

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The biggest news for Catholics this week is the start of the Year of Faith. I know a lot of bloggers have been spreading the word about this newsletter from Flocknote, but if you haven’t done so yet, be sure to sign-up to get daily emails so you can Read the Catechism in a Year! It’s encouraging to know that so many others are reading the same thing at the same time!

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In addition to making it through the Catechism and trying to keep up with reading Scripture daily, I have several books that I plan to read in the next year. I’m sure I will add others to this list, but here are some that I can’t wait to get started:

  • Style, Sex, & Substance by Hallie Lord
  • Surrender! by Fr. Larry Richards
  • Finding God’s Will for You by St. Francis de Sales
  • Choosing Joy by Dan Lord
  • Extreme Makeover by Teresa Tomeo

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I heard about a great prayer from somebody on Twitter this week and thought I’d share it here on A Dreamer’s Wife. Check out Praying for My Husband from Head to Toe available from Renee Swope.

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COMING SOON! One of the regular 7 Quick Takes participants will be featured in my Dreamer in the Spotlight series for October! Be sure to check back on the last Friday of the month to see who!

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And, lastly, an inspirational verse about faith to end on…

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. -Hebrews 11:6

As usual, please check out Jen’s and other 7 Quick Takes posts at Conversion Diary!