Back to Blogging

After a year and 9 month hiatus from my blog; I thought I’d chime back in. Even though none of my signal graces from the past 21 months have made it into blog format, I have periodically shared a few from my Signal Graces Facebook fan page. Unfortunately, the vast majority of my signal graces from this time period (filling up one fourth of my current journal) will probably never make it to the internet. Some months I did better than others when handwriting them into my journal, but I felt in general they decreased in number (or maybe I just failed to recognize all of them) during these past 21 months. You may or may not wonder, what caused this absence from blogging?

I went back to work for both career fulfillment and to relieve the financial pinches that resulted from substitute teaching as a job. Commuting and working full-time in the DC metro area was challenging, exciting, exhausting, and definitely a learning experience. I both loved it and was overwhelmed by it. I said the rosary in the car as part of my daily routine – also it was necessary to keep my sanity during my 1 to 1 ½ hour commute each way of just 22 miles. Receiving signal graces always reassured me though, that God was with me and my family through these new adventures.

Before quitting my job, I received several signal graces that a different job might be God’s will for my life right now (which was a welcomed idea, since my working environment had become less than ideal). One of the VPs told me I’d make a great requirements analyst when I was drilling him for technical content in late July, and that night in my personal email inbox was a job posting for a requirements analyst. Even though on paper I wasn’t qualified with the appropriate IT certifications, it was encouraging. One Sunday at Mass in mid-August, the priest talked about challenges we deal with, mentioning job issues and family members being sick as examples. This was a very comforting signal grace for me as I’d been praying all through mass about two things: job challenges and most importantly for my dad who had a heart attack that very day 1,000 miles away. It was a great grace in itself where he had the heart attack – in the hospital. My sister took him in, because he wasn’t feeling right. After the heart attack the doctor asked, “How’d you know to come? “ My dad replied, “I didn’t. I just didn’t feel right.”

After quitting my job, I realized how much that job as a Proposal Manager had enhanced my writing skills and ability to quickly format documents. I was able to reformat my whole unpublished book in about an hour!

In the past few days, I’ve been overwhelmed with signal graces, which is a huge encouragement. I attribute this increase in frequency to going to confession and praying the rosary in a more meditative state. The signal graces ALWAYS get stronger after confession. As I think I’ve said before, confession seems to take a lot of the static out of the conversation with God.

I won’t share all of my recent signal graces, but some were:

• 9/12/14 My husband and I watched Mom’s Night Out which had a great message about the importance of the JOB of being a mom. A comforting signal grace, since I had quit my other job that morning.
• 9/13/14 A Facebook friend got mixed up and thought it was me posting about a career change, when it was really my mom. She didn’t know that I’d quit my job the day before.
• 9/19/14 As we pushed play on the movie, Captain America, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw my sorority sister’s little boy dressed up like Captain America.
• 9/23/14 I listened to Jason Evert’s CD, What’s So Great About Being Catholic, and he talked about the miracle in Lanciano, Italy. That miracle was when the Eucharist/Body of Christ (under the normal appearances of bread) turned into visible flesh and the Blood of Christ (under the normal appearances of wine) turned into type AB blood, reaffirm one priest’s faith. Just a few hours after I listened to that CD, I decided to work on the last chapter of the book I’ve been writing about Signal Graces, and it turns out that in that last chapter I mentioned a signal grace that happened in 2011 involving me teaching my CCD class about the miracle of Lanciano.
• 9/23/14 I thought of my sister, Tiffany, as I was trying to find a recipe, and she called right at that moment. Later that same day, I thought about my neighbor, and at that same moment, she texted me. The text asked if my daughter could play. Before I could call home to talk to my oldest who was babysitting my daughter to facilitate the play date, my son called me.
• 9/25/14 I had my first mammogram. Before-hand The Today Show had a segment on how weight fluctuation increases women’s chances of breast cancer. In the waiting room, I opened this month’s Glamour magazine, and the next article was about breast cancer too. Another signal grace was the repetition of the word light. It was the focus of the one minute of a Catholic CD I listened to that day, and light was mentioned in a religious email I received later that day as well. Just so you don’t worry that I have breast cancer and will soon “walk toward the light” I should note my mammogram was all clear! Praise God!

Who knows what tomorrow holds, but I’m going to make a concerted effort to try to blog about my signal graces more often in the hopes that they encourage others to pray the rosary and experience the gift of signal graces for themselves.

A Girl Needs Shoes

Signal graces point you to God’s will for your life, but sometimes the big questions are a little too much to dwell on. Like so many women, these big questions like, “Should I get a full time job?” frequently stress me out. So isn’t it nice when God points our pumps in the right direction? You bet.

This month I’ve been reminded through the silliest consumer purchases & transactions that God is always watching and helping us out.

Our couch broke. After 13 years not only is a large spring hitting the floor, but now there’s a hole in the bottom so that no one can sit on it anywhere near the middle. Time for a new couch.

Despite telling ourselves we could make it awhile longer without replacing it, one day looked at each other and knew we were thinking the same thing. It turns out we’d both been planning to go look at furniture and then tell the other what we found. Instead we went together and found a set we loved. Right before we went back to the store to purchase it, I found it cheaper online. I didn’t order it online just then, but saved the webpage.

The next day my aunt called to say she was selling her couch on Craig’s list. I thought, “Maybe this is the solution.” After some measuring, it was clear my aunt’s furniture wasn’t the solution, but the signal graces of “its all about couches” wasn’t lost on me.

Back to the internet. Now the question was, “Could we beat the 0% financing the store offered?” Despite cancelling all solicitations for credit card marketing offers, we got a card offer that day for the same 0% for 18 months that the store had offered & checks with 1% interest, either of which could be paid off before we accrued any interest. So back online I went and discovered an additional discount online that day that wasn’t there before. Result- we ended up saving even more than we’d thought!

Furniture Done.

Over the holiday season, a relative told me about some refinancing offers that could lower our house payment by hundreds (due to 2.75% to 3.5% interest rates) and required no cash for closing. My thoughts…a couple hundred less per house payment- sign me up! I had a signal grace pointing me in this direction as well. In late December, when we’d started seriously talking about refinancing, I’d wrote down our mortgage pay off, escrow, and tax numbers all on the back of a piece of junk mail. I hadn’t bothered to even look at the front of the envelope. Before throwing it out, I opened it to see what was inside. Inside was an advertisement to refinance your house.

So now it was January and we were setting the wheels in motion. This made my stomach turn because refinacing implies, well, NOT moving. This made me sad because I miss Arkansas and worried at the thought- Will we still not have moved home by the time our kids are in high school? High School! AHH! Where should we send them for HIGH SCHOOL?!?

Of course all this came spilling out of my mouth in a panic around January 8th. Then I checked my email and in it was an invitation to an open house at a local Catholic school. Why was I worried? I don’t know. Of course God will show me where he wants my kids to go to high school and thank goodness the oldest just started middle school. There is time.

Refinance in motion.

As if to congratulate me on my trust, God sent me another signal grace that day via U.S. Postal Mail. I got my new Lighthouse Catholic Media CD, “Pray Like a Saint.” It was subtitled, “Wisdom for Growing Close to God.” The CCD chapter I taught that night started with the Bible verse, “And Jesus inscreased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and men,” (Luke 2:52).

The next day I was reading an old email from my sister, Tiff, that December proved too busy to have time to read. As I began to read, she called. Talking to my sister made me want to shop. Just joking. No really though, I have a pair of off-white winter pants that I bought on clearance this summer, and I haven’t been able to wear them, because I don’t have any off-white heels or any blue heals to match the blue sweater that I got to go with it. So this gorgeous outfit was just sitting in my closet. I know not a REAL problem, but I’m still a girl. The only tie this has to anything religious is that I wanted to wear this new outfit to church. There you go- bam- its a religious outfit haha.

So I said the rosary and went shopping. God was smiling, because there was the cutest pair of off-white polk-a-dot heels with a blue edging 70% off at DSW. I got them for $18.88!

As for a job, who needs one with $18 shoes, deep discounts on furniture, and a lower house payment- right?

I don’t know, but I know God will show me eventually. I’m still subbing. At the end of one long day in mid January I picked up the Washington Post for kicks. As I scanned the available jobs my kids watched, “Full House.” It was the episode where Jesse & Joey quit the ad agency and need new jobs.

My husband joked a few days later that if I got a good paying job, he’d hire a maid. That night we watched, “Last Man Standing,” and they got a maid.

Do I think I’ll get a maid or a job. Doubtful. But I did get my house refinanced, some furniture, & awesome heels to wear to church. This weekend I’ve been having a great time teaching my girls to twirl. Maybe I’ll teach twirling again? In the meantime, I’ll pray the rosary, and if God wants me to make any major changes, I’m sure He’ll let me know.

P.S. As I typed the bit about the couch, my kids were watching another episode of “Full House,” and Michelle was looking for money in the couch cushions. Just sayin….

New York New York

It was Christmas time again, and I’d always dreamed of going to New York to see the tree at Rockefeller Center & the city all decked out for Christmas. In addition to me experiencing New York at Christmas, I wanted to see the expression on our Arkansas born small town childrens’ faces when they saw all those tall buildings & crowded streets for the first time.

I wasn’t sure if our scheme would work out or not. My husband, Sean, knew a guy who knew a guy who owned a hotel. Getting two rooms cheap for one night was the major concern along with securing cheap train tickets for six before the prices went up. Like the trip to New York we almost took in Dec of 2001 (I think its pretty obvious why our planning halted that September), I was prepared for our big idea to fall through again when the hurricane hit this 2012. For a long time we didn’t hear anything back about hotel rooms, and I had decided it might not be meant to be. No biggie, maybe we’d go another year. I told Sean it was probably for the best. We could use the money for so many other things.

Praying the rosary was helping alot of things fall into place this Christmas though. While Sean was playing Clark Griswold putting up a ton of outdoor Christmas lights the breakers kept blowing. Despite his dad replacing a blown outlet this past spring, outlets were not working again. I wanted to call an Electrician. He said it’d be super expensive. Just then Sean opened the mail. In it was an advertisement from our electric company offering a super cheap service plan for electrical outlets and their problems.

Only once or twice every year when the lottery gets high, Sean buys a ticket. I guessed he would when I saw the news. Sure enough he bought a ticket, and we joked about how many problems that could solve if we won. The next day, I was on a break while subbing and picked up where I left off in “The World’s First Love,” by Fulton J. Sheen. The first thing I read was, “We pray for wealth…to win the Irish sweepstakes.” Then it talked about how that doesn’t solve problems; God does.

Back to teaching school- we were talking about famous places in D.C. and who had visited them. Most answers were the Washington Monument, The White House, etc. But one kid raised her hand and went on and on about the big tree in Rockefeller Center. I laughed and said I wanted to go there, but that it was in New York, not D.C. just as another kid brought up going to the Statue of Liberty. When the kids left for art class, I checked my phone. At the same time I was having that discussion with the kids, Sean had texted saying that we were able to get the rooms after all if I still wanted to go. He was going to book them and the train tickets.

That Friday at the Vigil Mass of the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the priest mentioned how Mary was called the world’s first love by Archbishop Fulton Sheen and they ended Mass with a novena for him to be a saint.

The next day had signal graces that grouped Christmas and New York. While I was getting my eyebrows waxed, the lady next to me said her daughter’s name was Brooklyn. I said, “Wow I don’t hear that often! My daughter is Brooklyn too.” She said, “Not Brooklyn Nicole though?” To which I replied, “Yes Brooklyn Nicole!” Then at the same time we said, “after my sister!” As I was decorating our tree later that night Christmas Carolers came to the door. They were neighbors and asked us to go with them to a few houses to continue caroling. So we did. When I got back home, we’d left the TV on. It was Phineus & Ferb making fun of Christmas caroling saying, “They won’t GO till they get their figgy pudding!”

Monday December 10th, I was back to subbing and had to show a video about American cities. It began with the building of the Statue of Liberty. Just then, Sean texted and said the tickets for the Stuatue of Liberty were sold out during the two days we’d be in New York. Later, we learned that the Statue was just shut down due to hurricane repairs. As my class continued to watch the video, it talked about how the Triangle Waist Factory Fire was the largest loss of life in the workplace until September 11, 2001. Then Sean texted me that he DID get us tickets to the 9/11 Memorial.

We went to New York. On the way we were delayed two hours by a fire just 20 ft off the tracks in Pennsylvania. On the way back our train lost electrical power five or more times going dark and even stopping on the tracks. It wasn’t until I blogged this that I notice how God intricately forshadowed these things in our trip, and how I wasn’t all that worried because I know He’s always watching, keeping us safe at every turn.

I know that God will continue to point me and my family in the right direction with signal graces from the rosary. Just the other day, Sean came home and said he was on standby to go to another country. Just then Annabelle and two her friends burst off the bus and through the door to work on a project for school. Sean asked them what the project was? Just happened to be the same country he’d just been put on stand-by for.

By the way- New York was a blast. Thanks God.

School Prayer and School Shootings

You might think the topics of school prayer and school shootings are an assinine thing to group together. You might think its an effort to take advantage of a tragic situation to push a conservative agenda. In this case though, it wasn’t my idea to group the two ideas at all, but now that its happened it makes sense.

I receive coincidences from God when I pray the rosary called signal graces. They don’t work in a super hero way to help me stop a school shooting in CT, but they do let me know that God is here, and He’s with us in our grief. Here’s how God connected a few coincidences in my life to point out the correlation between these two topics.

Thursday night (12/13/12), I was at my daughter’s strings concert. Trying to make another mom feel better about her daughter’s recent bad behavior in school, I offered hope and an example. I told her how one teacher when my son was in first grade compared him to a future Jonesboro school shooter. While my son had lots of anger issues at the time, don’t think that I wasn’t at the school in a huge meeting the next day like any mad momma bear would be. Anyway, I told her how through lots of discipline at home, hard work, and an IEP he turned into a super polite and considerate middle schooler. I told her I even got an email from a teacher the other day saying he was the most respectful and polite kid she’s ever met.

Despite normally subbing in elementary, on Friday (12/14/12), I reported to a local VA middle school to sub about 7:45 am. The first thing I heard over the loud speaker was, “Forgive and you will be forgiven.” I obviously expected to hear a chapter and book cited from the Bible after that, but they said it was from Rachel’s story. I was both delighted and bewildered about how this bible verse was being presented to the kids. When the kids arrived in class, I asked, “What is Rachel’s Story?” The kids said she was a kid who got killed in Colorado. That’s when the light bulb went off- Columbine.

The past few weeks, I’d noticed kids from Kindergarten through middle school doing the most peculiar things during the moment of silence that follows the Pledge of Allegience. I always say a prayer during the moment of silence, but some second graders the other day were all holding a salute to the flag during that time. Since seeing those second graders salute, It’s been weighing on my mind. Why don’t the kids seem to know that the moment of silence is for prayer (at least for those who want to pray)?

During my planning period, I became obsessed with researching the moment of silence, the state laws, and court rulings on the topic for no particular reason. I compiled tons of notes. Then when my third period class arrived, I decided to take a poll to see what each 8th grader thought the moment of was for. I was amazed that like the second graders, they thought it was a time to think patriotic thoughts, about the troops, those who’ve died for our country, or 911. Only one or two students connected the moment of silence with a time for them to pray. I was shocked, so I educated all of them about the 1962 Supreme Court case Engel v. Vitale that changed prayer in our public schools forever. I told them all that the moment of silence is their time to pray (or not pray if they are atheists). They can pray for the troops or whatever they want to pray about. They can just remain silent if they choose not to pray, but I thought it was imperative that they knew they are allowed to pray any prayer (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, etc) for whatever they chose during this time.

I did the same poll with almost every class period Friday, still knowing nothing about the CT school shooting. I left school with a heavy heart saddened that these kids don’t even know that they can pray. I was so upset, that I turned into church and went to adoration right after school, something that I’ve never done straight after school. I went inside and prayed that God would explain why this was upsetting me so much, and what He wanted me to do about it. I went home feeling confident that He would show me, because I’d prayed the rosary; He always shows me when I pray the rosary and ask His will.

When I got home, Sean, my husband asked, “Have you heard the news?” “No, what news?” I asked. That’s when he told me about what happened in CT. I was upset and speechless. Then Sean started ranting about some “idiot” who said God didn’t save the kids, because there’s no prayer in school. Sean was very angry with said idiot. Since my thoughts and research had been focused on school prayer all day, light bulbs went off everywhere in my head. Not the kind of light bulbs that said this idiot was right about his statements, but the kind of light bulb that definately make a connection.

It made sense to me. Kids who don’t learn to pray at home, used to be at least exposed to prayer at school. They learned to pray. Let’s not forget that all kids turn into adults. Adults who don’t learn to pray can easily loose in the battle between good and evil. Evil kills kids. Evil does terrible things. Prayer is a weapon against evil. In this battle between good and evil, we could use alot more prayer- yes prayer in schools too.

I didn’t watch the news, because I knew it would upset me more. After all, I have a kindergartener. We went out to dinner. When we got home, we turned on the TV. On TV was Rachel’s dad talking about how he chose to forgive, even though he would never get over his loss.

As for my own kids, I asked them what they thought the moment of silence was for? They said the same thing as the kids at school! My own very Catholic kids who I teach to pray in the cafeteria before meals, didn’t know that the moment of silence was for them to pray. One thing is for sure, now my kids know the moment of silence is for prayer. You might want to make sure yours know too.

All Because Bear Had to Poop

On our way back across the country this Thanksgiving from OK to VA, we went the northern route through St. Louis. Its a long drive we were making over two days with four kids and our 110 lb lab, Bear. I was getting frustrated as we drove through so many neat places that we didn’t have time to stop and see. My husband was wanting to get home as fast as possible, because he knew it was 1,000 miles and we weren’t making very good time if the kids were going to be in school on Monday morning. So Saturday afternoon, we stopped at the Gateway Arch and took a few pictures, but despite the kids begging, didn’t have time to go up in the arch due to the huge lines and need to get back on the road.

I had asked to go to a church I’d heard was really neat. Request denied. We couldn’t dilly dally any longer if we were going to make it to Indiana by tonight, and besides that, I didn’t even know where the church was for sure. So we got back in the car and tried to find a spot (not right in front of the Arch) where Bear could poop before we headed eastward. We crossed the Mississippi River and planned to stop at the first exit. We opted to go a little further because the first exit or two looked like very dangerous places. So with Bear farting in the back and the kids screaming to let him poop while we let the windows down, we took the first grassy looking exit.

As we exited we saw the sign, litearally this one truly was an actual sign. It pointed to The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows just two miles ahead. Since we had to stop anyway, and we were there, Sean asked, “You still want to see that church?” I was beaming. Beaming turned to shrieks of excitement from the kids though as we pulled into the church. It wasn’t just a church, but a drive thru Christmas light spectacular! There was a mile or so light display to drive thru, camel rides, kettle corn, hot coco, a life-size lego nativity, inside activities, and more.

As Bear finished pooping and our kids begged for camel rides, we heard the church bells ring. Yep, it was time for the Saturday night 5pm vigil Mass. Since we’d just have to find another church tomorrow morning on the road if we didn’t go tonight, we made a split second decision to go to Mass right then. The kids got their camel rides, hot coco, and kettle corn after Mass, and we made a wonderful memory that helped get us to Indiana that night. To think we might have missed all that, if Bear hadn’t had to poop!

Teaching through Little Ways

Today was like any other day. I substitute taught at a local school and wore my miraculous medal as I do everyday. One little girl noticed my medal and commented that she knew who it was- the lady who appeared in her home country of Portugal. I responded, “Yes its Mary, Jesus’s mother, who appeared in Fatima, Portugal. You are correct.”

The little Muslim boy at our table heard Fatima mentioned (Fatima is also the name of Muhammad’s daughter) and asked, “Who?” I said, “Sorry I can’t teach you about religion at school, but your friends can tell you about it if they want to.” He then commented on how he was Muslim and from the Middle East. Another little boy from South America commented that he didn’t go to church, but believes in God. The little girl from Portugal repeated the same thing about Mary appearing in Fatima and said, “I don’t know what religion I am, but I go to Holy Trinity.” I said, “Well then you’re Catholic. BUT kids, we have to talk about math.”

After promptly redirecting them back to their math worksheet, I interiorly lamented that I couldn’t tell them all about the events of Fatima, Portugal in 1917. A few seconds later it was far from my mind, and the day went on like normal.

On my lunch break, I read a few pages of “The Way of Trust and Love” by Jacques Philippe which is about the little ways of St. Therese of Lisieux who did little things with great love. On page one of this book, it begins by with Philippe saying she thinks, “God wants to create a new people and fill them with the strength of the Holy Spirit: a people who will be able to produce plentiful fruits for his glory, the proclamation of the Gospel, and the good of all mankind. This, however, is a people that includes little children and the poor.”

I didn’t think anything would ever come about from these seemingly little things: wearing the miraculous medal, praying the rosary, reading those few pages, or the little girl who was inspired to blurt out about the Blessed Virgin Mary appearing in Portugal during our math lesson- UNTIL I got home and checked my email.

Around the same time that the girl asked me about my medal, I received an email (date and time stamped to prove it). The email was from the religious education director at Holy Trinity. It said: “Just wanted to let you know that you will be receiving new students in your class this week.” Then it listed the names of that little girl and her twin brother, and it said they would be in my CCD class tomorrow.

It never ceases to amaze me how God can take the simplest things and mulitply them exponentially. I believe God heard my silent prayer to teach these children about Him and just to show off had the email giving me the opportunity hit my email account as an instant answer to prayer.

I’m further convinced that the Blessed Virgin Mary will be the means that will convert Muslims to her son Jesus Christ. I’m also convinced that it is through these seemingly little things done by moms, dads, aunts, uncles, friends, and children that the Holy Spirit will work His greatest conversions.

So pray the rosary, wear your miraculous medal, and let God amaze you with how He can use the littlest thing for His glory. What my parents taught me as a child holds true, “God’s always watching.”

Which Churches Will Stand Up for the Sanctity of Marriage?

Am I niave for thinking that all Christians believe that marriage is a sacred union between one man, one woman, and God?

Apparently.

Until the last decade or two, I was correct. Lately though, many protestant churches have began changing their stance on gay marriage. Through voting, decree, or defiance, some of our nation’s largest Protestant denominations and their individual church affliates have begun embracing the homo-sexual revolution.

I was doing some geneology research online and looking for the oldest churches in Baltimore, Maryland. I found two old beautiful churches dating back to the mid to late 1700s: THE FIRST & FRANKLIN STREET PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH and OLD OTTERBEIN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH. They are gorgeous historic churches affliated with respected protestant denominations. Since they are so steeped in history, I was shocked to read on both of their websites that they both seem to subscribe to very unbiblical philosophies on homosexuality.

In true signal grace fashion as I stared dumb-founded at my online discoveries, my best-friend called who had visited a protestant church that morning. Without me disclosing what I discovered, the friend shared his experience from one of D.C.’s oldest and most historic protestant churches. He said the woman minister appeared to be a lesbian.

Distressed by this news, I sat down with the kids and prayed the rosary. All I could think of was that my children are being thrown into a world where all the guidelines about sin are changing. My only consolation is that our church- the Catholic Church- has held true to its stance on marriage and will continue to hold true based on what Jesus promised in Matthew 16:18.

Still, I worry about my kids and the pressure on them to conform to the world. The media is constantly promoting same-sex relationships. My kids were watching Nick the other day, and I was shocked to see a commercial for DEGRASSI showing a lesbian couple making out! My kids immediately recognized it as wrong, but this commercial coming on forced me to talk about why it was wrong- yes even with my five year old who was in the room.

Having same-sex relationships crammed down my throat on T.V. is getting maddening for me as an adult as well. It is almost impossible to what any primetime TV without encountering a gay or lesbian relationship. I quickly stopped watching some shows like MODERN FAMILY, but fast forward through others like the lesbian make-out scenes in GREY’S ANATOMY. I refuse to watch the new NBC sit-com THE NEW NORMAL for this very reason.

The media on-slaught is working though. People are becoming more and more accepting of this centuries old sin. Unfortunately if you think homosexuality is a sin you are likely to be called a bigot, because it really has become the “new normal” to embrace homosexual relations.

God has given me many signal graces through praying the rosary to encourage me to stand firm against Satan and those who try to help him re-define this sin into something to be celebrated. Without blogging on and on about each of these signal graces- the gist of it is: Love the sinner, Hate the sin, and PRAY. Prayer really can change hearts and minds.

As Christians, we have to stand firm in our beliefs. There is no doubt in my mind that the attack on marriage is not over. The shooting at the Family Research Council (a conservative group in D.C. that has spoken out against gay marriage) is just more proof that Christians will be persecuted for their faith. Being just around the corner from that shooting a few hours after it happened brought the attack too close to home for me.

As scary as my proximity to that shooting was, in retrospect, T.V. and my kids’ friends who have gay & lesbian relatives hit even closer to home. I’m thankful to go to a church that isn’t afraid to call a sin a sin. Because if we don’t recognize sin, how can we repent of it? In all sincerity I pray…Lord have mercy.

Family History Leads To Signal Graces

The past few months I haven’t blogged much due to my new hobby of geneology searching. I’ve still been praying the rosary, receiving signal graces (coincidences), and logging them in my journal, but I’m finally making the time to tell you all about a few.

In June of 2012, I was reading a novel called, “Elizabeth Street,” by Laurie Fabiano. In that novel, Laurie details a story that she came across while researching her family tree. Besides the obvious similarities between the novel and my own recent delving into Ancestry.com, little cute signal graces occurred too. I got to go to the beach for a few days. As I sat in my beach chair under my umbrella I picked up my book to read on page 162, “The next day we camped on the beach with umbrellas, towels, chairs, and coolers. I ended up getting to see a friend who was at the beach as well and God orestrated so many details perfectly.

Back from my trip, I traced some of my ancestors back to Europe one day before a doctor’s appointment. My doctor asked me randomly at that appointment if I’d had ancestors from northern Europe due to my symptoms. (I’m fine by the way).

As I continued my geneology search I discovered that most of my ancestors on both sides entered the US in Maryland or Virginia. Since we moved to northern Virginia I’ve always felt so far away from “home” (Arkansas), but now after finding this I realized that in some ways I’ve just come to the home of my ancestors. I discovered that living here gave me the perfect opportunity to find my ancestors graves and dig further into my family history.

One tiny branch of my family tree didn’t trace back to the Baltimore or Virginia area; instead it traced back to Maine. On cue, my husband, Sean’s travel plans for work (which are out of his control) changed from Boston to New Hampshire. It turned out he was just 10 to 20 minutes from the spot in Maine. He found the most beautiful cemetary right where ancestry.com said it would be. It was on the ocean, and he took a picture for me. Unfortunately, the marked graves only went back to the 1700s and I needed some from the late 1600s, but it was still really beautiful and neat.

When Sean got back in town we promised to take our kids to see the Disney movie, “Brave.” In the twenty-four hours before we went to see the movie, I discovered the first Irish/Wales ancestry on my dad’s side. It was so cute since Brave is about an Irish princess from the days of old.

The signal graces continued into July associated with my ancestry. On July 2nd while working on ancestry I got an automated call from Newt Gingrich & wife talking about the early settlers in Virginia and how our nation was founded on God. The automated call spoke several times about our founders and ancestors.

I was still reading, “Elizabeth Street,” the day after the Fourth of July as we headed across the country to see family. Despite this part of the story being set in October of 1909 it provided a perfect allusion to the Fourth of July saying, “all the children whipped American flags over their heads….they recided the Pledge of Allegiance ….they sang The Star-Spangled Banner.”

While stopping to see family in Mississippi, I went to the last of my nine months of First Friday Masses. As I walked out of Mass, a friend called to ask about the significance of First Friday and if I knew when Mass was in VA. The timing was really cute, since she had no idea I was at First Friday Mass in any state.

There were lots of random signal graces while we were in MS and Arkansas that made me smile, but I’ll skip ahead to the one that happened the first Sunday we were back in Virginia. My mom helped me drive back since Sean was on a business trip, and I knew she’d really like to go into Mass at the Basilica in Washington D.C. Anyone who knows me knows driving into the city from our Virginia suburb is NOT my favorite thing to do. I woke up early Sunday kicking around the idea of putting off the trip into the city and just going to Mass at our local church. I started looking through the pile of mail next to the computer and noticed a booklet titled, “A Scriptural Rosary”. It had come as a solicitation from…get this…The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. So of course I took mom to the Basilica;)

I wanted to make the trip intot he city really worthwhile, so I checked ancestry.com to see if I could find any nearby graves to visit. I worked quickly (as I yelled at the kids to get their church clothes on) on a line of the tree that ended with Pierre Ward. I couldn’t figure out anything concrete, so I had to give up the search to get dressed myself.

As soon as we got to the Basilica we raced in the lower entrance for the obvious- the bathroom. Down in the lower portion a last name caught my eye on the wall- Ward. It wasn’t Pierre Ward, but again it made me smile. Then after Mass we were feeling really adventurous and decided to take the kids to eat by the water in Alexandria, VA. On the way to Alexandria we passed a sign pointing to “Fort Ward”. I thought that was pretty cool too. We were hungry though so no stopping at Fort Ward for us.

After lunch we decided to walk around downtown Alexandria. I was about ready to head to the car when Mom and the kids noticed the Alexandria Vistor’s Center. It advertised a Ghost & Graveyard Tour. The kids were all about it, but I reminded them that we couldn’t stay past dark for it, because we had to get home to our dog who we had let stay inside- plus there was no way I was waiting three hours or paying $12 per adult and $6 per kid (haha). Anyway, they left the vistor’s center obsessed with finding the graveyard. Sarah Beth ran around the back of the garden and we all followed. A block or so later a man overheard the kids and gave us rudementary directions. We had just about given up finding it when we spotted it in the distance. We ended up going past Robert E. Lee & George Washington’s boyhood homes as well!

Once at the graveyard I noticed the name of the Church, “Christ’s Church”. It was the same name I was looking for in Maryland. Then we noticed a grave that had the same name as one of our ancestors on it: Thomas Davis. Later we checked it out and we are pretty sure that it is not the same Thomas Davis that we were looking for but it was still really cool. The minister saw us on his way into the really old chapel and gave us a personal tour of it. It had been the church of both the Washingtons and the Lees. He even took our picture in George Washington’s family pew. All in all it was just a really fun memory.

I guess the moral of this blog post is that if you pray the rosary, God will wink at you on your family adventures.

Freedom signal grace- So appropriate for Memorial Day Weekend

For his end of the year project, my fifth grade son has to do several little projects on one of the 50 states. He was assigned Maryland. This week he had to do a biography type project on someone famous from Maryland. He chose George Calvert “Lord Baltimore.” He learned all about how Lord Baltimore applied to Charles I for a new royal charter for what became the Providence of Maryland. Lord Baltimore did this to create a haven for Catholics to escape persecution.

In perfect harmony with my son’s project, my signal grace appeared in this Sunday’s bulletin in the form of a Nationwide Bulletin Insert put out by the USCCB. It begins by stating how a mix of Catholics & Protestants arrived in Southern Maryland in 1634 at the invitation of the Catholic Lord Baltimore. The insert details (so much better than my son’s report I might add), the first law in our nation’s history to protect freedom of conscience- Maryland’s 1649 Act Concerning Religion.

The insert details how in just a few decades the these freedom’s were taken away,and Maryland too was subject to the Church of England. Catholics who refused to comply lost political rights. Catholic chapels were closed, and Catholics had to practice their faith in their homes. All of this led to the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights protecting religious liberty.

The insert then turns to how our freedom of conscience is being taken away in the present day- the HHS mandate. I post this in honor of the troops who have died for our religious freedom- our first freedom. Let their death’s not be in vain. They did not die so that our freedom of conscience could be taken away. They did not die so that a government could force you to pay for abortion inducing drugs. The insert said it so perfectly, “If our obligations and duties to God are impeded, or even worse, contradicted by the government, then we can no longer claim to be the land of the free.”

Let us all honor the fallen brave this Memorial Day by helping to ensure that our nation remains- The Land of the Free.

How to Get Kids to Love the Rosary?

You may be wondering in light of all the signal graces I receive from praying the rosary daily myself, if I make my kids pray the rosary too? The answer isn’t really yes or no. Kind of…is more accurate. I try not to force the rosary on them, because I want them to love praying the rosary. I’m hopeful that because we pray it together some and they see my example, they’ll WANT to do it.

Although we don’t do it everynight, sometimes in the car or after bedtime prayers, I do MAKE them pray a decade with me. We start with a decade, because a whole rosary can be alot for kids. Once they do one decade, we only continue if they want to do more. Amazingly, alot of nights they want to continue, and we pray several decades or the whole thing. Sometimes, Brooklyn will even pray a whole rosary by herself in her room. The kids really like experiencing the signal graces with me, and I know that these little winks from God draw them to the rosary more than I ever could.

Like most four year olds, Sarah Beth doesn’t usually enjoy praying even one decade of the rosary. One night in a totally uncharacteristic move, Sarah Beth got a rosary out during bedtime prayers and ASKED if we could say the rosary too. Sawyer, Brooklyn, and Annabelle have all had their moments where they suggest praying the rosary, BUT never Sarah Beth. So I enthusiastically told her, “Sure, honey!” The other kids started to moan, so I told them they could go on and leave. In this moment, I was questioning my parenting internally, but still hopeful because here was Sarah Beth asking to pray the rosary!

As Sarah Beth and I held hands on the rosary beads, Sawyer pushed play on the Band of Brothers DVD that Sean was letting him watch. We hadn’t even got through the first Hail Mary when Sawyer shouted, “Mom! Did you see that?” Since I was so into praying with Sarah Beth, I barely heard him and kept praying while trying to tune him out. On the second Hail Mary he wouldn’t let up and said, “The guy on the movie pulled out his rosary as soon as you started praying it!” I smiled and nodded and said, “Neat!”

Sarah Beth made it through a third Hail Mary before she suggested we do another prayer. So, we ended one very mini decade with a Glory Be, the O’My Jesus prayer, and a big hug. Then I asked Sawyer to rewind the DVD and show me the rosary. He was so excited about the signal grace, and I was too.

So am I teaching my kids to love the rosary? Is my theory about not completely forcing it on them correct? I have no idea. I am confident though, that with the prayers of Our Blessed Mother joined to mine, HE’s doing more to help them love the rosary than I ever could.