March is here! I love March for several reasons. First of all, it means we are closer to Spring! The 65 degree day we had last weekend was glorious! I was able to get outside and get some sunshine, fresh air, and exercise, all of which were much needed. Of course the flurries have returned, but such is “Sprinter” in Buffalo! March is also the month we observe the feast of Saint Patrick, and with Irish roots, it is always a fun month of celebrating. March also marks the start of Lent, with Ash Wednesday on March 2. Lent is a beautiful time of prayer, fasting, and giving to others, a time to dive deeper into our relationship with the Lord. Part of that deep dive for me is spending this year getting to know the Saints. I spent the month of February getting to know Saint Maria Goretti, and I’m excited to share her life and example with you today.
For a short month, February has felt awfully long. Of course, January felt long too so perhaps it’s a winter thing. There has been much going on personally and professionally for me, and I was grateful for the long holiday weekend to rest and recharge. I’ve been reading some spiritual books and trying my best to pick up some read-for-fun books. But I’ve once again found myself in the dreaded reading slump that tends to come around this time of year. To be honest, February seems to bring an all-around slump for me, likely due to the continuing cold and dark days. But we’ve been experiencing warmer temps here and there, and the abundant sunshine we’ve seen in recent days gives me hope that spring will arrive soon!
Spiritually, a new liturgical time period is right around the corner, with Lent arriving next week. I’m excited for Ash Wednesday and the chance to grow closer to the Lord during the coming weeks as we prepare to remember our Lord’s sacrifice and celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord at Easter. I will continue my journey with the Blessed Mother and the Saints during Lent, and I hope you’ll check back in to share the journey with me. For February, I will be sharing about the Blessed Mother under the title Queen of Angels. What is Mary’s association with angels? Why do we call her Queen?
I decided to start my year of journeying with the Saints with Saint Francis of Assisi. When I started studying Catholicism in 2018, references to St. Francis came up often. As a dog mom and an animal lover, I was intrigued by his connection to animals. I had heard stories of him communicating with animals and being connected to God through nature. Many Catholic parishes hold an annual pet blessing in October in honor of St. Francis’s feast day. I was so thankful to bring my sweet dog, Wylie, to receive a pet blessing in October 2019, just before he died. Utilizing resources like Formed (basically Catholic Netflix!) and a book that came highly recommended, The Journey and the Dream, I spent January getting to know Saint Francis better, and I’m excited to share him with all of you.
January always feels like an extra long month to me. Maybe it’s because the holidays seem to rush by in a blur. Then once things slow down, they seem to really slow down. January in Western New York has been cold and snowy, with winter finally arriving. But sub-zero temperatures have never stopped anyone in Buffalo from enjoying life.
I’ve been enjoying my 2022 adventures with the Saints and the Blessed Mother and visited my first church of the year dedicated to the Blessed Mother. For January, I’ll be sharing about the Blessed Mother under the title Our Mother of Perpetual Help, also called Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Before I get into specific titles, I’d like to address the two most common references to Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ. When Catholics refer to Mary, we typically call her either the Blessed Mother or Our Lady. But why do we do that? Why not just call her Mary?
To say that this post is overdue is quite an understatement. So many times I meant to sit down and type out an update on my 2021 reading goals and progress, to mention new books I’d read, to share my spiritual journey. But life got busy and I began opting for self-care like naps, workouts, and attending daily Mass instead of blogging. I did share many of my adventures from 2021 on my social media pages, so if we’re connected there you’re in the loop on what I’ve been up to. My biggest accomplishments of 2021 were meeting my goals of reading the entire Bible and still accomplishing my Goodreads goal for the year! That’s a whole lotta reading, and I’m so thankful I was able to complete both goals.
Since converting to the Catholic faith, I’ve found myself splitting my reading time between entertainment and faith-based books. I find it’s a good balance between growing in my faith but also allowing myself time to relax and indulge in my favorite pastime. Lately I can’t seem to get enough apologetics! Catholic Answers and Dynamic Catholic are at the top of my list. I do have some fiction reads coming soon, including another new picture book. But today, I’d like to talk about a new faith-based favorite of mine, a book I think everyone should read: Why We’re Catholic, Our reasons for faith, hope, and love by Trent Horn.
I’ve been on quite the spiritual journey for the last two years as I’ve studied the Christian faith. My studies led me to Catholicism, and I’ve been doing a deep dive into the faith and its teachings. This includes reading tons of books like the writings of the early Church Fathers, apologetics, and conversion stories. In addition to reading, I’ve discovered the awesomeness that is Catholic YouTube. Priests like Father Mike Schmitz and groups like Catholic Answers have answered so many questions I’ve had about the Catholic faith.
Not long ago, I discovered a YouTube video of a talk given by a man named Keith Nester. Keith was a Protestant pastor who had recently converted to the Catholic faith in 2017. In doing so, he left behind his church, his job, his livelihood, and even friends. If someone was willing to give up that much to convert to the Catholic faith, I figured his story must be worth listening to. It was!
I could relate to much of what Keith was saying. I started to search for more of his videos and, to my delight, discovered that he has his own YouTube channel! Not only does Keith offer incredible videos, but he recently published his first book, The Convert’s Guide to Roman Catholicism: Your First Year in the Church.
What a month! What a couple of months actually! I have been very busy with work over the last six weeks or so – but that’s a great thing! I love being a writer and working on articles and new book projects.
I have been fortunate enough in my writing career to become a published author. I have written several nonfiction educational books for children and teens, and just recently finished working on a couple of new ones that will be out in 2020.
In January, I had a new book release as part of a middle grade series called Inventions That Changed the World. I wrote about Facebook. There’s no denying that social media, and Facebook in particular, has had a huge impact on our world. That’s what I dive into in my latest book, How Facebook Changed the World.
I am so glad that I was able to fit in my book bucket list pick for June. I have wanted to read The Diary of a Young Girl for years. I didn’t get the chance to read it in high school like so many others did. I’m not sure why we didn’t read it other than maybe because Schindler’s List had released and become a huge success. We watched that film, an excellent film by the way, instead of reading Anne Frank’s diary. I don’t think one story is better than the other. They are both true and both equally moving. I do think that The Diary of a Young Girl should continue to be taught in schools because it is told in such a pure voice and really puts the reader right in the middle of the war. We can study World War II all we want, but we’ll never hear a more authentic voice than that of a young Jewish girl in hiding. Anne’s story is something that touched my soul profoundly and something I will never forget. No review I write will ever be able to do this book justice, but I will try my best to summarize why it was such a moving read for me.
“You will not be left or abandoned. God will not be disgusted with you. Ever. In that way, God is not like the people in your life. God doesn’t tire of your struggle and your back-and-forth and your uncertainty. God doesn’t grow weary of your winding path.” – Begin Again
Well May has been an interesting month so far. Actually, 2018 has been filled with all kinds of surprises, and I feel thankful that I got through April in one piece. Within one week, my husband and two of our dogs each had surgery. They are all recovered and doing beautifully, but I was just about ready to collapse at the end of that week!
Thankfully, I ended up with just the right book at just the right time, Begin Again by Leeana Tankersley.