Thursday, November 12, 2015
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
© María Ruiz Scaperlanda
Today I read, “Even when I am sometimes impatient or unwilling, when I face conflict and heartache, I’ve begun to accept that even the impossible is a possible opportunity to thank God, to experience the goodness and grace of the Giver of all!
There is always only more grace.
And it’s always more than I expect…
Praise him for the unexpected and the unlikely, for the daily and the difficult, and the graces in disguise. The more you count, the more gifts you will see. Do not disdain the small.”
as quoted in today’s Magnificat.
Reading this reflection… once, twice, three times today, made me stop and notice the obvious truth that is right in front of me.
I have so many things converging, all happening right now, that it is easy to let myself feel burdened by the busy-ness and details of it all.
Yet I truly and wholeheartedly believe that God doesn’t waste any details—and that all that is before me, therefore, even that (especially that!) which I find difficult, is good and blessed and full of graces.
But in order to shift from esoteric ideas to the tangible Truth that I can now notice, let me re-name with you a few of the things that are going through my head:
- I am feeling way behind on writing about my incredible pilgrimage to Jordan. Other than the posts I was able to do on social media as I traveled, I have yet to write about my experience, either on this blog, or for print media. I don’t like being behind…
Shift to grace: I went to Jordan! I walked where Jesus walked. I stuck my feet in the water of the River Jordan where Jesus was baptized. I looked out over the Promised Land, as Moses did, from the top of Mount Nebo. I climbed Madaba, the hilltop fortress where John the Baptist was held in prison and eventually beheaded by Herod Antipas. I know I was meant to be there, and I’ve been blessed beyond words by the experience already. I have to believe that the Holy Spirit will help me put all these things into words when the time is right.
* * *
- It is difficult to publish a book with a small Catholic publisher when I work solo out of a home office. Much of what a publicist does falls on me as the author. And I am struggling with the difficulties and details associated with marketing and publicity of a book, my least favorite part of publishing.
Shift to grace: I wrote a book! It is being published! And as of today, it is being shipped out. I have generous friends and colleagues in Catholic media who have not only already written endorsements for my book, but who also are willing to help me publicize and review the book in their blogs, magazines, and newspapers. I am richly blessed!
* * *
- The weather is shifting, which means frequent cold fronts, and weather patterns and storms from the north have already begun—and my body (and my joints) are already a mess. I don’t like to hurt, especially when there is so much that I need to do!
Shift to grace: This is a tough one. And it seems to be one of those lessons that I have to learn and re-learn over and over. If I am where I need to be… if I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing, then I must also trust that everything about who I am – including my physical struggles – are exactly as they need to be in order for me to function. Being achy makes me slow down. It helps me pay attention to detail. It demands that I trust God with every single detail of my life, big or small. What a beautiful grace!
* * *
- I am an introvert who loves to work at home in her pajamas and who doesn’t enjoy the limelight—yet I know how important it is to organize and participate in book signings.
Shift to grace: I have kind, bighearted, and very generous friends who want to help me spread the word about my book and help me spread the knowledge about Father Stanley Rother, the martyr from Oklahoma. I don’t have to do this all by myself! I am not all by myself.
+ + + + +
You will keep hearing about this – my book is out! You can order directly from the publisher for a quicker arrival—or if you prefer, you can pre-order on Amazon here.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Although I am still in Jordan—and will continue to write posts from our Catholic Bloggers Press Tour, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to tell you about a special new book, The Kiss of Jesus: How Mother Teresa and the Saints Helped Me to Discover the Beauty of the Cross, by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle.
Donna-Marie needs little introduction. She is a prolific author, a well-known inspirational speaker, a popular radio and TV personality, and a respected Catholic personality.
Although we have never met in person, I have been blessed for years to call Donna-Marie not only a colleague, but also my friend!
I am honored and grateful to be part of Donna-Marie’s Blog Tour in celebration of her latest book’s release, The Kiss of Jesus.
Question: Donna-Marie, can you tell me your favorite Scripture?
My favorite Scripture is Matthew 25: 31-46. Particularly, I love this instruction from Jesus: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of the family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25: 40). It’s how I try to live my life.
Question: When and why did you decide to become a writer?
I can’t pin point and actual “when” I decided to become a writer because I don’t think I ever made a decision in this regard. I believe that my writing is a vocation that Our Lord unfolded in my life.
Allow me to explain. When I was a teen I used to write inspirational verses. Later on, I would write op-ed pro-life pieces whenever I could fit them into my schedule. I did so to encourage and to raise awareness about the dignity and sacredness of human life.
And, speaking of human life, something extraordinary happened when I was pregnant with my fifth child. I had to be placed on complete bed-rest due to severe complications with my pregnancy. It was a tough “sentence” but I wanted to do all I could to preserve my baby’s life.
It was during this pregnancy when I was put still that I became deeply inspired to write for expectant mothers and families. Suddenly, I envisioned a nine-month pregnancy as a nine-month novena! I wanted to write something that could serve as a prayer journal for expectant mothers, that would also be a novena to Jesus, the Blessed Mother, and the saints. I penned the manuscript while lying in bed.
Later on, it became a book and my spiritual mentor and mother Blessed Mother Teresa wrote the foreword! It is titled, Prayerfully Expecting: A Nine Month Novena for Mothers to Be. That was the first book I wrote, but it became the third one to be published years later. My memoir, The Kiss of Jesus is my twentieth book.
With that said, to answer your question, I didn’t actually choose to become a writer. I believe, I dare say, it was chosen for me. And, I continue to put pen to paper or fingers to keys because I want to encourage others and help inspire them to grow in holiness.
Question: What was the hardest thing about writing this latest book? and the biggest surprise?
The hardest thing about writing this book was revisiting the terribly traumatic parts of my life in great detail. There were other challenges along the way as well.
The biggest surprise was in seeing a variety of beautiful threads of graces woven throughout my life as I wrote my story. I also saw some awesome occurrences beginning to make more sense as they were knit together in grace.
As well, I was totally surprised to discover some pretty fascinating things I had not seen before. For instance, one example is recognizing that in the very same location that a terrible transgression towards me was committed, many years later, a wondrous miracle occurred in someone’s heart right because of God’s graces working through me.
Question: What do you hope your readers will walk away with from this book?
I hope and pray that my readers will walk away with a huge dose of hope in their hearts. They will hopefully feel that whatever trial they are enduring could be used by God to transform hearts and souls when they offer it lovingly to Him. They will hopefully see that they too can get through the dark valleys with God’s help.
I pray that my book will even help to heal deep wounds—all by God’s amazing grace!
|Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle|
Monday, October 19, 2015
|All bove: Umm Qais|
|Hippodrome and Hadrian's Gate: Jerash|
It only took minutes after arriving in Amman, Jordan for me to be blown away by the history, the roots, and the deep geographical and theological connections that this country has with my Catholic Christian faith.
It is not an exaggeration to say that I've been walking around for days feeling like a biblical character in Ben Hur or some other classic Hollywood movie!
First I was on the highway crossing the region where Ruth lived. Yes, that Ruth.
Then I stood on the north bank of the River Jabbok in Gilead at the site where Genesis (32:22-32) describes how Jacob wrestled with an angel (a story and a spiritual verb that I have always related to!). That's the encounter that ended with Jacob demanding a blessing, and being told: “You shall no longer be named Jacob, but Israel."
I also walked a piece of the Road to Damascus, and I stood in the “sweet spot” of a 1st century Roman amphitheater and sang the chorus to the song “There is a balm in Gilead”--because, well, that’s where we were!
One source I researched noted that there are over 60 Biblical sites in Jordan. But in truth it’s more accurate to say that the connections to the Old and New Testament here are countless. And the actual number continues to grow as archeologists discover more priceless sites in their excavations.
Just recently, for example, a team from Trinity Southwest University noted that their excavations unearthed a "goldmine of ancient monumental structures and artifacts" of what is likely Sodom, as in Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis)
I have also visited with Iraqi Christian refugees at a CNEWA community center and joined in beautiful liturgies with the local Malachite Catholic communities, but more on that later.
And I can't wait to tell you about my experience on our overnight stay on the banks of the River Jordan!
For now, one final thought. As Amabel, the Teresian lay worker from the Philippines at the CNEWA library requested, “Please make sure you tell everyone that Jordan is the Holy Land!”
|where Jacob wrestled with God's messenger|