Sunday, July 08, 2018

Secrets: New Catholic Teen/YA Anthology

Today I am excited to be part of the blog tour for Secrets: Visible and Invisible, the new anthology by seven writers.

As described by Mark Hart of Life Teen International, who provides the foreword, "Each story reveals something different about the human heart and our constant (though, often veiled) desire for truth and virtue."

Secret (n.) - something kept hidden from knowledge or view; a mystery.

In a dystopian future, an innocent picnic turns deadly!

Elijah knows nothing of the elderly stranger's secret past--until her disappearance changes everything.

A mysterious, ever-changing painting alarms a group of teens.

The cannonball took Dario's legs . . . Will he lose his soul too?

The arrival of a mysterious girl challenges everything about Jason's life.

An unlicensed driver. His dad's truck. What could possibly go wrong?

An old tale of murder and forbidden love leads to a modern day treasure hunt.

For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light. (Luke 8:17 RSV-CE)

Some advance reviews:

“This anthology of short stories for Catholic teenagers is a true literary treasure. It provides genres for every type of reader, each so well written that the reader is invited to fully escape into many different worlds and places. The short stories will take its readers to dystopian Europe, high school hallways, a city block in summer, and a soldier’s medical ward in16th-century Italy, just to name a few. The characters are diverse, exciting, relatable; their adventures are accessible, mysterious and enthralling. But within these different settings, there is one uniting comfort: God is always there, whether revealed in a desperate prayer to a guardian angel, through pure romantic love, the presence of Christian charity, men and women religious, or within the sacraments. The hope that comes through Catholicism and Jesus prevails in each vignette, and yet there is still heavy doses of drama, suspense and tactful violence. So if your teen seems totally spaced out and properly engrossed, take courage knowing their love of reading and their love of the faith is being fed through these beautiful stories.”
       Regina Lordan for Catholic News Service
"This anthology of Catholic fiction for teens will introduce readers to seven diverse authors. Many of these stories, in a variety of genres but linked by a common theme, offer a peek at characters from full-length novels. Readers already acquainted with these authors will enjoy new perspectives on favorite characters. Kudos to and these seven authors for dreaming up this excellent collection."

      Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS, Editor, and Managing Editor, Today's Catholic Teacher magazine

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Friday, July 06, 2018

How to Make Your Life "A Beautiful Dream"

When I picked up One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to Them Both, I knew very little about Jennifer Fulwiler other than she is a well-known Catholic writer and radio personality. In fact, I was fully prepared to hate this book, expecting something along the lines of, “Look at how wonderful my life is. I have it all and you could, too, if only you were [fill in your favorite adjective] enough.”

I was wrong. Fulwiler comes across as incredibly human with the wonderful ability to laugh at herself. She describes herself as a career atheist who never wanted a family, yet ended up having six babies in eight years “and learned how to follow my dreams in the process.”

She opens the book with a supermarket disaster that only moms who have tried to navigate grocery shopping with two toddlers can fully understand. Throughout the book she shares her honest challenges of having a large family of small children, including many laugh-out-loud moments. She also shares her medical issues, her struggles with natural family planning, and her desire to pursue her “blue flame,” her personal passion of writing. 

While this is primary a memoir of a challenging few years in Fulwiler’s life, she has much wisdom to offer mothers, especially those struggling to balance family and work, in whatever form that work might take. Her story is individual and remarkable, yet universal in that every woman must attempt to figure out what “having it all” means for her. We all must try to fulfill the vocational missions that God has given us. 

As Fulwiler states, she came to realize it was “a beautiful dream I was living – not in spite of all the unexpected twists and turns, but because of them.” The same can be said of all of us. Fulwiler has outdone herself with One Beautiful Dream. This memoir, both funny and touching, is well-worth spending some of your precious time with.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Go Bravely - Amazing Advice for Young Women

I can't give a full review of Go Bravely because I've reviewed it for Catholic Library World and am prohibited from doing so, but I just want to say that this book is amazing. It's basically a life manual for teens and young women. I wish I had this book 25 years ago! So, if you are a young woman or if there is a young woman in your life, get them this book. It just may change their lives.

Here is the official description:

Emily Wilson Hussem used to feel the same way. In Go Bravely, the Catholic musician and speaker offers twenty bits of advice that will equip you to tackle your deepest concerns about relationships, self-esteem, and dating while strengthening your faith at the same time.

"Sometimes even the smallest acts of living out faith require great bravery."

In Go Bravely, Wilson Hussem offers readers warm and friendly encouragement as she shares her experiences with other young women as their youth minister as well as her own struggles with insecurity, relationships, loving and forgiving herself, and living her faith. You’ll feel right at home as she challenges you to be a light in the world while simultaneously offering you easy-to-digest advice on your most pressing questions.

Fresh off figuring out who she is as a daughter of God, how to cultivate healthy friendships, how to save sex for marriage, and how to develop a prayer life, Wilson Hussem gives you advice about what she learned in the midst of becoming a young woman. Aware of the information overload that young people face today, she shares simple wisdom for bravely living your faith, such as:
  • Always be kind to other women.
  • Work hard at what you love.
  • Recognize God's plan for your life.
  • Remember that nobody is perfect.
  • Cultivate authentic friendships.
These are basic ideas, Wilson Hussem says, but taking care of yourself and loving others are easy tenets of our faith to forget. A book that can be read in short snippets or in one sitting, Go Bravely offers you the encouragement and tools you need to live out your Christian faith with purpose and zeal.
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Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Target's Cat & Jack Line Includes Clothes for Kids with Special Needs

The retailer Target announced in late 2017 that their Cat & Jack line would feature sensory-friendly pieces as well as adaptive clothing for those with physical disabilities.

Target’s internal design team created the 40-item assortment with features like side and back snap and zip closures and hidden openings for abdominal access, all in an effort to make getting dressed easier for everyone (kids and parents!).
“It’s our goal at Target to always make sure we have products that fit our guests’ needs, and all at a reasonable price point. We heard from our guests—and members of our own team—that there’s a need for adaptive clothing for kids that is both fashionable and affordable, so we set out to create exactly that,” said Julie Guggemos, senior vice president, Product Design & Development, Target. 

“Since launching sensory-friendly apparel and receiving such positive guest feedback, we’re focused on continuing to evolve and expand Cat & Jack to meet the needs of even more of our guests.”
Some highlights from the assortment include outerwear with zip-off sleeves, footless sleepwear and diaper-friendly leggings and bodysuits. Another plus? The clothing is made from extra-soft, comfortable and durable cotton knits.

Children with sensory issues (including those on the Autism spectrum) can often have a hard time with clothing. A tag, inseam, or rough material can send them into meltdown. Having more choices available for children with special needs is wonderful. One can only hope more mainstream retailers follow Target's lead.

Image Copyright Target. For more information on Cat and Jack, please visit:

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Marian Consecration Renewal

I haven't been able to update this blog much lately - I've been working on other projects that have been using every available moment of my time. I'm blessed to have the work, but I wanted to let you all know I am alive and well, enjoying spring, and today I was able to renew my Consecration to our Blessed Mother. 

I first made my Marian Consecration on May 13, 2015 (Feast of Our Lady of Fatima) which means that I had the opportunity to renew it today. I thought it was pretty cool that I got to remake this commitment and handing over of my life to the Blessed Mother on Mother's Day.

If you've never made a Marian Consecration, I encourage you to do so. Generally there is 33 days of preparation and then you make the consecration. An easy way to do this is using the book 33 Days to Morning Glory.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Do You Want a Personal Relationship with Jesus?

Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? It sounds like a question straight out of an evangelical Protestant’s mouth, but it is relevant for us Catholics as well. Katie Prejean McGrady is a young Catholic mom and a Catholic speaker working primarily with teens and young adults. In 2016, she spoke to a large group of teens at UCLA. At a break in the gathering, a young man approached McGrady and asked her, “Who is Jesus? Like, really?”

Follow: Your Lifelong Adventure with Jesus is the answer to that young man’s question. It is designed for those who have some familiarity with the Catholic faith, perhaps have even been practicing it their whole lives, but who, for whatever reason, haven’t made it their own. She offers a “process of meeting and falling in love with the Savior of the World” which is set firmly within the Catholic tradition.

McGrady describes having a relationship with Jesus as a “wonderful, crazy, beautiful adventure” in which “you won’t meet Jesus once. You’ll meet him again and again and be newly surprised and amazed each time by who he is, who you are, and how intense and complete his love is for you.”

How do you meet Jesus? The answer is through prayer, Scripture, and the Sacraments. Once we meet Jesus, we are then called to share Jesus by “being Jesus to others.” We encounter Jesus and then we are invited to live out that faith and relationship by serving those around us on a daily basis. It is a lifelong journey.

Interwoven in the text, McGrady shares her own story of coming to have a deep relationship with Jesus and how he has worked in her life. The way God arranged for her to meet her husband is positively amazing.  

Follow is written in an easy-to-understand conversational style, but the theology is solid and there is a great deal of good advice in these pages. It is designed for high school and college age individuals, however the suggestions McGrady offers can be used by those of any age.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Please Take a Survey on Catholic Homeschooling

Are you a Catholic homeschooler? Would you like to share your hard-earned wisdom with other homeschoolers? I'm conducting a survey on Catholic homeschooling for my Today's Catholic Homeschooling website and I would love to have as many Catholic homeschoolers take part as possible.

I will use the responses in articles, and possibly a book, to help Catholic homeschoolers in their lives.

Here is the link to the survey:

And thank you so much for your time! Please feel free to share the survey link with other Catholic Homeschoolers.

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