31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Sacrifice (Day 30)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Sacrifice (Day 30)

You’ve heard it before:

No pain, no gain.

And maybe you’ve come across this:

No trial, no triumph.

Here’s the one I’ve come to understand a little bit better this past month:

No sacrifice, no joy.

Now, it’s one thing to sacrifice something and experience pride because of it – and there’s nothing wrong with a healthy sense of pride over a job well done.

The joy I’m talking about, however, comes from an interior knowledge that you’re uniting the discomfort of your present circumstance with the Ultimate Suffering of Christ on the Cross.

This month, our church encouraged its parishioners to offer up extra prayers and sacrifices in honor of Respect Life month. Multiple crosses made from construction paper sat on a table in the narthex awaiting someone’s written description of their offering. Once complete, the crosses were affixed to a larger cross at the front of the church, making a beautiful collage of prayer to support the dignity of life.

Here’s mine:

Respect Life Cross

I think there’s gotta be a rule about one’s sacrifice losing efficacy should one constantly grumble about it. Same with talking about one’s sacrifice with anyone who will listen. After all, “God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).”

So I tried really hard not to do those things.

But dang.

It’s honestly mind boggling that, even thirty days in to the month, I am still jonesing for soda or juice or milk or iced coffee. Mmmm. Coooffffeee.

The good news is, as best I understand it, that I’ve had way more opportunities to offer up my minor inconvenience and suffering (small ‘s’) for human life. And, hopefully, rather than being too proud of sticking to my promise, I’m taking it in stride, experiencing a deep sense of joy that comes from knowing that, even in my small way, I’ve entered in to the mystery of Christ’s redemptive suffering on the cross.

(And I’d be lying if I didn’t add that I’m excited about coffee on Sunday. C’moooon November 1st! Amen.)

Until tomorrow, may God bless y’all in His loving kindness.


New must-see video from Musician Danielle Rose

New must-see video from Musician Danielle Rose

Grab your tissue box, dear friends, because this hauntingly gorgeous new video from Catholic singer-songwriter Danielle Rose will tug, pull, and yank at your heartstrings and then configure them in super-funky ways you didn’t quite know were possible.

So enthralled was I whilst watching this morning that I burned the toast. Twice.

No matter.

What is worthy of your consideration is the China Little Flower organization, whose care for the abandoned and forsaken children in China is lovingly documented in Danielle’s video. From their website:

“Our Projects include: 1. Hospice care for orphans; 2. Group educational foster care; 3. Special Care for infants; 4. Long-term care for severely disabled children; 5. Special causes Hospice … In our hospice program we provide comfort, love, and care to orphaned children who are dying.”

Allllllll the tears.

Care for unwanted children through adoption and foster care is very close to my heart, and I hope to post more about it in this space soon. Meanwhile, please prayerfully consider supporting the necessary work of China Little Flower as you ponder Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s beautiful words as sung by Danielle:

“How can you say there are too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers in the garden of God.”

We can make a difference, friends. We truly can.

God bless y’all.

UPDATED to add this behind-the-scenes clip about making the video because so. much. joy. !! Shout out to Spirit Juice Studios for another excellent production!

Celebrating Real Catholic Women: Shannon Wendt

Celebrating Real Catholic Women: Shannon Wendt

Celebrating Real Catholic Women: Shannon Wendt

Meet Shannon Wendt - aka Organic Mama!
Meet Shannon Wendt – aka Organic Mama!

This week, we celebrate the lovely and talented Shannon Wendt, creator and proprietor of Organic Mama’s Shop. I first met Shannon on the Saturday night dance floor at Edel. Since our dance-off in Austin (she obviously brought her “A” game), we’ve gotten to know each other more the old-fashioned way – via Facebook. I knew that Shannon has a heart the size of Texas, but I wanted to know more about her and Organic Mama. You’ll want to be sure and read through to the end for an exclusive special promotion available for Real Catholic Mom readers!


Real Catholic Mom: Hi, Shannon! Thanks for being here! Can you tell the readers a little about the inspiration behind Organic Mama’s Shop?
Shannon Wendt: No problem! I’m so excited to share my stuff. Thanks for giving me a chance! I started my shop because I really love to give (and receive!) handmade gifts. I love the real person aspect of it! Time is precious, and when you spend it creating something for someone else, that means something.

RCM: So, how did it all begin? Did you just wake up and decide, “I am going to take the jewelry world by storm?”
SW: Back in 2008, I started with nursing jewelry. My products all started out as gifts I would give friends at baby showers and people kept encouraging me to sell them. So, one day, I opened an Etsy shop and it took off like a rocket!

Pretty necklace, pretty baby!
Pretty necklace, pretty baby!

I’ve recently launched a new line of Catholic Mama jewelry and those products were born out of a personal need. I used to pray the rosary daily before I had kids. But as the babies started coming, my day got a lot less predictable and quiet prayer time was elusive. Also, as the little ones got bigger, the rosaries got moved out of reach. And out of sight, out of mind … so I created my Rosary Bracelets so that I would have a constant reminder to pray! I designed it to be durable. It can withstand the attention of my toddler, but still looks beautiful. Also, I added a unique feature – the movable crucifix charm. I hardly have 15-20 quiet minutes to finish a rosary, but finding 5 minutes here and there is totally doable. The movable charm can be clipped to the place I left off.

Praying the rosary has never looked this good!
Praying the rosary has never looked this good!
This gorgeous bracelet arrived just in time for my reconsecration to Jesus through Mary. Love!!
This gorgeous bracelet arrived just in time for my reconsecration to Jesus through Mary. Love!!

RCM: A movable charm to keep track is ingenious! My Swiss cheese Mama brain loves this concept so much. Now, the Rosary Bracelet – is that your favorite product, personally?
SW: My Rosary Bracelet is definitely my favorite; specifically the green turquoise! It’s bright and fun and just a little funky. I feel like that’s really me. A simple tool used to grow faith, but with a touch of spunk that can’t be missed.

RCM: Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a lil bit o’ spunk! I like it. So, you’ve got rosaries as part of your product line; your Catholic faith really seems to inspire your work.
SW: Even before I created Catholic jewelry, my faith has always been front and center in my business. I tucked it into every nook and cranny of my shop and print material. When expectant customers contacted me with questions or custom orders, I always let them know I was praying for them. And my name has a lot to do with my faith. I often get asked why I chose “Organic Mama’s Shop” as my name. It started as a joke. I bought organic before it was hip! And my more mainstream friends referred to me as the Organic Mama, and it stuck. But when it came time to name my shop, I prayed on this. And I realized what “organic” meant to me. It wasn’t just the food I buy and the products I use; I realized that what it really meant was living a lifestyle that sought to live, love, grow, and create in a way that God intended.

Also, I’m passionate about helping struggling Moms. The Visitation is my favorite story in the Bible! Moms need each other! I’m glad to be able to help them in a small way through my products, but also 10% of my profits go to support HELP, my local crisis pregnancy center.

Nom, nom, nom. Baby not included with purchase price.

RCM: That is so awesome! The Visitation is my favorite mystery of the rosary! And St. Elizabeth was my Confirmation Saint. So, if you could spend the day with any one saint, Shannon, who would it be, and why?
SW: Undoubtedly St. Joan of Arc! There are other Saints I love. But her life seems the most exciting. She is my Confirmation Saint because I’ve never been one to follow the crowd or let injustice go. I’ve never (sometimes to my detriment!) been one to give up on a fight! The thought of being one chosen by God to lead an army and fight injustice is exciting! I know her story is a little less than glamorous and didn’t end pretty. But if I get to choose the Saint, can I also pick the day? (RCM: You go, girl!) I’d love to ride along with her to Chinon where she picks the king out of the crowd and relays to him the secret sign that her Saintly counsel gave her. How it must have felt to be plucked up and set straight on the path of God’s mission for you and have such clear confirmation from Him!

RCM: I know it sure would be nice if God had a text plan, but that hasn’t happened yet, so … Anyway, is there anything else about you that the Real Catholic Mom readers should know, Organic Mama?
SW: I was gonna say something funny, like, I have misophonia- an extreme intolerance of the sound of people eating. But what I really want your readers to know is that I could use some prayer. I’m currently nine weeks pregnant and we’ve lost our last three little ones. Each one was physically and emotionally more and more difficult. So this mixture of excitement and anxiety can be a little overwhelming. I just want God’s perfect will for this child, and He hasn’t filled me in on what that plan is yet.

RCM: Well, we will definitely pray for you, Shannon! God bless you! Won’t we, readers??


I told you she is a sweetheart! Shannon also says that all her items come with a lifetime repair and replacement promise. Shipping is free for orders of $50 or more, and 10% of each order goes to the HELP Pregnancy Resource Center. You can find Organic Mama’s here, on Etsy and Facebook. And, for a limited time (until September 5, 2014), use discount code REALCATHOLIC and receive 25% off your order!

P.S. Here we are on the dance floor at Edel, having a blast Real Catholic Organic Mama style.

I'm second from the left, and Shannon is on the far right. We bad.
I’m second from the left, and Shannon is on the far right. We bad.
Vintage Visitation

Vintage Visitation

Hi, Friends! How is it Monday already?? This past Friday, I posted my very first link-up with 7QT. Squee! In it, I said I had a bunch of thoughts swirling about regarding the Visitation, which happened to be Friday’s Gospel reading. Well, guess what, mis compadres? It seems like I’ve been thinking about this very thing for quite a while. The following is the first in an occasional series called Vintage RCM, and was originally posted way back on May 10, 2010. Enjoy!

An online friend reminded me that today’s Gospel reading is the story of The Visitation, where John the Baptist leaps in St. Elizabeth’s womb at Mary’s greeting.

I have a special connection with St. Elizabeth, as she is my Confirmation Saint. Little did I know that, at the tender age of 14, I hadn’t really chosen St. Elizabeth, but that she had chosen me. I had honestly wondered, over the years, why I had actually chosen St. Elizabeth. Singing the customized versions of the Liturgy of the Saints for the RCIA Candidates at the Easter Vigil over the years and hearing all the wonderful saints’ names actually filled me with some regret that I didn’t really put much thought into selecting my own Confirmation Saint. Elizabeth is my Aunt’s name, and she was my Confirmation Sponsor, so I just picked “Elizabeth” for my Saint. Frankly, in my apathy and ignorance, I didn’t really want to do the research involved in selecting a Confirmation Saint, nor did I think it important. Silly me – God was still at work.

It wasn’t until this year, while contemplating how I could uplift and encourage women and further the pro-life message, that it finally started to dawn on me. I first saw the masterpiece “The Visitation” by Italian painter Albertenelli, below, at the local Catholic bookstore. The painting, with its sheer emotion and beauty, stopped me cold in my tracks and actually moved me to tears. Right there in the bookstore. Finally, I thought. This is what a loving relationship between sisters in Christ should look like! It was in no small part because of this painting that I was motivated to coordinate the pro-life Tea at church this past April.

In addition, I don’t think it is a fluke that my son was born on the Feast of St. John the Baptist. He declares Christ’s love and saving power to me in his own way each and every day. And my Confirmation Saint is St. John the Baptist’s Mom. God is so awesome. In case you needed to be reminded. 🙂

So,  St. Elizabeth really *is* my Confirmation Saint, even if it took me 20 years to figure out why. And it is with her guidance that I see how the Holy Spirit is at work in my life.

God works in mysterious ways … through the brush strokes of a long-passed master artist, through the underdeveloped selections of an ignorant teen-aged girl, and through  Sts. John & Elizabeth, the first pro-life heralds (John, by action & St. Elizabeth, by proclamation). Deo Gratias!


Guess who’s late? #NFP

Guess who’s late? #NFP

It figures. Last week was National Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, and I am late.

To post.

About the week.

What did you think I meant?

Anyway, I have been having some good conversations with others this week about Natural Family Planning, and have read some really good blogs. One was about the benefits of NFP for singles, and the other was a thought-provoking article by noted Catholic Author and Mom Danielle Bean called “Five Ways I Don’t Love Natural Family Planning.” Be sure to read the comments section – it’s a doozy!

For what it’s worth, I wanted to include my two cents regarding Natural Family Planning. As I type this, I am almost 4 months postpartum (our 4th child), and I’m at the lovely stage where my hormones are in such weird array that: a) I could weave a small rug with the amount of hair I lose each time I brush my hair/take a shower/walk into the living room; b) my complexion has begun to resemble a certain kind of pizza we all know and love; and c) my NFP chart is, shall we say, whack. It’s anybody’s guess (right now) whether I’m able to conceive or not.

And, you know what? That’s okay. I’m at peace with abstaining. Or not. I am also at peace with whatever children God gives us, at whatever time he chooses to give them. I have not always felt this way, and I’m pretty sure my husband hasn’t, either.

Has NFP always been easy for me and my husband? Heck, no! Has it always been worth it? In a word, yes. I believe that NFP has been physically, psychologically, and spiritually beneficial for me and my husband. Could we be “better” at it? Hm. Interesting question. Could we be more diligent in charting? Yes. Could we appreciate each other more? Yes. Could we communicate more effectively? Of course. Could we be better at conceiving children? No. 🙂 We have four little lambs to prove it.

Ultimately, practicing Natural Family Planning has helped us to have the faith of a little child – trusting that Our Heavenly Father has a plan and purpose for our family.

Need some words of encouragement? Check out what Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta has to say about  (toward the end of the article).

God bless.