31 Days of Unexpected Joy: The Alphabet Version (Day 9)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: The Alphabet Version (Day 9)


Today’s unexpected joy is brought to you by Seven Quick Takes Friday (aka SQTF) and The Visitation Project (aka TVP). Specifically, this post is a SQTF re: TVP. Hence, the alphabet version.

Annnnd before I lose (even more of) you, away we go!


TVP on itunes (2)

That’s right – The Visitation Project is now on ITunes! I can barely believe it myself … it took quite a bit longer than I planned, but I am so grateful that we’re up and running and will be even more satisfied when all our previously broadcast shows are available for y’all to hear whenever and wherever you are. Woo hoo! So! much! yay!


My diligent co-host, Bonnie, has been burning the midnight oil getting individual episode notes up for your reading pleasure on the TVP website. If you have a chance to thank her, please do. It’s an awful lot of work, but she has stuck it out. Here’s one of the “extras” you’ll see when you hop over to visit.




I love this picture of the three of us co-hosts, and it’s not just because I look so tan and rested (I am really, really not tan, nor am I every actually rested in real life, so while I dunno exactly what happened with this shot #amazinglighting #supersweetfilter, I like it). Anyway, Bonnie, Rebecca, and I were so ready to rock and roll our first round of recording, and I love the looks of enthusiasm, excitement, and sheer joy on our faces.



Flash forward two days. By the time we completed our first marathon recording session, it was time for a much-deserved break. At our celebratory wrap dinner, I convinced the gals to join me in taking an oyster shot. I don’t remember exactly how I talked them into it, but I can promise that little to no alcohol or bribery was involved. My first oyster shot was at this place during college (which, by the way, is still, I believe, the only public bar located on government-owned land), and they sort of grew on me. Not a hard thing to do when you’ve had a couple of drinks. Anyhoo, I hadn’t had one in quite a long time because my husband is, I think, grossed out (as is, admittedly, any number of the general population), but I thought it was good. Fun times!


In the studio

This shot, from our second recording round in August, is incredible because a) Rebecca is wearing a Wonder Woman t-shirt #rad and b) we all have smiles on our faces. What’s the big deal with all of you smiling? you might ask. Well, consider: poor Bonnie was suffering from incredibly difficult morning / all day sickness; Rebecca had a weird bug that had her puking on the plane home to Dallas; and I was still recovering from the worst case of bronchitis I’ve ever had. So, smiling was hard but we did it.


We’re hoping to have some TVP products in the store in time for, dare I say, Christmas shopping?? Maybe? Please don’t hold me to it #bigdreams, but so far we have promotional bookmarks. Let me know if you want one. LOL 😉

TVP Bookmark


Methinks we reallllly need a TVP newsletter. Yes? Yes. We do. I need to quit procrastinating and just make that puppy happen. Yes? Yes.

Okay … that is enough SQT / TVP JOY for one day, IMHO. I pray you have a fabulous evening and I’ll see y’all again tomorrow! Oh, and PS – Catch up with all the other alphabet people over at the magnanimous Kelly Mantoan’s link-up!


{SQT} The busy+lazy+wanted to post anyway version

{SQT} The busy+lazy+wanted to post anyway version

Yes. This is me. And this is the picture up over at CatholicMom.com, too. Woo hoo!
Yes. This is me. And this is the picture up over at CatholicMom.com, too. Woo hoo!

Hey, everyone – sorry it’s been a while. I didn’t even get over here to post a link to my latest Blessed is She post (boo, Heather – bad blogger!). And I haven’t written my personal recap of Edel 2015 yet, either, although I did do this one last year, and I did do a sort of “rallying cry” post about women’s conferences in general for my girl Rebecca over at Patheos.

My last post here was about being sick. And, while I’m better (it wasn’t consumption – it was bronchitis), I am still pretty wiped out a lot of the time But the wiped-out-edness might also be because the TVPCrew and I are recording our next round of episodes beginning tomorrow (15 episodes in all) AND I’m co-hosting the first Blessed Brunch Wednesday, and, overall, scrambling trying to advertise, promote, fund, organize, and generally deliver the women’s conference I hadn’t planned on being responsible for this year.

Is that seven things yet? Well, it should be if it isn’t. So, while all these other things are swirling about (and my husband’s starting a new job in a week – NBD), I had a chance to write my latest post for CatholicMom.com, aptly titled, “When Mama doesn’t have time to be sick.”

Okay – who *does* have time to be sick, anyway? Not many people I know, that’s for sure. But for busy Moms hoping to enjoy summer vacation with their families while simultaneously tackling a “to-do” list the length of a pro-NBA player’s arm, now, sweet Baby Jesus, is not the time to be sick. Perhaps, like me, you’ve been struck with a pesky illness during these hot summer days, and wonder how to take care of yourself amidst the loads of laundry and bickering siblings and phone calls that need returning.

Please read the whole thing and love it and hold it and call it George here.

Until next time, y’all, take GOOD CARE of yourself. You are worth it!


{SQT} All the things, man. All the things. #TVPLaunch #CWR2015 and more

{SQT} All the things, man. All the things. #TVPLaunch #CWR2015 and more


Without further ado, ALLLLLL the things:


TVP social media (2)

So … it’s true … it’s really happening. The Visitation Project premieres THIS SUNDAY on the all-new Mater Dei Radio at 7:30 p.m. PST. I can’t even. Simcha Fisher herself has an EXCLUSIVE AUDIO CLIP today, and our friend Nell with Whole Parenting wrote about it, as did Cari from Clan Donaldson. Miss Dwija from House Unseen ‘Grammed it … Oh – and Sr. Patricia reviewed it over at Patheos. How could I forget Sr. Patricia? HILARIOUS!! Please let me know if we are missing anyone! (Why does this feel like the Oscars?) And … Thanks to all our friends and family for their support. Now we just hope that someone will actually listen … and then actually listen again. And still. The listening. ALLLLL the listening. Check out posts from my amazing co-hosts Bonnie and Rebecca, too!


TVP hearts Catholic Radio giveaway winner

Another radio-related note: the TVP crew converged upon the Catholic Broadcasting NW facilities in Portland, OR, to record earlier this spring, and they just launched their new name – Mater Dei Radio – along with a spiffy new website, and schedule (including TVP! Squee!) today. So, so much good stuff. Last week was their Pledge Drive, and they raised about 91% of their goal. Looking for something to do for the New Evangelization, but not sure where to start? Supporting Catholic radio is always a good bet, and I am 100% positive they would still accept donations of any size if you’re willing and able. My friend Cajun Texas Mom (also our TVP Giveaway winner! WOOT!) does a great job explaining why.


Ain't no party like a Catholic party and the Catholic party don't stahp
Ain’t no party like a Catholic party and the Catholic party don’t stahp

What else? Oh, yes! Tickets for Catholic Women Rejoice featuring Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary + the Edel Gathering and Catholic Evangelist Kelly Wahlquist and yours truly went on sale Monday! We decided to change up the event a bit this year, so it’s going to kick off with Vigil Mass at 5, beer + wine + yummies, speakers, and then … a party. How awesome would it be to get the women in your life a ticket for Mother’s Day? Really. How awesome? Mark your calendars for SATURDAY, AUGUST 29, 2015, and come rejoice with us!


My blog title may or may not have been inspired by The Blues Brothers.
My blog title may or may not have been inspired by The Blues Brothers.

I had a devotion up at Blessed is She yesterday. Being part of this team is always incredibly edifying. I hope you’ll check out the #projectblessed stuff happening over on Instagram and Twitter, too. It’s soul-fulfilling!


My second post is up at CatholicMom.com on Monday. It's a doozy.
My second post is up at CatholicMom.com on Monday. It’s a doozy.

My second article for CatholicMom.com is out Monday, May 4th. I’d really love to know what you think. It’s a bit different for me (who normally dwells squarely in raw, truth-teller-ville) to delve into fictitious fable-land, but it was all for the greater glory of God so we can welcome the stranger in our midst. I’ll post a link here when it’s live.


The Instigator left me and the kids to go to visit all the people in Alabama this week. Boo, hiss. I plan on spending most of Sunday in the Adoration Chapel to recover and I’m not even kidding.


I keep thinking I’m missing something. But that’s probably because the rent is due and the kids need to be picked up from school and, as usual, I have too many things going on at once.

Y’all, that’s probably what I’m forgetting: will you PLEASE pray for me? I could surely use your prayers. There are some things going on behind the scenes that aren’t ready to be shared here, but definitely can still be prayed over. I would be SO incredibly grateful! And … please do leave me a comment … how may I pray for you? I promise I will. After all, we are in this crazy thing called life together.

Until next time,



Linking up with the super cool Kelly Mantoan at This Ain’t the Lyceum. I would challenge her to a dance-off, but I’d lose.

SQT – The Visitation Project Loves Catholic Radio GIVEAWAY!!

SQT – The Visitation Project Loves Catholic Radio GIVEAWAY!!

seven-quick-takes-friday-2-1024x727TVP HEART KBVM 2

You guys. I cannot even tell you how awesome it has been to be part of The Visitation Project, and we haven’t even really hit the airwaves yet (May 3 at 7:30 p.m. PST, by the way). One of the truly amazing things has been to be part of the local Catholic radio station, whose board believed in our vision to provide fun, lively, engaging programming that reaches out to real Catholic women wherever they are. Well, my friends, it is time to give back. You may have seen #80Kin1day over on Twitter or IG, because it’s true – Catholic Broadcasting NW needs to raise $80k today to be funded for the next several months. No KBVM = No TVP. It’s that simple. So … we are asking you to give … by then we are going to give away some ridiculously fun things!

Instead of hammering away at a redundant post, I am going to send you on over to read all about the contest, sponsored by A Knotted Life, as beautifully written by my good friend, Bonnie Engstrom. You will notice that there are SEVEN THINGS in the giveaway (I couldn’t have planned it better myself … thanks, Holy Spirit!):

1) a free blog consultation from Bonnie Engstrom
2) a free copy of Rebecca Frech’s best-selling book, Teaching in Your Tiara.
3) a free copy of Matt Maher’s new album, Sinners and Saints
4) a free copy of All Things Girl: Truth and Teens, featuring Heather Renshaw
5) a batch of homemade, from scratch chocolate chip cookies, baked with love by me
6) a guest post slot on Shoved to Them, Rebecca Frech’s blog with over 40,000 hits a month.
7) a free ticket to the Catholic Women Rejoice conference, featuring keynote speaker Jennifer Fulwiler. (lodging and travel not included)

So, what are you waiting for? Go see Bonnie!Tell her I sent you.

UPDATE: The giveaway has been EXTENDED for online donations ONLY through the end of the weekend, so go over to www.aknottedlife.com to check it out! And thank you SO much to those who have already given. We are truly humbled and grateful. <3

Until next time,



Linking up with the ultra-rad Kelly Mantoan at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

{SQT} It’s never too late to Lent!

{SQT} It’s never too late to Lent!


Since I’m usually running behind on most things (hellooo, recovering perfectionist/adrenaline junkie/busy mom of five/late bloomer), I thought there might be others who are struggling with what they can do this Lent and scrambling to choose easy yet edifying resources. I realize Lent has been blogged about to death already. But, if you’re like me, and you sometimes think, “I’m so late to the party, I might as well stay home,” this post is for you. While my list isn’t exhaustive, I’m not listing anything I wouldn’t do, haven’t done, or am not attempting to do right now. ‘Salright? ‘Salright.

7. ONLINE RESOURCES: Lenten goodies on the interwebz, part one

Best Lent EverWord on Fire

  • Lots of friends are signed up for Matthew Kelly’s Best Lent Ever program, and if it’s like the rest of Kelly’s offerings, it’s bound to be excellent and transformative.
  • Although not Lent-specific, Blessed is She offers daily readings and devotions directly to your email box. The great news is, once you’re hooked on the practice of meditating upon the daily readings this Lent, you can continue the practice all. year. long. Winnnnning!
  • Fr. Robert Barron from Word on Fire will send you daily emails this Lent to keep you on track, too. Really good stuff, and it’s free!



  • Blessed is She Lenten Journal – While the paper versions sold out, the super good news is you can still download a digital version for under $15! The other good news is, I think there will be another journal available for Advent. Woo hoo!
  • The Little Black Book – Maybe your parish already stocked up on these bad boys and is offering them for free. If not, you can order one (or many) for waaay cheap in regular or e-book format. About five minutes a day is all it takes to read the scripture and short meditation, and I love that it fits easily into a small purse or, let’s be real, my diaper bag.

5. BOOKITY-BOOKSYou know – the kind you read. 

consoling the heart of jesus

loved as I am

walking wtih purpose

I like to have a few titles available to read for Lent just in case one is awesome and I race through it or if, for some reason, God isn’t calling me to read one selection just now, or, frankly, I find I just don’t like one I’ve chosen. You may notice that the following titles aren’t even explicitly about Lent. And that’s okay. Pick what speaks to your heart. Here’s my short list:

  • Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. This do-it-yourself retreat has, sadly, been sitting on my bookshelf for months. I have picked it up a few times, yet never dove in. After being completely transformed by the 33 Days to Morning Glory consecration process in 2013, however, I know I can trust Fr. Gaitley’s material to bring me closer to Jesus and His Church.
  • Loved as I Am by Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT. I’ve been putting this off for several months now because, as I skimmed the first few pages, I realized I wasn’t reading the words of a typical memoir; rather, I was reading words that were going to challenge, pierce, and potentially convert me. Sounds like a good choice for Lent to me.
  • Walking with Purpose by Lisa Brinninkmeyer. The author’s last name might be tough to pronounce, but it’s easy to get ahold of this well laid-out book from Dynamic Catholic. It’s only $5.95 for shipping (U.S.), and there’s a free downloadable study guide here. Whether I’m able to do it this Lent or not, I’m reading this book. Oh yes, I am.

4. OTHER STUFF: Things I found helpful and/or pretty aka Lenten goodies on the interwebz, part twoglory of god bis

  • Lacy over at Catholic Icing always has amazing resources for families with children.
  • Kendra at Catholic All Year has a big, fat post chock full of Lent-y goodness right here.
  • Bonnie has some Sheenazingly beautiful graphics at her site. Not specifically Lent, but apropos all the same. Plus, she’s coming here next month (see below). Y’all better come!
  • Sarah wrote one of my most favorite posts on repentance (don’t be afraid; it’s probably not what you’re thinking – it’s about self-care and it’s completely awesome).
  • Last but not least, Sterling created this awesome worksheet – 40 days of suffering – that she kindly offered permission for me to share with y’all. It is BRILLIANT in its simplicity: indicate a person, organization, or cause for whom you’ll be offering up your suffering for each of the 40 days of Lent.

3. COMMUNITY Do something more, different, or new this Lenten season.

Power of PrayerRichard Lane Mission

  • Is your parish or one nearby having a Lenten retreat? Even Jesus had to take time away in the desert! Make plans now to attend!  Here’s one for women in the Pacific NW featuring my friends Bonnie Engstrom from A Knotted Life and Sterling from Beauty in Belief. I hope to see you there.
  • Here’s a Lenten mission for the whole family with my brother Richard Lane. I guarantee it will be Holy Spirit-filled!
  • Many parishes offer a light soup/supper and/or Stations of the Cross, especially on Fridays (that’s tonight, by the way). Find one in your area, and make it so. If nothing like these events are happening in your (Arch)Diocese, perhaps you’re being called to organize something for next Lent! Think about it.

2. CHURCH Go hang out there more.

  • Go to Confession. Too afraid? Tell the priest. There is an ocean of Divine Mercy awaiting you in the confessional, my friend. What better way to celebrate Jesus in all His resurrected glory than in a state of unblemished grace?
  • Add an extra daily Mass at least once a month, twice a month, once a week, or as often as you are able.
  • Adoration. Find the Adoration Chapel nearest you and go. to. there. as often as you can. I’m trying for a couple times a month, but hope to get to once a week. And, finally:

1.  FRIENDLY ADMONITION Here’s where I beg.

I implore  you: please, for the love of God and all things holy, do not attempt to do all of the things on this list. Lent isn’t about checklists, remember? It’s about rending our hearts and being in closer relationship with Christ. Put down the mental and/or physical checklist and pray. Ask your Heavenly Father to speak to your heart, and choose to do only one thing, like Mary in the Gospel.  And stick with it.