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A kernel of contemplation buried within the chaos

When I wrote my last book, Everyday Divine: A Catholic Guide to Active Spirituality, my original plan was to develop some videos and other helpful tools to help readers and pray-ers put the written suggestions into prayer practice. This is a book about discovering the divine in the everyday, about praying not in the quiet of a chapel (although that’s necessary too), but in the chaos of household chores. It’s a book about finding God in the mundane moments of commuting to work, shopping for food, waiting in a doctor’s office, whatever often seems to pull us away from peace and serenity but actually has buried within it the kernel of contemplation. Read more

Foodie Friday: Slow cooker Thai chicken

We’re dusting of the old Foodie Friday file today to bring you a super easy, super delicious slow cooker recipe. Pop it in the crockpot before you head off to work or the pool and return to dinner ready and waiting. And your house will smell amazing.

We serve this over Basmati rice with a side of steamed snow peas. It’s a favorite with everyone except the vegetarian, but even she has to admit that it smells delicious. Thanks to Dennis for discovering this one. He’s made it quite a few times, but I hadn’t had a chance to sample it until last week because for so long I wasn’t eating meat. Glad I finally got a chance to try it. Read more

Wisdom Wednesday: Do not lose your inner peace.

About five for six years ago, I kept bumping into St. Francis de Sales. He seemed to show up at every turn in my reading and writing. That’s when I first discovered his beautiful reflections on spiritual friendship, which prompted me to write Walking Together: Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual Friendship (Ave Maria Press). What I love about St. Francis is the fact that this 17th-century bishop’s writings could be so relevant to our world today, not just the writings on friendship but on just about everything. Like the Wisdom Wednesday quote below. There’s lots more where this came from:

Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. — Saint Francis de Sales

Manic Monday: On the edge of summer

Summer vacation STILL hasn’t started for us. A few more days of school before the kids are free and we sit down to make our annual Beach Bucket List. Noah is taking a Regents exam as we speak and still has his big final oral presentation and a Latin final to go. Olivia is hoping thunderstorms don’t wash out the eighth-grade trip to the Great Escape tomorrow. Chiara is waiting for her last (half) day on Wednesday and her big end-of-year gymnastics performance that night, which will include a triple back-handspring and an aerial cartwheel, I’m told. From what I’ve seen in the backyard, I know she’s serious. And we’ll cap off the school activities with Olivia’s eighth-grade graduation on Thursday morning. Good week behind us, good week ahead of us, lots of good all around us. Here’s our Manic Monday menu: Read more

A romantic getaway 10 minutes from home

Dennis and I decided we wanted a romantic night away from home, but with three kids and busy schedules, we didn’t see how that was going to happen any time soon. And then we had an Aha! moment. We didn’t have to go far to get away. Maybe romance was right around the corner. And so we set out to give ourselves a 16-hour escape only 10 minutes from home. Read more

Wisdom Wednesday: ‘Go back to blue’

I’ve decided to continue our Lucinda Williams theme by choosing her song “Blue” as our Wednesday Wisdom. One of the few “poems” I’ve written in my life is titled “Blue,” so more Lucinda connection for me there.

Here are the lyrics and then a YouTube video of her performing the song live from a show in 2009. Enjoy.

Go find a jukebox and see what a quarter will do 
I don’t wanna talk I just wanna go back to blue 
Feed’s me when I’m hungry and quenches my thirst 
Loves me when I’m lonely and thinks of me first  Read more

My long love affair with Lucinda Williams

When I moved to Austin, Texas, the first time… (I actually moved there twice, first in 1988 and again in 1995. Almost moved there a third time. It’s that kind of city.) Anyway, when I moved to Austin, Texas, in 1988, I took only what could fit in my un-airconditioned Chevy Chevette, which wasn’t much. Some clothes, a typewriter (Yes, a typewriter, not a computer!), a rotary dial phone (goodness I’m old), my favorite books and some pots and pans. Left behind were both of my beloved guitars (the beat up $3 find my grandfather bought at a garage sale and the shiny 12-string I used to play in the folk group at the 9:30 a.m. Mass at St. Aedan’s in Pearl River.) I simply couldn’t fit them in the car, and I guess on some level I figured I was starting a new life and maybe my guitar-playing wasn’t going to figure into it. Read more

Giving a soul to the internet

My June Life Lines column, running in the current issue of Catholic New York:

When you sign onto Facebook to check out your friend’s latest vacation photos or post a status update, you probably don’t think of it as an evangelization opportunity, but social media is fast becoming one of the most effective ways for Catholics to share their beliefs in unintimidating and powerful ways.

By providing a virtual witness through things we say, the links we post, the community we build, we draw people toward us and, by extension, the faith that sustains us. Read more

Wisdom Wednesday: The ‘mental picture’ of your life

Last week, after our date-night dinner, Dennis and I stood on the Albany side of the Hudson looking out and, as I usually do, I pointed to a beautiful steeple on the Rensselaer side of the river and wondered what church it might be.

On this particular night, Dennis decided to solve the mystery and drove across the bridge to the church you see there on the left, St. John the Evangelist-St. Joseph, just down the street from the train station. We caught a beautiful sunset from that spot and found a lovely little garden dedicated to St. Padre Pio. And so I thought I’d share some Wednesday Wisdom from that beloved Italian saint:  Read more

Manic Monday: And now, a break in the insanity

After back-to-back, wall-to-wall dance dress rehearsals and recitals this past week, we have reached a place of calm. At least for the time being. I keep checking the calendar, sure I must be missing something because it’s eerily quiet, too much white space in what is otherwise a totally full schedule. But I think it’s for real, even if it’s only a temporary reprieve. Read more