Dynamic Women of Faith Conference 2015

Do any of you live in Canada? Ontario? the GTA? If you do, there is an event happening next weekend that you won’t want to miss! If you follow other bloggers in the US, so many of them attend Catholic conferences, and the posts about them, and pictures on twitter and Instagram always warm my heart and make me ache to attend with them. Well, there is one right here in Toronto, and it is a wonderful day!

I have attended in the past, and it is just so inspiring being in a room filled the brim with other Catholic women who love their faith as much as you do. The stories, the laughs, it is such an incredible day, and if you live close by, I would hate for you to miss it. This years’ line up of speakers is just remarkable, Dorothy Pilarski the organizer keeps drawing in better speakers each year! Check out the poster below, and I hope you consider attending with me.

For more information on the conference as well as great articles (I’ve written a few!) stop by the Dynamic Women of Faith website.

DWF2015

Lenten Movie Reviews – A Man For All Seasons

I’m sure we are all familiar with this story to some extent. The one where Henry VIII wants an heir so bad he creates a church that will allow him to divorce his wife and marry the one that gave him a son. There are loads of movies and TV shows about it, most of which do not take into account the Catholic perspective. My husband and I watched The Other Boleyn Girl a few months ago and were shocked how little the Catholic Church and Thomas More were mentioned. Considering the entire fiasco is because of Henry VIII’s view of the Church and disregard for it’s teachings, you’d think it would play a larger role.

Next up in our Lenten movie journey: A Man For All Seasons

A_Man_for_All_Seasons_(1966_movie_poster)

 

I just love learning about the saints! Especially ones who are seemingly normal people just like you and me. Thomas More was a family man, trying to earn a living and be loyal to the King of England. He was a man of deep faith, and was held in very high regard during the time he was alive. That was until Henry VIII went against the Church, and Thomas refused to follow.

I would love to think that if I was placed in a similar situation I would stand firm with the Church like he did. But at the same time, risking being taken away from my family, and facing death? I don’t know what I would do. But I guess that is why he is the saint.

This movie is a great period piece, with wonderful costumes and scenery that draws you in to England in the 1500s. It focuses on the events leading up to More’s eventual conviction and beheading, as King Henry VIII’s advisers scramble to find a way for him to marry Anne Boleyn. As Catholic’s, they know the Pope will not grant a divorce, so the King declares himself as the Supreme Head of the Church of England, and allows himself to divorce and remarry in that church. More refuses to accept this, and cleverly avoids being tried for treason for some time, by never uttering the actual words. He will neither deny nor confirm what everyone assumes to be true, and is locked in the Tower of London as punishment, until they can prove that he has committed treason. If it is possible, it is quite the comical portrayal of More, as he avoids being convicted of any crime. As a lawyer, he knows the power of perfect wording, and they have some trouble finding him guilty of anything. But in the end, once he is finally convicted of high treason, thanks false testimony, he admits that he does not acknowledge the King as the head of a Church saying “no temporal man may be the head of the spirituality”.

Upon the steps before his execution, he calmly uttered his famous final words, as he declared he was “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

A fantastic film, and must watch for all Catholics, and especially those that love shows like Downton Abbey and The Tudors, it gives you a great Catholic perspective on that time in England.

movie reviews

A Surprise Prayer to melt your heart

Life has been busy, but I promise I have posts about Apps for Catholics and a write up about the Dynamic Women of Faith conference…but for now, I just have a little story to share.

Today while out running errands with my 2.5 year old daughter, we were nearing the end of our journey, and about to head back to my son’s school to pick him up. As I buckled her up in her car seat, she clasped her hands together and closed her eyes; “Please let there be no dog poop at the school yard. Amen.” As she opened her eyes, she smiled and exclaimed she was praying for no more dog poop at the school, just like how she prayer for her lost soother to be found a few months ago.

I must also say when she says dog poop, she really means mud (she calls all mud dog poop), and she wanted the mud to be gone so she could play on the hill in the school yard with the big kids.

I just love that she prayed for this, instead of just saying something like “I hope the mud is all gone”. Praying at bedtime sure is paying off!

One week in…

…so how is it going? Have you forgotten what you gave up and did it/ate it by mistake yet? I’ve seen some tweets and posts about messing up after only a few days, and if that’s you, it’s ok! Don’t beat yourself up if you did, it’s not a total fail, just take a step back, pray, and start again fresh tomorrow!

I like to replace what I’m giving up with something. This year I have given up raising my voice/yelling at my kids. It’s forcing me to stay calm, be more patient, and not just jump to conclusions and yell as my first instinct. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to just stop doing something like that (did I mention how tired and emotional I am from being pregnant, and how much my kids love to whine and fight over just about everything?), every time I yell I have to say a Hail Mary. That forced me to calm right down, and remove myself from whatever the situation was that caused me to raise my voice. It’s been working like a charm! Day one I said 3 Hail Mary’s, and since then I have only had to say one or two here and there! My husband even complimented me last night how great I was doing, and how nice it was to not have me loosing my cool so much. It’s kind of embarrassing…but I know you won’t judge me right? And I would much rather focus on the great side of this; me being a more patient mother who is also a much better listener!

The other thing that we give up each and every Lent are the sweets and treats. And since Sunday’s don’t count, my husband stopped by Tim Horton’s on Sunday and picked up some Timbits for us all. They were delicious, especially after a week of no sweets! We also had brownies and ice cream for dessert that night…I was very tempted to like my plate, but I restrained myself. My son has also been really great with this one. I thought for sure he would be asking for a treat all the time, but he had no problem with the treats in the house being put away in our cold storage until Easter! He was also keeping his little sister in line at the grocery store today, announcing “no treats during Lent!” anytime her eyes strayed to a yummy chocolate snack.

I hope you aren’t stressing too much if you have fallen off your Lenten path. There is still plenty of time to get back to it and have a great turnout!

Meatless Meals for Lent

With Lent only a few days away, some of you may be scrambling to find family friendly meatless meals for Ash Wednesday and each Friday. My family goes meatless every Friday all year long, so I thought I would share some of our favourite options.

meatless meals for Lent

My go to Friday dinner is, of course, fish. Either batter/boxed from the frozen food section or just some vacuum packed salmon fillets. Usually served with brown rice and a vegetable. But when I am feeling more creative, here is what we enjoy:

– fish tacos (any light white fish, broken up in a fry pan, seasoned with salt and pepper, served with coleslaw and a mayo/lime/garlic sauce)

-stirfry (so easy to adjust to your families’ likes, using fish, shrimp, or even just veggies. make it even easier by using a jarred Asian style sauce, or this easy sweet and sour recipe, and serve over noodle or rice)

– veggie pizza (either homemade, frozen, or ordered in, this is always an easy option that everyone will love)

– Mexican anything (we love tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, taquitos….the list goes on. Take your fav recipe and make it meat less by using black beans instead)

loaded sweet potatoes (again with the Mexican theme, these potatoes are delicious and an unexpected way to use a sweet potato!)

veggie chili (a take on a Racheal Ray recipe, this one fro my other blog is a family favourite for sure)

– Pasta (kids love pasta dishes, so this is great for the little ones that might be picker. Just about any pasta shape and sauce will do, try a favourite recipe, just without the meat, or this favourite one from my family)

These are just a few of our favourites for those meatless nights. I would love to hear some of your go to meatless meals, especially if you have picker eaters like my kids are sometimes.

Just one week away

Have you given Lent any thought yet? My husband and I have been throwing ideas around for a couple days now, I just can’t decided what to give up/take up for those 40 days. The standard one in our house are “treats”; candies, chocolates, chips, pop, takeout…all those yummy extras you don’t really need, and shouldn’t be eating regularly anyways. My husband and I also give up one other thing that is more specific, and usually take up something as well, here are a few ideas that we have done in the past, in case you need some ideas:

Give up:

– video games

– TV

– social media

– caffeine (my husband did this when I was pregnant with our son, sort of as a personal challenge for himself and supporting me in my caffeine free 9 months)

– shopping (not for necessities, but new clothes, home decor stuff, items you don’t *need*)

– swearing

– yelling (this might be topping my list this year. I gave up swearing one year and it finally broke that bad habit for good…perhaps this Lent will make me a better mother who doesn’t yell anymore)

Take up:

– the Bible (ok, maybe not all of it, but a few pages a day would be great!)

– other Catholic books

– volunteer

– going to Mass an extra day each week

Of course we will also be attending Mass on Ash Wednesday, abstaining from meat on all Fridays (which we do all year round anyways), and my husband will be fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (I’m pregnant, so I don’t have to do that one this year). Confession is also a must for us during Lent, our Parish usually hosts a large event with priests from other parishes, making it easy and accessible for everyone. And maybe I will even cover our crosses with purple fabric this year as well.

I would love to hear about your family’s traditions surrounding Lent. It seems so many people have family traditions for Advent and Christmas, but not as many for Lent and Easter. We go big when it comes to Easter, just as we do for Christmas. Presents, egg hunts, brunch at our house with my family, Mass, and dinner with my in-laws. So I like to make Lent just as significant as Advent. My son has been asking more questions this year, and we are more than happy to talk to him about it all, so I feel like some activities for the kids this year will be a must! Perhaps making the rosary a weekly or even daily thing will happen, as my son is a little obsessed with it right now (couldn’t have a better interest!), maybe a count down of some sort as well, just as we do for Advent. Oh I see lots of pins happening on Pinterest this week!

Stop and pray

Have you ever had a moment when you felt something pulling at you. You are in the middle of something, but deep down inside you feel the need, the calling, to stop and pray. Never ignore that!

Today wasn’t my best parenting day. More yelling and arguing than I would have liked. Fights over having soothers (she’s two, and still hooked on it, but house rule is it’s only for sleeping!), where to sit at the table for lunch, eating lunch, and of course arguments over toys. Most of these instances were fairly typical in our house, and I don’t usually let them get under my skin, but today they did.

After I got the kids settled down for their naps, I sat and ate about 7 cookies. Chocolate covered digestive cookies are a weakness of mine. Sadly I didn’t feel any better afterwards. I turned the tv on hoping to just “veg out” and forget about my bad mood, but I couldn’t shake the feeling. Every channel I flipped to had a story of someone who was going through something tragic. Something actually worth being upset about. Me, I was grouchy because my daughter didn’t want to sit in her seat at lunch…I stopped what I was doing that very second to pray.

I gave thanks for the blessed life that I have.

I asked for forgiveness for the words I spoke in anger to my children.

I prayed for the courage and grace to be the mother that I know I can be, and that I know He wants me to be.

When I was finished, of course I felt a million times better. But it also hit me at that moment; I couldn’t remember the last time I stopped to pray. I pray with my kids before bed, and before each meal, but I hadn’t been praying on my own, either before I went to bed or randomly throughout the day. Was this the true source of my grumpiness? Most likely. I have been so tired and drained from this pregnancy, and going to bed early most nights, that I guess I just stopped…I fell out of it way to easily, but thankfully, it’s even easier to start back up again.

Have you prayed today?

Have you felt Him calling you? Never ignore His call.