Sarah Harkins Birthday- An Invitation

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On Saturday, August 2nd… it will be Sarah’s 33rd birthday. But it will be her very 1st birthday in heaven! She could not have received a better birthday gift, as she herself even said on a her blog post dated August 2nd 2009:

Today is my 28th Birthday and I received many wonderful birthday gifts, but the best one was from my Lord- he gave me the gift of his precious body and blood at Mass today. I couldn’t think of a better birthday gift! He loves me so much that died on the cross and rose again so that I could be with him in heaven. Today he again poured his never ending love into me through the Eucharist. He knows my every need, and he knew that today, I would need Him most of all. It was actually quite by accident (or divine intervention) that we were at Mass today. Because of my husband’s work schedule, we usually go to Mass on Saturday evenings. But because of a birthday party yesterday afternoon, we had to go to Mass today. And I couldn’t be more thankful!

How truly happy Sarah must be on this birthday then! What a treasure she has been given and what comfort that should bring us– to know, that Our Lord is fulfilling Sarah’s every want and need, by bringing her true joy that our earthly hearts cannot begin to comprehend.

In light of this beautiful woman’s life, in honor of her legacy, memory, and the life she leaves behind I have an invitation for each of you. (Fellow bloggers! Get to work and invite your readers, too!)

Let’s us join Sarah in her heavenly feasting on this day by participating spiritually in one of her devotions, namely the rosary or attending mass. I invite anyone who would like to give Sarah’s family a birthday gift on her behalf to join together this Saturday in prayer. Let’s send an enormous spiritual bouquet to heaven for Sarah’s birthday!download (3)

If you would like, I have posted a “poll” here where you can literally ‘sign up’ for either a rosary or mass (or other prayer) on behalf of the Harkins family. The poll will be opened for anyone wishing to spiritually contribute to this bouquet for two weeks. After two weeks the poll will close and I will send a card to the Harkins family on behalf of each of you, with the numbers of prayers offered enclosed. It is not much, but each of us can play a tiny role in surrounding Sarah’s loved ones with hope and comfort!

So, Happy Birthday Sarah! Enjoy your birthday celebration!  Pray for those of us left behind who will never forget you.

**Sarah Harkins Memorial Fund**

**Memorial Fund for the Harkins Children**

**Small Things Blog**

**The Clay Rosary Girl** (Sarah’s blog)

 

 

My Heart Can’t Stop Crying

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I am so overwhelmed with emotions right now, part due to being pregnant, part due to being a woman, a mother, a wife, and part due to being apart of the Franciscan University family. A former alumni and girl I remember passing on campus tragically passed away yesterday after suffering a brain aneurysm resulting from a wasp attack. She was married to her college sweetheart from FUS, mother to four beautiful babies under the age of 7, and twenty one weeks pregnant with her fifth child.

Sarah and her baby girl, Cecilia, did not survive. Sarah’s birthday would have been on Saturday.

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Yesterday, I felt as if it were my own sister. I was devastated. I couldn’t stop crying. Couldn’t stop being angry at God, for these babies! For this devoted husband! Why? How? How could this happen? With not even a chance to say goodbye? How traumatic for these dear children. How deeply, horribly, tragic. It makes no sense to me.

Perhaps the reason for my upset stems from the fact of how close to home it hits me. I am exactly twenty-one weeks pregnant. Camera Guy is my college sweetheart. We all went to FUS.  We both homeschool our kids. We both have a bunch of little kids and hopes and dreams for more.  It scared me stiff to think that at any given moment, some of us may never have the chance to say what needs to be said…to hold our spouses close, to kiss our babies one more time, to go to the sacraments, to hug our family.

I can’t say much else, I just feel driven to get her story out there and to ask for your help to donate whatever you can, even if it’s just one dollar…for assistance to the family or assistance in the funeral costs. On the one site alone, generous supporters have already raised over $82 thousand in ONE DAY!

I don’t know Sarah, I never had a personal relationship with her. But I feel drawn to her, oddly connected to her spiritually. I began begging her for her intercession yesterday in my own journey of motherhood. I found it eerily coincidental, that she- a homeschooling housewife, passed away on the feast of Saint Martha. Saint Martha herself the very icon of domesticity. Ironic? I don’t think God is ever ironic.may3

In the midst of my making sense of this tragedy, I found her blog and discovered that she designed handmade clay rosaries. She was so devoted to the rosary! You have to do her the honor and look at her site. I was moved, deeply moved, by the detail in her work and the meanings behind the different symbols on each clay bead she designed.

I found the most comfort in her last post. And her quote is what I want to leave you with. Her latest bead she designed was the anchor. When I read her cheery description on why she chose to make an anchor bead, I burst into tears. Apparently, she had been wanting to make this bead for a while. Sarah wrote:

“I love the symbol of the anchor for hope. It is very powerful.  Hope is the virtue of having confidence in God’s mercy that we will be in heaven with Him someday.  When we have that hope, nothing in life can move us. We are anchored in God.  Now that is something I need to pray for everyday and I hope you are inspired and reminded by this bead to pray too”

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Sarah Harkins, pray for us!

On My Nightstand

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Well, it’s turning into a yearly thing now. But I read some wonderful books this summer and I feel like now’s a good time as ever for another edition of What’s on my Nightstand!

Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Father Jacques Phillipe. This book may appear minuscule but don't be fooled by appearances! Every page is steeped with direct, rich, yet easy to understand wisdom on how we as Christians must focus on sustaining our inner calm. Fr. Phillipe encourages his readers that sainthood is much more achievable than we may think.  I've only made it half way through this gem, precisely because I want to savor his advice and really read, re-read and absorb the point before moving on. Well worth having!

Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Father Jacques Phillipe. This book may appear minuscule but don’t be fooled by appearances! Every page is steeped with direct, rich, yet easy to understand wisdom on how we as Christians must focus on sustaining our inner calm. Fr. Phillipe encourages his readers that sainthood is much more achievable than we may think. I’ve only made it half way through this gem, precisely because I want to savor his advice and really read, re-read and absorb the point before moving on. My favorite analogy he uses is where he compares our souls to a still lake, and explains how even the tiniest ‘pebble’ or distraction or temptation can disrupt the stillness in our souls..and when that water starts rippling, what happens? It becomes harder and harder to see the beautiful reflection of the sun. So too with our inner peace, we must be vigilant to ward off and avoid any occasions for things that effect our peace, and cause us to inadequately reflect Christ’s love. Well worth having!

The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila. I absolutely love the realness of this explanation (or education) on proper meditation! I always avoided reading St. Teresa because I assumed, since she is a Doctor of the Church, I would not be able to undertand her writings. But how wrong I was! She writes simply and humbly, very understandably....so illuminating! I only read up to the 3rd mansion, as my priest friend suggested a stopping point. Apparently the theology does get pretty hefty later on in the book. But for now,  I am grateful and better for it...for reading what I have!

The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila. I absolutely love the realness of this explanation (or education) on proper meditation! I always avoided reading St. Teresa because I assumed, since she is a Doctor of the Church, I would not be able to understand her writings. But how wrong I was! She writes simply and humbly, very understandably….so illuminating! I only read up to the 3rd mansion, as my priest friend suggested a stopping point. Apparently the theology does get pretty hefty later on in the book. But for now, I am grateful and better for it…for reading what I have!

This book, Divine Intimacy by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, is absolutely phenomenal. If you add one new book to your collection this year--- make it this one! You will not regret it! My spiritual director, and dear friend has been recommending this book for about 6 years now...and finally I received a copy of it, and now I can't be without it.  Father Gabriel is the foremost scholar on Carmelite spirituality and he was commissioned to write this book as a way to train Carmelites in proper formation of their spiritual lives. The book follows the liturgical calendar, each day is a different mediation and prayer consisting of perhaps 2 pages at most. It's completely doable to add into your spiritual life, and it is one of those daily mediation books that is creepily dead on with whatever you are going through. I look forward to reading this everyday, and I know you will too! This book is a tremendous resource to anyone's spiritual journey, no matter where you are on it!

This book, Divine Intimacy by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, is absolutely phenomenal. If you add one new book to your collection this year— make it this one! You will not regret it! My spiritual director, and dear friend has been recommending this book for about 6 years now…and finally I received a copy of it, and now I can’t be without it. Father Gabriel is the foremost scholar on Carmelite spirituality and he was commissioned to write this book as a way to train Carmelites in proper formation of their spiritual lives. The book follows the liturgical calendar, each day is a different mediation and prayer consisting of perhaps 2 pages at most. It’s completely doable to add into your spiritual life, and it is one of those daily mediation books that is creepily dead on with whatever you are going through. I look forward to reading this everyday, and I know you will too! This book is a tremendous resource to anyone’s spiritual journey, no matter where you are on it!

Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler is a beautiful biographical expose of one woman's journey from atheism to Catholicism. I really enjoyed the story a lot, and it was easy to read. I was more interested in  it for the  biographical aspect, since I follow Fulwiler's blog. Naturally, I was interested in the full story of her conversion. I was amazed by the movings of the Holy Spirit in her life, and all the miraculous happenings that could only be attributed to God. I love reading God stories! A decent, breezy, summer read.

Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler is a beautiful biographical expose of one woman’s journey from atheism to Catholicism. I really enjoyed the story a lot, and it was easy to read. I was more interested in it for the biographical aspect, since I follow Fulwiler’s blog. Naturally, I was interested in the full story of her conversion. I was amazed by the movings of the Holy Spirit in her life, and all the miraculous happenings that could only be attributed to God. I love reading God stories! A decent, breezy, summer read.

The Duggars 20 and counting! What can I say? I was skeptical of the Duggar clan at first, and then my whole family started watching the show. So mostly out of curiosity, I checked the book out from the library to find more. I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised. Seriously! I thought this book would be a la di da type read, but I could NOT PUT THIS DOWN. I am completely blown away with the power of the Holy Spirit in their life. This book, cheesy though it may seem, really made a difference in my heart and strengthened my faith. I  LOVED this testimony of faith and trust in the Lord! Incredible.

The Duggars 20 and counting! What can I say? I was skeptical of the Duggar clan at first, and then my whole family started watching the show. So mostly out of curiosity, I checked the book out from the library to find more. I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. Seriously! I thought this book would be a la di da type read, but I could NOT PUT THIS DOWN. I am completely blown away with the power of the Holy Spirit in their life. This book, cheesy though it may seem, really made a difference in my heart and strengthened my faith. I LOVED this testimony of faith and trust in the Lord! Incredible.

My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell. This testimony of Campbell's journey from the highs of working as George Bush's speechwriter, to her dealings with her father's battle with alzheimer's, to her own struggle with infertility was a heart wrenching and absolutely beautiful read. Definitely one of my favorites this summer. For each phase of her life, with each new struggle or joy, she drew near to a different saint that pertained to exactly what she was going through. The pictures she paints of these saints, completely invigorated my curiousity to learn more, to read more, to grow closer to these holy women too! I honestly never knew how encouraging to motherhood St. Teresa Benedicta was! Or how many writings she compose on the topic of motherhood. This book boosted my spirituality and gave me so much encouragement for my state in life. I HIGHLY recommend this book to all my blog readers!

My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell. This testimony of Campbell’s journey from the highs of working as George Bush’s speechwriter, to her dealings with her father’s battle with alzheimer’s, to her own struggle with infertility was a heart wrenching and absolutely beautiful read. Definitely one of my favorites this summer. For each phase of her life, with each new struggle or joy, she drew near to a different saint that pertained to exactly what she was going through. The pictures she paints of these saints, completely invigorated my curiousity to learn more, to read more, to grow closer to these holy women too! I honestly never knew how encouraging to motherhood St. Teresa Benedicta was! Or how many writings she compose on the topic of motherhood. This book boosted my spirituality and gave me so much encouragement for my state in life. I HIGHLY recommend this book to all my blog readers!

And now, for the books that are coming  up in the ranks… currently being reserved through my library system:

A Love that Multiplies : An Up Close Look at How they make it Work by Michelle Duggar. My dear friend strongly recommended this to me.  She told me it delves deeper into their marriage and prayer life, and was incredibly inspiring to her own life. I am eager to read it, Michelle Duggar call me on to greater holiness, and anyone who does that... I want to get my hands on anything they write!

A Love that Multiplies : An Up Close Look at How they make it Work by Michelle Duggar.
My dear friend strongly recommended this to me. She told me it delves deeper into their marriage and prayer life, and was incredibly inspiring to her own life. I am eager to read it, Michelle Duggar honestly calls me on to greater holiness as a Mom, and anyone who does that… I want to get my hands on whatever they write!

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. This is the book that started Fulwiler on her journey to Christianity. It's a journalist's pursuit of truth in light of all the stories and claims of the "Son of God". After Strobel conducted his investigative research, he converted to Catholicism. It definitely piqued my curiosity so I want to see what he has come up with that change his mind so convincingly.

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. This is the book that started Fulwiler on her journey to Christianity. It’s a journalist’s pursuit of truth in light of all the stories and claims of the “Son of God”. After Strobel conducted his investigative research, he converted to Catholicism. It definitely piqued my curiosity so I want to see what he has come up with that changed his mind so convincingly.

Well, that’s all I got folks! What have you all been reading? Please share any recommendation below! Happy Summer!

5 Favorites- Hotel Hints Edition!

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five favorties

Well, it’s that time of year again! Time to get out your suitcases and try to convince yourself that you love traveling. Especially with all those little kids. If you’ve somehow managed to dupe yourself into a road trip with babies— yet again, I’ve got some hints on hotels to share with you to help your plans go a little easier this time around!

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The most comfortable beds, from all these hotels we’ve patroned were the Comfort Inn & Suites. A second best was the Hampton Inn. Our favorite most kid friendly hotel we choose is the Country Inn & Suites, because the place is clean, clean, clean. And the free breakfast is better than any I’ve had a hotel provide. We find the breakfast included is a must with little kids….the longer we can avoid getting back in the car the better.

 

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When not a Country Inn & Suites, try one of the Hampton hotels , then we move down to the Comfort Inn. The Comfort Inns are generally more affordable, still provide breakfast and hands down have super comfy beds….however major drawbacks for us include the outdated features in the room like the thermostat. There was no actual gauge, just a knob for “cool” or “heat” and for anyone out there with little kids….it was a nightmare spending the entire night dashing out of bed and adjusting the temperature from one extreme to the next.Also. Always bring two kinds of pj’s in case of such scenario.

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When staying at hotels, always bring sound machines and earplugs! These have saved our lives, or at the very least our sanity. I’d say we’ve yet to stay at a hotel where no one slams their door the 900 times they go in and out of their room at 11pm at night. So yeah. White noise or no noise of any kind is extremely beneficial.

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Call ahead for an upgrade. We usually book through Priceline a Queen room, then call the day of and ask for an upgrade because we’ve got three little kids, we’re coming from so far away, blah blah blah….and we always get the upgrade at no extra cost. It’s worth it to ask, especially if junior is all out of his routine and going to be spending the night with you and your hubby. Space=peace

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And finally, the most important tip we’ve learned while traveling: ask to be placed on one of the highest floors. Why you ask? They are quieter, they are cleaner, and you don’t get any weird spiders in your wet bathroom towels that have been sitting on the floor overnight. Seriously. Ground level is the worst for strange bug invasions!

Do you have any great travel tips? Please share them in the comment box! And of course, Happy Trails to you!

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Five Favorites- Date Night Edition

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For this week’s Five Favorites link up with Hallie…. and in honor of my 9 year anniversary of Camera Guy’s and my first date.. I’m listing off my 5 favorite dates that cost little or nothing at all!
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I mean, you can snag those buy one get one coupons almost every month in the coupon circulars of your Sunday paper. So for $5, the both of us get a tasty treat and some nice one on one chat time!

I mean, you can snag those buy one get one coupons almost every month in the coupon circulars of your Sunday paper. So for $5, the both of us get a tasty treat and some nice one on one chat time!

 

 

Free date. Sorta. We like walking around Target sans screaming kids and browsing, hmmm pretty much everything. We play pretend dream house like " Wow look at that shower curtain, if we ever had a bathroom in the attic that was made of marble...yeah that would definitely look amazing" It's loads of fun.

Free date. Sorta. We like walking around Target sans screaming kids and browsing, hmmm pretty much everything. We play pretend dream house like ” Wow look at that shower curtain, if we ever had a bathroom in the attic that was made of marble…yeah that would definitely look amazing” It’s loads of fun. Also, we take this time to touch every single towel and blanket available. “Ooo feel this one! Holy smokes that soft! Nothing in here is pilled! “

 

Barnes & Noble is the ultimate freebie date night. Tons of conversation starters, and plenty, plenty to laugh about. Plus, the toy section is the best!

Barnes & Noble is the ultimate freebie date night. Tons of conversation starters, and plenty, plenty to laugh about. Plus, the toy section is the best!

 

I'm sure this is a given. $1 movie rentals BUT if you sign up for their text alerts you get freebie codes almost weekly! A Redbox and some Ben & Jerry's , at home in your p.j.'s now that's a great date!

I’m sure this is a given. $1 movie rentals BUT if you sign up for their text alerts you get freebie codes almost weekly! A Redbox and some Ben & Jerry’s , at home in your p.j.’s now that’s a great date!

 

And last but not least, because it’s Camera Guy’s favorite……..

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Faking getting engaged (again)  at a crowded restaurant. (Definitely in a town where people don’t know you) Now hold your horses, I’ve chickened out on him a few times so it’s not like this is our Friday night thing… but he’s convinced we have to try this…and snag some complimentary desserts in the process. Heh heh heh….

 

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Five Favorites- Treat Yo’Self Edition

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five favorties1.

Essential Oils Peppermint & Tea Tree hand soap. Not only does it smell incredibly, but the real reason I buy this is because I have never seen my diamond sparkle more! Seriously! So if you can wash your hands and get a ring clean at the same time, why not?

Essential Oils Peppermint & Tea Tree hand soap. Not only does it smell incredibly, but the real reason I buy this is because I have never seen my diamond sparkle more! Seriously! So if you can wash your hands and get a ring clean at the same time, why not?

Polar Fleece bed sheets. Oh. My. Word. Yes, it's really hard to get out of bed with these but lordy lordy, now I know why dogs are always napping. I thought they'd be really sweaty, but they aren't... oh and Camera Guy loves them too!

Polar Fleece bed sheets. Oh. My. Word. Yes, it’s really hard to get out of bed with these but lordy lordy, now I know why dogs are always napping. I thought they’d be really sweaty, but they aren’t… oh and Camera Guy loves them too!

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WoodWick candle. I am never without one of these in my bedroom ever again. Credit to my sis, once more for giving us one for Christmas. It has a wood wick, so it crackles as it burns... sounds like a fireplace and smells like wood burning too! They are the most fragrant candle I've had yet. No more ucky dorm room smells, our bedrooms smell fantastic!

WoodWick candle. I am never without one of these in my bedroom ever again. Credit to my sis, once more for giving us one for Christmas. It has a wood wick, so it crackles as it burns… sounds like a fireplace and smells like wood burning too! They are the most fragrant candle I’ve had yet. No more ucky dorm room smells, our bedrooms smell fantastic!

Microwave sea-salt caramels. Do I really need to say more?

Microwave sea-salt caramels.
Do I really need to say more?

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Cucumber vodka.  We don't do mixed drinks over here much, but oh my word. A splash of this, some ginger ale and lime juice....it literally tastes like you're drinking a summer breeze. Ah-maz-ing!

Cucumber vodka. We don’t do mixed drinks over here much, but oh my word. A splash of this, some ginger ale and lime juice….it literally tastes like you’re drinking a summer breeze. Ah-maz-ing!

ALSO, for a bonus! Treat yo’ self right now to winning a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul Multitasking Mom’s Survival Guide! There are three days left to enter yourself or a special mom in your life to win a signed copy! Two lucky winners will be chosen! Good Luck and Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely mamas out there! CLICK HERE

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Mother’s Day Giveaway!!

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What could be better for Mother’s day than a signed copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul- Multi-tasking Moms Survival Guide?

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Well a spa day and maybe a house maid… but still… this is a close second, right? Enter yourself (or other Mommy friends) in the contest and two lucky winners will both receive a copy of the Multi-Tasking Moms Survival Guide signed by me and my virtual high five!

Share, share, share and spread the word on your Facebook and Twitter…. most of all— GOOD LUCK!

RULES OF ENTRY

1. There are no limits of entry, each posting- as long as we are tagged in it- will result in an additional entry.

2. Contest opens 12am April 30 2014 and closes 12am May 10 2014.

ENTER NOW HERE:::
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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