“Be joyful in love, be firm in hope and be constant in effort.”
This is where my book flew open, when I prayed for guidance one day as I picked up a book in my office that I had never seen before. That quote became my mantra at work and at home. After reading it I signed up to compete in the longest Triathlon that I had ever done, the Malibu International Triathlon on September 16, 2017.
Training: One Our Father and Hail Mary at a Time
The most beautiful part of my training is that I paced myself with the Rosary. I would push a bit harder during the Our Fathers, and then settle into my rhythmic pace during the Hail Marys. The meditations allowed me to be mindful on prayer with every step. Praying helped me to keep going, to believe in my growing strength, and to trust. It also created this incredible sense of gratitude for my ability to train, swim, bike, and run, and my ability to reach beyond what I thought was possible.
When Race Day arrived, it felt different than any other one I’ve experienced before. We arrived in Malibu while it was still dark. As the sun began to rise and we were about to start the race with our swim, I glanced out among the waves to see a pod of dolphins. It was as if they were reminding us of all the ease and grace of swimming. In that grace and gratitude, we stepped into the cold water and began our swim. I had 1 mile to swim down the coast and I began to pray, my strokes and breath coming into alignment with the rhythm of my prayers and before I knew it I was passing the second (out of 6) buoy! As I swam and lifted my head to breathe, I caught the rays of the rising sun on the water and saw that its rays illuminated a school of tiny silver fish swimming right under me!
Continuing the Good Fight
As I finished the swim and put my feet on the sand I realized my legs were wobbly; I sank back in the water. I began to pray for balance and strength, took a deep breath, and tried again. This time my legs held me up as I slowly jogged to the transition to get on my bike. It was in that moment that I handed my race over to God. I simply asked for Him to allow me to finish. I was no longer racing, I just wanted to keep my legs from shaking and finish the next segment. I jumped on my bike and tried to clip in, it didn’t work and I almost fell over… now I was really shaking… I told myself: try again, get your balance, breathe, pray, and on they went, I was clipped in safely and ready to ride the 26 miles up the coast of Malibu! This is the part I trained hard for: this was between me, my strength and the hills! The Our Father became my go-to prayer, where I exerted the most energy to make it up those hills! As I neared the last mile of the bike ride, I noticed so many of my fellow racers began slowing down. I decided that this was my time to speed up! I told myself, “Race with all everything you have to the finish line, don’t stop early!” I was praying, pedaling and passing others… WOW! I got to the bike rack, put on my running shoes and the rest was home free.
The Final Stretch
It was just me and the road and finally time to pray my Rosary, and have fun! I was no longer trying to win, I just wanted to finish. Six miles seemed really far, but I took it in two mile increments and one Rosary at a time. I ended up praying two Rosaries and once again as soon as I saw the finish line I began to sprint, this time I did not pass anyone. Rather I cheered them on along with me and together we ran the race all the way to the finish line.
Crossing the Finish Line
I did it! I finished the longest race I have ever done and I did it as I was turning 50 years old! Thank you JESUS!!! I couldn’t help but reflect on the verse, “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!” It was a simple message to be joyful in love, firm in hope, and constant in effort. It spoke to me, challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone, and taught me the effort is joyful when done in love and prayer!
As I was leaving the race zone and the medals were being awarded, I heard my name being called. I was so excited that I ran up on stage, stood on that podium and raised my arms to heaven in thanksgiving.
Walking the Camino for my Milestone Birthday
This month I celebrated my 50th birthday and I realized that the greatest gift I received is actually-LIFE itself. Not only my life but the lives of those around me that I am blessed to fill my days with.
In this milestone year, I chose to walk a portion of the Camino de Santiago in Spain with my family. Along with my husband, our four children, a future son-in- law and daughter-in- law, and our family priest, we walked just under 100 miles in 7 days.
A Camino of Change
We have become a world that doesn’t talk to strangers, but my 19 year old daughter was determined to meet someone new every day along our walk and taught all of us how to let down our guards and join in the adventure. In doing this we created bonds with “strangers” from France, Italy, Portugal, Australia, England, Scotland and Ireland. These were people I would have put my headphones on and ignored on any given plane flight, and yet we started to look forward to seeing them every day on the road and at night in the different towns at dinner.
Living With a New Outlook on Life
When I returned home I had a whole new outlook on life that I am still learning to put into practice. This trip helped me to recognize that it’s the people right in front of us each day, even a stranger from across the world that I will never see again, that may be there to teach me a new lesson in life that day. It also made me rethink my priorities and where I spend my days.
The most vivid example of this is the time I spend with my 95 year old mother. Much of the time with her is spent just holding her hand repeating the answer to one or two questions that are on the forefront of her mind that day. Yet, as I attempt to re-answer the question in a different way each time so that my voice doesn’t give away that I am repeating myself again and again, I am reminded how many times she must have done this exact thing with me when I was just two years old and questioned her incessantly, the way toddlers do. She probably had a list of to-do’s a mile long, but she would put all of it on hold to make time for me. She laid the foundation in the lives of my seven siblings and I to teach us patience, and most of all to teach us to love every life. Now it’s my turn to put my to-do list on hold and be there for her. Every time I hold her hand and see that she’s wearing a My Saint My Hero blessing bracelet I am reminded who taught me the power of prayer!
“Where this is no honor to the elderly, there is no future for the young.”
I will never forget being at an audience with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s square in Rome when he said, “Where this is no honor to the elderly, there is no future for the young.” This struck me to the core, and gave me a keen sense of how we are all connected from birth until death – and how every life is invaluable. I am grateful for my life, but even more so for every life that has touched me in some way.
I plan to continue my ‘Camino’ right here at home and I pray that I can be a conduit of God’s love in the life of at least one person each day along the way.
Confident On My Own at QVC
“I got this one! It’s easy, just a 7 minute hit on prime time, live TV… perfect… I am good!” This was my attitude on August 11th. Yeah that’s a good name “HIT” because it did hit me like a freight train and I felt like I had fallen flat on my face. If anyone hears me say “I have it all under control,” from here on out, someone please come and rescue me from myself!
During those 7 minutes of prime time I was entrusted to deliver God’s love and I had started to think I could do it on my own. Wow, talk about PRIDE! Thank God that He is God! He loves me so much (as He loves us all) that He allowed me to fail so I could remember who really is running the show.
Lights Camera Action…
I heard the host ask me, “So tell the world about My Saint My Hero…” and that’s when I began to babble. There was such a complete disconnect from my heart. I felt no love, no connection. They were just words flying out of my mouth, sound bites with no heart that I fell flat on the screen. When those 7 minutes were up, I walked off the stage and felt like crumbling. It was then when it hit me! I was entrusted with a very important message and I just failed to deliver it. I failed to be a conduit of God’s love. I forgot to be His instrument because I got in the way!
I couldn’t sleep that night and during the entire 6 hour flight home, my heart felt so heavy. I got in my car and drove straight to Adoration to spend some time down on my knees, then home for a little family love and finally I took a plunge in the water. These things are my tools of faith: tools to help get my mind, body, soul and strength back in alignment. It was working slowly…my feelings of shame began to lessen and the next day I was able to face my coworkers at the office, my friends, and ultimately face my failure.
A God of Second Chances
The next morning I went to Mass and as I was praying, replaying the events in my head, I realized what happened. I did not go to Mass that day, I had forgotten to get a Blessing before going on air, I forgot to bring a prayer warrior with me, I forgot to ask for Spiritual Direction…I had tried to do it on my own. However, I realized that I am not meant to do it alone, not now, not ever. As I opened my eyes I gazed at Jesus on the cross and asked Him to help me remember, to forgive me and to please continue to use me as an instrument of His love.
As I was driving away from church, QVC reached out and asked me to come back. A second chance, another opportunity to be on set, but this time trusting God to lead the way. It was as if Jesus was inviting me to sit in His lap and to simply be a conduit of His love. I immediately reached out to my team of prayer warriors and asked them to come with me!
7 Magnificent Minutes
On my flight back on August 23rd after the QVC hit with Jane Tracey, I thanked God for 7 magnificent minutes. I had gone to church, had spiritual direction, I had gone to confession, adoration and I received the Eucharist. I clung on to my Blessing Bracelet remembering to breathe and make space for God again. I brought my sister, my prayer warrior, with me… and together we remembered, together we surrendered our will to God’s divine will.
And together we let God’s love light up the stage which He did! The wave of His love radiated out and we had the honor of doing so on Our Blessed Mother’s Feast Day!
Thank you God, for the second chance. Thank you for the lesson learnt and thank you for your GREAT LOVE. Thank you for allowing me to feel the difference and for teaching me I am not meant to do it alone not now, not ever.
This Sunday we celebrate the Transfiguration: the moment when Christ transformed or “transfigured” from human form to dazzling white right before His disciples’ eyes! Behold a miracle… behold a transformation from what we know to that which is beyond physical perception! I never quite got this significance or maybe I just didn’t understand until now. The time is NOW to fully grasp the moment… for then, for now, for what is. I hope this (as summarized and quoted from the August Magnificat) helps you to open up the horizons of your heart, soul, body and mind. Please read and share with your friends! A rising tide elevates all… may we together elevate each other and rise!!!
May I become what I behold so that my life will radiate the glory of God in grace and love.
When life gets hard…disgusted and a little defiant we fall into what may be the heresy of the 21st century: “that’s just the way I am”…
But the miracle of the Transfiguration broadcasts a luminous truth: things can change.. you can change… what changes us is a radiant face!
The real miracle in the transfiguration is not only the change in Christ as he became dazzling white… but the change in perception to see beyond physical vision and see the divine glory … they began to see beyond their limitations and seize the truth of Jesus Christ. – taken from The Magnificat, August 2017 edition
We, too, Can be Changed
Through the encounter with the One who shines on Tabor, we can be transfigured into beings bursting with love, eager to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the ill, and visit the imprisoned. As Simone Weil said, “God made it so that his grace, when it penetrates to someone’s very center and illuminates their whole being, permits that person to walk on water without violating the laws of nature”.
We, like the Apostles, must not stay on the mountain but come down and radiate His love to the world by our own transfiguration. Acts of wonder convince the world that God is real, that love heals and that prayer works. The time is now to behold who you are!
Feast of St. Martha: July 29
The Struggle Between Martha & Mary: Finding my Inner Mary and Learning the Beauty of the Balance in Between
The “Better Part” is something I have been struggling to understand in my life for almost five years now. Struggling because I thought I was Martha in the story of Martha & Mary in the Bible, where we all want to be Mary because we don’t want to be reprimanded by Jesus like Martha was. I knew that God was bringing this story into my life over and over again to get me to slow down, make some different choices, and to choose the “Better Part”… ultimately, to choose Him! I was so caught up in the example of Martha cooking and cleaning while Mary sat at Christ’s feet and listened, because I would think “It’s fine for this one story to make a point, but wouldn’t they all have gone hungry that day had Martha not put the work in?” However, I was missing the honored guest list on this particular day. This was Jesus Christ Himself that was in her presence, not a normal guest! He doesn’t tell Martha that on a daily basis she should forget all about her obligations as the woman of the house. Rather to recognize the importance of the time when Jesus was right in front of her, for He knew He wouldn’t be there forever.
The Martha Lifestyle
I always worried about being present to every single person in my life while still attempting to be a good wife and mother and boss. But I realize now that this is impossible and this is the “Martha lifestyle” many women create thinking they are doing what God wants, when instead He is asking them for something else… something so much more fulfilling… something so much more attainable… something so much MORE. Making time to find when and where Jesus is actually right in front of you; asking you to sit at His feet and make time for Him, for the “Better Part” that He offers. He gives us so many opportunities, yet the world calls on us to be Martha and keeps us blind to them.
He’s Calling You to the “Better Part”
When is Jesus right in front of us, calling us? The glaring example is in the Mass. He wants us to know, to really know, that He is present there – body and soul, fully human and divine. Yet, like Martha, we sit during Mass thinking of our to-do list, organizing our day, our week and our life. Why? Because it’s the one hour a week we sit in quiet and our minds have the opportunity to organize and prioritize. We need to make more time to sit at His feet. At first, the Martha in all of us will kick in. We will use this time for the much needed opportunity to keep everything together. But the more time we spend with Him (more Sunday Masses, more daily Masses, praying the rosary, reading the Bible, and daily quiet time in prayer and conversation with Him to do all of the above) He will teach us. He will help us organize our lists and our life so much better than we could’ve done on our own, and then He will help us to put the list aside for the “Better Part”, for the time to sit at His feet and listen to what He wants to share with us. The “Better Part” becomes addicting and you will find yourself trying to steal away more time with Him. You will find yourself waking up earlier than you ever have and hiding away in your closet or any empty, quiet space in your home to have that time to sit with Him. You will find yourself giving up other activities in your day or other people in your life to make the time for Mass, adoration and personal prayer time.
Discovering Your “Inner Mary”
I know this seems impossible , or like the farthest thing from what you had planned for your life… but somewhere inside you know you were made for the “Better Part”. Start small, do an experiment… take the 40 Day Prayer Pledge (click on link to get one) and spend just 10 minutes with Him every day. Use the journal space and write. Don’t worry about what you are writing, that’s between you and Jesus and no one else. I promise you that at some point you will be genuinely surprised by your thoughts, your works, your actions throughout the rest of your day, and the glimpse at a peace you’ve been longing for… a peace from knowing that even though to the world you may look like Martha in all you do in your days, you will know that on the inside you have discovered your “Inner Mary” and that you have discovered what you are made for…the “Better Part”.
This is my ‘prayer couch’ as my family calls it. This is where I sit at His feet every morning…. Where do you make the time for Him? I can’t wait for you to share what you do now… or what you find yourself doing after taking the experiment in prayer!
St. James Feast Day: July 25th
My family as we embark on the Camino de Santiago!
El Camino de Santiago
I am off to Spain today with my family to hike the first 100 miles of the Camino de Santiago. We start walking this Tuesday, June 25th, (by total Divine Providence) on the Feast of St. James (Santiago). I am so looking forward to this life-changing trip and feel blessed to share this opportunity with all four of my children, my future son-in-law and future daughter-in-law, and our family priest that will be marrying both couples next year. I know it will be a huge challenge for every one of us and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.
We all have bright yellow Benedictine Blessing Bracelets on (the same color as the arrows we will be following that guide our way on this pilgrimage) to bond us in prayer and keep us connected to the memories we will make on this trip long after we are home!
Who is Saint James?
Can you just imagine these saints working up in heaven around a table and St. Joseph sitting at the head of that table leading them in the mission for his Son? I didn’t know much about St. James and really never gave him much consideration before preparing for this pilgrimage. I want to share a few of the beautiful things I have re-discovered about him. St. James was the brother of John (the Evangelist). He was one of only three apostles, along with John and Peter, that Jesus brought with him to witness Moses and Elijah appearing with Him on Mt. Tabor. And again, was one of the same three apostles that Jesus brought inside the gates with him at Gethsemane to pray with him the night He was betrayed. Can you imagine being considered “one of three” of Jesus’ closest confidants?
Friends in Heaven
Why do we not think about or hear about St. James as much as we do St. Peter or St. John? Well, millions of people must have the same question and desire to find the answer as this Pilgrimage across Spain has increased in popularity, both in the faith-filled and the secular world. That’s the thing I love the most about the saints — you don’t have to believe in them, ask them for help, or even know they exist for them to be working in your life. They are impartial witnesses to the work of God. However, the more you open your heart to the idea that they have a role in your life here on earth, the more you just might recognize them working for you in so many ways, big and small. I look forward to what this great saint has in store for me and my entire family.
A Life Changing Moment
People say that once you have walked the Camino, you will refer to your life as “before the Camino” and “after the Camino”. I have experienced this before in my life…. “before I believed, and after”, “before my first trip to Medjugorje, and after”, “before I heard the voice of God, and after”. These are all powerful life-changing moments and I look forward to this new discovery. I may be a little apprehensive about what change it may bring, but my sincere prayer is to discover God’s will for my life. St. James wrote, “…draw close to God and He will draw close to you.” (James 4:8) I plan to walk one hundred miles to show Him I want to get closer to Him. I wonder how He plans to show me?”
Feast Day: July 11
I imagine this is how each one of us is listed in St. Peter’s large book at the gates of heaven. It doesn’t matter what our occupations are here on earth, God calls us all to be the best version of the person He made us to be… He calls us all to get up each day and try and try again… He calls us all to sainthood.
It is no coincidence that St. Benedict is one of the patron saints of My Saint My Hero. It is not us that chose him; he chose us! He made sure the women of Medjugorje were weaving the bracelets with his image and crest when Amy first went on pilgrimage there. It was also no coincidence that God had timed this while our Pope at that time was the great theologian, Pope Benedict XVI.
St. Benedict laid the groundwork and the inspiration for Ora et Labora (prayer & work) at My Saint My Hero. Prayer is a simple conversation (in relationship) with God. There are good practices & habits in prayer, but there is no right or wrong way to pray, for it’s as unique as the person that is practicing it. The important thing is to actually pray. Benedict taught us to make all we do an act of prayer. He also made it one of his rules that his brother’s prayed in community EVERY day to maintain brotherhood and peace.
We invite you to take an experiment in prayer: at home, in your car and in your work. Start with just one simple prayer together every day in your home as a family and say one simple prayer before you start each day at work. Remember to also experiment in praying for those that you are sharing our wearable blessings with. Take a leap of faith and let us know what changes you notice.
Christine and Amy
This is where my annual retreat into family, love and quiet happens. There on that small island is where family matters most, conversations linger and a warm embrace is truly felt. It is a place where my feet feel steady and I’m not jumping from one activity to the next. Coffee is served in a beautiful china cup and one is meant to stay at the coffee bar and enjoy it among one another rather than speeding off to consume it in the car or at the desk… a change, a shift, a remembrance … June is my month of renewal!
I sincerely pray that today be a day that you are touched by God’s peace and as you take a deep breath may you be renewed in His presence. I invite you to join me on a mini morning retreat… each night as you go to sleep ask God to impart to your heart the experience the gift of gratitude the moment you awake in the morning. When you wake and feel the sense of joy… take a moment to give thanks… to feel grateful for whatever it is this morning that you love or loves you. Let’s meet again in a few weeks and share the Gratitude Experiment!
While in Ischia and now back home in California, I’ve been wearing two Gratitude bracelets every day as tangible reminders to join you each morning in prayer and create this beautiful space of gratitude! I am grateful for you!!!!
PS. I love our newest Gratitude Bracelets as they give us the space to BE grateful.
Love Amidst War
We hear it said over and over again how God uses even the worst of tragedies to bring about good, but we don’t often get to witness those results. This past Memorial Day I realized I am living proof of a very real and concrete example of this manifested in my own life. I was thinking about my father who had served in the Royal Air Force in WWII and about all the sadness that he and my mother witnessed in the lives of many people near and dear to them.
But then I had an epiphany: had it not been for the war, my mother and father would have never met!
She was American and he was British, stationed in Canada during the war. He and his friends were invited to a party in Cleveland, Ohio, on one of their weekend leaves. This is where he met and fell in love with my mother. They were married less than six months later.
An Unending Love That Lives On
I know theirs is not the only love story born of WWII, and I am personally grateful for all those who gave their lives, allowing for many beautiful families to be born out of this sad time in history. My heart is so full of gratitude for the unending love, hard work and stability that my father provided for me and my seven brothers and sisters. I truly believe he is still responsible for much of our care from his seat in heaven today. If he were alive I have no doubt that he would proudly wear a My Saint My Hero Benedictine Blessing Bracelet. It would have given him a way to share his faith with others and a practical tool to stay grounded in prayer.
A picture of my dad and me: the first man I ever loved.
He always took the photos so, unfortunately, he was rarely in them. I treasure the few I do have of us together!