Writer Recs – Michelle Francl-Donnay

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​I don’t know Michelle Francl-Donnay personally, she is the friend and a writing colleague of a friend, but I have had the pleasure of reading some of her writings especially around Lenten and Easter times.

I learned of her writing about a year ago from my aforementioned (and linked to) friend when I read Not by Bread Alone for Lent 2018, the daily reflection book published by Liturgical Press. My parish has been giving out these little books at each Lent and Advent (and this year for Easter) for a couple of years now, and they are by far my favorite seasonal devotional, and Michelle Francl-Donnay is by far my favorite writer of these little books (no offense to the other wonderful writers in other years). I’m excited that she will be writing the next Lent book for 2020!

I’m currently reading the multi-author book form the same publisher for the Easter season where she is the writer for the first section.

I love her writing, the way she conveys not only the spirituality but the humanity, the day to day humanness that is similar to what and how I’m inspired to write about my faith journey. She is also a scientist, a professor of chemistry at Bryn Mawr College and co-hosts a series of conversations with Director of the Vatican Observatory, Guy Consolmagno, SJ about Catholic scientists, and with that scientific background brings something of the vastness of the universe to G-d’s world and really expresses both the faraway-ness of G-d as well as the intimacy. I am always left wanting more as I continue to ruminate on her reflections.

You will not be disappointed when you check her out.

Writing on Spirituality and Contemplative Life

Quantum Theology

Science Writing

The Culture of Chemistry

World Book Day

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World Book and Copyright Day is a celebration of books and the written word organized and proclaimed by the UN’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). On their page can be found information and resources on their programs and the reasoning behind the beginning of this observance and its choice of date.

Books I’ve Read So Far This Year:

January

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling (on the 1st)

Women of the Bible: A One Year Devotional Study – Ann Spangler and Jean E. Syswerda

The President is Missing – A Novel by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

The Last Good Heist: The Inside Story of the Single Biggest Payday in the Criminal History of the Northeast – Tim White, Randall Richard, and Wayne Worcester

The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction – Neil Gaiman

February

The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero – Timothy Egan

March

The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump – Andrew G. McCabe

Believe Me: a memoir of love, death, and jazz chickens – Eddie Izzard

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance – Barack Obama

April

A Holy Mosaic: Love, Diversity, and the Family: Inspiration from a Pope Francis – Michael O’Neill Mcgrath OSFS

Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law – Preet Bharara

Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus – James Martin, SJ

Not by Bread Alone: Daily Reflections for Lent 2019 – Mary DeTurris Poust

Lenten Reflections – Bishop Robert Barron


I’m currently reading these three books:

Rejoice and Be Glad: Daily Reflections for Easter 2019 by Michelle Francl-Donnay, Jerome Kodell, Rachelle Linner, Ronald Witherup, Catherine Upchurch, Jay Cormier, Genevieve Glen

A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals – Selected and edited by Jonathan Montaldo

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson

I use my library’s ebook library extensively and I take advantage of deep discounts or sales through Book Bub on Facebook and through Email. My Kindle is never without one or two books that I read simultaneously.

Who are your favorite authors?
What are your favorite books?
Answer in comments.

Happy Reading!

Ways to Pray with Prayer Cards

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I’ve mentioned my friend, Brother Mickey McGrath often. After one of his retreats I come away with a renewed sense of peace in myself and my faith as well as a renewed energy to expand my creativity. You often see that depicted on these pages with my photography and artistic attempts, some of which are quite good, and others….well, I tried.

One of his new products is a card set called Prayer Starters. Below the cut, you will be able to click on the picture to be taken to his website to purchase them if you are interested in that. Simply, they are a set of about thirty cards with an easel under the theme of Wise and Holy Women featuring the words of the four women Doctors of the Church, Sts. Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Theresa of Avila, and Therese Lisieux plus Dorothy Day and Sister Thea Bowman combined with Brother Mickey’s beautiful art.

I’ve been using them as a daily devotional although I haven’t swapped out the cards every morning. Sometimes I leave them up for a few days and let them speak to me as long as I can feel it. This usually lasts two days. 

I mention this because two cards ago I came across a quotation from St. Hildegard of Bingen:

“Only when we connect misery to our cravings can we begin to solve our dilemma.”

I did not understand its meaning. I read it again, and then went about my work. Whenever I passed by my dining room table, I read it again, paused a moment, thought to myself, again, that I do not understand this; what does this mean?

Some of you may read it the first time and think, of course, this is not hard, what is she not seeing?

Honestly, I didn’t know.

I began to read it a bit more slowly. I’d sit with it and read it out normally, then a bit slower, and then I’d emphasize the punctuation, adding in my own commas, like you would with a poem, each line paused for absorption. I think I did this for two full days. I still did not get it.

Simple words, but they simply weren’t reaching me.

I don’t know how many days passed, each day I’d read the card at least once, more likely twice. I stared at the card on the easel. I held the card between two fingertips. I read it over and over and over again.

One morning, probably about very nearly a week ago, I read it, each word on my tongue, my inserted comma giving pause, and as I reached the period at the end, my eyes opened wide.

It was there!

Right there the whole time.

And now that I’d seen it, I couldn’t unseen it; I couldn’t not understand the meaning, and the most significant part was how much it related to my life, to my cravings of things and thoughts and symbols and signs. Little things and big things, and there in all of it wasn’t misery but the idea that misery could be brought on with too much of the cravings or the opposite that if I think of the cravings as misery perhaps I’d crave less and therefore be satisfied with less. And maybe that’s not it at all, but that was what it was for me.

Because that’s what has happened in my life. I can feel it and I’m living it in some ways. I am not a pious, ascetic, silence seeker, but I also do not crave everything the way I once did. Not only do I prioritize secular, monetary and time things, but I am also prioritizing my faith in relation to my secular life as well as the items of faith that I want to follow and adopt into my lifestyle. That’s not to suggest a change in doctrine, but in a feeling of where I want my faith to bring me, and for me to bring to others.

Only when we connect misery to our cravings can we begin to solve our dilemma.

Card from Prayer Starters Wise and Holy Women Card Pack, Brother Mickey McGrath, All Rights Reserved. Photo mine. (c)2019

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Book: School of Awake by Kidada Jones

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As I mentioned yesterday, my daughter and I started reading a new book together. We have just finished chapter four and we have completed all of the activites up until that point.

I’m not sure that this book would have reached my radar if not for my social media relationships. I follow the author’s sister on Instagram, and she mentioned the book and its Instagram page. When I investigated further, I easily saw that this was a perfect book for my daughter. I decided that it would make a great Christmas gift, and it was well worth the extra investment of having my own copy for my Kindle. My daughter and I often cuddle in bed, watching television, writing together, coloring, and reading.

When we began the book, I hadn’t realized that it included activities, which we obviously couldn’t do while lying in bed right before sleeping. We continued the reading until the Sunday after New Year’s when we spent the entire day developing and decorating our soul-soothing tool kits, the first activity in the book. It is also the activity that ties all the others together. That first day, we also put together our galaxies-on-the-go. In the evening, we sat together on the sofa with some old magazines and a pair of scissors and gluesticks and made our self-portraits.

We journaled about all of the S.O.A. [School of Awake] Moments, filled in the blanks, and answered the questions from the first three chapters.

School of Awake: A Girl’s Guide to the Universe is just that: a guide. There’s advice, there’s self-reflection, introspection, affirmations, positive reminders of what’s important, a look at the bigger picture, spirituality that works for girls who either have religion or don’t. There are moral examples and choices, but it isn’t preachy. It isn’t scolding or condascending. It sets the perfect tone of talking to girls that is old enough, but not too adult, but at the same time it doesn’t talk down to the reader.

It lets us explore our creativity together and apart through our various styles.

There is space in the hard copy book to write the answers and take notes. My suggestion to my daughter and what we’ve elected to do is to keep our writing in our journals. I think at 12, my daughter’s answers may change over time. I know that at 51, my answers also will.

Visit School of Awake’s Instagram to see pictures of other girls enjoying the book and expressing their creativity and how they’re enjoying their universes. I will continue to share our progress here as we discover more things about ourselves, both as individuals and as a mom and daughter.

Fandom Friday – Family Business Beer Co.

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Part of the extended Supernatural family, their motto is Serving People…Fermented Things.

They are family owned and run. Check out their website and then follow them on social media to get news and events updates.

Congratulations, Family Business! Can’t wait!

The Family Business (in their own words)

We are a family-owned brewery on 15 acres just outside Austin in Dripping Springs [Texas]. Come relax in the hill country and enjoy a wide variety of hand-crafted beers and one of Austin’s finest food trucks.

Bring your family and come meet ours! We are kid friendly, and even have a special place they can call their own. Check our events page for updates on special gatherings and live music schedules.

Located at

19510 Hamilton Pool Rd., Dripping Springs, TX 78620
Grand Opening

Fall of 2017

Donate to Stronger than Storms

Travel – Caernarfon, North Wales

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Caernarfon was not a place I’d ever heard of before it was suggested that I visit the town. My friend lives near there, and offered it when I asked for recommendations for my 2009 trip. He mentioned the Castle and the Strait and the nearness to other Welsh attractions, and we could meet for lunch or dinner in nearby Bangor.

I picked Caernarfon from his recommendation before even reading up on it.

I’d be arriving on Monday morning and driving in. I’d stay at an international hostel. I had stayed at a youth hostel my first time in Wales (in 1987), but they had a maximum age of, I think it was 25. This hostel took all ages as well as families. I’d have to find my way around, but on Tuesday, I’d get to Bangor for our dinner.

So far, those were the only plans that I made.

I wasn’t exactly flying by the seat of my pants, and I would eventually have some sort of plan for the week, but it was nice to have a base for the first half of the week, and Caernarfon was perfect for that.

Caernarfon was wonderful in so many ways. I hadn’t planned on returning in 2017, but we did manage to pop in. I was happy to be able to show my family a place that I could kind of get my way around, and share my experiences with them, not to mention creating new ones with them.

Here are a few of my recommendations of places I visited in and around Caernarfon and a few on my list for next time. Please use the links to make your own travel plans. It is well worth the trip.

This and the above photo: Caernarfon Castle, taken in October 2009 in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, North Wales. (c)2009-2017

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Resources for Tea

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Adagio
Barry’s
Celestial Seasonings
English Tea Store
Glengettie
Murroughs Welsh Brew Tea
PG Tips
Republic of Tea
Stash
Starbuck’s
Tazo
Teavanna
Twining’s