Sunday, June 4, 2017

Foundational Catechetical Certification
St. Raphael Parish, Instructor Tanya Hielke

Rosary, Prayer, Pray, Red,


Today I learned a new word, after reading an essay by our parish priest Fr. Edward Looney about his recent visit to the Pilgrimage of Mercy, in which the relics of St. Maria Goretti are traveling throughout the United States. That word is venerate. I am familiar with the word, but never have I looked up its definition. It seemed fitting to do so, since I am writing this essay about one form of Catholic spirituality and its founding saint, to complete the requirements of the Green Bay Diocese Prayer & Spirituality class.
So, I Googled it:
  1. regard with great respect; revere.
  2. "Mother Teresa is venerated as a saint"
  1. synonyms:

  • revere, regard highly, reverence, worship, hallow, hold sacred, exalt, vaunt, adore, honor, respect, esteem More
  • revered, respected, esteemed, honored;
  • hallowed, holy, sacred
  • It bothered me that I didn’t have a firm grasp on what the word meant, this venerating business - particularly because my walk with the Catholic faith hasn’t always been a priority and I know I have some gaps to fill.
    Indeed I say my walk with the Catholic faith because it truly has been a journey for me to be able to even use the word Catholic to describe my life, or to have a word like venerate in my vocabulary.
    You see, back in my late teens, much to my mother's chagrin, I fell away from my faith and stayed away for many years. I had dutifully made all the proper Sacraments up through Confirmation, at which point I decided I had “graduated” and was now free to roam about the world, liberated from the shackles of my “don’t do that or you’ll go to hell” upbringing.
    Looking back now, I realize that was my way of reconciling how my life ran pretty much contrary to everything it meant to be Catholic. I stopped attending Sunday mass for instance. Who had time for such things, busy college student that I was? My roommate from Long Island took me to visit New York City. I had arrived in the world. I had seen “The City” - in other words, I was too grown up for my old faith.
    It was about that time I become a fan of Zen Buddhism. After reading some books I decided that the Catholic faith was a sham, based on emotion and fear. Whereas Zen would free me from my Catholic Guilt and liberate me. Or so the book said...
    So for a time I actually told people that Zen Buddhism was “my religion” and never again did I mention the word “Catholic” -- unless it was to laugh about how silly I had been to be so afraid to live my life as I saw fit. No longer would I answer to a higher being; I would follow my own personal whims at any given moment. It was so freeing. I was so happy!
    Or was I?
    No matter how much I drank at those college parties, I always felt that true happiness was somehow eluding me. Oh I had fun all right, but the fun never lasted long. It was so annoying! And like a dog chasing its tail, round and round I went in an ever more frantic effort to feel joy.

    Reality Sucks

    Well as it turned out, all that spinning left me dizzy, depressed and desperate to find some lasting happiness. So at age 30, after moving across country to attend law school: New York to Ohio, and then on to California and ultra-hipness, I found myself moving to Weyauwega, Wisconsin of all places.

    When people asked “How on earth did you end up moving from Southern California [spoiler alert!! where I attended Loyola Law School in Los Angeles for the final year of my Juris Doctorate (law) degree] to Wisconsin!?” my old response was: Now that’s a drinking story” which was shorthand for “It’s way too long and insanely stupid a story for me to simply admit to in a sober state, so if we ever get drunk together, remind me to enlighten you”.....

    But nowadays my standard response is “I moved here for a job at a law firm [that shall remain nameless] and to get married”.....which is the exact truth, after my best guy friend and I made a pact in our 20s (before the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding by the way) that if we both found ourselves single at age 30, we would marry each other. Seriously I am not making that up. Makes you wish I was telling you this story in person right now, over cocktails, doesn’t it? Oh the stories I could tell.
    So when our class was introduced to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, whom I learned started his young adulthood by studying law, my ears perked up. I even asked our instructor Tanya Hielke to repeat herself: “Wait - did you say before he became a saint he studied law?”
    Now I could make a few lawyer jokes here that would probably be inappropriate….suffice it to say I was shocked to hear that it’s possible for any lawyer to become an actual saint….but I digress.
    What did immediately strike me was the coincidence that the law school I attended was named in honor of a saint we were now studying. And trust me if I knew that was how my Alma mater got its name, I had long since forgotten or it wouldn't have even been on my radar screen.
    Ignatius in armorI was a horrible human being. There I said it. While working in law firms, I became enmeshed in that corporate culture - and adopted the most loathsome moral compass you can possibly imagine. Nothing was sacred. Nothing was venerated. If anything, I was determined to venerate nothing and no one. We defended insurance companies to deny money to little old ladies who were injured. We sued good doctors for malpractice. We even came up against a very famous “Women's Rights attorney” (if you Google the phrase, her name is the top result) and won, all while I was still a law clerk (sort of like an apprentice before you pass the Bar). I even had a deposition in her swanky....oh but I digress. Humility is my new cloak, bragging was my old way.

    Saint Ignatius of Loyola

    I really identify with Saint Ignatius. I love how he was described as a young aristocrat with a "love of martial exercises and a vainglorious desire for fame". Reminds me of me in my old days.
    I learned how as a young man Ignatius fought in many battles without injury. But on May 20, 1521, after a cannonball wounded one of his legs and broke the other, he underwent several surgical operations, which must have been very painful in the days before anesthetics.
    As Ignatius was forced to rethink his life after his injuries rendered him unable to continue, I can relate to how this led to his spiritual transformation. At age 28 I had a car accident on the 10 Freeway in right in the middle of downtown Los Angeles rush house. After taking law school exams all day then trying to drive home on an empty stomach, I rear-ended a pickup truck while driving about 40 mph and totaled my Chevy Cavalier and ended up with lingering injuries. Pain was (and is) my constant companion and I’ve filled many a Chiropractor’s bank accounts.
    I lived my life on the edge for many years. I struggled with debilitating depression and a basic pessimistic outlook on life. I met a few devout friends along the way who could clearly recognize how my sinfulness and lack of faith was ruining my life. They encouraged me to go to church but I always found excuses to stay away.

    Pursuit of Redemption

    Child at Prayer, c. 1873When I got to the point that I wanted to stop living and the only relief was to remind myself “someday I will be dead and this pain will be over,” I found my way back to prayer. I had no idea how to pray as an adult, since I never had. So I returned to my ways as a child, kneeling at the foot of my bed nightly, and with clasped hands and bowed head uttered the only prayer I remembered: “Our Father, who Art in Heaven, Hallowed by Thy Name....”
    I even dug out the old Bible I’d received for my First Communion, that had somehow managed to survive decades of address changes. I observed how it listed various states of the human condition like depression, with references to corresponding Bible passages. I broke out my old highlighters from college and started reading.
    And something miraculous happened. I found myself unable to continue my old life. I was compelled to cut off all my social activities and friends. Having lived in Oshkosh for over 6 years, with a “tavern on every corner” this was no small feat! I would unplug my phone for hours, even days at a time, screening my calls to avoid anyone who might lead me back to sin.
    One of my “church-y” coworkers told me what I was experiencing was called “God’s grace.” And being “convicted”.... I was convicted all right, I felt so guilty I didn’t even think I was welcome to go show my face in church.

    It wasn’t until my late 30's when my then Fiance Kurt insisted that we "get married in a church” that we joined a local Catholic parish and started attending Sunday mass. I remember the first time I walked in, only half jokingly wondering if a bolt of lightening was going to strike me dead before I made it to the pew, and thinking everyone could tell I didn’t belong there, terrified of doing the wrong thing, sitting when I should kneel, not remembering to genuflect, to basically fit in. Could they tell? I had to constantly remind myself to “breathe Lisa, breathe” and to stop stealing glances around me to study to expressions of others, to adopt their motions.
    When I began this class on Prayer & Spirituality, I wrote the first day of class what I hoped to gain: the ability to “become more discerning” as to what God was telling me, to be able to distinguish from my own thoughts from the Holy Spirit.
    So when I learned that Saint Ignatius specialized in this area, writing Rules for Discernment, I knew I had found my favorite saint/spirituality.
    I realized that during my own transformation I adopted a bit of Saint Ignatius’s Ascetic lifestyle, with its abstinence from worldly pleasures and frugality: I decided the only way to dig myself out of the hole spiritually and financially (I had a mountain of student loan debt to pay off!) was to unplug from the world outside of work, and to not spend money unless it was absolutely necessary for survival. For years, everyone at work teased me about my daily “10 cent lunches” (a cheap burrito from a big multi-pack).
    While I was slowly digging myself out of debt I realized the value in being Catholic. If I strayed, I felt wrong immediately and came back. The miracles that flow from simply following the Ten Commandments is awe-inspiring: the release of guilt, finding new friends and a happy life. I have truly been made new.

    I’ll never forget taking a walk in the park one early spring day and suddenly feeling such joy and peace I’d never known. The colors seemed so much brighter - the grass, the flowers, the bright blue sky.

    I found myself laughingly exclaiming to Kurt “what a wonderful planet you have here” because the at that moment to be so happy struck me like I was an alien visiting from outer space.
    "What?” he said with a puzzled look.
    I tried to explain how I’d never been so happy but I realized it was just a moment between me and God.
    It is a constant struggle to not sin and live a faith filled life. But I rest secure in the knowledge that God is always with me.
    I’m a person who needs to read instructions first, so I love the idea of step by step meditation in Spiritual Exercises, by Saint Ignatius of Loyola. I am drawn to the idea of guided contemplations to deepen my relationship with God. For now I think I’ll start with An Ignatian Prayer Adventure -- an online adapted version of the Spiritual Exercises. Who knows, maybe someday I might even pay a visit to the Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh.
    Study, Read, Book, Bible,

    Stranger things have happened.

    No really, they have. Remind me to tell you sometime about the angel who visited me on my lunch hour and set my life back on the right path. God truly is good. All the time.
    And all the time --

    God is good.

    Saturday, June 3, 2017

    Making Christmas Cookies -- A Warning ;)

    A warning to those of you lucky enough to be presented at our home, at your home, or via the United States Postal Service, with a big ol' batch of our famous homemade Christmas cookies, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't freak out when you watch this video! I SWEAR we don't put treat your cookies this - most of them anyways! 

    By the time we took this video most of the cookies were made, then I let the kids just GO NUTS and have fun with the remaining you can see they will be able to look back and say DAMN WE HAD A HAPPY CHILDHOOD! 

    Boom Mic Drop Mom has left the dining room...

    Mom just lets them get a little nuts after all that hard work I make them do.....ENJOY!

    The Fam

    These people are my life, my world, my heart. I would not be blessed if they weren't a part of my life. So happy to be able to just say THANK YOU for being in my life. I LOVE YOU GUYS!

    The way I take every picture, as an accidental video I forgot to switch over to camera:

    The Real Picture of My Family, My LOVES OF MY LIFE!!!

    Friday, June 2, 2017

    Michael Michael Kors Women's Amber Sandal | Make Mine White Gold

    the details

    Turn up the heat this warm-weather season with the Amber sandal from Michael Michael Kors. The T-strap features a soft leather upper, an adjustable ankle strap, and a sky-high cork wedge heel and platform to flatter your every curve.

    • Leather upper
    • Rubber sole
    • Heel measures approximately 4 1/2"
    • Platform measures approximately 1"
    country of origin:
    • China
    item number:
    • B002ZNKVBS
    Michael Kors is recognized as one of America’s preeminent designers for luxury sportswear. His namesake company, established in 1981, currently produces a range of products through his Michael Kors Collection, KORS Michael Kors, MICHAEL Michael Kors labels, including women’s ready to wear, women’s accessories, and a full line of fragrance and beauty products for both women and men.

    Thursday, June 1, 2017

    BlazeBand Reflective Ankle Bands (Pair) - High Visibility - BE SAFE, BE SEEN!

    Neon Yellow for Daytime
    Did you know that every 8 minutes, a pedestrian is injured in a motor vehicle accident?
    It's vital to increase your visibility to oncoming traffic.  

    BlazeBand Reflective Bands provide that extreme, bright white reflectivity that helps you and your loved ones remain visible even in low light conditions. Reflective Bands are superior to LED lights and require no batteries. 

    Reflective at Night
    I received a free sample for my honest review, knowing exactly who I was going to use these for: Since we let our children ride around the campgrounds alone while we're camping, it's reassuring to know that while they're wearing these highly reflective leg bands, they can be easily seen by motorists from over 700 feet away.

    And if my husband and I decide to go for a nighttime stroll, we can easily fit these as the elastic and Velcro allows different sized limbs (ankles, wrists, arms) from 7" up to 12" to easily fit. You can even join 2 together to double the size.
    Adjustable to Fit All Sizes

    And they are very soft and comfortable which is good for those of us with sensitivity issues. I can't stand to wear anything scratchy!

    And since I started running again, these bands will be just the thing I need to stay extra safe even in low light situations. Now if I could just find a product that can get me motivated to run every day I'd be all set! 

    I rate these 5 stars.

    Wednesday, May 31, 2017

    Santa Fe Art Supply Artist Brush Set

    These artist brushes have been on my wish list for a long time. When I say a long time I mean not just years....I mean DECADES. 

    You see, I used to be an art major in college. But somewhere between creative design 101 and sketching 102 I got it in my head to switch majors (to Economics of all things!) and my dreams of learning how to paint fell by the wayside.

    Then came adulthood and motherhood and all the joys and trials and tribulations that come with such things, and my dreams of painting were still there but on the back burner of my mind.

    Well no more! When I saw this set of brushes I said it's time for me to get back to doing what I love.

    So I am happy I was able to obtain this set in exchange for my unbiased review, because it has everything I needed to get back to painting. 

    Included in my order are 15 wooden brushes with: 
    Polished handles
    12 inch length
    Range in size from 000 to 12
    All shapes: Round, flat, filbert, fan, wide.
    I also received an extra free gift: an extra ergonomic short handle for fine touches.

    I also love that they come with a black zipper case for storage and you can also use it as a stand for easy paintbrush access while painting. 

    I love these brushes! The fact that they are my first set since college makes them extra special but I especially love how sturdy they are - compared to the "kiddie" brushes I've used over the years doing crafts with the kids - these brushes don't shed hair in every creation.

    Also the variety is fantastic - I can't imagine there is a size here you can't find. 

    And the cost is a great deal considering how much you can pay these days for just a few or even a single brush. Not to mention these come with a 100% lifetime guarantee. Big bonus.

    My review: 5 stars all the way around!

    You can get these now on Amazon HERE.


    100% Pure Cold Pressed. !00% Heavenly.
    I am happy to report that I have died and gone to heaven.

    No really I'm in heaven. 

    Lemon heaven, that is.

    After a few minutes around La Lune Naturals Lemon Essential Oil, I feel like I'm floating in the big lemon tree in the sky. This stuff is seriously awesome smelling.

    It consists of Cold Pressed Lemon Oil (Citrus Limonum) from the rinds of fresh lemon, unfiltered and undiluted with no fillers, no alcohol or other additives. Like I said - heaven!

    I love the amber glass bottle with glass dropper that comes with it. And this is no puny size - it's a big ol' honkin 4 oz size that is bigger than my hand. See my lovely hand photo? Like I said, this bottle is HUGE.

    And if you're not familiar with the many uses of Lemon Essential Oil, you can download a free e-book HERE from La Lune Naturals.

    Per La Lune Naturals: 
    Some of the many uses of lemon oil include: 
    - An air freshener or diffuser to remove unpleasant odors 
    - Instant mood lifter when diffused in the air 
    - Use in skin care and seasonal allergy recipes
    - Improve complexion while leaving skin soft and supple.

    La Lune Naturals lemon oil is highly concentrated and should be diluted with a carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil, prior to use on the skin. Also dilute before using in sensitive areas such as the face, neck, etc. 

    One of my favorite uses is to add a couple of drops to my shampoo. It smells great to us humans AND as an added BIG bonus, citrus repels mosquitoes -- and with camping season upon us, you can bet this stuff is coming with me!

    You can purchase your own bottle of heaven on Amazon HERE.
    I did receive this product in exchange for my honest and unbiased feedback, regardless I only recommend products that worked for me and that I think will work for my readers.

    Sunday, May 28, 2017

    Eco Defense All Natural Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

    Can you smell it? That's not the smell of harmful chemicals like DEET - instead you are smelling only Citronella, Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Mint Oils. So when I got the opportunity to receive Eco Defense's All Natural Mosquito Repellent Bracelets in exchange for a unbiased review I didn't hesitate.

    We used to buy the curly bracelets that stretch around your wrists/ankles but they don't do a thing to fend of mosquitoes.You could literally wave the things right at them and it didn't deter them one bit. And I'm talking wearing one on every limb. Then we'd end up drenching ourselves with DEET sprays and wondering what new genetic diseases were forming in our bodies.

    Not a problem anymore! We used them today in the woods (geocaching) and we're talking heavy mosquito presence and not a single bite. They took one whiff of us and were on their merry way.

    And I love the fact that these bracelets are made with 100% natural oils - Citronella, Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Mint. They don't smell as strong as citronella candles, just a pleasant whiff of fresh minty citrus.

    You get 5 bracelets per pack and for the small amount - currently $11.99 with free shipping on Amazon - it's a no brainer to pick these up before you head outside this summer.

    And they're completely adjustable to any sized wrist. Or to minimize any chance of skin irritation, especially in children under the age of 3, you can snap them onto a belt loop, or even a stroller or bedpost. And they are made with a very soft velvety material that doesn't scratch your wrist.

    No more holding your breath while you spray chemicals all over your skin. These are just what I've been looking for to take camping with us this summer. Perfect!

    I give Eco Defense All Natural Mosquito Repellent Bracelets 5 stars.

    Wednesday, May 10, 2017

    Camping in National Forest Was a Blast!

    WOW we went camping and I came back ready for more!~

    Just checking in with everyone to say HI and my reviews are coming soon....stay tuned!

    Thursday, May 4, 2017

    Review: The Wind Leverager Delta Kite

    The Wind Leverager - BIG KITE!
    The Wind Leverager is a beautiful delta kite.

    For those of you unfamiliar with aviation (like me!), a delta kite takes it's name from delta wing aircraft, with wings in the form of a triangle, named for its similarity in shape to the Greek uppercase letter delta (Δ).

    I really love this kite! First of all, this kite is HUGE with its size of 180 x 90cm‏ (about 6 feet by 3 feet!) not including the tail, which makes it even bigger. That is one big kite!

    All the kites we've owned up to this point were made of cheap polyester or plastic. Not this baby! It's made from strong nylon. The frame is made of resin rod which is stronger than fiberglass and also the most durable material for kite frames. It allows the kite to bend and crash, but not break.

    Nothing flimsy here!

    It was very easy to assemble: my 11-year old had no trouble putting it together all by himself. It comes with it's own kite bag with handle so that you take the kite apart to make it easy to carry wherever you go. Also included is a nice kite handle with a long and strong line string so that you can have everything you need to have a fantastic kite flying experience.

    What's so great about flying a kite, you ask? Besides the obvious benefit of getting us up off our you-know-whats and away from all the annoying screen time, flying a kite also improves your concentration, increases your relaxation, improves your mood, and reduces tension from everyday life.

    And it's perfect for flying at the beach or the park. Who among us wouldn't love being on the beach or a park on a windy day?
    It is made to fly on winds of 5-20 mph and is perfect for kids (including us grown kids!) ages 6 and up.

    I also love that this kite comes with a 100% lifetime money back guarantee. I expect with this quality it will last us for a very long time but it's nice to know you aren't risking much by buying it.

    Right now The Wind Leverager is available on Amazon for a great price. It normally sells for over $40, but is currently on sale for $19.99.

    I received this beautiful kite in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
    Disclosure of Material Connection: I have received one or more of the products or services mentioned in various blog posts for a discount or free in exchange for my unbiased review. I will always give my honest opinion regardless of any compensation received. Some posts may contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make your purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that. ;) So thank you!

    Handbags4Hunger on Crunchbase