Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Faith Matters - FEAR NOT!!



Happy Wednesday.

It's still raining. Flooding in areas South of us. Houston is suffering. Sigh.  Please pray for Texas.



I want to talk to you today about IRRATIONAL FEAR.  We are all afraid of something. When you are a child, you fear being separated from your parents... or maybe you fear needles (ok, I still don't like them). As you grow up, you fear a broken heart, the loss of your children, parents, finances, world news... the list is long.
*** Please note, I am not talking about knowing DANGER kind of fear. As in, you should be afraid to step off the curb into oncoming traffic. I am talking about fear of the unknown that would make you NOT do something you are meant to do.

I'm here to tell you that the wrong kind of Fear is irrational and can be debilitating.  I know this because it is perhaps one of my biggest sins - living in fear. God tells us not to. He is with us. HE will protect us, but we get sucked into fear, through insecurity or lack of trust. And it's NOT a good thing. Irrational fear is about trusting the devil more than God. Oh yes. yes it is.

I have not gone to weddings and big events because I am heavy and I'm afraid of how people will perceive me. I have not pursued writing books and many things that I am capable of doing because I am afraid of what people will think. I fear rejection. I fear..... I FEAR!

I read this the other night before bed, in my Magnificat. I posted it on FaceBook and I thought someone may need to hear/read it:
Do not fear those before whom you are now afraid do not fear them, says the Lord, for I am with you to save you, to rescue you from their power. (cf. Jer 42:11) -- Fear is one of the great tactics by which evil tries to prevent the good from speaking out or acting with integrity according to their Christian commitment. It was a constant threat to the early Christians, who staunchly resisted. On the day before Pentecost, we remember especially that Mary strengthened the early Christian community in their courage by praying with them, as she strengthens us today.

I searched on Bible Gateway for FEAR NOT and it got 155 hits. Only, it switched the words around to "not fear"...  I am told that "do not be afraid" is in the Bible 365 times. I'm thinking it is TIME to toss fear and live in the Love of God.

Anyway - powerful verses like these:
Isaiah 41:10Do not fear, for I am with you, do  be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
Do not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.”
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you; do not fear, you shall not die.”
Do not fear the words of sinners, for their splendor will turn into dung and worms.

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident.
With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me?

Sirach 41:3
Do not fear death’s decree for you; remember those who went before you and those who will come after.

do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”

Matthew 10:28Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
I could go on listing verses. But you have to make a choice to TRUST the Lord. Fear is about lack of trust. Sigh. It's something I realized after reading Melanie Jean Juneau's Article on Catholic365, titled, Do We Trust More in the Power of God or the Devil?

The realization that fear has lead some many of my decisions to do or not do things was kinda devastating.  Sigh. As an abused child, it has been really hard for me to trust long term. I dip my toes in the trust pool. I want to trust. I just get a little confused.

As a convert, I have found many people in the Catholic Church believe such a wide range of things it is scary. Again, confusing. I have sometimes followed the wrong train of thought - because I liked the person who was teaching me.  In the end, however, God has righted my heart. He acknowledged my pain and fear. And he said, "take my hand. Trust in me!"

No doubt, I fear things, but I follow God. To the best of my ability, with the best intentions, as I learn about my faith and purpose, I follow God.

I figure if I want to be a saint some day, I need to get to work. Trusting God is what Saints do.

Prayer I found:
Dear God, give me courage,
for perhaps I lack it more than anything else.
I need courage before men against their threats
and against their seductions.
I need courage to bear unkindness,
mockery, contradiction.
I need courage to fight against the devil,
against terrors and troubles, temptations,
attractions, darkness and false lights,
against tears, depression, and above all fear.
I need Your help, dear God.
Strengthen me with Your love and Your grace.
Console me with Your blessed Presence
and grant me the courage to persevere
until I am with You forever in heaven.
Amen.

If you live in fear. If you lack trust for Our Lord. You are not alone. And HE loves you and protects you regardless. I know that.... because he loves me and I am no more worthy than anyone else. Truly.

As I look around these days, our Pope, friends, in my Magnificat or other readings... the message is "Do Not Be Afraid". We are so blessed. I am so blessed.

Thank you God for enlightening me. May my words enlighten you. Whoever you are.

Bless you and yours,

Emily

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Moments - Water, Water EVERYWHERE

Em's DayBook
Vol. 12

When we suffer, we don’t just come to understand the pain of Christ’s cross more, we come to understand the depth of God’s love for us: that he would endure such pain for us—in our place. We have a God who endured death so we would never have to do so.  -from Ask The Bible Geek

Happy Tuesday all!
Happy Feast Day, Saint Philip Neri. Here is what our 365 Fun Facts for Catholic Kids book says about him:
Ha, Ha, Ha! Today we honor Philip Neri, a saint who was known for his laughter and his happy look at life. Make someone smile today by telling a joke or riddle. If you don't have one, try this riddle:  When young cows go out to eat, where do they go? Answer: To a calf-a-teria! HAHA
TODAY, I’M…

Thankful For (Counting my blessings)…

  • My Faith. Without God, I'm nothing.
  • That our neighborhood did not flood.
  • All the water we have gotten from the rain. In just a couple weeks, God has erased the drought.
  • Family & Friends.
  • Lack of heat this year.
  • That the Base Pool (covered) is open this summer. YAY
Thinking About…

All the People Affected by the Floods.   We drove around a few lakes while running errands. It was really amazing. After years of praying for rain and severe drought, we are all just reeling from the rain. We appreciate it and trust in God, but we respectfully would like for the rain to stop. The below two pics were taken in a picnic area off a local lake. For years, people have remarked how sad the lakes looked because the piers were so high above the water. We couldn't water our lawns, etc. And now, 12 people are missing and I am not sure how many have perished due to the water. An acquaintance from high school was in the thick of it. Please join me in praying for all affected. We have at least another week or two of water/storms. Praying some of the water recedes first.




Being more specific when I pray. A few friends and I were laughing, saying how powerful Texan prayer is. But currently, though we all prayed for rain, we found ourselves wishing we could pray specifically for areas who's lakes are 80 ft. below, etc. instead of areas that can not handle more water.  Yes, we all know life does not work that way. BUT it is true that we should pray for specific people, situations, etc. I do believe so, anyway.

The Duggar Situation.  What we are witnessing is nothing but a witch hunt. This is just another chapter in the book about War on Christian Families. And we Christians should be sticking together on this one. The rag that broke the story has been working for years to find something sinful about the Duggars. When the truth is, we already know they are sinners -- BECAUSE WE ALL ARE! There are so many lies on the internet and in the media. For instance, did you know that Josh is NOT a pedophile, because he was a child and the girls he touched were children too? Did you also know that he touched them above their clothing?  I am not making light of it - I promise you. HOWEVER, He was punished, he apologized, the victims forgave him and he'd turned his life around. The victims went on with their lives. Everyone got counseling... The records were never supposed to be released (they now are expunged but conveniently weren't before they were released). Now, he is sitting at home with no job, and his family and the victims are all suffering because people in America LOVE to watch others bleed to death. They love to knock good people down. It's SICK! The magazine that posted this and the media hounds are nothing but perverted, hate mongers and they need our prayer.

In Our Home...

What a week. Everyone knows I don't sleep because I always talk about it. And apparently when you have HBP you should not eat salty foods and drink lots of caffeine (duh). AND maybe you should NOT watch as much news and freak out about the weather and let fear cripple you. Oh - and Christopher had two major medical appointments. One was toe-surgery. AACK
Translation

I had my first migraine caused by some of the above. And people - migraines are not for the weak. But here's what it looked like... I could not shake my headache and wasn't sure if my sugar was low or I'd forgotten to take my BP meds because I'm that person (seriously think I have early onset Alzheimers (funny - NOT FUNNY)). Well, I took Aleve during the night and couldn't shake the headache. Then I got up about 6-ish and took tylenol. Well - That did not help. Then I started vomiting (you're welcome). So I called my husband - who, by the way, had been at work for two hours by then - on the phone with Israel. Sigh. He answered and said he'd call back (I'sn't that nice?). I said, "make sure you do, something's wrong". I am not sure how long it took him to call back and get home and get me to our docs. But the doc said I had to go to the ER. Um - on accounta I'm OLD AND my doctor had never seen me like that AND I'm heavy AND I have HBP. Sigh. So he sent instructions to the ER. WHAT?!

The mean old clown-car paramedics (a group of fire-paramedics, who were funny) stuck me with needles. Then the nurse gave me meds to stop the headache and make the nausea go away... because who wants to see that anyway. And guess what happened? "this girl" reacted to the meds. Yep - because it's always fun to freak out and announce you are leaving and reach to try to rip things out of your arm, while your child and husband loudly try to talk you down. The nurse was little miss snark "you came here for help"... until the doctor put the kibosh on her and said, "She's reacting to the meds". So then I got more meds.

At this point, my bp was 207 over 105. So that was fun! But honestly I just wanted to come home. And finally, when the doctor said I could leave if my BP went down. It miraculously (ok, an hour later) went down. Then I came home and slept for 4+ hours.

What did I learn?
  1. 1) Migraines are real.
  2. When you are out of your mind with a migraine - don't tell the IV Tech (Clown car Dan) to do it in your hand because it hurts and he won't get it right. Then, went you aren't looking another guy will do it in your other arm anyway. Boo.
  3. If you have HBP you really do have to eat right, exercise and lose weight. It's no joke.
  4. My husband is a great man. He loves me so much. He never left my side (not even to feed our son).
In Our Kitchen…

Well, since Christopher had toe surgery, I used my Williams Sonoma Gift card to get us a snow-cone maker.





Totally worth it to see that smile.

Our Menu this week:

Monday (yesterday): Ribs, corn, garlic mashed potatoes, zucchini, spinach & roasted tomatoes
Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Beans & Rice
Thursday - Chicken & Veggies
Friday - Shrimp & Calamari
Saturday - Grilling Something!
Sunday - Roast

New Recipes this week:

I clearly made them into muffins, not cake. AND I put the juice of half a lemon AND the zest into the batter instead of making icing. My guys LOVE them. YUM

Found a Fantastic New Site - Oh My Veggies. Check it out!  Oh and we made this yesterday. BUT we did ours slightly different. I love Produce Co-Op and the creative way I cook because of it.

Praying For…
  • Our Nation & World
  • Mental & Physical Welfare of friends & family.
  • Finances.
  • Our Pope and Clergy.
  • For more JOY in the little things…
  • The softening of people’s hearts!
  • Less "me" mentality.
Captured…

Marque's Daughter got me this for Mother's Day. I just got it the other day. So beautiful.

Today, I am linking up with Mom2Mom Link Up! Come check out the other bloggers.

Love, Hugs & many blessings,

Em

Monday, May 18, 2015

Moments - Find The Good

Em's DayBook -
Vol. 11

Happy Monday All.

Happy Feast Day, Saint John 1. Pray for us!  As an aside, check out the Catholic Culture Site if you don't know it. It's got fantastic Liturgical Calendar Info, suggested recipes, prayers. I love it.

We have been very blessed with rain here in North Texas. So many people are tired of the water; however, we can't be selfish and stop praying because our state NEEDS this water. I do think we should be more specific when we pray for rain... like maybe ask for rain where the lakes are 70 - 80 feet down. We are thankful though, that our area has seen great improvement.

Yesterday, we had the fantastic opportunity to take a meal to someone who recently had surgery. Our youngest grandson turns one in a week. Wish we lived closer to watch them grow, but life is good.

TODAY, I’M…

Thankful For (Counting my blessings)…
  • RAIN!
  • Friends, new & old
  • My husband/child
  • Good Doctors
  • Our Pope and his spirit of LOVE!
  • Our Faith, as it sustains us.
  • That school will be done in a month.
Catching Up…

  • Life. Honestly we have nothing major to report. Some Doctor stuff coming up, but nothing I can talk about online. Pray that we find answers for Christopher.
  • Marque's Travel. It is hard to have a hubs that travels a lot. But we are so blessed he has a job and supports us.
  • Baseball. Is done. Thank God. We did finally win one game. LOL
  • School.  One more month for this year. We are working around summer activities... but that is the beauty of homeschool.
Thinking About…

How to find joy in - People, Life and Our World - when my first thought - stop with the whining; life is not fair or easy; and, our world is going to hell in a hand basket.

Sigh. It's so easy to get overwhelmed and lose patience with the negative people around you. But I think I've found some practical solutions for people like me - we are fixers.

First of all, people don't want to be fixed (and don't need to be fixed by us... that's God's job) and that we can't change our past (or anyone else).  We must encourage and pray.

Life is not easy. This is an understatement for most people. I am only sane because God has blessed me. If I told you everything I'd been through from childhood to now, you'd wonder why I am not sitting in a corner, rocking back and forth. GOD is the answer. Faith. BibleStudy.

As for our world - Throughout history there have been seasons of great love of God and great hate of God in our world. We are living in awful times... people hate Christians of any faith, and I think Catholics especially (though I am sure others feel the same in their religions). We have to live our lives with joy and without fear or THEY win. THEY = enemy of God.

In the end, the takeaway for me is - I can only make sure I stay "in the boat" and sane. AND that my family and I have the right people around us. Think about a person who always complains (who can't see positive) or is always sick/in pain (chronic illness aside... I love my friends who are truly sick, praying for healing, doing things about it and that is NOT who I am talking about here)).... Bottom line, pray for everyone, but keep your time with them at a minimum or they will drag you down.  God calls us to joy and happiness. Life is not easy. Our world is crazy. I get it!  But we can change things, through prayer and good attitude.
  • If you are easily sucked into complaining and gossip - limit your time with folks who draw you into it.

    • In fact - Call someone who makes you happy!

  • If you get overwhelmed by the crimes on the news... limit your news watching.

  • Read faith-based books. Study the Bible.

  • Oh - and stay busy. If you are busy, your mind does not wander!

Reading…

My two new books...  A Fifty Year Silence - Love, War and a Ruined House in France and Now What?! A Guide for New and Not-So-New Catholics, by Scott Hahn. (not affiliate links)

Wifing…

My friend Elizabeth hosts the Marriage Monday: Project 31 Link-up. Today's is called She Lays Her Hands to the Spindle. It's about not having idle hands (or minds) and keeping busy so that we are focused on the Lord and the gifts He gave us. She says this...
One of the ways we can become more productive is by learning to wisely use our evenings. Most of us begin to grow weary by evening time and we are tempted to just plop down on the couch and watch some questionable junk on TV or mindlessly surf the Internet. The challenge is to figure out how to wisely redeem our evenings based on the mental and physical energy we have available at that time of day.

Sadly, this can describe my entire family. But it is true. We need to focus and do some family reading, more game playing (board games), AND Especially evening Bible Study.  We get good at it and then Marque is gone for a while and we don't always continue. But we need to get better at feeding our souls. Check out her post. Great Wifing Advice and goals.

In Our Kitchen…
Monday (today): Roasted chicken and various squashes
Tuesday - Spaghetti
Wednesday - Beans & Rice
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Fish & Veggies
Saturday - Grilling Something!
Sunday - Freezer Find (leftovers)
Memorial Day - Brisket, potato salad, coleslaw, etc.

It's rare that we would do leftovers on Sunday, but there is so much in our freezer that we need to use. I have blueberries and strawberries that I froze so I can make jam, smoothies, muffins, etc. We have different soup stocks, etc.

Although I will tell you that I finally cleaned out our freezers. If it didn't have a date on it from this year, it's GONE! I can actually tell what I have now and I'm thrilled.

This week, we are making Blueberry-Zucchini Cake with Lemon Buttercream, breakfast muffins (just fruit muffins for the freezer (hubs takes to work with yogurt)), and honey-molasses wheat bread.

This weekend, we made Watermelon Granitas. So easy and so good.

Watermelon Granitas 
We also made Baked Potato Rounds. I will say that we would make them crispier and probably add a little more flavor with some garlic powder and red bell pepper.

Faith Matters…

A friend sent me this Mother's Prayer for Mother's Day. And I think it's a good reminder to pray for ourselves in our chosen vocation. It's not easy... but it is very rewarding. And anyway - God called us to it, so we should probably find peace with it. Even when I fail - EPICALLY - I have to find peace and happiness in it... and seek forgiveness from my child. I love that boy!


Praying For…
  • Our Nation & World
  • Mental & Physical Welfare of friends & family.
  • Finances.
  • Our Pope and Clergy.
  • For more JOY in the little things…
  • The softening of people’s hearts!
  • Less "me" mentality.
Captured…



I am linking up with:
Love, Hugs & many blessings,

Em

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Small Success Thursday... Broken Appliances and Lessons Learned

Not only is love everything, but everything is love. Love is the soul of everything valuable. The most precious gift in the world given without love is worthless; the cheapest gift in the world given with love is priceless…. Everything valuable is made of love. Your very existence is God’s love of you. Love is the meaning of life and the meaning of religion and the meaning of everything. —Peter Kreeft  -from Love Never Fails
(sent to me by Franciscan Media)



Happy Thursday All!

I love Thursdays, because I am reminded to think about the small things that make my week great - and to share them with others who may then realize their small things are successes. It's such a joy! Check out the other Bloggers who participate in Small Success Thursday @ Catholicmom.com.

This week started with Mother's Day. Mass, brunch and a new bracelet for me. My guys are so awesome. I've been having a rough time lately with basic life things - menopause is depressing, etc. But - they sure made me feel loved and I'm so grateful.

This week was LONG. Stormy, rainy & LONG! But I did some great things - out of my comfort zone things.

1) Family Doctor and Red Tape. Background...Several years ago, we had about $25K in total medical output if you could Premiums, co-pays, prescriptions and hospital stays. So we switched to TriCare Prime Insurance. You'd think after serving the country for 22 years or so, that would entitle our family to good insurance. But you'd be wrong.  Sure, we pay far less a month. About $500 less, to be exact. But we are treated like we are on welfare.   My son has a couple medical issues we need to handle NOW. I will not post details on my blog, but we are looking at a surgery and various treatments over the summer (not counting toe-surgery next week).  Our doctor has given us the run-around with these issues and I have not been happy. In his defense, he is following the rules. So - I called the office manager last week and asked for a meeting with the doc and myself/hubs. I told her I do not care what the tests and things cost, we want this all solved. PERIOD. We are allowed to step outside the lines, it just costs more. But this is our child's health. And so - She said, she did not know if he'd agree with it. I said, he will, please ask him and call me back. Well, the referral coordinator called me the next day, he'd sent Christopher to two pediatric specialists. One we have an appt. with next Monday. One, the end of June was the soonest. I never raised my voice, I did not freak out. I simply insisted on better care and laid it out for them. THIS IS BIG in my world.

2) Microwave DOWN! It's funny, I don't cook in my microwave, but I did not realize how much I heat up with my microwave. WOW! The time has come - we are eight years in to this home. Everything was builder's grade. And so, we will save up (paying cash for things these days) and get one soon (we hope). In the meantime, it's amazing how quickly I remembered how to do things without the microwave. Thank you Toaster Oven!

3) Storms = No Sleep.  People..... my child is a chattering, flailing around (major fidgeting) person during storms. Oh man. He can't help it. We live in tornado alley. And his memories and fear are imprinted. We know the routine. We are prepared. But he can't settle. It is not uncommon on a normal day to have 20+mph wind gusts. It is just who we live. But when we have a thunderstorm, it's house shaking booms and lightening that you could read by. You know? AND it always seems to happen over night. Well - my child is as tall as me at eleven (ok, I know I'm short, zip it!).... and him sleeping in the bed is like sleeping with an animal that roots and flails in their sleep. BUT - believe it or not, if he is there with us, he won't wake us up.  If he starts out in his room, he scares me when he comes in - EVERY TIME! SO the lesson is, either to put him on an air mattress in our room OR just let him sleep with.

4)  Husband Gone. We made it through a week of husband traveling.  The good news about rain is it forces us to stay inside, so no baseball, no parks, etc. I miss my husband, but I stayed in the classroom and got lesson plans done for 4Q; cleaned out the freezers (um - I have no idea how old some of that stuff was). Anything not dated 2015 was tossed. <3

I thought you might like to see this. When he is gone, my bed looks like this. The boy up top, the cat on the end, and the doc on the floor... because she is jealous that the cat is on the bed (the dog's bed is FEET away... ha).



I hope and pray you had a great week and that you know how much God loves you. Everywhere I look these past few days are signs that we are to be braver and bolder. Stand tall.

The evil one wants us to be down. The evil one takes delight in our self-pity and hardship. But we are ladies of GOD! Our Catholic Faith, our Holy Mother and all the Saints - they help sustain us... they bring us closer to Jesus, as day after day we read about their hardships and what they endured... and how joyfully they lived - in spite of handicap, hardship, etc.

Be brave my friends.

God is with you. He keeps His Promises.

Blessings,

Em

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Small Success Thursday - Hanging On...

As we befriend those who are paralyzed by fear, illness, failure, or loss, we are loving them as Christ would. We are building holy and beautiful relationships with the people God has entrusted to our care. Our mission, if we choose to accept it, is to carry our friends to Jesus.
-from Created to Relate


YAY It's Thursday. And that means we get to think about our Small Successes.  Some weeks the little things are the only things that make life worthwhile.

My husband is always gone these days, and his never-ending travel schedule is starting to wear on us. I've tried to step up outings and things, which has put us behind a little in school. I know - we are homeschoolers, we can let the schedule slide... But when you are an organized-by-nature person... it's hard to let that go. (this is me - working on it).

Here are some small successes:

1)  Lesson Plans and Prepping for Next Year. Since I feel a little unorganized of late (HA understatement, I get all excited when I have something to organize. Yep, it's that time. Since we switched back to MODG for next year, we have started to wind down this year. We have about six weeks to go and I have taken the time this week to 1) create the lesson plans for this last six weeks and 2) get organized for next year. I spoke to our consultant. I ordered books. I've decided which Parent classes I will this Summer. You know - FUN!

2) Beat A Virus. Had fever a few days. Much better now. Thank God for rest and patient family. I mean sure, I did the laundry and made meals; but the big clean will be this weekend. Usually I do a little each day so that there isn't a lot of cleaning any ONE day... but that's ok.

3) Acknowledged The Stress of Being So Depended On. You know - as moms, we are everything. We do it all - from feeding to healing, cleaning, remembering dates, finding lost things... answering the same questions a zillion times. Sigh. And sometimes - it feels overwhelming.  For me, I've been neglecting to turn to God for His Counsel, for His healing wisdom.  What happens then, you ask? Um - lets just say it is not pretty.  I had a major meltdown last night over something stupid. My poor family.  But the Success of it is the realization that I don't have to be everyone's everything. That I just need to take it all to God and let him help me weed it all out. The problems come when we aren't as prayerful as we need to be. I have some redirecting to do.

Other successes are beating a virus, baking bread and running a household. So I got that going for me. <3

Barb wrote the Small Success Post on Catholicmom.com today and she asked the question, "What Keeps You Hanging On?"

My answers to that are Faith, Family & Coffee.... so much coffee. HA  

I hope and pray your week was great.
Em

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Review Wednesday - The Journey of Our Love


"Now, I kneel before her, a marvelous and strong woman, fiancee, wife and mother, who, in her love for life and for the child in her womb, knew how to scale the heights of the greatest love which Jesus showed us." ~ Peitro Molla
Happy Wednesday All.

I hope and pray your day is good.  Before I review the book, I wanted to tell you a little about Saint Gianna.  She lived her life in God's domain and it shows in these beautiful letters, her career, her marriage, and every aspect of her life. Deeply spiritual, Saint Gianna is the epitome of Christian Motherhood as she gave her life, so her fourth child could live.

Here are a few websites about her:  Saint Gianna; Miracles for Canonization; About Saint Gianna.  You really must find out more about her if you don't know her stories.

Around the time of her canonization, Saint Gianna's letters to her beloved Pietro were published. After he passed away, his children allowed their letters to be published together for this book. This book is a beautiful testimony to their love of God, family and one-another.

The book is called The Journey of Our Love - The Letters of Saint Giana Beretta and Pietro Molla.

This review has been a long time coming. I have to say, it's a challenging review to write. Let's face it, love letters are personal and though I am so happy to have them, for their great example and gift to married couples (and those who want to marry), it's quite strange to assess them -- according to the more practical part of my mind.

Some people, when reading books, skip the Foreward. This book has a Presentation (by Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Archbishop of Milan), Forward (by Cardinal Angelo Comastri of the Vatican), two Prefaces (one by Gianna Emmanuela (their youngest daughter) and one by Pietro) and an Introduction by Elio Guerriero (editor). Please do not skip any of this. I think without these parts, the letters, though beautiful, would not come to life, as much. It's just my humble opinion.

In the Introduction, Elio Guerriero said this about the letters:
The exchange of letters between Saint Gianna and her husband Pietro intrudes a new and significant chapter in Christian Spirituality. Better than a theological traits, these letters are a convincing proof that the way of holiness does not necessarily pass through religious life or the priestly ministry, but can unfold in the midst of the world, living one's own location as a Christian Called to holiness with Christ in married life.
In another passage, he says:
In fact, lifting the veil on their private life, they show us that love centered in Christ takes away nothing of the beautify of being in love of attraction toward and passion for the  beloved, of loving transports and dedication to the children. On the contrary, in these letters of husband and wife, these sentiments are set before us, fresh, pure and joyful, ever renewed by participation in the Church's liturgy and by communion in prayer which kept the two united during their separations, the birth of new babies and the demands of their professions.
This couple worked, prayed, lived apart, struggled with loss, and loved so deeply and tenderly. They complimented each other in every way.

The letters span their dating lives through their mature marriage. They show the love and laughter and perhaps the little things. I am struggling to describe them to you because they are simple and profound at the same time. I can see many of us, if we still lived in the time before Internet, writing the same kinds of letters to our spouses. Some are romantic. Some are childlike. Some are descriptive and longer. Some are very short. All are received with love and treasured.

For me, these letters give insight to a great woman. A Saint that I was introduced to a year or two ago, whom I wish I'd "met" sooner. They also give insight to a beautiful man who remained faithful to her and the family they built and the faith they lived their lives by... until the end of his life.  Mostly they give insight to the humanity of marriage and the love that faith builds.

This book is a testimony to how we should all live our lives (and I dare say, examples of the many ways we need to step it up while we have the chance). I am going to read it again.

Thank you Cathy Kinpper for sending me this book six months ago. Please forgive my delay in reviewing it.

Blessings,

Emily