We have some really cool behind the scenes news we want to share with you. So let's get right to it:
First off, major thanks to you and everyone else who reached out and shared some kindness with our family a couple weeks ago after we had to say goodbye to our dog, Jody. It's been a strange couple of weeks getting used to her not being around. While we know not everyone reading this is an "animal person," we appreciated the prayers and kind words, nevertheless.
We never knew how much food we apparently drop on the kitchen floor until Jody was no longer with us!
Secondly, as we mentioned on this week's podcast, given his 15 years of media development experience, Greg has started developing a new online course to help others get a podcast up and running quickly and professionally, but still having fun along the way. The goal is to include not only the equipment and mechanics of podcasting, but also the many lessons Greg learned from hosting over 4 years of radio with Jennifer on SiriusXM. There are plenty of podcasting courses out there, but not a single one like what Greg is working on.
Before getting too deeply into development of the course, he's looking for a small handful of people who'd be willing to share with him their concerns, hopes, and struggles with podcasting.This includes people who have already launched a podcast, as well as people who have been thinking about it for awhile (whether for personal or business use).
He's already had several conversations just since mentioning it on our podcast, and the feedback has been INCREDIBLY useful.
Interested? If so, let Greg know right away (his email is greg [at] willitsworks [dot] com), or you can contact him directly from our website here.
Once he hears from you, if he's still looking for input, he'll send you his calendar so you can pick a time that works for you, and then he'll schedule a 1-on-1 video conversation (should only take about 20-30 minutes) to pick your brain (that phrase has always grossed us out, but you get the picture). It would be of great help!
Another area we're starting to explore is personally journeying with people just like you who want a deeper faith life, or perhaps just some objective feedback and guidance in life, relationships, and work.
To that end, we are now offering individual spiritual direction and life coaching.
You can meet with either Jennifer or Greg for one hour at a time via live video conferencing. We're "tip-toeing" our way into this as we want to offer this while also working on all the other areas of content development that we know bring value to people's lives. So we're currently working with our first clients while also gauging the overall interest.
So if you've been on the search for spiritual direction or life coaching, click here to join our waiting list. or just drop your name and email in the form below. We're currently reviewing applications for new clients, but new openings become available regularly. We'd love to help you experiencing a deeper faith life and more joy.
Thanks to our $5 and above co-producers, we're now hosting a monthly live and interactive video chat. Our third session will be on Sunday night, September 9, at 8PM EST. If you haven't yet signed up as a co-producer, you can do so here. For those of you who are already signed up at the $5 or higher level, be sure to mark the date on your calendar and keep an eye on your email for the exclusive link as the date approaches.
The response to our free Happiness on Demand Video Course has been fantastic! If you haven't yet had a chance to check it out, make sure to enter your info in the form below and you'll get INSTANT access!
Wait. What? Yeah, we know that sounds confusing, but "We Need More Hate" is the name of this week's podcast episode. In this edition we share the amazing co-producer news we woke up to the other morning.
Plus we talk about our daughter Lily's recent attempts at comedy, and wonder if she might genuinely have a talent for this and we also get quite transparent when we share some of our recent failures, how they've affected our family, and our attempt to pivot in yet another new direction. And lastly, in light of last week's Grand Jury report out of Pennsylvania, combined with the ongoing fallout of the McCarrick scandal, we share the pointed response from Bishop Morlino of the Diocese of Madison where he surprisingly calls for more hate in the Church, but not in a way you might think. If you haven't already checked it out, you can do so right here.
And if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to Adventures in Imperfect Living and leave a review for it on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts!
And that's it for this week! Whew. That was a lot!
As always, we're so incredibly grateful to have you in our lives. If you think someone else may get something from this email, please feel free to forward it along!
Yesterday was a tough day for our family.
You see, on January 1, 2007, our family took a huge leap of faith. I'd just resigned from my career in the IT industry so that Jennifer and I could work as full-time media missionaries, creating podcasts and video and other fun resources to help people through life.
Given that we'd just taken a huge financial risk by giving up health insurance and a steady paycheck, we're still not sure what compelled us the next day to adopt a rescue dog.
But this 9 month old black dog named Jody just seemed to pick us, as if we were already hers. As we were deciding what to do, she even let our then two-year-old son Tommy slowly lead her along by a leash, staying by his side with each step. She was gentle and playful and there was just something about her that made our entire family know she was supposed to come home with us.
In the ensuing years, Jody's occasional barks and jangling chains made many appearances on various podcasts and our former radio program on SiriusXM.
She watched over our daughter Lily when she was born in 2009, and was there with us every step of the way through future job changes and two cross country moves.
When Jennifer's mother moved in with us a couple years ago, she and Jody -- now over a decade old -- developed a certain kinship, these two elderly ladies regularly resting within close proximity of each other on the main floor of our house.
Then earlier this week we noticed a large mass on Jody's right side, and she suddenly became lethargic and stopped eating. When we took her to the vet on Tuesday, it was suggested that a series of medications could bring down the inflammation in her kidneys, pancreas, and stomach. But two days later, the mass had nearly quadrupled in size and the doctor confirmed what we already suspected. The mass was inoperable and there was little we could do to ease Jody's pain.
So while Jennifer and our son, Walter, stayed at the vet, I drove home to get the other kids and my mother-in-law so they could say their goodbyes. Even though Jody would soon turn thirteen, we were all in complete disbelief that her end was already here.
We all gathered then around this suddenly very old dog who never stopped acting like a puppy until this very week. We said a prayer and thanked God for our time with Jody, and for giving her to our family. And we sat with Jody as the doctor administered two shots and our good girl took her last breath.
We knew this day would happen. Animals and humans all come to their inevitable end. But still, we were as shocked by our grief as we were by Jody's sudden illness and death.
When we returned home, we put away her dog dishes and swept the floor. We saw her everywhere we looked.
As the day progressed, we were all very, very tired. We made the obligatory Facebook post and were comforted by the kind words that so many people shared.
Jennifer, exhausted from grieving with the children and from her own sadness, went to bed at 8:00, an unusually early hour for her. Our younger three kids began prepping for bed shortly thereafter as Walter and I attempted to distract ourselves with an inane 1990's Adam Sandler movie (Billy Madison, for those who are curious).
But then something completely unexpected happened.
Around 9:30 PM Walter got a text:
"Hey, we're outside."
He jumped up and went to the front door where three of his friends stood in the dark bearing gifts: two pizzas, and boxes of cookies and muffins.
They'd seen Walt's own Instagram post from earlier in the day and came to cheer us up.
So Jennifer got out of bed. The other kids came back downstairs. Tommy brought his rabbit, Hazel, to the living room, and our cat Marty came in to see what all the commotion was about.
For the next hour we ate and laughed and played with our two remaining pets. Our children forgot about their grief for awhile, as they laughed with Walter's friends.
And so did we.
We were comforted by others who Jennifer and I barely even know. These three teenagers, all recent high school graduates, had the character and thoughtfulness to seek out and comfort not only their friend, Walter, but his family, as well.
Some people may say Jody was just a dog, and that perhaps we were taking it too hard. But these three teens saw what yesterday truly was: an opportunity to bring joy to the lives of others.
I went to bed last night thinking not only of our good fortune at having had such a good dog in our family, and from experiencing the unconditional love of one of God's creatures in this mutt of various breeds. But more than anything, I found myself so grateful that three wise teens showed up at our door late at night bearing gifts of food, compassion and love.
Who do you know that could benefit from an unexpected phone call or visit from you this weekend?
Your sudden appearance may mean more to them than you will ever know.
Yesterday was a tough day for our family. But it was a very blessed one, as well.
Walt’s graduation brought up some interesting conversations with our son Ben, we ate a lot of tacos (and other junk), and ponder about the possibility of moving again (and how that would most likely destroy Jennifer).
If your days are filled with more uncertainty than stability, more worries than dreams, Exceptional You is custom made to help you overcome your specific problems and limits to finally experience the EXCEPTIONAL life you were made for.
Maybe your emotions are out of whack and uncontrollable from one day to the next.
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Maybe you feel this overwhelming pressure building up inside of you that just doesn’t feel right. It feels like it’s going to pop and something has to change. But you’re not quite sure what.
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And lastly, don’t forget to download and review the all new Rosary Army Mobile app! Details and links to download can be found here.
(Note: I originally posted this on our anniversary in 2008, and again in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. This is the eighth year of this tradition.)
1314151617181920 years ago this morning, I got up and took a shower. I was very relaxed, all things considered. Continue reading
While I’d LOVE to take credit for this, I can’t. Instead, I’ll give credit to all the creative moms out there who can think like this on their own. With our five kids going to public school, bringing lunch from home is a must. But it’s never been easy. What I deem appropriate for a lunch box is hardly what my children desire. Then, Greg told me about an image he saw on social media that illustrated how one mom took charge on helping her kids build a better lunch. I never saw the image, but I didn’t need to. It was enough to get my brain going.
Now, with a little sorting help from our son, Walter, I was able to conquer the pain-in-the-butt that is helping our kids to make halfway nutritious lunches from home. I started thinking in categories like: fruit, dairy, cheese, meat/protein, veggie, salty carb and/or sweet carb. Then I sorted items that I wanted to offer in each category and LABELED them! Now each child can pluck one item from each “bucket” and be guaranteed a well-rounded lunch. AND … wait for it… it only takes our kids less than 2 minutes to make their own lunch!!! BooYah!
First I chose two easy veggies: baby carrots and celery sticks. Our kids are not real big on veggies, but seeing it so neatly organized just made it attractive. I have to work with what I can here. So far it seems to be working. There are clearly less veggies in the bucket only a few days in.
Now for the slightly expensive option.. non-refrigerated sources of protein. We choose our favorite brand of protein bars which are sweet. Then, we provided a saltier protein bucket that contains options like beef jerky (portioned into snack baggies) and canned tuna and chicken. I seriously doubt the kids would go for the tuna or chicken, but Greg surely might. If those protein options don’t work, then I’m ready for that too since I try to keep deli meat, cheese and/or turkey pepperoni in fridge.
And probably the buckets of most fun are the carb buckets. One for salty based carbs like single portions of ritz crackers, goldfish crackers and pretzels, etc. And the other for sweeter carbs like chewy granola, rice crispy treats, etc.
I know what you might be thinking. These are a lot of options. Eh, you’re probably right. These are not as nutritious as it could be. Yep, you’d be right there too. I’m not a fitness guru who avoids all processed foods. I’d like to be, but I’m not. I’m just a regular mom who wants to feed our kids with the best options I can come up with and afford. With our five kids needing to build a lunch that will sustain them through a seven hour day PLUS help provide quick solutions for their after school feeding frenzy, this seems like a good compromise for all appetites involved.
Now I’m sure the mysterious other woman who came up with the original masterful organization of back to school lunch food items had the more Pinterest worthy presentation. But I’m more than pleased with our “make do with whatever buckets we can find around the house approach.” So far, so good! Thanks lady, whoever you are 🙂
With this latest edition of Caffeine and Catholicism, a new video series designed to be your quick jolt for living out the Catholic Faith, which we’re producing at my job, I dive into the preciousness of time, and how to make the most of it.
We’ve had decades of books and movies from Back to the Future to the Terminator that explore the ramifications of tinkering with time.
But what about right now?
Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 1007 reminds us that “Our lives are measured by time, in the course of which we change, grow old and, as with all living beings on earth, death seems like the normal end of life.”
The end of time.
That aspect of death, the Catechism says, lends urgency to our lives: remembering our mortality helps us realize that we have only a limited time in which to bring our lives to fulfillment.
Your local parish is one of the best places your TIME can produce the greatest fruit for Christ. Maybe you’re not called to lead religious education or be a lector at Mass, but each of us have been given gifts that God calls us to use for the service of others. And what a great feeling it is when those gifts are fully realized!
My own mom could sew you a tuxedo if you needed her to. For years she’s given of her talents in repairing vestments and ironing the cloths used during Mass.
Maybe you’re handy with a saw, or a lawnmower, or are a good listener, or a powerful prayer warrior.
Chances are your parish could find a place for you to put these gifts from God to amazing use, even if in the quietest of ways.
So make a commitment to put your gifts to work, by giving up time for the sake of serving others in your local parishes.
This was us two years ago today. Makes me want to pack up the truck and head for the mountains.
The long days of summer often challenge my mommy-frazzled brain that fun and free activities that entertain kids are as elusive as spotting the Loch Ness monster.
But finally (out of desperation) creativity struck my brain. I had an idea that just might occupy the super outgoing and talkative personality of our youngest son Tommy. He loves the video game Legend of Zelda. Like, a lot. So, the idea popped into my head that it might be fun for him to try his hand at stitching a Zelda-themed pillow. Not wanting to overwhelm him with complex designs right out of the gate, we both agreed that the famous Triforce symbol, which represents Link’s ability to harness power, courage & wisdom in order to save Princess Zelda, would be a great and simple pillow design.
I challenged myself to find everything we would need to make this pillow from stuff we already had in our house. And we did. We found an old throw pillow shoved in a linen closet that was no longer in use. We found two old t-shirts (one black and one yellow) that were too small for anyone to wear. We used an old cereal box to cut up and make a stiff Triforce template design for use on the t-shirt fabric. And lastly, we used our simple (and cheap) sewing kit.
So now it was time to get Tommy started on sewing. After getting the Triforce design cut out of the old yellow and black t-shirts, he sewed them together.
Then he had a LOT of stitching to do. Might as well get comfy!
Since the black t-shirt was solid, we figured we’d take a short cut and turn it into a pillow case. We only had to cut off the sleeves and stitch along the top and bottom.
Yep, the pillow works just fine..
There you have it, a homemade Triforce pillow made for free. The only cost was time and my patience.
With this latest edition of Caffeine and Catholicism, a new video series designed to be your quick jolt for living out the Catholic Faith, which we’re producing at my job, I share the FIVE Best Meals at Your Local Catholic Parish.
Yeah, that’s right. Food. We love to shove it in our mouths while zipping through the drive through, but let’s be honest: Food shared amongst friends and family is always better and actually has surprising benefits. Our friends, Fr. Leo Patalinghug from Grace Before Meals and Jeff Young from Catholic Foodie, have been attesting to this for years.
In fact, one Columbia University survey showed that teenagers who eat with their families at least five times a week are much less likely to have substance abuse problems and more likely to get better grades in school.
Food shared amongst people with common beliefs and common goals and a common focus on knowing, living, and sharing our faith is infinitely more enriching than eating alone.
So what are the best meals to find at your local parish?
Starting with Number Five is Spaghetti Dinners. Not my personal favorite, but they’re easy, kid-pleasing, festive, and casual, with great opportunities for impromptu conversations.
Number Four would be Pancake Breakfasts, often put on by your local Knights of Columbus who use the proceeds to support important initiatives. So you get your griddlecakes with a heaping helping of service to others.
Number Three is the perennial Lenten fish fries, which now often come in healthier options. But I’ll still take my fish fried.
Number Two is after Mass Coffee and Donuts. To this day, my parents are still extremely close friends with people they met at my childhood parish while sharing Krispy Kremes and bad coffee.
But the number one shared meal offered at every single Catholic parish is The Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ which we as Catholics receive as a Community at the shared table of The Lamb’s Supper each time we receive Communion at Mass.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the Church – The People of God – “is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ’s Body.”
This is not just symbolic thing, but as Lumen Gentium teaches, truly The Eucharist is “The source and summit of the Christian Life.”
Paragraph 1324 of the Catechism says, “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself.”
So yeah, partake of donuts and pancakes, spaghetti dinners and fish fries, but the number one best meal to be found at your local parish is the meal found in the Eucharist at every Mass.
It’s at this meal that we’re brought together as One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. It’s the best meal in town.
We’ve launched a new video series at work called Caffeine and Catholicism, designed to be your quick jolt for living out the Catholic faith
In this premiere episode (seen below) we’ll answer the age old question: how do you convert your friends and family?
As I discussed in the video, years ago I worked in the IT industry, leading teams to develop software systems, which gave me the awesome opportunity to work with a wide and diverse range of people.
Around that same time (late 90’s/early 2000’s), I was experiencing a re-awakening of my faith, and an absolutely unquenchable desire to save souls for Jesus Christ.
Like many people, I had friends and family members who had long ago fallen away from the faith, but everyday at my job I worked with people who had no faith at all.
One of my co-workers was a programmer named Ram (short for Sriman), and we went to lunch together frequently where one day I learned that Ram really had no idea who this Jesus Christ guy was.
Here was my opportunity. *I* was going to convert Ram. Over the course of sweet and sour chicken, *I* would get Ram to give his life to Christ.
So I laid it all out. We’re all sinners. We needed redemption. Jesus died on the Cross for our sins so we could go to heaven. It’s all right there in the Bible. Why wouldn’t Ram want that?
But he didn’t. He thought it was a nice story, but meant nothing to him. This was my first experience of eating a major heaping helping of humble pie when it came to sharing my faith.
Over time, I had similar conversations with other friends and family members and they all had the same response: crickets. No interest. Nothing.
Over time – and thanks be to God – I realized that my first problem here is that I wasn’t truly trying to convert Ram for Ram’s sake, or even better, for God’s sake. I was doing it for my own sake, to take credit for it, as if I had a sales quota that had to be met. We seek conversion of souls for the sake of the kingdom of God, so that others choose something not just because we believe it’s a good thing, but because God loves them and wants them to choose God.
So the conclusion I finally came to was that perhaps my witty words of wisdom were not what Ram needed. What would have made a greater impact would be for Ram to see Christ’s light shining through me. Because when we allow the joy of Christ to shine from us, that light of Christ is what will draw people closer to Him, far more than words.
St. Philip Neri said, “First let a little love find entrance into their hearts, and the rest will follow.”
Through our loving actions, our bold loving witness, our lovingly patient example, and sometimes by just lovingly keeping our mouths shut, we can often have major impact on the lives of others. Or rather – Christ THROUGH us – can.
Rather than just seizing opportunities to speak, pray that the Holy Spirit will provide the right moments, and the right words to say.
A bishop once told St. Monica – the mother of St. Augustine, who initially did everything he could to run away from God – to “Speak less to Augustine about God and more to God about Augustine.”
In most cases, private prayer softens hearts far better than beating people over the head with a Scripture stick ever will.
So how do you convert your friends and family?
More than anything, keep in mind that it’s not you that will convert anyone’s heart. It’s Jesus Christ, listening to our prayers and working through willing and loving disciples, that will do the heavy living.
Share your stories (of success and failure) of sharing the faith in the comments below!
A few weeks ago I shared a teaser of a video my office produced for Archbishop’s upcoming pastoral letter on the restored order (to be released on May 24, 2015), which we talked about on TCND Episode #062 a few months ago.
Well now I’m proud to share the full documentary for this project. I’m very proud of my team at work, especially Jason Taylor, the creative production specialist I had to go all the way to Canada to find. He’s amazing and did a fantastic job bringing this production to life.
Hope you enjoy this!
When I first learned to play the guitar in the early 90’s (when I was in my early 20’s), I used to write a new song almost every week. Now I write something new only every couple of years. But writing this new song triggered something cathartic in me that I can’t adequately express. I’m hoping maybe there’s a few more songs left in me.
If you liked this, check out my unique cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”