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A Storytellers Guide to a Grace Filled Life – Book Review

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I must start this post by telling you that I have been a friend and fan of Tony Agnesi for approximately four years now. Several years ago, as a fledgling Catholic blogger, I reached out to him, seeking advice. You see, Tony has an awesome blog over at tonyagnesi.com, where he blogs about virtue as well. Where I write more from a theological/academic point of view on virtue, Tony writes from experience. I once asked him, “How do you come up with such great stories? You are quite creative!” His reply, “Those things really happened to me!” God uses Tony, daily, to reach out to the less fortunate; to witness to the faith; and to use his gift for storytelling to reach the hearts of many. In A Storytellers Guide to a Grace Filled Life, we see Tony Agnesi at work in God’s Garden of life.

A Storytellers Guide to a Grace Filled Life
… captures the best of Tony Agnesi’s stories aimed at showing you how to find God’s Grace in your own life. As a master storyteller, Agnesi shares with us stories…

Bullying Has No Grace; But Forgiveness Does! Here's My Story

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I have a great deal of personal experience when it comes to bullying. You see, I was bullied for eight consecutive years, while attending a Catholic grade school. There were only 38 children in my class, so I was an easy target. Because of my physical deformity of clubbed feet, I wore braces on my legs. This set me apart from the others, making me the “outcast.” (The photo to the left was taken in 1962, at age 5). After what I experienced, it is amazing that I am still alive to tell my story today.

Bullying Has No Grace
The ugliness of the constant and consistent verbal abuse, demeaning my dignity and self-worth, proves to me that bullying has no grace. Bullying is an evil act. My bullies constantly referred to me as “metal legs,” “cootie bug,” – you get the picture. Their derisive behavior played havoc on my self-worth, leaving me changed, and not for the better. They scarred my psyche.

The Lingering Effects of Bullying
As I progressed through high school and college, I always felt …

Secrets to A Grace Filled Marriage: Humility and a Sense of Humour

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My husband, Michael, and I will have been married for 39 years on Sept. 1, 2017. After a difficult life, we are happy and still in love. Surprisingly, we have become one in reality, deeply in tune with each other’s spirits even though we are still opposites in personality. Our tangible joy is inexplicable through secular eyes because from all outward appearances our life together has been a tough journey through poverty, raising nine kids, facing overwhelming chores on a small family farm and dealing with long-term, clinical depression. Accessing Power in the Sacrament of Marriage How did our marriage survive never mind thrive? The grace available in the Sacrament of Marriage is not some esoteric theology;  it is real and it is powerful. The power available in the sacrament is what kept my husband and me together through the rough years. We both understood, beyond a doubt, that God brought us together. We never questioned this basic call from God, our vocation together, even during t…

Grief and Gratitude on Good Friday

Great griefs are like great joys: they bend time. My sister died twenty years ago. Sometimes it seems so long ago that mercifully, I can barely remember the details. Other times, those details rush back at me so sharply I have to steel myself for impact.

Suicide does that.

I can smile now at the memory of my sister. I felt disloyal the first time I did that, as though permanent grief could be the only fitting monument to her memory. Time, mercy, and God’s grace have done their work, bit by bit.

For the first time since her death, I am writing about her and about losing her. This is an anniversary, and the time is right. For years, I thought she had taken Easter away with her and left nothing behind but wreckage. Gradually I found that she left me other things: a greater appreciation for the gift of my family, and how to live with gratitude despite wounds that are bone-deep. Those aren’t compensations. They don’t cancel out anything. They are gifts nonetheless.

I extend my hand to anyo…

Grace in a graceless season: notes from a Catholic in politics

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Spare a moment and a prayer for the political types, please and thank you. I’m one of them. The bitter election-year exchanges on every platform are part of my daily life. Whether on television on online, shutting them down altogether is not an option, appealing though it may be. Politics is part of my vocation. Times like these, I’m tempted to wish it were otherwise. This is a plague-on-both-your-houses year, looking at the major parties’ candidates for president. I am reading  C.S. Lewis’s  Mere Christianity this month, and something he wrote in there captures my attitude. I feel a strong desire to tell you – and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me – which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opp…

From Grief to Grace, by Jeannie Ewing - Book Review

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I have to admit that I chose to read From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph, by Jeannie Ewing, because I personally know the author and wanted to support her writing. Little did I know when I opened the first page, just how much I needed to read this book for my own benefit! Like many, I associated grief only with death. No one in my life had recently died. Therefore, I didn’t see a need to read it for any other reason than to support the author. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

My Story of Grief
Grief can result from any type of loss; the loss of a loved one, a home, a job, your good health – anything! As I read the book, simultaneously, my husband lost... Read more...

Recipe for Holiness: Two Parts Courage

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Life requires courage.  That is clear in the horrific events of this year - just making the decision to leave our homes can be cause for pause.  In the case of my dear friend from our parish, stabbed in her own home by a random act by a distraught young man, even home doesn't feel safe any longer.  There is illness and accidents; and so much beyond our control that can lead our hearts to ache; and fall into despair and fear.   As a person who has battled anxiety her entire life (actually diagnosed with a 'nervous stomach' at age 9); just watching the news or reading social media can send me spiraling into a panic attack.  

So what do we do? Where do we find the courage and strength to get out of bed each morning, to love life and those you are blessed to share it with, and to embrace the promise and hope of an unseen heavenly abode?  ...  read full post on my blog: Reconciled To
All rights reserved,  Allison Gingras

Pope Francis' Recipe for Holiness - One Part Grace

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The Grace TrifectaStanding before a room of 30 or so women facilitating my first faith sharing back in 2006, I fumbled around for the proper words as I tried to answer one participant's seemingly simple question on the grace of God.  What is grace?  While I had this innate understanding, I could not formulate the right words to express what I believed it to be. I realized, I had no definition.
Fast forward a few years, I am sitting in a small chapel in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (aka Jesus in the Eucharist). In my reading I once again face the question, what is grace? This time I open the Catechism of the Catholic Church; and prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit.   That day the Allison abridged version of how I define the grace of God, was born (see image above) and I discovered the GRACE TRIFECTA ... Read More

All rights reserved, Allison Gingras 2016

Singing through the Pain

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by Nancy Ward

Last Mother’s Day we went to the 10:00 a.m. Mass at St. Jude’s in Allen, TX,  with my son Andrew and his family. We arrived early while the choir was practicing and sat in the third row behind their two reserved rows. Andrew prepared his French horn and joined the music practice.

When the practice was over, just before Mass started, I observed this young man come from the row of choir microphones and around the pews with an armful of pillows. He headed toward the pew in front of us where an elderly woman and a couple of young people were sitting. He motioned that he wanted to sit in that pew and they moved toward the aisle to allow him to move past them. He hesitated, said something to them and after a short conversation, they moved to another pew. He arranged his pillows in the pew and lay down on his back. 
I turned to my daughter-in-law inquisitively and she told me about the man’s back problems and recent back surgery. His name was Patrick Underwood. H…

Ideas for Refilling Our Grace Well

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The most effective way to refill the ‘grace well’ at the heart of how we may more easily choose the things of God over that of the world is by participating, in what I affectionately refer to as, the “Grace Trifecta”. The secret is simple – immerse yourself in God’s abundant grace through the frequent, it not daily, practice of prayer, sacrament and scripture.

For specific ideas on how to embrace the grace God has abundantly available for us through prayer, sacrament and scripture - read more ...

The “Yes” God wants from us by Nancy HC Ward

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What God wants is for us to say “yes” to him and “no” to everything else. Of the millions of good things available to us, he wants us to have the best. That’s because he loves us so much. He loved us, even while we were yet sinners.
Every one of us doubts that we are loved. After all, each one of us knows who “we” are. It surprises us when someone loves us completely and thoroughly. But the Lord is after us to believe it. He wants us to know that he loves us inside and out.
We can begin by saying “yes” to believing that we are worthy of God’s love. We can say “yes” to believing deep within our being, that God, our Creator and Savior, loves us. We belong to him. He loves and cherishes us. He wants to protect us with his gift of faith and trust in him. Before we can serve him and love him fully we must first say “yes”’ to letting him love us. 
How does he convince us that he loves us? That’s up to us. He’ll do whatever it takes to convince us, but not against our free will. When we can bel…

Grace-Filled Tuesdays

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I'm so happy to announce that Laura Pearl (author Finding Grace and upcoming Erin's Ring) is going to be offering an online book club this winter!

Right about now, people are settling into their routines and especially in the midwest we are feeling the beauty of autumn begin to descend. Some trees are changing colors and many of us are ready to settle in with a good book at the ready.

Honestly, nothing is better to do during the shorter days where there is a bit of time now and again than to turn to a great read and Laura's book, Finding Grace, is just such a read. It is a book that takes you deep into the story (Just read any of the great Amazon reviews!) and brings you out the other end incredibly satisfied.

So if you are looking for something that is extra fun, consider reading Finding Grace this fall and joining Laura for her online bookclub come early 2015 for Grace-Filled Tuesdays!

Right now Finding Grace is available on Kindle for just $4.99 and you can follow Laur…

No More Striving

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No more striving.
No more work. Strong words, Commands actually. The words reverberate in my mind Over and over, Like a mantra. A Divine mantra. A Holy reminder to let God work in my core self, Unhindered by my meddling. This work of transforming Is a Holy work I just get in the way READ MORE>

Gearing Up!

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I can't believe the summer is almost over. I have been gearing up for the new school year; trying to get organized, ordering curriculum and hoping this will be a better year than last year. Last school year felt like juggling most of the time except I did not feel I did a very good job at it. 

Homeschooling multiple age children, trying to keep up with the housework and also taking care of a baby or toddler requires being able to multi-task big time, which I am not very good at.

Continue Reading at Beautifulthorns.com>

How much is enough?

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Once I was at a meeting with a group of church leaders. One woman there was the mother of a teenage daughter. She was lamenting how some of her daughter's friends had gone astray and she was wondering how we could keep our own children from going astray. One of the men spoke up and said, "We just need to pray continuously for them!". This didn't sit well with me. Afterall, how much prayer would be enough? Also, that seems to put it all on us. It also makes God out to be an ogre who witholds his mercy and grace from his children. Continue Reading>

LORD, That I May BREATHE

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Through You, with You, in You… All in All. It’s there in the newborn cry, there in the light of every sunrise, there in the shadows of this life, Your great grace. It’s there on the mountain top, there in the everyday and the mundane, there in the sorrow and the dancing, Your great grace. Oh such grace..." ... ClickHere to Read More at:The Way to Nourish for Life
HolySpirit, Come

My Top 10 Favorite Quotes from Pope Francis (Some Will Surprise You!)

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Pope Francis has proved himself to be a revolutionary, setting some hearts on fire with love and other hearts on fire with anger and dismay. After nearly every telephone call or off-the-cuff remark by Pope Francis, at least one Catholic commentator complains that Pope Francis should just stop speaking so freely. I don't see that happening any time soon.

Some of Pope Francis' most controversial comments are actually my favorites. But all of his comments display a clear-sighted vision of the problems facing people today and the immense possibility our Church has to solve those problems through grace and action. Without further ado, here are my top 10 favorite Francis quotes:

Read more here...

How To Always Be Successful

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"We are not called to be successful. We are called to be faithful." -Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Lately, I ponder this quote and its meaning on a daily basis. In my mind, I am never successful enough. I never get enough done in a day. The work I actually do is not productive enough. No matter how much I do, it does not make enough impact on society.

And, you know what? It won't. Ever.

I can't do anything without God. I can't blog. I can't brainstorm. I can't even breathe. Without God, not only is doing anything at all impossible, but everything I do becomes meaningless and pointless.

Our new pope said something today which rang true for me. He said, ""...self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gos…

Grace Before Meals

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Our gracious heavenly Father, in Jesus' name I ask you to bless this food that by its nourishment I may better serve you. That it will fill me up without filling me out. I thank you for being a guest at our table. Amen.
My dear friend offers this prayer before meals and when she recently said it while we were at a restaurant, I asked her for a copy so that I could share with others.

Cheryl Dickow
www.BezalelBooks.com

Redemption: The Thane of Cawdor, Ivan Ilyich and the Rest of Us

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This fall I've been teaching Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Macbeth to high school juniors. And this week I finished reading Tolstoy's novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich. In both stories, writers describe men at the end of their earthly lives, men guilty of serious sins and yet who find redemption at the very end of their days.

The possibility of redemption: I can think of no more compelling message this Advent season, a season in which we Christians await the birth of our Redeemer.
Read more »