Thursday, July 30, 2015

Meet My Planner And Get Your Own Just Like It

Here I am back from my blogging break (for good? momentarily? we'll see) to share with you my planner. So exciting, right? Right?

I know you're super excited. You saw this blog post pop up in your blog reader or on Facebook or Twitter or wherever and I know you just thought, "Yay, Kerri is back and she is going to talk about her planner! This is the best thing ever!"

Okay, seriously, I realize you likely had none of those thoughts. That's okay, it won't hurt my feelings. But stick with me here. Because if you are in need of a new planner, especially if you tend to favor academic calendars (August to August), you will want to pay attention.

I became reliant on a planner in college and continued to use that same kind through college and grad school and into my professional career. These days I use a paper planner at work in conjunction with an electronic calendar. But that electronic calendar has some serious faults to it. So I use it, but it's mainly for work. At home, though? Not so much.

Enter the Catholic Sistas Through the Year Weekly/Monthly Planner. This is now my planner at home. And I love it!! Here's why I love mine:

The month at a glance
It has a two page monthly spread that I love for getting a quick glimpse of commitments for the month. It also has a two-page weekly spread with each day laid out in columns from left to write. This column layout works really well compared to any other calendar I've ever seen. Why? Because each column is divided into four boxes that you can label however you want. Talk about flexibility!! The top box is already filled in for you with all the Church things you need to know: saints' feast days, liturgical color, daily readings, the Rosary mysteries for the day, and more. The next three are up to you. And you can label them one way one week and another way another week. Do it by categories (Home, Work, Kids, House, Homeschooling, Blogging, etc.) or do it by time frames (morning, afternoon, night). Totally up to you.

The front of the planner also has basic prayers, a short description about prayer, pages for notes, pages for contacts, and a page describing the Proverbs 31 Catholic Women. This planner can certainly be used as much more than a planner.
My week

It also has quotes from saints scattered through the planner. On each monthly spread there is a section for notes and on each weekly spread there is a notes section and a checklist section off to the side. I have to say, the checklist section is one of my favorites. Sometimes you have a list of things you want to get done, but it doesn't matter when that week it gets done, just that it does.

To see more of this calendar for yourself, check out the Sample Pages that are up on the blog.

Other things to note: affordable price at $7.50 (plus I believe it might be half off now, so an even better deal!). You get a link to a pdf and you can print it however you want. Some people spend the money to print it up at a print shop and get it spiral bound or something. For me, I printed it at home and put it in a three-ring binder that I already had. Again, flexibility!

I printed the cover on pink card stock and put
the whole thing in a purple binder.
In addition to the calendar itself, there are bundles. I will confess that I have yet to actually use a bundle, but I love the idea of the bundles. There are three: Blogging, Homeschool, and Household. I encourage you to go look at the CS Store to learn more about the bundles (all the details there).

So are you ready to get your own now?? Currently on sale is the Academic Calendar which starts on July 27, 2015 and will go through the end of July, 2016. Perfect if you have kids in school and/or are homeschooling or maybe you are in school yourself.

This review is part of the Catholic Through the Year Planner blog tour. Follow the link HERE to see the other posts in the series.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Why Remain Catholic: 7(+1) Reasons There is Only One Church for Me

I feel like over the course of the last week I've been inundated with so much information. That's a funny thing for someone like me to say. I'm a librarian (otherwise known as an "information specialist") and I do a little writing on the side, which often prompts me to stay up-to-date on current events. So information is kind of all around me, all of the time, even when I try to escape it.

There is no escape. That's the conclusion I've reached.

But this last week, oh boy! It's grown exponentially. The number of articles and opinion pieces, the Facebook posts and ensuing discussions, it seems endless. The legalization of same-sex marriage, the hold placed on the TX pro-life laws, thank you SCOTUS for bringing the culture war even more to the forefront of our lives. 

Thinking about recent events it occurred to me how different my perspective is now than it would have been had I not returned to the Catholic Church about 13-14 years ago. There was a time when I would have rejoiced in some of these recent events. Now, however, not so much. That being said, I decided that now more than ever, I should add my voice to the #WhyRemainCatholic posts from the past month. Yep, that's me, always late to the game. But at least I'm here now.

So, what are seven reasons that I remain Catholic? Let's get started!

#1 The Eucharist
No where else do you find Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity, than in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. This is a reality I was not at all familiar with while growing up Catholic. It was a stunning surprise when I learned this as an adult. This one revelation made me sink my feet in for good even while I struggled with other teachings. I knew that I would have to learn to accept everything else because I couldn't leave the Eucharist. 

#2 Humane Vitae
Wow did I ever struggle with this one. Contraception was a given in my world. I had never had reason to use it, but I had never thought twice about the fact that I would if I were to get married. I argued against this (with others and in my own head) quite a bit. Luckily for me, I also listened, even when I didn't want to. I finally looked up Humane Vitae and read it. I expected it to be long, I had never read an encyclical before and assumed it was like a book. I looked it up online one day at work, figured I'd get some info and maybe just read a bit and figure out where to buy it. I was surprised to find that it wasn't that long and I ended up reading it over my lunch break that one day. Oh. My. Word!! I never argued the point again.

#3 Confession
I received the sacrament of reconciliation for the first time in the 2nd grade. I never went again as a kid and I have no recollection of anyone in my family going beyond my younger siblings also receiving their first reconciliation. I returned to the Church in my mid-twenties and it soon became evident that I needed to make a confession. I happened to do it on a young adult retreat. I remember being nervous going in, as well as starving. It was dinner time and I hadn't eaten since lunch. When I finally went in and told the priest that it had probably been over 20 years, he was really nice and helped me along. I walked out of their feeling like a new person. The hunger was even gone, which turned out to be a blessing since we then found out that the dining hall at the camp ground had closed. Oh well!! Regardless, that feeling of being completely in God's grace, wiped clean, was amazing. I'm still not great about regular confession, but I manage it at least once a year. I still have a bit of a hang up about it, but intellectually, I know it is an amazing gift! I remain Catholic because of this gift God has given to His people in the Church.

#4 Art
Historically speaking, the Catholic Church has a treasure trove of art throughout the world. The Church was the largest patron of art for centuries, maybe the largest patron of art throughout history. I have had the opportunity to go to Rome and to see the Sistine Chapel, the Pieta, the amazing architecture of St. Peter's, and so much more. Even here in the U.S. we have amazing art in our churches, from stained glass windows and statues to beautiful architecture (arguably there are a few exceptions, but overall many traditional, beautiful examples exist). Just realizing the beauty that imperfect humans have been able to create when inspired by the beauty of God in Heaven is amazing. I appreciate art so much more now than I ever did before.
"Michelangelo-pieta". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

#5 History
Before my return to the Church, I loved my college classes in music history and in European history. Music was my major (and later I did a master's in musicology, which is very history-based) and I minored in European history. I also took one art history class as an undergrad. It was in a music history class, studying the medieval times and early music, that I recognized the Church of my childhood in the Mass. Memorizing the Mass parts of a music major, I had a sudden revelation that this was the Mass. (Duh!) All those parts we were memorizing had a real meaning! It was shocking and confusing all at the same time. Then I took a survey class on early Europe while simultaneously taking an upper division class called "The Birth of Europe." The Protestant Reformation was discussed in both classes and, although I had taken classes in high school that covered the same topic, it was more revealing this time around. I remember a few things coming up about the Catholic Church and thinking, "we believe what?" The Eucharist in particular. There were several little things like that between a number of music history and European history classes stuck with me. When I did return to the Church, they all made sense. It was like carrying around a whole bunch of puzzle pieces for years and not knowing how they fit together. Then one day you walk into a building and the people there start showing you how they fit together. Before long, it all starts to make sense.

#6 Pro-Life stance
I already mentioned Humane Vitae, but I do feel it is important to mention the pro-life message separately from that. Despite growing up Catholic, I did not understand that the Church was pro-life. I was actually once very much in favor of a woman's "right to choose." This was another area that I had difficulty accepting but knew I had to learn to accept. I couldn't just accept it and move on, though. I needed to understand what I was accepting and why. I had to do a lot of reading, a lot of listening, and a lot of praying. Once I accepted the contraception teaching, it got easier to accept this one too. Once I also discovered that the science is there to support the Church's stance, I was converted fully.  I've never looked back. The fact that the Church is consistent in her teaching from the beginning is huge for me! Thank goodness for consistency!!

#7 Mary and the Communion of Saints
I love that the Church acknowledges our brothers and sisters who have gone to Heaven before us. And not just recognizes that they are there, but encourages us to ask them to pray for us. I love this idea so much that I have had a very difficult time really connecting to any one saint as a personal patron. I flit between several constantly and I'm always finding others that inspire me, so much that I never really remain connected to any one for very long. It's like ADD with the saints. Regardless, I love knowing that when we pray, we can not only place our intentions before God, not only can we ask our friends and neighbors to pray for us, but we can also ask Mary and the Communion of Saints to pray for us too. Can you imagine the number of people, both alive on earth and those alive in Heaven, that could be praying for your intentions before God at any given time?

One quick story. I had read about the Mass as being like a little glimpse of Heaven here on earth. I loved that image. Then one time, about 6 years ago, I was at Mass, trying to fully participate, but was having difficulties engaging. Just a few months previously my son Zachary had died at 22 weeks gestation. Since his death I had difficulties singing at Mass and was always on the verge of tears. At this particular Mass, I was trying to focus during the Eucharistic prayers. At one point, when the priest holds up the body and blood after the consecration, I had this immense feeling surrounding me as if the place had gotten incredibly crowded. Our altar is surrounded by quite a bit of open space and, although I couldn't see anything different, it felt different, a claustrophobic feeling with people adoring Jesus in the blessed Sacrament. At the same time I felt an extra presence right near me as well, it felt peaceful and intimate, and I felt a slight weight in my arms. It was only a split second, but in that second I felt as if my son and his sibling that was miscarried prior to him were there with me. It was an extraordinary feeling.

Bonus: I can't end this without also mentioning the amazing men who serve the Church as deacons, priests, and bishops. I have been fortunate to know many wonderful, holy priests and they make the Church better for answering God's call to devote their lives to serving His people. I'm grateful to the remarkable priests who helped me find my way back home, talked me through awkward confessions, took time to comfort my family during times of suffering, rejoiced with us, and so much more. To those many priests, thank you!

And so we have it. Seven (+1) Quick Takes for #WhyRemainCatholic. I could probably have added many more, but then it wouldn't be "quick." Since I did this post as a 7 Quick Takes, I am also linking up to Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum. So please go check out her blog and enjoy the #7QT fun.