Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Come Home

An open letter to women who have left the Catholic Church:
We want to invite you to come talk with us, and we are excited to meet you! Just like you, we are daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers; students, professionals, and stay-at-home moms. We are teenagers, 20-somethings, 30-somethings, and beyond. We are from many walks of life and from diverse backgrounds, but we share a common faith - one we want to invite you to revisit.
Some of us have been away from the Church, and by one way or another we've come back. Some of us never left - but that doesn't mean we’ve never questioned nor been confused. Some of us were raised outside of the Church, and made the decision to join as adults. In one way or another, each one of us has come to know and love Christ in the Catholic Church - and in keeping with Pope Francis’ request we want to share that love and joy with you.

Being Catholic isn’t easy, and we’ll be the first to tell you that we aren’t perfect; we have many planks in our own eyes to worry about. Our faith embraces paradoxes, challenges our culture's values, and makes us feel uncomfortable when we are called to examine our actions and our motivations. But - as you already know - just because something is challenging does not mean it is not worthwhile.

We know that you are intelligent and capable. We believe that you deserve answers to your questions, and explanations for the teachings with which you're struggling. We’ve all struggled with various aspects of our faith, but we aren’t here to judge or condemn you. We simply want to listen to what you’re feeling. We want to understand what is making you uncertain about being part of our Catholic faith. We want to help you find the answers and explanations that helped bring us home. We want to meet you, we want to hear about your experience, and most importantly, we want to invite you back.

Feel free to email any of us with questions or concerns you may have about the Church, her teachings, or what reversion means. If you’re not ready to bare your soul to complete strangers, we’d love to direct you to sites that helped us (and still help us) as we discerned our calling in life.
Wherever you are, whatever you believe, know that we are praying for you. You are our sister - another woman navigating a challenging world. We look forward to talking with you!
In The Peace and Love of Christ,

The members of #Cathsorority

Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Corner with a View

This view may not seem like much, but it is my source of sunlight during the day.

My office is four white walls covered with print-outs of patents, a colorful periodic table, and funny pages from a cat calendar. The only window in my office is from Microsoft; I don't get a glass window with a view of what is outside my four white walls for at least a couple of years.

Just outside my door, in the corner at the end of the hall, is a large window that lets the sun stream in. It gives me a glimpse of the outside world when my eyes need a break from starting at a computer screen; when my mind needs a break from thinking. I watch cars attempt to parallel park; I watch people walk down the street on their way to grab a coffee; and, every once in awhile, I watch moms with their little kids carrying backpacks that are way too big for their little frames.

In this view is the building where I spent the first four months of my job in training; the 7-11 where I used to go grab Slurpees during the hot summer days; the sushi restaurant around the corner that serves delicious lunch buffet.

I've heard that this view has changed over the years as more buildings go up and the street gets busier. In the distance, you can see the cars driving on the beltway. In the air, you can see planes taking off and landing over the water. In the winter, you see snow; in the spring and fall, rain; in the summer, heat radiating off the pavement. 

My corner with a view changes every time I walk by; and yet it stays the same.

Linking up with Julie!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to Be the Best Godparent

This post was originally written for and published on The Mirror Magazine... head over there to join in on the conversation! Thank you ladies of The Mirror Mag for hosting me!

~ * ~

Close from a young age!
I was holding Robert, my youngest baby cousin, for the first time when my aunt and uncle asked me to be his godmother.

Of course I said yes!

Robert responded by spitting up all over my shirt.

Apparently he agreed with his parents' choice... I had been chosen. 

That was almost 9 years ago, and at the time, I didn't realize what an important role I was taking on. It wasn't until a few years later, when I started to grow deeper into my Catholic faith, that I realized what a big deal it is to be someone's godmother.

Think about it for a minute.

During the Rite of Baptism, the priest (or deacon) asks the godparents:
Are you ready to help the parents of this child in their duty as Christian parents?
We respond (hopefully) with "We do."

The priest later says:
Dear parents and godparents: You have come here to present this child for baptism. By water and the Holy Spirit he (she) is to receive the gift of new life from God, who is love. 
On your part, you must make it your constant care to bring him (her) up in the practice of the faith. See that the divine life which God gives him (her) is kept safe from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in his (her) heart. 
If your faith makes you ready to accept this responsibility, renew now the vows of your own baptism. Reject sin; profess your faith in Christ Jesus. This is the faith of the Church. This is the faith in which this child is about to be baptized.
... and later after the lighting of the Baptismal candle:
Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He (she) is to walk always as a child of the light. May he (she) keep the flame of faith alive in his (her) heart. When the Lord comes, may he (she) go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.
Help the parents. Constant care. Responsibility. Entrusted to you.

The faith and soul of a little child of God is entrusted to you!

Thankfully, as Robert has grown, I've learned more about what it really means to be a godparent. Here are some of the top things I've discovered:

Make your own spiritual life a priority

Your number one job as a godparent is to be a role model in the faith for your godchild, and you can't do that unless you make your faith life a top priority. This means you have to walk the walk and talk the talk. If you are going to be encouraging your godchild to attend Mass, you better be attending Mass too. If you're going to help teach your godchild to pray the rosary, he better see you with a rosary in your hand from time to time. Especially when your godchild is young, him seeing you living the faith leaves a huge impression that will last the rest of his life.

Live your faith life fruitfully

The Rite of Baptism also includes a prayer to "Make the lives of his (her) parents and godparents examples of faith to inspire this child."

While making your own spiritual life a priority is good, you have to be sure that you are living that faith life fruitfully. If your godchild sees you going to Mass, but hating it, then that doesn’t leave a very good impression on his young and impressionable heart. It's important that your godchild sees you living a life of faith because you want to, not because you have to. Remember that the fruits you bear from your faith life no longer benefit only your soul, but also the soul of the child you promised to help raise in the faith.

Be present both physically and spiritually

Robert's First Communion!
Spending time with your godchild helps build trust so that if there ever comes a day when he needs advice or has questions about the faith, he feels comfortable coming to talk to you. I was lucky enough during college to spend a summer living down the street from my godson. I wouldn't trade that summer for anything, because even though he was young, the time we spent together helped build our relationship.

Sadly, after college, I moved hundreds of miles away from my godson. While it's more difficult to be physically present, I make a point to be there for him for the "big" life events. I even made a special trip to be there with him for his First Communion, and he was so excited to have me there.

Since I can't be physically present as often as I would like, I make special effort to be spiritually present as well. One way that I do this is to send my godson little "I love you" notes and gifts in the mail from time to time - prayer cards, saint medals, etc. He knows then that I am thinking about him, even though I am far away.

And on that note...

Give good gifts

I know... I went from giving spiritual advice to talking about presents, but stay with me here! Gifts can say a lot, especially to a child, and they can also be a great way to introduce your godchild to different aspects of the faith at a very young age.

For me, I've made a point to make sure that every gift I give Robert includes something Catholic... but I also work hard to find good Catholic gifts. Nothing is more boring to an 8 year old boy than an old lady prayer manual, for example, so it's important to find things that your godchild will be excited about. For his First Communion, I bought him a comic book Bible. When he opened it up, he exclaimed with his hands in the air, "A COMIC BOOK BIBLE?!?! FINALLY A BETTER BIBLE HAS BEEN MADE!!!!"

As he grows older, he will outgrow clothes and toys, but hopefully he will never grow out of the excitement he has for being Catholic.

Pray for your godchild...

Pray for his daily life. Pray for any struggles or fears he shares with you, even if they seem trivial. Pray for your relationship with your godchild. Pray for his future vocation. Pray for his faith to continue to grow, and for him to grow in love for Christ and the Eucharist. Prayers go a long way!

...and ask your godchild to pray for you.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me…” I honestly believe that nothing is as strong as the prayers of a child. How could Jesus and Mary ignore the heartfelt pleas of a young heart?! So ask your godchild to pray for you and your intentions. I recently asked my godson to pray for a special intention for me every night before he goes to bed, and I trust that someday I will see so many fruits thanks to him joining my prayer army. Even more, asking your godchild to pray for you also encourages him to make prayer a part of his daily routine, which will subtly help him grow to have an active prayer life.


Not only have I learned that being a godparent is a big deal, but I've found even more that being a godparent is hilariously fun, rewarding, helpful at fostering my own faith growth, and a great learning experience for passing on the faith to our youth.

Are you blessed to be a godparent? What are some of the greatest things you've learned along the way?

Teaching him how to drive at the ripe old age of 7!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

One Word

When I was begging people for blog post ideas, one person suggested that I tell you all about a normal day in my life. Or what I'm thinking for Lent. Or my must-have food item.

What a surprise it was to me when I realized that all three of those ideas can be summed up into one post... nay, into one word.


You all are probably like - whaaaaaaaaat?! - but really. Chocolate is the answer to all of those.

A normal day in my life...  I said yesterday that if I wrote about my typical day, you all would be put to sleep. But I left one thing out of my monotonous typical day, and that is the fact that every day I am asking someone(s) somewhere(s) for chocolate. No one is safe from being asked the "Do you have any chocolate...?!?!?" question. No one. Not even my boss. There are even rumors that certain person(s) can tell that I am going to ask for chocolate just by looking at my facial expression. 

And if that person has the chocolate which my heart so lovingly desires...

Survival mode!

...and if there is no chocolate to be found...


What I'm thinking for Lent... So, it probably doesn't come as a surprise that like last year, I am once again giving up chocolate for Lent, among some other things I have yet to decide to add/subtract from my daily life. I've actually done this for a couple of years now, and I've survived. Barely. The first couple of weeks are the hardest. Then the next few are spent dreaming of Anthony Thomas chocolate bunnies. And by then, it's Holy Week so I just offer it up because we're so close to getting my chocolate back the celebration of Jesus' resurrection! In truth, giving up chocolate helps me work on the always elusive virtue of self-control/temperance while also giving me an opportunity to offer it up for some real life actual prayer needs as opposed to my insane chocolate cravings.

So, on Mardi Gras, you can bet that this will be me...

Squirrel! (see what I did there?!)

And then me the next day...

My must-have food item... I mean, is the answer not chocolate for some person in the world? I just don't understand how it could be something other than chocolate. Ever. I bake with it. I have it for breakfast. I melt it in my warm milk. I would use it as a condiment if I could. It is its own food group, as it should be.

So, I'm curious. If someone asked you to write about those three things, would you be able to sum it all up with one word?

I can sum it up in three.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Who are you and what have you done with Liesl?

Well, it's happening.

Someone must have kidnapped me and swapped my brain for another's, because I've decided to take on the challenge with Conversion Diary and pretty much the rest of the Catholic blogging world to write 7 posts in 7 days.

Yes. 7 consecutive days.

As I've barely managed to write something once a month in the past months, this could be interesting... so why am I doing this? Other than because I was kidnapped and replaced with someone else who looks and acts just like me in every way except she blogs like a fiend?

It will give me something to do. If I were to write a "Day in the Life" post, it would go something like this: Liesl wakes up. Liesl gets ready for work. Liesl goes to work. Liesl pretends to work does her work. Liesl goes home. Liesl watches TV. Liesl takes a bubble bath. Liesl goes to bed. Are you still awake? Good, I'm glad at least one of us is. One of the things I've loved about blogging over the years is that it gives me something to do (planning posts, reflecting on my topic, writing, editing, etc.) and connects me to other people; and this is something that I miss the most about not blogging as much. I can pretty much guarantee that I will not blog every single day after this week long excursion, but I am hoping it re-ignites some of that enjoyment I've had in the past... and in the least, it will give me something to do for a week besides taking lots and lots of bubble baths.

It will help me fight perfectionism. The reason I don't post as much as I used to (or ever...) is because I am a perfectionist. It's my one and only tragic flaw, I know... I come up with a great idea for a blog post, I write most of it out, and then it sits in unpublished land for forever because it isn't perfect. It's not good enough to publish yet or it doesn't have the right voice or it's a topic that I'm not sure I want to share with the world... take your pick. My perfectionist nature is keeping me from doing something I enjoy doing! So here's to fighting the good fight against being perfect... and hitting the bright orange Publish button.

It will help me cut down on the list of drafts... which seems to keep growing in size faster than my belly when confronted with lots of chocolate cake. Or, on the other hand, maybe those drafts are still drafts because they are terrible ideas and should never see the light of the interwebs. In that case, I'm going to need some blogging ideas, so you have anything you would like me (or look-alike me) to write about, let me know!

Will you join us crazy kids on this 7 day journey? You know, the blog party never ends, and tomorrow we gonna blog it all again!

I know, I know. That was terrible. Therefore, if you do join us, I promise to reference Ke$ha no more than once per blog post. If you don't, I'll have  to devote an entire post to the Catholicity all up in Ke$ha's music. So, to save me from having to write that and you all from having to pretend to read it, please join in on the fun!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Saint Stories

Saints: Picking Them, Picking Us

Julie @ The Corner with a View
Befriend the Saints and Be Prepared by Trista @ Not a Minx
My Unexpected Friends by Amanda @ Worthy of Agape
...and YOU! Join us on Facebook!

I don't know what I did without the saints.

Or, I guess the more accurate way of saying that is that they were always there, but I don't know how I survived spiritually before I realized they were there with me.

I've shared a few saint stories here and there as I've come to know the saints more on my faith journey. Each saint has their own story to tell; each saint's story is unique. Yet each saint has at least one thing in common with the others: they each offered up everything they had to love, serve, and follow God. Each saint has a story with their name; and each saint has that story to share with us.

Tonight I was praying the Rosary, and I decided to try out something a bit different for me. Instead of meditating on how the mystery related to my intention, I instead placed myself into that moment in Christ's life and tried to experience it as those who were present at the time experienced it. I watched as they watched, and waited to see where each of these meditations took me.

My mind started out watching Christ, thinking of his experience and what it meant in our salvation story. Yet, the other people who were present and watching Christ quickly distracted me. What about them? What did they see? What did they think? How did they feel? Most importantly, were their hearts converted in that moment?

That is when it hit me. There are men and women and children who were present at each of these moments of Christ's life who experienced profound conversion of hearts - whether it was at that moment in time or later in life - and who are now among the saints in Heaven. These events were not stories out of history books, but Christ was actually present and these things actually happened and these were real people who actually witnessed each of these moments in time firsthand.

Real people!

So I joined my heart with those surrounding me in each of these moments, and called out to these saints. Please! All of you who witnessed this moment, all of you who felt a stirring in your heart as you experienced this moment with Christ, join with Mary and pray for my intention! As you gave your hearts over to Christ in these moments, give him my heartfelt prayer! I did this throughout Christ's public ministry, all the way from his baptism to his crucifixion. I begged those who were there and believed to take my intention to Christ.

I instantly felt surrounded by something outside of myself. I wasn't speaking to people I had never met before, but I was calling upon people who had been and always will be there. I was calling upon thousands of saints to hear my plea and pray for it. Thousands! There were thousands of hearts that witnessed Christ just in these few moments and were changed for forever; thousands of hearts that now live with him in eternity in Heaven. And these thousands of hearts were praying with me; praying for me.

Death doesn't separate us from those in the past. Christ conquered death, and because of that, we are still all connected through him and with him and in him, connected to each heart and soul that has traveled before us on the path that led them each to sainthood in Heaven. I may not be able to call on each of them by name, but each saint has a story. They each share this story with me, pray with me, and cheer for me, as I stumble along trying to write my own saint story.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What to Read in 2014: Link-Up

We've all been there. That moment when you suddenly find yourself with 5 minutes free, and you think, "Oh, I shall be intellectual and read a book!" ... and then you realize, you have no idea what to read.

When did I last read something other than a magazine?

When was the last time I even read the title of a book?

Do I even remember how to read?!

If you have found yourself asking yourself any of the above questions recently, then this post is for you.

The ladies of #CathSorority were talking about what to read in 2014 recently, and we collectively decided that it would be fun to do a link-up to post our recommendations for all to see.*

So let's list 'em. What are five (5) books that should definitely be on all of our reading lists for 2014?

These books can be fiction or non-fiction, Catholic or not-Catholic, written for adults or written for kids... whatever should be on our personal reading lists, we want to know!

Really. I do not care what makes your list - it can consist of anything from Theology of the Body to Everybody Poops - whatever you deem as worthy of our precious time to read next year needs to be shared with us all. (Well, wait, I lied. If anyone lists 50 Shades of Gray... you are hereby booted from the link-up. We already took a vote.)

And now, without further ado, here are 5 books that I think you should read in 2014...

Thou shalt read the book with this cover.
(1) Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine - I may or may not have mentioned this book once or twice  before, but hopefully this gives you the last final hint that you should read this book right now. It is my all-time, ultimate, favoritest book ever ever ever in the world, and I do not say this lightly.

This book takes the fairy tale of Cinderella and gives it a whole new spin and adds a lot of adventure. Ella is spunky and spirited, and you'll find yourself laughing and cheering and probably tearing up all at the same time. You also might find yourself having the sudden urge to slide down stair rails. You just never know! This book is written for ages 8 and up, but it really doesn't matter how old (or young!) you are. I can't wait to read this book to my little girls someday, and if I never have little girls, then I will borrow someone else's... in a totally not creepy way.

Just don't steal this book.
(2) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - I've always really enjoyed reading novels that are set during the Holocaust, and this book is so well written and weaves such a compelling story that it is hard to put down.

The novel is narrated by Death himself, which is fitting since Death was everywhere in WWII. He tells the story of a girl living in Nazi Germany who falls in love with the written word after stealing her first book as a young girl. I saw a lot of myself in the young protagonist... and not just because her name is Liesel! (I mean, the author should've spell-checked her name, but whatever, I'm over it.) Death continues to tell Liesel's story, as well as the story of those around her, as he paints a picture of what Nazi Germany was like, whether or not you were Jewish. The book looks long, but the chapters are so short and easy to read... trust me when I say that you will finish the book quicker than you expect and be sad that it's over.

Can you imagine taking a stroll with Mary?!
(3) Walking with Mary by Edward Sri - I have a confession to make. I am cheating a bit by including this book on my list because I have not yet finished reading it. But! I have read up through the Wedding Feast at Cana (favorite Jesus miracle!), and I am enthralled by this book and decided it had to be on my list.

I've written recently about Mary, and this book has helped me even more in understanding Mary's role not only in Jesus' life but also in my life. The chapters each detail a significant moment in time for Mary (such as the Annunciation, the Visitation, etc.) in both a historical and Scriptural context, while also relating each of these pivotal moments to what it means for our own personal faith journey. Sri helps relate Mary's relationship with Christ to how we can better our own relationship with Christ, while also explaining why Mary is just so gosh darn special! Already, reading this book has helped me to meditate more deeply on the mysteries of the Rosary and to see Mary in a whole new light.

When in Rome...
(4) Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn - I often get asked "Can you recommend a book to read for someone who ...wants to learn more about Catholicism..." or " interested in converting..." or "...who wants to read about the Catholic faith without getting too bogged down...?" and this is always my go-to recommendation. I first read this book when I started to dive deeper into my faith several years ago, and it completely opened my eyes to the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith. As the Hahns, former evangelical Protestants, fell in love with the Catholic Church, I too found myself falling in love the the Church.  Their struggles with certain teachings were some of my struggles (even though I was raised Catholic), and they tell their story in a personal and beautiful way as they detail their journey to Rome.

High five if you read it!

(5) The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel - I first picked up this book because Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary said it was instrumental in her conversion from atheism to Catholicism, and I trusted her, so I thought, "Eh, I need something to read, why not?!" So I promptly got a copy from my local library and set out on an investigative journey with the author. 

Here is what I concluded when I finished reading: Everyone needs to read this book. I don't care what religion or lack of religion you are, this book outlines the evidence for Christ being the Son of God in a way that is readable and understandable for all. The book is broken up into three sections ("Examining the Record", "Analyzing Jesus", and "Researching the Resurrection"), and looks at the historical, psychological, scriptural, archaeological, medical, etc. evidence surrounding Christ. I would have to say that my favorite chapter was on the medical evidence of Jesus' crucifixion, but I learned something from all of the chapters. If you are a Christian, you need to read this book so you can talk about Jesus from more than just a Scripture standpoint. If you are not a Christian, you need to read this book because I told you to read it. That should be enough, right?

*Please note that the "we" was a bunch of ladies saying "Let's do a link-up!" followed by "Liesl, when are you posting the link-up?!?!"**

**I'm totally happy to do it though... link away!


Since so many people are also posting a list of what they would like to read in 2014, I'm encouraging you all to also list what you would like to read this year! After all, this gives us recommendations as well, right?

Here is a very crafty image of a few of the books I plan to read in 2014!

1. Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler - I just pre-ordered my copy, and was probably more excited than I should have been to get a tweet from the author herself!

2. Pope Awesome and Other Stories by Cari Donaldson - Because stories are fun and the Pope is awesome.

3. Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan - Anything by Ian McEwan is a must-read on my list.

4. Dune by Frank Herbert - I started this in 2013 but the holidays distracted me... I hope to tackle it again.

5. Allegiant by Veronica Roth - Because the Hunger Games made me hungry for more dystopian literature (heh, get it, hungry?!).

6. No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers by Michael Novak - This book was listed on Strange Notions... and the author also happens to have the same name as my organic chemistry lab professor from college (not the same person) so it must be a good one.


And now, for the link-up!

Here are the very strict rules and regulations:

(1) Your post should include five (5) books. If you post more than five (5) or less than five (5), I will seek you out on the interwebs and beat you with an e-stick.

(2) Please include a link and/or picture of the books so we can judge the book by it's cover. Very important.

(3) Include a link on your post back to this here mother post so all the other people in the world can find it and post their own recommendations. Go ahead and steal the graphic above for your post, too.

(4) Be sure to visit the other posts in the link-up and read all the books they tell you to read.

(5) If you tweet this post and/or your post, you can use the hashtag #WhattoReadin2014... or make up one that is better. #Becausemyhashtagsareusuallylongerthanthetweet

(5b) Also, if you tweet your post to me, @LieslChirps, I will retweet you! This is a very coveted honor.

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