Thursday, July 23, 2015

Building Community - On the Air with An Engaging Faith

An Engaging Faith with Elizabeth Reardon Logo
Making connections with others is one of the blessings that emerges from participating in social media networking and conferences. One of those blessings is Elizabeth Reardon, a lay minister, wife, and mother, who writes at Theology is a Verb. Her beautiful online written voice is only superseded by her gentle online radio presence, one that we experienced Tuesday when Lisa and I appeared on Elizabeth's radio show "An Engaging Faith" produced and broadcast by Real Life Radio.

Shelly Kelly & Lisa Jones from Sound Mind and Spirit
Sitting in Lisa's closet
Sitting together in Lisa's "cloffice," sharing a microphone, we took turns speaking our faith and family experience as sisters, sharing not only our childhood, but also our adulthood and motherhood years as relative neighbors. Elizabeth expertly led us through questions about our Catechist development and experience (Lisa in 3rd grade and mine in middle/high school). We spoke about finding and building community within our parish and Lisa's recent experience developing and leading the first parish Women's Retreat.

According to their webpage, "Real Life Radio is a media ministry caring for those seeking fulfillment, by sharing our faith experiences, to find a better understanding of what Jesus and His church is offering." They produce several entertaining and educational shows hosted by some of the wonderful friends we've made during our years blogging and attending the CNMC, including Elizabeth, Allison Gingras, and Jeff Young aka The Catholic Foodie.

You can listen to our radio hour with Elizabeth on An Engaging Faith right here below... 

via their podcast link or download it here on iTunes. Check out other Real life Radio shows and don't forget to follow Elizabeth at Theology is a Verb.

After you listen to the show, be sure to leave a comment below about your experience as a teacher of the faith or how your church builds community.  We'd love to hear back from you.

And a huge thank you to Elizabeth Reardon for inviting us to be on with you.    

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Witness: When God Speaks

Does God speak to us?  Do you hear Him?

I can’t speak for any of you, but every day I yearn to hear God. 
To be always in that calm peace that I know comes from Him.

We get caught up in the rush of life, in the stuff that makes up our lives. There is just so much to DO all the time. Like so many others who struggle between work and family, my work threatens to become my life. There are so many things I want to do… and not enough time. And every day, every night, there is the question, the conflict between what I must do, what I want to do, and what I think God wants me to do.

Most often my talking to God comes in spurts, sometimes a surrendering moment of frustration, sometimes a thankful moment of peace.

When my family was in Colorado earlier this month for the softball tournament, we stopped too briefly at the Mother Cabrini Shrine where I found myself asking, what should I be doing? It’s been almost a year since I truly heard and felt God speak to me and give me direction. And back then the message was “Wait, be patient.”

When we returned home, we attended Mass on Sunday.  And there God was. Waiting for me as usual in the Eucharist. But this time was a little different; there was a very palpable sense of God. If you’ve ever felt it, you know what I’m fumbling to say. Every word from the minute I walked in gave me the clear sense of Christ among us. Christ within us. Christ speaking to my heart.  

The way someone greeted us. What was invited from us. What we heard in the Liturgy.

Generally when I listen to the readings, I have one eye on the three-year old making sure he’s behaving. So it happens that sometimes certain words and phrases stand out more than others in my mind. This Sunday, the first reading began and this is what I heard:
Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah! There earn your bread by prophesying,“I was no prophet,nor have I belonged to a company of prophets;The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me,Go, prophesy to my people Israel.Amos 7:12-15

I straightened up; what was that?  Earn your bread by prophesying? The Lord took me?
We sang the responsorial and the second reading from Ephesians began. Again, certain words rang in my ears: 
In all wisdom… he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor…In him we were also chosen, destined… that we might exist for the praise of his glory…In him you also, who have heard the word of truth…. And have believed in him…Toward redemption as God’s possession the praise of his glory.Ephesians 1:3-14
We stood, sang the Alleluia, and the Gospel according to Mark began:
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by twoand gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journeybut a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandalsbut not a second tunic. He said to them,“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,leave there and shake the dust off your feetin testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance.Mark 6:7-13
The homily began and I heard God talking to me:

Go – Be a disciple of Christ.
Lead prayer, speak His truth where His presence is missing.
Take care of others.

Priest, Prophet, King

Preach Jesus’ Motto: Repent and Believe.
The same message since John the Baptist.
The same message that emanates from multiple apparitions of our Holy Mother, Mary.

The disciples didn’t have a plan, they had instructions.
They didn’t know what words to say, they opened themselves to the Holy Spirit.
They witnessed their encounter with Jesus to others.
They spoke their story.
They went in pairs.

What are my instructions?  Continue writing. Don’t worry about how often or when. It's not my schedule, it's His.
What do I say? The same message as those before me, Repent and Believe.
How do I do that? Witness those times when I’ve despaired, looked for Hope, and found it.
Go with others. Lisa and I started this journey together. Continue.

"And so this night we are sent as witnesses."  - closing words from Fr. Dominic Pistone, Jr.

Friday, July 10, 2015

7 Quick Takes: Road Trip

- 1 -
Summer Road Trip - Before Picture
Last week my family spent nine days together traveling to Fort Collins, CO for our daughter’s softball tournament. I plan to work up a longer post about the trip overall, but wanted to mention that we had a really great time together. As our daughters are now teens, they're growing more and more independent, and it's rare to have so much "together" time and get along so well. Since our return earlier this week, it’s been difficult to return to work and not be with them all day.

- 2 -
For the 17 hour drive that we broke into two days of driving (with a 3 yr old!) I packed a bag full of books and didn’t look at a single one! Does anyone else do that? Instead of isolating myself in the front seat with a book or earbuds, my husband and I talked about small stuff. My kids groaned aloud every time I used the Handbook of Texas to discover and read aloud historical information about every small town on 287 between Fort Worth and Amarillo. (Hint: most of the towns were built because of the railroad.) There was just so much to look at as we crossed the great plains of the Texas panhandle, northern New Mexico, and crossed Colorado, who had time to read?

- 3 -
Of Sound Mind and Spirit meets Aquinas and MoreIan and Paula Rutherford, of Aquinas and More, graciously invited us to dinner one night while we were in Colorado. As couple-introverts, accepting their invitation fell a little outside our comfort zone, but I’m so glad we took the opportunity because we had such a lovely visit. Even though I haven’t seen Ian in person since the Arlington CNMC, they were perfect hosts and made us feel so welcome. As we relaxed and visited on the patio, their younger children played happily with our three year old while our teen daughters laughed and played cards with Ian and Paula's older children. Thank you Ian and Paula.  

- 4 -
Just before the road trip, Lisa told me that one of my favorite podcasting families started recording again after a nearly two-year break. David and Allyson Sweeney are The Catholic Family. Of all the “family” podcasts out there, David and Allyson talk about family experiences that really connect and inspire me.  Although I didn't listen to them during the drive (see #2 above) I'm catching up during the my weekly commute, listening to the family haiku, crawfish boils, and Boy Scouts day camp. 

- 5 -
Maria M. Johnson book cover from Ave Maria Press
Also since my return, Maria “Bego” Johnson is getting some pre-publication love for her first book “My Badass Book of Saints: Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live.”  I’ve had the honor of seeing a preview and will do a “formal” review as the release date draws closer (not until NOVEMBER, ack!) but can’t help mentioning it now. Don’t let that one title word (bada$$) deter you from checking this out or pre-ordering a copy. Maria explores how real women exemplified certain values in how they lived that directly influenced Maria's own life. 

- 6 -
I’m discerning whether or not to start contributing to Catholic Mom again. I miss writing, being part of a team, receiving “assignments” and deadlines that aren’t related to my day job.  However, I’m not sure how I’ll make time for it when the day job threatens to overwhelm and take over my personal life. Prayers would be appreciated.

- 7 -
It's midnight and I'm wondering just who came up with the idea that seven quick takes would be seven, not six or five. In the interest of being "quick," I’ll leave you with this little video my husband and I made during the last three hours of our two-day drive home last weekend.  It contrasts nicely with our “before” selfie, when we all looked fresh and excited.  Now we just want to get home and be out of the car.  Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

CNMC - My Favorite Tweets

CNMC15 - My Favorite Tweets

Twitter is one of my favorite ways to experience a conference.  Many attendees use twitter as a way to live blog or take notes about the sessions.  Others engage in conversations both with other people in the audience and with those following at home.

The CNMC is no exception.  If you would like to view all the tweets, Facebook posts or Instagram photos, check out the CNMC15 tagboard created by Lyn Francisco for the event.

Here are a sampling of my favorite tweets from the Catholic New Media Conference 2015.

Was your favorite tweet from #CNMC15 included?  If not, what was the message?

*CNMC15 banner image was used and altered with permission

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

CNMC15 - A Crazy Family Reunion

CNMC15 was like a Crazy Family Reunion

In the two weeks since attending the Catholic New Media Conference there is still a tinge of sadness that it is over, that feeling that I didn't talk to enough people, take enough notes (or selfies) or soak in the experience. What I really want is another 24 hours to learn and be in community there, but the truth is the CNMC could be a week long and it still wouldn't be enough.

What is the CNMC? It is part-conference part-celebration of Catholic New Media rolled into one event that is open to Catholics involved in or interested in blogs, podcasts, social media, etc. We come together for a weekend and learn from one another. The CNMC focuses not only on the technical know-how, but also the reasons we put ourselves and our faith out there in the digital world.

Ok, I know what you're thinking. That it sounds very high brow, stuffy, and serious. No way! What makes the CNMC special is the celebration part. We are a huge family, so the CNMC is more like a crazy family reunion. There are the usual people who organize and run the show, the friends you see every year, the online people you've never met IRL, and all the new people you didn't even know existed. You know what happens when you get a crazy family reunion together, right? All kinds of shenanigans and fun! The “remember when we…”, family stories, sharing important details, lessons learned from those who came before you ... New connections ... Deep connections ... and did I mention the selfies? ;)

Selfie Collage from CNMC15 in Atlanta

It’s so much more than just a conference; we come together in community to celebrate our faith and how we witness it online.  

Personally, I absolutely love learning about the nuts and bolts of online media. Presentations like Capt. Jeff's on how to podcast make me want to jump into podcasting with both feet. But what keeps me coming back to the CNMC year after year are the people and the community we’ve built. This year celebrated the tenth anniversary of Catholic new media podcasting by SQPN and the seventh CNMC.

At our first CNMC back in 2009, Shelly and I were new to the blogging scene. We recognized names from podcasts and blogs, although we had never met any of them IRL. Meeting them in person was the most amazing feeling and we were quickly made to feel welcomed as part of the family. Every CNMC since has been the same.

To all those attending their first CNMC this year? I hope I made you feel as welcome as Shelly and I felt six years ago. I hope you experienced that same love and community the CNMC is known for and that the friendships created draw you back year after year.  

Catholic Moms at CNMC 15 with Flat Francis

To SQPN and the members who organized this year's CNMC - Thank you!  You are so giving of yourselves for your faith and our joint passion of evangelizing through new media.  I'm holding my breath waiting for the announcement of the next CNMC!

*CNMC15 banner image was used and altered with permission

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