Saturday, June 27, 2015

The MOPH Party Book Launch

Welcome, friends, welcome!  

            I’m thrilled that you’re here to join me for this special occasion.  It’s so special that the blog header got a bright turquoise make-over, the side-bar and title fonts dressed up in complimentary coral, the blog widgets shaved and plucked; and even I lived a little and got my hair done and slipped on a (discount) lace and chiffon number.  (And by the way, you smell heavenly in Calvin Klein and look fab in your Vera Wang satin gown but um, didn’t you know you’re not supposed to out-shine the guest of honor?)

            *Awkward pause*

            As I was saying, the reason we’re all gathered in such excitement and opulence (or at least some people are) is because today is the day we’ve all been waiting for. Not only is it the Feast Day of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, it’s the culmination of a seven-year project, the mega-event of all turquoise blog events, like the seventh day grand opening of the Garden of Eden! It's...

                               … my BOOK LAUNCH! 

            Oh no you don’t, no one leaves the room till they hear my full speech. Security! Lock the doors! Quick! Stop those people, and uh, tell them they don’t get door prizes till the end.  And for goodness sake, settle down everybody so that we can hear a warm round of applause for me:  Anabelle Hazard, author.

            (*Enthusiastic applause in the front row*)  Thanks, Mom.

            As you know, once upon a time, I wrote a manuscript entitled “Sand and Water.” I self-published with Bezalel Books, created a website, went on a few speaking gigs… and then had a baby.  

            Oh no, I’m not blaming the baby for the fizzle of my novel.  The truth is, it wasn’t well written.  The structure was good, the story was great.  (Or so I’ve heard from readers.) But the writing meh  Okay fine, I’ll admit it was a hack job.  I realize now after I’ve read one million writing and editing books and being a writer and editor for websites, that not all lawyers can turn into John Grishams overnight.  (Evidently, not even John Grisham is on the same league as Jane Austen). So, my fiction writing was one of those cases where God inspires you with a dream to open a lemonade stand, and you throw in a couple of lemons and tap water and call it good.  In other words, you don’t use your full potential in actualizing the dream. No sugar, no ice.

            Over the last year, I found my sugar and ice, and furiously revised “Sand and Water.” It’s gone through at least 99 kajillion drafts, and I didn’t stop until I was fully satisfied.  I honestly now believe its worth your time reading.  And I apologize for subjecting you to the earlier draft  and thank you if you still said you liked it. You are too kind.  (I love you, too, Mom)

            It was a difficult decision to redesign the cover, as it was painted by a half-blind artist and friend.  It was also a tough call to change the title.   But to reflect the sleeker tone, modern style, edgier characters, and the additional storyline, I came up with something fresh. And for this I’d like to thank Canva, my new hero in blog and book design.

            I love this revised novel now more than ever, and I hope you will, too.  So, without further ado, I unveil…

         Wait, wait. Drumroll please.

          More drum roll…


             To download “Written in the Sand and Stars”, you’ll have to sign up to subscribe to my emails on the upper right tab. You will need to confirm your subscription and the final welcome email will give you a link on where to download the novel.  Don’t worry, I won’t flood your inbox.  You know I write only 2-4 blog posts a month, and since I’m working on the second novel, I’m pretty sure I’ll stick to the same frequency.

            So enjoy, my friends.  If you like “Sand and Stars”, would you consider writing a review on your blog, sharing on social media, or emailing a review to me to publish in snippets?  If you do, I will let you get a sneak peek at my second novel "Fireflies Dance" as soon as it’s ready.  

            Thanks for coming to my book launch. Don’t forget to claim your door prize at the upper right hand tab-- What the Hey, did Security just throw a lemon at me?  Go get them, Mom!...  I’ll see you at the next book launch, friends.  Till then I’ll be here blogging away.



Thursday, June 25, 2015

7 of My Favorite Parenting Posts

I’m part mom blog, you know that right?  But lately I haven’t been writing about parenting because I’m in the throes of it and don’t feel the need to advice or convince anyone of why we do what we do, much less condemn other parents why they do what they do.  However, for the curious, I’ve compiled 7 wonderful posts from my favorite mom bloggers, whose parenting styles are pretty close to mine and whose opinions are in sync with our parenting choices:

(Joining Kelly for 7 QT today.)

1.     Medicated or natural Childbirth? I’ve done both and I prefer natural childbirth. Someday, I want to try a birthing center like Carolyn.  Save for the setting, Jude's birth story was like my most recent one.  (Husband relaxing his legs while I was in killer contractions and a last minute demand for epidural.)

2.     Co-sleeping or Sleep training?  A nod to Micaela’s explanation on Why We Don't Sleep Train. See, in my culture, letting babies cry it out was never an option and recently reading what the American Pediatrics Academy warned about baby wise trained babies has me so relieved that I didn't even know there was such a thing as sleep/feeding training.

3.     Nursing Modestly. I fully agree with Kendra’s controversial modesty and nursing post "I Want It All: A nourished baby and good manners" as my personal preference.  I will say however that I’ve had to publicly nurse without coverage out of necessity and wasn’t comfortable with going half-commando; hence I cover up as a general rule.  But if some mamas hafta nurse uncovered, I'd understand.

4.    Prayer Time.  Our family rosary prayer time and philosophy is laid down by Stacy Trasancos in "Does Your Mind Wander When You Pray?" She is amazing, and I don’t say that just cause she’s my ed-in-chief.  I will add that we live by the Two Hearts' Communion of Reparation lifestyle of Daily Mass (3-4 times a week is manageable for us), frequent confession, Adoration and Daily Rosary.

5.     Catechism and Theology.  Leila stressed What She Did Right in Parenting  (which involves explaining the faith to children).  We cover Baltimore Catechism in our curriculum, plus the Leaven of the Immaculate Heart of Mary also instruct my children regularly.  To supplement that, we have apologetic type discussions all the time on the dinner table. My husband leads the discussion.  Sometimes, the topics go way over the younger ones' heads but that’s okay.  We will repeat lessons in future table discussions, and one day, the theology will click.

6.     Restrictions on the Teenage Years. Kathryn got outraged reactions to her What Every Parent Needs to Stop Doing and I honestly don't see why.  I second her opinion on computer and social media restrictions. Please feel free to slap me with her post when my children enter the teenage years.

7.     All Other Things. For all other things, I’m 99% in agreement with Nell’s strategies at Whole Parenting Family and Auntie Leila's Discipline Posts on Like Mother, Like Daughter.  I also admire both women because of their out of this world sewing skills, and Nell because she left the practice to parent and has gorgeous hair.


Monday, June 08, 2015

7 Reasons Why I'm Stilllll Catholic (And Why Others Aren't)

My grandmother celebrates 100 years of being a Catholic.  She will most likely remain Catholic till her last breath as all my other grandparents did.  Me?  I’m a mere forty-year cradle Catholic. I own that it hasn’t been easy to remain a faithful daughter to the Church particularly during my turbulent twenties.  There was a period I disagreed with, questioned, and criticized Holy Mother Church.  There were times I watched people I love abandon their baptismal promises.  Still, I remained true to my heritage. 

Little me in mom's arms with now 100 year old grandma in background

            Why? Why am I still Catholic?  (#WhyRemainCatholic) It’s for the same reasons why people disagree, question, criticize and leave the Church:

1. The Eucharist.  The Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord in the host is clear as the Catechism 1376 puts it, “because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread.”  I am more than happy to remain in the Church where Jesus is really and truly present, and where I can be united to Him in receiving Communion.

2.  Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Church exalts the Mother of God as the perfect apostle and bestows dignity to womanhood. Since Mary was “preserved free from all stain of original sin” (Catechism 966), she is the role model for every Christian.   The scripture on the wedding feast at Cana illustrates that she is a powerful intercessor to our prayers and that devotion to her is the fastest, surest way to unity with Christ as she encourages us: “do whatever [Jesus] tells you.” Our Lady is, to me, all that and a mother who cares about my everyday concerns, with the end goal of the sanctifying my soul.  "Don't be afraid to love Mary too much,"  St. Maximilian Kolbe said. "You can never love her as much as Jesus does."  

3.  The saints.  By the rigorous process of canonization, the Catholic Church venerates the saints as unique humans who blazed the path on how to live the Christian life and who “provide us with examples on holiness.” The saints also obtain favors for us as they “do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth.” (Catechism 956).   Just like any good friend, saints inspire and pray for me.  The journey of my spiritual life is easier with their assistance.

4. Sin and Reconciliation.   Undoubtedly, the Church houses both saints and sinners. Knowing our fallen nature, which tempts us to sin and often characterizes us as Pharisees, Christ established the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a means for contrite sinners to obtain absolution for our sins.  Jesus told St. Faustina, "When you approach the confessional... I myself am there waiting for you.  I am only hidden in the priest." Never have I heard more powerful words than the merciful ones voiced in the Sacrament of Reconciliation: “I absolve you from your sins, may God give you pardon and peace.”

5. Purgatory.  Purgatory is the place where all who die in God’s grace and friendship but are still imperfectly purified undergo purification after death so as the achieve holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. (Catechism 1030).  Purgatory as a manifestation of God’s mercy gives me hope that even if I can’t overcome my faults during my life on earth, I still have an opportunity to be sanctified by God’s justice so that I can one day enjoy the beatific vision.

6. Suffering.  Suffering is inevitable in our lives because of man’s free will. The Catholic Church makes sense of suffering when it teaches that suffering can be united with Christ’s passion in atonement for sins. According to St. John Paul II, suffering also increases our capacity for selfless love and hones the virtue of humility.  Since scripture says that carrying my cross is necessary to share in Christ’s redemption, the Church not only explains suffering’s purpose and use but also offers me graces from the Sacraments to endure pain.

7. Magisterium.  Jesus Christ established the Catholic Church as the “pillar and bulwark of the truth” to sift through the muddled moral issues that confounds our modern age (and every age) so that she can provide clear guidelines on right versus wrong.  “To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles.” (Catechism 2032)  In every moral issue it has addressed, the Church has illustrated wisdom that only comes from the Holy Spirit.  I rely on this wisdom to guard my soul from evil and to direct me on the path to eternal life as much as I rely on the promise of Jesus that “the gates of hell shall not overcome [the Church].”

I could go on and on. The truth in the Catechism and experience of millions of Catholics over two thousand years are inexhaustible.  I don't know how far back my Catholic roots go. But I hope I am not the branch that withers and rots off the steadfast family tree and I pray that Catholicism is the fruitful legacy that I can leave my children, and generations after them.

            Catechism 2030: “It is in the Church, in communion with all the baptized that the Christian fulfills his vocation.” 
This post is featured in Catholic 365.

Are you a blogger?  Join The Anchoress and other bloggers and social media evangelizers as we answer the question:  #WhyRemainCatholic


Friday, June 05, 2015

A Mini-Treatise on Healing From an Exorcist (and my Grandmother)

My prayer list of sick people is always growing. No sooner do I remove one name when five more are added.  The illnesses run the gamut from customary viruses to life-threatening Rocky Mountain fever to long-term cancer.  I’m not complaining, merely pointing out that my unofficial statistics prove that someone I love is always in need of healing.  At the rate diseases are affecting my family and friends and the rate previously unheard of new disorders are popping up, I’m rapidly becoming a hypochondriac. (Yes, I should add my name to my own list because hypochondria is no joke.)

            Before I coax out your anxiety disorders or depression tendencies, my friends, I have good news! Something you probably subconsciously knew but didn’t know how to tap into.  So let me bring in the pill of Vitamin D sunshine into your life and relay to you what my favorite exorcist told me (before our dogs chewed up his exorcism kit):

            “Jesus wants to heal us!” said Fr. Jose Viola. “Otherwise He wouldn’t have explicitly sent his apostles to go heal the sick.”

            (Can I get a chorus of “Amen” for that?)

             “Jesus,” Fr. Jose further taught us, “can heal us supernaturally by sending graces or naturally, through medicine and doctors. Healing can occur immediately or gradually.   The best remedies to use are natural ones because God provided us with medicines in nature.”  However, neither are we to refuse scientific advancement when it has the genuine cure.

            Moving on.  “Some diseases are caused by sin (our own fault).  Others are caused by the devil’s oppression.  How do we determine if its oppression?  When the illness prevents us from performing our daily duties. And if it’s a case of oppression, prayer always works.” 

            Since Father came over and delivered that mini talk, I can verify to healings in my family, and the ecstatic removal of names off my prayer list.  As an example, I prayed over my sick children, treated them with essential oils, elderberry syrup, and steam vaporizer and praise God, no more sleepless nights around here.  (I also use relics and the miraculous medal during prayer.)

            If I may be so bold though as to add to father’s advice, I try not to forget to thank God for the gift of healing He grants. I usually promise to attend Mass or Adoration at a pilgrimage site within a week. (For me it’s the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, which is, a good distance but also a manageable one).  That’s what I learned from my great grandmother who had no recourse to medicine during the war.

            So there you have it.  Healing and deliverance in a nutshell: 

1.   Pray for healing.  Lay hands on the sick person if possible.
2.     Natural treatment is preferable.

3.     Act of Thanksgiving.