Why I’m a Terrible Person and Can’t Boycott the Coffee Shop

I’ve tried. I really have.

I tried when I heard that the president of the company said that they supported gay marriage because it was “just part of who we are.”

And I tried again when I learned that they have supported Planned Parenthood in the past.

But I’ve failed.

I’ll admit that part of it is the yumminess of the drinks. But there are other coffee shops that make good fru-fru coffees.

You might be surprised to hear that part of it is actually due to their plastic cups. It’s true. I often buy a coffee just so I can get a venti water and proceed to reuse the cup for the next five days, or at least until the straw breaks (those darn, cheap straws!).

That’s a five dollar water cup. Yowzas.

But, I drink about five times more water if I can drink it from their water cup.

Apart from the yummy fru-fru coffees and the water cups that feel oh-so-good in my hands and encourage my hydration efforts, it’s simply the ability to get away and write. That’s what really gets me.

As a writer, it is very difficult for me to “practice my craft” at home. I no longer have a true “office,” with the blessing of a door. My new “office” consists of a small space in a corner of the family room, which happens also to be at the end of the kitchen counter. It’s rather difficult for the kids to understand that “Mommy’s at work and can’t be disturbed” when they nearly run into me every time they go to the fridge for a drink.

Even Ray, God love him, can’t stop himself from sharing whatever marvelous joke or tidbit of information he’s gleaned from Facebook or Reddit.

I’ve tried other places, but they’re too noisy, or they don’t have enough electrical outlets, or the chairs aren’t comfortable, or the shear number of tattoos and earlobes with giant, gaping holes in them leaves me feeling distinctly out of place.

I do my best, no longer taking the kids through the drive through for their Mass treats, to the tune of over 20 bucks. And I don’t buy anything extra – no pastries, sandwiches, or even almonds to tide me over.

I really wish some person with good, Christian values would open up a coffee shop coffee shopclose to my house. One with a drop-in childcare center attached would be quite ideal. Any takers?

Until then, here I sit, with my family at home on this Monday morning of fall break, reveling in the fact that I’ve finally had a moment to write something, all while feeling guilty because they just got another five dollars of my family’s hard-earned money.

Ugly, Squeaky, Humbling: 7 Things I Love About Our Little House

seven-quick-takes-friday-2One year ago, my family moved from our ten-year-old, well-maintained, nicely decorated 3600 square foot home, and into a sixty-year-old, poorly maintained, horridly decorated 1800 square foot home. I shared a little of the story here and here.

While there are many things I would like to change about this ugly little house, the fact of the matter is… I love it. Here are seven reasons why.

ugly house

1. The Ugly Reminds Me to be Grateful

The kitchen and family room floors must be the most horrid linoleum I’ve ever seen. I try not to use the “H” word, but let’s just say, I strongly dislike the flooring. However, when I look at those floors and dream of ripping that nasty linoleum up, I am reminded that the majority of the world’s population lives in huts or shacks that don’t have flooring at all. And what can I do, other than be thankful that we have flooring – even if it’s ugly – not to mention heat, running water, and a washing machine?

2. Less House = Less Cleaning

There were rooms in our old house that I entered once or twice a month… to clean. I found that a bit frustrating. In this little house, every speck of dust and dirt has been well-earned by a well-lived-in space. I appreciate that, and it makes cleaning much more pleasant when I know that I will actually enjoy the fruits of my labors.

3. The Creaky Back Door Makes Me Feel Like I’m On Vacation

I can’t fully explain this, but that squeak makes me think, “lake house.” Every time it opens, I relax just a little bit.

4. Tighter Quarters = Tighter Family

I heard a while back that studies have shown that families who live in smaller homes are actually happier. My children would completely disagree with this – they are constantly insisting that we need a larger home, or to add another story to this one – but I can see a difference in my family since we moved. And I like what I see.

5. The Yard is a Little Slice of Paradise, in the Middle of the Citytree in fall

The yard was the whole reason we wanted this house, in the first place, and it hasn’t disappointed. Sure, it’s been a ton of work and there’s still tons more to do. But, whether we’re in the house or out in the yard, we feel like we’re out in the country. We have campfires regularly, and the kids have camped out in the back yard with friends. And yet, we have every imaginable amenity within minutes – literally. Stores, restaurants, schools, friends… nothing’s more than a mile or two away. It’s truly our hidden little slice of paradise!

6. Ugly Paint Makes for Excellent Conversation

While we have painted several rooms of the house now (thanks largely to my master-painter-mother-in-law!), a few of the original colors still remain, and they make for excellent conversation. What do you think they were thinking when they chose dark brown paint to go with blue countertops? What’s with the dark colors in an already dark house? And, best of all, Which type of poop best describes that color?

7. A Much Needed Lesson in Humility

I joke that I live in the land of latte’s and leggings, an oasis of Maserati’s and mansions. I enjoy a latte as much as anyone, but my rear-end won’t be seeing leggings anytime soon. My minivan is a far cry from a Maserati (and let’s not even talk about Ray’s “classic” Honda), and our house would only be a mansion if you stacked three more stories on top.

I confess. For a while, I just avoided having people I didn’t know over. But, I’m getting over that. I figure God doesn’t care about the size of our homes, or how nicely they’re decorated, and neither should anyone else.

Instead, he cares about how nicely our souls are “decorated.”

My house needs a lot of work. And, let’s face it, my soul is very much a work in progress too. But, as long as I focus more on the latter than the former, I figure that mansion will come eventually. When it does, it will be of the eternal sort. And I’m okay with that.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!


Weaving the Crown of Thorns

When I think of the crown of thorns, I often think of the man who wove that crown. I think of how those thorns must have pierced his own flesh. His wounds would still have been healing on that third day when Christ rose.

When I think of the man who wove the crown of thorns, I think of gossip. The thorns of gossip pierce the hearts and souls of those who whisper, in addition to those of whom they speak.

Something to think about, next time.

Feeling a bit poetic tonight, I wanted to share this…

Calloused, filthy.
Weaving a crown.
A crown to mock and ridicule.
Bloodied and torn.
Placing the crown.
The crown of the King of Kings.
Bloodied, pierced.
Folded, lifeless.
Entombed, the King of Kings.
Wounded, pierced.
Raised, outspread.
Ascending, setting free.
Calloused, filthy.
bloodied, torn.
Wreathed in mockery and ridicule.



Well, I knew this blog post novena was not going to be a cakewalk, and that the weekend would be especially difficult. Alas, I missed yesterday, but I’m back on it today.

First, since it’s Sunday, a day when we typically meditate on the Glorious Mysteries, I thought I’d share a post from a fellow member of the Catholic Writer’s Guild, Dennis P. McGeehan. I’ll be honest and tell you that I had never even considered the idea that Saint Joseph might have been assumed into Heaven, but Dennis presents a very interesting case in his post, The Assumption of Saint Joseph. Check it out – I’d be interested to hear your thoughts!

Next, I’ve reached into the archives of my old blog, marthasheart.com, and found the following post which I thought was a lovely way to end the weekend – celebrating God’s great love for us, his sons and daughters. 


Originally posted on Marthasheart.com, Nov. 5, 2008

Today, my two year old daughter waved her magic wand at me and informed me that I was Princess Aurora.  She then said that I had been “princessified.”

Thinking tonight of the Coronation of Our Lady, it occurred to me that, while there may be only one Queen of Heaven, each and every one of us is a prince or princess in God’s eyes.  I was actually nearly giggling during my meditation,  imagining all of us running around heaven with little crowns on our heads.

Why not smile and giggle, yes, giggle, knowing how very much God loves us?  That we are His children, and He loves us so much!

Throw back your shoulders and hold your head up high.  Wear that crown with pride.  You are God’s child, His Princess (or Prince)!



Seven Quick Takes: 7 Ways to Fit the Rosary In Your Day

seven-quick-takes-friday-2In keeping with my blog post novena, I thought I’d use my seven quick takes this week to answer the age-old question: How do you find the time to pray the Rosary everyday? As you’ll see below, I often pray the Rosary while performing other tasks, which may not be the perfect way to do it, but I find that I am able to focus surprisingly well, perhaps because multi-tasking silences that little voice inside my head that says, “You should be mopping the floors,” or, “The toilets are filthy,” or “Did you forget the mountain of laundry you need to fold?” These little “tricks” enable me to pray a daily Rosary, and many days I pray a full fifteen decade Rosary. I do believe that it’s quality – not quantity – that counts. But, “nature loves a vacuum,” and I’d much rather fill the empty moments of my brain with thoughts of Christ and his Mother than whatever “nature” might choose to put in there instead.

— 1 —

While I’m driving… Okay, no surprise there. I think that’s when a lot of people pray it.rosary-2-1499851

— 2 —

At the computer… in those moments when I’m ready to throw my antediluvian laptop in the trashcan because it’s so slow, I use the interminable wait times to say a few Hail Mary’s and meditate. Not ideal, but it does greatly decrease frustration.

— 3 —

While walking the dog, or going for a run… sometimes my motivation to get off my bum and go get some exercise lies purely in knowing that I haven’t prayed the Rosary yet that day and this gets me out of the house so that I can better focus.

— 4 —

While doing the laundry… I’ve actually had some of my best Rosary moments while folding socks and t-shirts. It occupies my hands and allows my mind to run free. I use a set of sacrifice beads, like these, to keep track of the Hail Mary’s.

— 5 —

Tucking the kids into bed… if it’s late, and my first response is, “no,” my kids will actually beg me to pray a decade with each of them. It’s our special time together, just me and that one child. Plus, they get to stay up a few minutes longer.

— 6 —

At my little makeshift alter… I have a beautiful framed Our Lady of Guadalupe in the entry of our home. On my better days, I pull up a padded stool, kneel, and pray before that image. Since Our Lady is expecting in the Guadalupe image, it helps me to focus on both Our Blessed Mother and her infant son, the humility into which he chose to be born, the value of human life, and much more.

— 7 —

In Adoration… well, of course this would be the very best of all options. While having an infant prevents me from having a regularly scheduled hour in the Adoration Chapel, it does not prevent me from going to Adoration as often as possible. There is simply no comparison to time spent contemplating the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, while also contemplating his life, and his mother’s.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!


The Wedding at Cana

The wedding at Cana

The Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12) is one of my favorite mysteries of the Rosary. It seems to have endless depths to explore, and I am frequently startled by the realization of some new, previously hidden element.

I love to think about Mary’s concern for the bride and groom, and of her intercession on their behalf. As she interceded for them, I know that she will intercede for us.

I meditate on Jesus’ use of the word, “woman,” drawing our minds to the first woman, Eve, who brought sin into the world. Mary is called “the New Eve,” because she is the woman – the one in all of history – who never knew sin, who stepped on the head of the serpent as was foretold in Genesis, who, rather than trying to be like God, as the first Eve did, humbled herself before God, making herself his handmaid and saying “Let it be done unto me…”

Then there’s Mary’s confidence that Jesus will respond to her request, and her words, “Do whatever he tells you.” Simple, yet perfect. If only we each could follow this command.

There’s the fact that, with Mary’s gentle push, Christ chose a wedding as the place where his first public miracle should occur, thereby revealing the awesome importance of the sacrament of marriage.

Of course, there’s the miracle of turning water into wine. And not just any wine, but the very best, most splendid of wines.

Untitled design

I love to think on his order to fill the jars with water. If we are Christ’s servants, what is this “water” that we should be filling our jars with? On the one hand, surely it’s love of God, and love of neighbor. On the other hand, it’s the spiritual drink of life – the Holy Spirit. Those who drink of it will never thirst. And there’s the refilling of ourselves, as we pour ourselves out caring for others, and then must fill ourselves back up through prayer, scripture, and the sacraments.

Though seemingly insignificant, I love the words that follow Christ’s command. “They filled them to the brim.” If those jars are my offering to Christ, am I filling it to the brim? Am I giving him my everything, my all?

Ultimately, like the water that was transformed at Cana, whatever we offer to him – however ordinary – will become extraordinary.

May we hold nothing back.