Category Archives: Uncategorized

Advent Calendar/Jesse Tree Reflection for Dec. 7

Our family had a busy day yesterday and wound up leaving our Advent reflection till bedtime.  The older two had lots of fun trying to find the similarities between the sacrifice of Isaac and Christ’s crucifixion.  I think my favorite was Bonita’s, as she looked at the rockie hill top portrayed in our Children’s Bible:  “I know!  I know!  There were rocks in both stories!”  When she decided to move on to identifying the differences between the two stories, I declared that it was time for bed!

The sacrifice of Isaac is one I hold dear to my heart, hence the fact that one of my children is named after Isaac.  That took a little convincing – Ray wasn’t on board.  But I think it’s really hard to say no to your wife who’s layed up on bed rest!  When I told my mom, she scrunched up her face and said, “Oh, Stephanie!  That’s worse than ______!”  (I don’t want to offend anyone, but fill in an unusual Old Testament name that you might occassionly hear today and you’ll get the picture.)  Of course, she completely denies this today, and says she loves the name.  Regardless, I am so glad that we chose that name, as it so aptly fits our young man. “He laughs,” indeed.

Today’s story, honestly, is one I hadn’t given a whole lot of thought to in the past.  But I enjoyed delving into it.  I hope you enjoy this reflection with your family.

December 7 (Person – Jacob; Symbol – ladder)

“Know that I am with you; I will protect you wherever you go, and bring you back to this land.  I will never leave you until I have done what I promised you.”

Gen 27:41 – 28:22

Reflection: In this reading, God reassures Jacob of the promise he had given to Abraham – a promise that He would give land to Abraham’s family, that his descendents (his children, children’s children, etc.), would be “as plentiful as the dust of the earth,” and that all the world would be blessed through them.  God also promises, “I will never leave you…”  Jesus echoed these words in Matthew 28:20, when he said, “I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Jesus is with us always, even though we can’t see him.  We can talk to him through prayer any time we like.  We can tell him what worries us, what makes us sad, and what makes us happy.  We can say “thank you” for our many blessings, or we can ask for his help.

Let’s take a moment to pray silently to Jesus, telling him what is in our hearts.  First, let’s say, “Jesus, I love you and I know that you are always with me.  Thank you for listening to my prayer.” Then, we’ll have a quiet moment for each of us to talk silently with Jesus.

Advent Jesse Tree and Calendar

May God bless you today, and may you feel his presence with you always!


Advent Calendar – Day One

I’ve claimed my procrastination in the past, I believe.  The scripture verses for our Advent Calendar are no different of course.  But, I promised several people that I would get these out, so I am at least posting day one.  I’ll try to get the rest out tonight – or at least a portion of them!

My dear friend Renee’ commented on The Advent Giveaway post that she is doing a Jesse Tree with her family this year.  This is something I’ve never done, and it seemed to lend itself perfectly to the Advent Calendar.  So, I’m adapting the chart that she was kind enough to send me into daily slips of paper, on which I am writing a Bible memory verse, the scriptures for the day, and a question or thought for reflection.  Of course, I’ll be putting some sort of goody in each box, as well!  My kids need incentive, so before they get their treat, we’ll read and discuss the scripture.

I’ll be running out this morning to get the branch for the tree, and looking today for good ideas on line for making the ornaments.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions!

Here’s a pic of the adorable Advent Calendar I made with the help of my Close to My Heart consultant, Christine Bivens, followed by the text for day one.

Advent Day One: (Symbol=evergreen branch or small tree)

“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his name will bear fruit.” Isa 11:1

1 Sam 16:1-13 – Samuel Anoints David

Isa 11:1-10 – The Branch from Jesse

Reflection: “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)

You’ll often hear the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  This is hard to do, for books, and for people!  What’s something you’re good at that a person might not guess from looking at you?  How can you remember to always look at what’s inside a person, rather than what you can see on the outside?

Here’s a PDF for ease of printing:

Advent Day One

If you’d rather have a list of scriptures that’s already finished, Christine was kind enough to send me the verses she’s put together for each day.  I didn’t get these until I had already done Jesse Tree day one with the kids, or I might have used that, since it’s already done!

Advent scripture verses

Just a Quick Post…

…because it’s 11:52 and I really should be in bed.But I was laughing at myself because I just completed my Snapfish order at 11:51, 8 minutes before the Penny Prints deal expires.

Last night, I completed my Shutterfly Christmas card order at 11:05.  Their special expired 55 minutes later. (Or, at least, my sister said that it did.  I looked tonight and it was still running.)

Procrastination?  I’ve got it down to a science, my friends.

At this point, I might as well stay up a few minutes more to share some of these adorable photos that I just printed.

So now, an hour later, I’m done with this “quick post.”  It’s less than perfect, but bed is calling.  Sweet dreams!

Wednesday Whippets, Two Days Late

My plans to do a Wednesday Whippets every week have completely not come to fruition.  But now I realize: I’m always late, so why should my blog posts timely?

Here goes…

Seven Great Things in the Last Week:

1. My parents celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary yesterday!  In a world where people don’t get married until they’re thirty-something, and where half of marriages end in divorce, couples approaching their 50th anniversary will be growing few and far between.  I am extremely grateful for my parents and the wonderful examples they set for me and my sisters.

My parents, 48 years ago

2. Ray started his new job and LOVES it.  This company takes such amazing care of its employees, we are both experiencing some serious culture shock after his previous employer.

3. Ray’s been on the job for four days and yesterday I opened the mailbox to find an envelope from his new employer, through whose window I could read, “Pay to the order of…”  Knock me over with a feather.  It was his first pay check.  Can we say, “Christmas,” everyone?

4. My illness only lasted a day on Saturday and no one else got it!  (I must note, however, that since this indicates food poisoning, which I had already experienced in the last month or so, I am considering a hunger strike against food poisoning.)

5. I already have my Christmas shopping list almost entirely figured out, with two major items already purchased.  I think we’re gonna have some very happy kids, without breaking the bank!

6. Thanks to Marriott Rewards, Zach’s iPod Touch (from Santa) was FREE!!!!!

7. Last but not least… We experienced no major medical emergencies during our two day period of being uninsured.

Three Things to Pray for:

1. Our country (duh)

2. Isreal

3. For all mommies who, like me, are struggling to find their peace in the midst of insanity.

Shout Outs:

1. To whatever anonymous person cleaned out their stash of Catholic statuettes and images.  I am greatly enjoying two lovely new Marys as well as a small framed Our Lady of Good Counsel.

2. To Denice, Karin, and our silent partner Jen – and all our wonderful girls – for a great Becoming Girls meeting on Monday!

The Key to the Next Four Years?

As I consider the seemingly disastrous election results, the bottom line is that God gives us each free will. On Tuesday, just over half of America turned their backs on God and voted for death, debt, and defenselessness.  My heart is broken and I can’t even imagine how God must feel.  Christ died for us, and how do we repay him?  We encourage women to kill their unborn babies so that they can live the lives they want.  We force Catholics and other Christians to pay for those murders.  We adopt an attitude toward the poor which tells them that they are helpless, thereby encouraging them to remain dependent on the government.

We put our trust in government, rather than in Christ, who saves us.

However, I believe strongly that God will use this for good, as He always does.  He is now giving each of us an opportunity to make a difference, to stand for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Each of us has our own talents – gifts given to us by God – and He is now asking that we use those gifts to further His cause.

Father John Hollowell wrote an excellent blog post yesterday, in which he called all of us to be “warrior Catholics.”  I couldn’t agree more.

As I’ve thought and prayed about Tuesday’s election results, I’ve become convinced that, first and foremost, this is the result of a failure to evangelize.  Not a failure to evangelize Protestants or atheists, but a failure to evangelize our own fellow Catholics.

We live in a world of lukewarm Catholics; Catholics who know neither scripture nor the Catechism, and relegate Christ to Sunday mornings.  If they do know scripture, it’s often through Protestant Bible studies, so while their Christianity may be strong, their Catholicism remains lukewarm at best. i.e.They do not understand the Biblical foundations of the teachings of the Catholic Church. Many Protestant churches support abortion and gay marriage, and almost all of them condone contraception, so those Catholics simply subscribe to the teachings they have received through those Protestant studies. (Please note that I am extremely greatful for the wealth of Protestant Bible studies, as it was one such study that set me on fire for God’s Word.)

I don’t know all the answers here, but as I think about what needs to happen in the next four years, I think of those lukewarm Catholics, and I think that, if we can set them on fire with love for Christ, His Word, and His Church, we will see a very different result in 2016.  I believe that, if we teach the Gospel to these lukewarm Catholics, that evangelization will naturally extend to people outside of the Church.

I do believe that we must proceed with caution.  I think that it’s important to have many of the “Church militant” out there, proclaiming the truths of the Church, including confronting the issues of abortion, euthanasia, contraception, and gay marriage.  But I also think that many people tune out the moment they hear someone discussing these topics from a catechetical view.

So, I believe that some “Catholic warriors” will need to take a kinder, gentler approach, a seemingly more round-about approach, with the goal to bring people more fully into the bosom of the Church, that they may open their hearts and minds to the fullness of her Truth.

Regardless of where you fall, I pray that you will join me in this fight for our country.

Why I Probably Shouldn’t Homeschool

I love homeschooling Bear, but I’m not very disciplined.  Take this morning, for instance.

We had to take the dog in for his regular checkup (all is good!) and just got home about half an hour ago.  Bear walked into the living room and turned the tv on.  Sesame Street!  Hmmm. That’s educational, so why tear him away?

So, I got everyone a snack, and then thought I’d get the classroom ready for a very, very, short class before I have to take him to speech class, where I know they’ll be covering the letter “j” as well, which gives me an excuse to not cover it fully myself.

So I got the classroom all set, and thought I’d see if the song I wanted to sing to start class, was available on Youtube.  It’s not, so then I thought I’d moderate blog comments, which I did, and there was a new commenter, so I thought I’d check out her blog, which I did, and I liked it, and it made me think about writing this post.

So here we are.  We need to leave for speech in ten minutes.  Boo is sitting on the classroom table, writing in Bear’s workbook, on the table, and on the white board with an Expo marker.  Bear is still watching Sesame Street, and the lovely Jesus I had drawn under the J on the whiteboard has all but disappeared under Boo’s scribbles.

And THAT is why I probably shouldn’t homeschool.

Wednesday Whippets

All the cool bloggers seem to have cute regular blog posts, like has “Sunday Snippets” and has “3 1/2 Time Outs Tuesdays”. I thought I’d give this a shot but haven’t settled on a catchy name yet.

So, for today I’ll try “Wednesday Whippets”. I’m pretty sure that in some circles this refers to illegal substance abuse, though, so this could create a lot of spam. Hopefully I’ll come up with something better soon.

Anyways, here goes…

Seven Great Things in the Last Week (or so):

  1. Starting this blog. I am really enjoying writing it, and especially enjoying the interaction from the replies.
  2. Ray got a job offer yesterday.
  3. Ray got a second job offer yesterday.
  4. Ray is leaning toward the more stable option, with great benefits.  As a mama bear of four, I like stable with great benefits.
  5. I finished the rough draft of my book, and shared it with my mom’s group today.  That’s a big step – opening up and sharing what I’ve written for all to see.  It felt really good.
  6. When the man at the book store asked me what I do, I told him that, in addition to being a mother, I’m also a writer.  That’s the first time I’ve ever said those words.  That felt good, too.
  7. My mother-in-law’s heart surgery today appears to have been successful.  After a completely wasted surgery a few weeks ago, we are especially grateful for the success of this one.  Please do send up a prayer for her recovery!
  8. Ray got two job offers.  Did I mention that?  And did I say seven great things?
This illustrates my reaction when Ray got his job offers. In reality, this is Isaac’s celebration of new flip flops.

Three Things to Pray for:

  1. All families who have lost children.
  2. All families who are struggling with mental illness.
  3. Our country.

Shout Outs:

  1. St. Jude: His feast day is coming up, and I’ve been praying a novena to him with  The intention of the novena is the unemployed and underemployed.  So I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Ray got two job offers. Thanks, St. Jude!
  2. Our Lady of Sorrows:  Because Keyser pooped out that sock while I was meditating on her sorrows.   No coincidence there, though I do hate to put Our Lady and “poop” in the same line.
  3. Zach and Morgan: For stellar report card performance, including Zach’s remarkable comeback from a very difficult start in math.  Good job, guys!

A Little Respect, Please

On two recent occasions we’ve had the opportunity to sit in front of people who felt that the time following communion was a good time to catch up on football scores or babysitting arrangements.  And I don’t mean just a quick tid-bit, I mean full-blown conversations.

Seriously, folks.  You’re adults.  Or, at least purport to be.  Does this seem OK to you?

Do you realize the impact you are having on the Mass experience of everyone around you? I am distracted by your conversation.  I wish I weren’t, but I am.  I imagine I’m not the only one.  I know that my children hear you, and they’re wondering why it’s OK for you to talk when they’re not allowed to.

Don’t you get it?  Do you understand what a gift you have been given?  You are part of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church!  Christ established this Church for YOU upon the Rock of Peter! He died for you so that your sins could be forgiven, and he rose again so that YOU may have eternal life with him in Heaven!  He gave you his Flesh as true food and his Blood as true drink! You just received that AWEsome, aMAZing, inDESCRIBable gift!

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
San Leocadio Christ with the Host, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

And you show your appreciation, not by spending a few moments of silence with Him, but instead by catching up on the latest gossip!  We have so little quiet time in our lives.  Can’t we just take these few moments and savor them?  Can’t that conversation wait five minutes until Mass is over?

Seriously????  Have a little respect, please!

I suppose we should all be happy that you weren’t one of the many people who ran out of the door immediately after receiving the Eucharist.  But somehow I suddenly find myself appreciative of them.  If they’re going to be irreverent, at least they’re openly irreverent.  And maybe, just maybe, they have something going on in their lives and this was the only Mass they could make it to, and as much as they LONG to stay for the closing prayer and hymn, they have an unavoidable commitment and have absolutely no choice but to leave early.  In which case, I’m glad they had the love and respect of Christ to figure out a way to come, praise him, hear his Word, and receive his gift of the Eucharist.

But you? I simply can’t dream up an excuse why that conversation can’t wait until the car ride home.  I keep trying, but I’m coming up blank.

Yes, I’m being judgemental.  I will pray for my judgemental, gripey ways.  And I will pray for you, and for all Catholics, that we will all come to a greater appreciation of the great gift we have in the Mass.

Christ, have mercy.



Meet Keyser

Meet Keyser.  We think he’s a two year old yellow lab or lab mix.  We know that he’s a complete pain in the rear end, who’s eaten at least twenty socks in the year we’ve had him.  He has major bladder control issues and regularly piddles on the floor.  He has chewed up two sets of earbuds, numerous remote controls, books, and stuffed animals.  He has eaten loaves of bread, sticks of butter, countless bagels, and licked many, many plates that the children neglected to bring to the sink.  He runs away at every opportunity, and two-year-old Mary Lise does love to give him opportunities. He constantly bugs us for attention, but won’t stay still long enough for us to give it to him.  He chases after bugs, balls, and leaves with no concern for what might happen to the human on the other end of his leash.  Our walks have given the neighbors many occasions for laughter.

So all of you dog lovers will understand why he’s become such an important part of our family and why the thought of losing him tears me apart.

Two weeks ago, he had surgery to remove two plastic dragonflies, about 1.5 by 2 inches each, one from his stomach, the other from his intestine, both connected by a string, courtesy of the kids.  The greatest danger following the surgery was that the stitches in the intestines might not hold because it’s such a thin tissue.  Signs of a problem would most likely appear within 5 to 8 days.  I was so relieved when we made it to day 9.

But Friday one of the kids took their socks off and laid them on the craft table.  A while later, only one sock was left.

Three weeks ago, this would have been no big deal.  I would have been totally confident that Keyser had eaten it and it would come out the other end the following day.  Now, with those weakened intestines, I’m still totally confident that he’s eaten the sock, just not so confident that he’ll successfully pass it through.

Two days later, still no sign of that sock.

The first surgery tapped us out, and a second surgery is not an option.  Please pray for Keyser – that he will pass that stinking sock.  And please pray for our family if he doesn’t.

Update Monday, October 22nd:

I never thought I’d get so excited about poop!  But I was nearly dancing in the streets this morning when Keyser finally passed that sock!  I mean, literally laughing out loud with a giant smile plastered across my face.  The neighbors had to wonder.

Incidentally, I was praying the Seven Sorrows of Mary at the time.  I don’t believe for a moment that that was a coincidence.  Thank you, Blessed Mother!

My First Post – Welcome

Welcome to A Few Beads Short!  My name is Stephanie, wife of one and mother of four.

I’ve been playing around in the blogosphere for a few years now, but never really felt like I had found my niche.  You see, I started my first blog,, with the goal to help all of us “Marthas”… people who get too caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of what really matters.  And if I do say so myself there are some lovely posts on that site.  But I think I lost sight of the goal and got too caught up in trying to present the image of a “Mary” rather than fully owning up to my “early Martha-ism.” (I specify “early” since Martha did catch on, and much more quickly than I have.)

I found myself feeling that I always had to inspire.

I found myself wanting to present a good example.

I found myself feeling hypocritical if I posted on a day when I had lost my patience with my kids or been shrewish with my husband.

And so I found myself often unable to write.

But then one night a couple of weeks ago my girlfriend Denice launched on a tirade about the seeming perfection of Catholic moms in the blogosphere.  “All of these moms have twelve kids, they home school, they go to daily Mass, and their kids sit perfectly still all the way through.  The kids are excited to dress like saints for Halloween and have never played a video game.  I mean, that’s great and all, but there’ve gotta be some real moms out there!  I’m tired of reading about perfect people. I want someone I can actually relate to!”

And thus A Few Beads Short was born.  I present to you myself as I truly am…


Quick to anger

Sometimes judgmental

Always imperfect.

No, this blog will not be a constant rundown of all my shortcomings.  I’m a strong believer in the negative effects of moral relativism.

But it will be an honest look at the life of one Catholic mom.

A mom who struggles to make her new-found faith a constant part of her journey.

A mom who spent most of her life thinking “me, me, me” and now wants to think, “Him, Him, Him.”

A mom who frequently screws up, but, thanks be to God, sometimes manages to get it right.

That’s who I am, and that’s who I’ll give you.

Stay tuned.

(Please note that I have edited the blog’s name, changing it from “The Honest Catholic”.  I quickly realized that that name didn’t summarize the mission of the blog, totally lacked catchiness, and sounded like I was comparing myself to Honest Abe.  Which I’m not!  Though, I do hope in my lifetime to be some small part of freeing a few people from slavery, just a different type of slavery!)