Stress, Neurotics, and a Plea for Help

(Please note: Any self-derision in this article is largely tongue-in-cheek. While I am critical of myself in an mostly almost entirely healthy way, I’m also well aware of God’s infinite love for me and the fact that he wants me to love me too. And I do! I’m only human, but also trying to do better.)

The Story I’m Hoping isn’t Prophetic

Ray’s neuropsychologist shared a true story today of a young caregiver husband who literally passed out from malnutrition, exhaustion, and stress, hitting his head and causing a concussion. I think I’m taking better care of myself than that, but sometimes I do wonder.

The Stressor

So, here’s one major cause of my current stress: keeping my house in “livable” status. Right now, as I write, I’ve finally achieved it. Unfortunately, it’s not likely to last beyond 7:05 tomorrow morning, at which point in time the breakfast-making and lunch-packing mess, plus a toddler pulling out every toy we own, will throw it back into make-me-want-to-puke-or-scream-or-cry-or-maybe-all-three status.

So, we’re in livable status for the moment, but here’s the problem. I’ve been going non-stop since I woke up early this morning, and I just finally got to sit down and “relax” (if writing a blog post counts for relaxation) at 10:30. Livable status was achieved at 10:29.

Further exacerbating said stress is the knowledge that we’re having company Friday night, and Friday day promises to be a crazy mess of two doctor’s appointments for Ray, early pickup for four kids, preschool pickup for the toddler, running two kids allover the city for outings, and – oh, yeah – parent teacher conferences.

The reality is that, by the time our company arrives around 6:30, I’ll be lucky to have that breakfast/lunch/toddler mess cleaned up, let alone have dinner ready to be served.

Yes, I know. I never should have scheduled all of this for the same day. But I like to think I’m SuperWoman… until it becomes so incredibly obvious that I’m not. In my defense, I invited our friends before I knew any of this other stuff was going to happen. I scheduled the doctor’s appointments because we’ve been trying to get in since March and this date opened up. And the kids’ activities were planned by the PTO only a few weeks ago, but since their whole class is going… how can I say no?

My Neurotic Move

So, anyways, I actually pulled the slightly totally neurotic move of cancelling the plans with our friends, largely due to the knowledge that I would be freaking out trying to get the house cleaned. There were other reasons, but when I stopped and was totally honest with myself, I realized that the desire for a “company ready” house was playing a rather large role in my decision.

I know. It’s terrible! I’m an idiot and a social moron. What was I thinking?

I’ve re-extended the invitation, but they may now think that I didn’t really want them to come, or that I’m completely psycho, or both. The former is definitely not the case. As for the latter, well… the jury’s out.

Help, Please!

Okay. So, here’s why I’m writing this post. There are some very wise women who read this blog, and, even if you don’t identify yourself as such, I’m sure you have words of wisdom to help me solve my dilemma. (The dilemma being how to stay on top of my house without working until 10:30 every night, not the dilemma of over-scheduling myself. We can deal with my SuperWoman complex another time.)

The kids are already helping, although I’m sure they could help more. They each have time allotted each night for helping around the house. One vacuums, another mops, one helps with laundry, and a fourth in the kitchen. However, they’re notoriously awful about picking up after themselves or the toddler… so I could use some help there. Seriously, this toddler stage nearly kills me every time.

Given all that, what magical tips do you have that will help an overworked momma stay on top of the never-ending household mess? I’m sure I’m not the only mom struggling with this, so you never know who will benefit from your wisdom. Organizational tips, time management strategies, positive self-talk, you name it.

Please, please, please share your thoughts in the comments below!

(I’d rather not pass out and suffer a concussion – or worse!)

Update with some good news – I think I have carpool arranged for the kids, so there’s one thing off my plate!

Awaken to the Best Talk Postponed

Hi, friends! I just wanted to dash off a quick post that today’s Awaken to the Best talk has been postponed due to a  large funeral at the church. I’ll be speaking on Dec. 14th, instead.

Please pray for the soul of the young man whose Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated today, as well as for his family and community. Thank you!

The Ted Bundy Rosary Miracle

Today, October 7, marks the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. In its honor, I’d like to share a miracle of the Rosary which I recently read in the book, Champions of the Rosary, by Fr. Donald Calloway. I call it the “Ted Bundy Rosary Miracle.”


Yep. There’s a Rosary miracle associated with Ted Bundy, the notorious serial rapist and murderer of the 1970’s.

rosary-1244875-1598x1062One night in January, 1978, Ted Bundy broke into a sorority house at Florida State University. After brutally raping and killing two sorority sisters, and seriously injuring two others, Bundy opened the door to another room. The young woman saw him open the door, and was sure he was going to kill her. Oddly, though, Bundy stopped, dropped his weapon, and fled.

When police arrived on the scene, they found this young woman in a near catatonic state. She refused to speak to anyone but a priest, so local priest Monsignor William Kerr was called to the scene. Upon his arrival, she recounted what had happened, and informed Monsignor Kerr that, when she went away to college, she had promised her mother that she would pray the Rosary every night before bed for protection. That night, she had fallen asleep while praying, and still held her rosary in her hand when Bundy opened the door to her room.

Years later, Bundy asked for spiritual guidance from the same priest who had met with that young woman, Monsignor Kerr. When asked about that incident in that Florida State sorority house, Bundy said that, when he’d opened the door to that young woman’s room, he had every intention of killing her. However, when he tried to step through the doorway, a mysterious force prevented him from doing so.  He dropped his weapon and ran away!

Through the intercession of Our Lady, the Rosary saved this young woman’s life. Imagine what it can do for our families, our country, and our world!

If you aren’t praying the Rosary regularly, what’s holding you back?

Are you afraid you’re not doing it right? Here’s a website to teach you how.

Is it hard to find the time? Here is a blog post I wrote, sharing how Iscreen-shot-2016-10-07-at-2-15-02-pm
find time.

Do you find it boring? Give it an honest chance. This is one devotion that I believe gets better the more you do it!

The Rosary is “the gospel on a string,” “the weapon that wins all battles” (St. Pio of Pietrelcina), and a prayer that “can bring families through all dangers and evils” (Servant of God Patrick Peyton).

May we as lovers of Christ and His Mother, Mary, pray this prayer
faithfully, with reverence and devotion, and may it bring peace to our families, our country, and our world.




Upcoming Speaking Engagements and Recent Media Appearances

Wow. Life’s been so busy, I’ve fallen behind on just about everything, it would seem – including updating my blog. But, there are some upcoming and past appearances that I wanted to make sure readers knew about.

October Speaking Engagement (for women)

I am thrilled to announce that I will be speaking next Wednesday, October 12, at the Awaken to the Best women’s spirituality group at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Carmel, IN. The meeting begins at 1:00 and is open to the public, though there is a registration page on their website. I will be sharing a new talk that I’m very excited about. I haven’t settled on a title yet, but it’s something along the lines of: “How trusting in God brought the peace that surpasses all understanding during the worst time of my life, and WOW, God wants everyone to have complete trust in him and here are the keys – in my humble opinion – to building that kind of trust.”

But that’s a little long, right? So, I’m working on pairing it down. 🙂

How I’m going to fit all of that into a 45 minute presentation is still up for grabs, too, but I’m confident it will be AWESOME, regardless, so come join us!

November Speaking Engagement (for couples)

I will also be speaking at Marriage on Tap on November 12th. This isscreen-shot-2016-10-05-at-10-06-12-pm a great date night with a little spirituality thrown into the mix! The event goes from 7:00 to 9:30 at the Willows near Broadripple in Indy. I’ve struggled with this topic A LOT, because I am so far from the perfect wife. BUT I’ve identified one thing that I do do well, and that is – once again – trusting God. This talk will be much different, though, since it’s geared toward married couples, and will revolve around trusting God with every aspect of your marriage, including finances, the very life and well-being of your spouse and children, and (eek!) your fertility.

Registration is required, just follow this link (and contact the parish office if you have trouble because I’m no help.)

Recent Media Appearances

Girlfriends Podcast

I got to speak with Danielle Bean (love her!) on her “Girlfriends” screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-10-39-44-pmpodcast this week. Her topic for the week is “Are you too busy?”. I was able to listen to the first fifteen minutes or so but I’ve been too BUSY to listen to the rest, including my own interview. What I did hear included great advice on that whole “busy-ness” thing, which clearly I need to take. Here’s the link if you’d like to listen.

EWTN On Location

ewtn bookmarkWhen I was in Chicago for the Catholic Marketing Network tradeshow and Writers Guild Conference, I was blessed to speak with Doug Keck of EWTN. The show aired a few weeks ago, and it turns out that mine wasn’t the only fantastic interview (LOL). Actually, the show is filled with interviews with many fascinating authors, and a great opportunity to learn about many amazing Catholic books that you might otherwise never even know existed. I’m somewhere around the half hour mark, but – seriously – you already know about A Single Bead, and hopefully you’ve already read it (if not, what are you waiting for?). So be sure to watch the whole show!

Prayers that you will be blessed abundantly today!

#WorthRevisit: The Fruit of an Upbraiding

Very recently, a Sister in Christ who was once a friend said some very hurtful things to me.  It’s been a long time since such a thing has happened, but goodness knows humility’s not my strong suit, so the occasional upbraiding is probably well deserved.

Since the purpose of this blog is to write about the good, the bad, and the ugly, I am writing a post that I’d rather not write.  But perhaps it will help someone else who may have a similar experience – past, present, or future.

This person and I had developed a friendship over the past few years, but have drifted apart over the last several months.  I had my own reasons for allowing this to happen, as she – obviously – had hers.  I knew when we met recently that things were boiling under the surface, but didn’t see a point in bringing them to the light of day.  Perhaps that’s me being passive-aggressive.  Probably.

Well, my Sister in Christ is much more outspoken than I am, and I learned, through her eyes, how the distance that had grown between us has affected her and made her feel.  I learned her view of my inadequacies and shortcomings.

Its never easy to hear yourself criticized by another person. In fact, it really stinks.  It left me feeling pretty low for a while.  Knowing that my loving Father does not want me to feel this way, I searched my head for scriptures that might apply.

First, I remembered Matthew 5:44: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” And, verse 46: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?”  And so I dropped to my knees in the middle of fixing dinner and prayed for this Sister in Christ – that she would have healing in this difficult time, that she would know Christ’s love, peace, and comfort, and that she, too, would recognize the opportunity for introspection to become more conformed to the woman God made her to be.  In the midst of a lot of hurt and anger, that prayer was the singularly most healing prayer I could have prayed.


The second scripture verse that came to mind was Hebrews 12:11: “Now discipline [some versions say “chastisement”]  always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.”

Thus, this is an opportunity for reflection.  Am I, in all my relationships, letting Christ shine through me?  Am I building others up in all I do?  Am I maintaining my integrity?  Are all my actions directed by my mission in Christ?

Of course I can’t honestly answer “yes” to all of those questions!  I have work to do (a lot of work), and this has illuminated an area of opportunity for me.  For that, I am grateful.

So, I thank my Sister in Christ.  Good will come from her actions and her words.  I trust in Christ to help me identify those areas that need improvement, and her words to me have made me more conscious of an area in which I need to ask for the Spirit’s wisdom to look interiorly at my actions and my motivations.

Indeed, her upbraiding – I pray – will bear much fruit.

“…we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts.” Romans 5:3-5

#WorthRevisit is a linkup of FAVORITE PREVIOUSLY posted blogs …. Visit Reconciled to You to read more authors’ posts worth revisiting!

So Much for Good, Strong Bones

My family has good, strong bones. It’s one of the stupid things that I’ve always been just a wee bit prideful about. We may have our weaknesses, we Engelman’s, but we’ve got good, strong bones.

Through all the football games, rough housing, dirt bike riding, and general stupid stunts, my kids had yet to break a bone.

Until Tuesday.

Mind you, our oldest had just gotten a new scooter, and went to the skate park to try it out. This seems like an inherently dangerous thing, so I gave him a big hug before he left and sent up a few prayers while he was gone.

Our ten year old daughter, “Bonita” on the other hand, had a kickball game. I screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-10-06-04-amwas wracked with guilt over missing it  but I needed to be at Confirmation and had no choice. So, I did give her a big hug before she left, but it was an “I’m terribly sorry I’m not going to be there” hug, not a “please Lord protect her” hug.

During Mass, I thought of my son, maybe breaking his neck “dropping in” to some half pipe, and offered another prayer for him.

After the Confirmation Mass, I checked my phone and saw that I had several texts. Bonita had hurt her pinky finger trying to catch a ball. It was probably just badly jammed, according to a doctor who happened to be on site, but it could be broken.

Mehhh. We’ve got good strong bones. She’ll be fine.

Wednesday, the school nurse looked at it and forewarned me that it may need to be checked out.

Thursday, the nurse called and left a voicemail. Take this child to the doctor.

The irony is that, only a few weeks ago I joked with a friend, “Hey, I just found out that we’ve met our out of pocket max on the insurance! If the kids are going to break some bones, this is the year to do it!”

Whoops. I shouldn’t have said that.


Lesson learned: unless you want to wrap your kids in bubble wrap, count on them being in danger at every turn. Even kickball is a dangerous sport, apparently!

Ultimately, trust them to the Lord, and he will take care of them in his own perfect way!


The Crucifix: Inspiration for Repentance and Love

Growing up, the crucifix always struck me as–well, gross, graphic, and unnecessary. It simply didn’t make any sense. Why did Catholics insist on displaying such gruesomeness? Wasn’t it better to look at the clean and less offensive empty cross, and remember that Christ rose from the dead?


However, upon my conversion, I quickly gained a deep appreciation for the crucifix. There is “no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friends,”  and Christ loved me so much that he died for me in this terrible and incredibly painful way. To see it so clearly depicted before me served as a constant reminder of just how great his love was for me, a sinner, and for all sinners.

When I read and understood Numbers 21:4-9 for the first time, my love for the crucifix grew as the beauty of scripture filled me with awe. Once again, we see how the New Testament is contained in the Old, and the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New. The Israelites complained against God, even as they should have thanked him for  freeing them from slavery in Egypt. God sent serpents among them, and many Israelites perished. Moses prayed for the people, and, upon God’s instruction, made a bronze serpent and mounted it upon a pole.  Whoever was bitten by a snake had only to gaze upon that serpent atop that pole, to receive healing.

Likewise, we who experience the bite of sin can look upon the likeness of Christ, mounted upon the cross, to begin the process of healing. That image, which calls to mind his death and love for us, will drive us to true contrition and sorrow for our sins, and a desire to be worthy of such sacrifice. It will lead us to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we are blessed to hear those most beautiful words of absolution.


Thus cleansed of our sin, we find ourselves gazing more lovingly upon our Lord, emptied and broken, longing to love him as he loves us. The desire to be close to him, to be concealed within his wounds, leads us to ever closer union with him as we seek to love him through loving our fellow man.

Today, as we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, may the crucifix and its reminder of Christ’s sacrifice serve as our strength, inspiration, and reassurance of Christ’s love for us.and-just-as-moses-lifted-up-the-serpent-in-the-desertso-must-the-son-of-man-be-lifted-up-so-that-everyone-who-believes-in-him-may-have-eternal-life-john-3_14-15

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

Answering God’s Call, Even When It Doesn’t “Make Sense”

The Unexpected Blessing of Being Open to Life

A Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

Answering God’s Call, Even When It Doesn’t “Make Sense”

In Luke 5:1-11, Jesus tells Simon, “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon informs him that they’ve been out there all night, and haven’t caught a thing. But, he does it anyways, and they catch so many fish, their nets begin to tear.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 1.30.38 PM

Sometimes, Jesus asks us to do something that seemingly makes no sense. When we do it anyways, we reap an abundant harvest, just as Simon and the other fishermen did.

The trick is knowing when a prompting is of the Spirit. It might just as well be of our own manufacture – as Peter experienced during the Transfiguration when he wanted to build tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Or, worse, it could be the manufacture of a very different spirit – for example, the spirit that prompted Judas to betray Jesus for a bag of coins.

First, we ask ourselves,  does this appear to be of God? God is all loving and all merciful, so a prompting that is not rooted in love and mercy must clearly not be from him.

After that, we might turn to the counsel of Godly friends, our priest or pastor, or our spiritual director. Having another person’s perspective on matters is always beneficial.

Ultimately, though, I find that patience and prayer are the most sure ways to know that I’m following Christ’s will, especially when he seems to be prodding me in inexplicable directions. The question, “Really, God? You seriously want me to do this?” is perfectly valid, as long as we ask it with a willingness to respond according to his answer.

Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us.
Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us.

When the prodding remains after much prayer and discernment, we are called to step out in faith and trust. Even if we have misunderstood God’s call in our lives, he will bless us in our efforts and willingness to be pleasing to him. We may make mistakes, but his correction will be both loving and gentle.

Ultimately, God doesn’t expect perfection, only a desire to seek perfection, and a willingness to please.

Book Review: 7 Riddles to Nowhere

In her latest novel, 7 Riddles to Nowhere, author AJ Cattapan takes the reader on an intriguing and inspiring journey through the streets and churches of Chicago, as the young protagonist and his friends seek to win a fortune and save their school.

Most seventh graders would have other plans for the money. (Mine would probably want to add a trampoline park and swimming pool to the backyard.) Kam Boyd is hardly your average middle schooler, however, and when he’s presented with the opportunity to win a fortune, he’s determined to succeed in order to save his small school, which is threatened due to financial struggles.

Kam’s only recently moved to the school, but this selective mute had  hoped for a fresh start.  He has already become attached to his warm and generous teacher and several classmates who have befriended him despite the fact that he can’t speak to adults outside of his home, which means he barely talks at school.

Winning the contest is no small feat. Kam and his friends must find the answers to seven riddles, bravely traveling the streets of Chicago. They must also compete with other, less honorable teams, most notably the school bully and his sorry lot of friends. The chase takes them through beautiful city churches, where the clues and answers are hidden in architecture and artwork.

I found myself unable to put the book down as it neared its conclusion. Kam is an incredibly lovable character, and I enjoyed rooting him and his friends on as they strove to win the contest against all odds. There were beautiful lessons in church doctrine and history delicately interwoven into the tale, with the sound message that, “where your treasure is, there also will your heart lie.”

While Seven Riddles to Nowhere is a middle grade novel, I’d recommend it to any child ages 10 and older, and even a younger precocious reader. Every school library should keep this book on their shelves, especially those at Catholic schools. It would also be an excellent addition to school curricula, as an aid to teach tolerance, generosity, courage, and the universality of the Church.

Seven Riddles to Nowheres official release date is August 31, and author AJ Cattapan is holding  a Facebook launch party to celebrate. She’s giving away lots of wonderful prizes, including a signed copy of my book, A Single Bead, with a rosary blessed by the pope, an Amazon gift card, and more. Follow this link to join the party and have a chance at winning. Please tell her that Stephanie Engelman sent you!

I received an advance copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest review.

**This post contains affiliate links. If you follow the links, and add the book or anything else to your cart, you’ll pay the exact same price but I’ll get a tiny little commission. It’s a great way to support your favorite bloggers… Thank you!!!

Book Review: The Perfect Blindside

If you’re sad to see the end of the summer Olympics, The Perfect Blindside, a young adult novel by Leslea Wahl, is a great way to recapture some of the excitement, while also preparing for the winter Olympics, coming in just two short years.

This sweet fictional romance features Olympic silver medalist Jake, who has recently moved to the town of Silver Springs, Colorado, and is firmly confident that he is way too good for the little town or anyone in it. In other words, fame has gone to this kid’s head, and he’s become the cocky athlete we see all too often when watching sports coverage of, say, idiotic stunts pulled in gas stations by swimmers in Rio.

Jake is a jerk, but I liked him because he is, indeed, very real. We have all known a kid like this: too big for his britches and pushing people away at every turn, all the while feeling secretly lonely and isolated.

Seemingly the polar opposite of Jake, Sophie is a high school junior who loves her little home town. She’s pretty much a goody-two-shoes, and, while  the rest of the teenagers in town are fawning allover the new arrived Olympian, she takes an instant dislike to Jake and his cocky attitude.

Jake’s world begins to fall apart when he’s framed for drug possession, and Sophie realizes that perhaps she’s been a wee bit judgmental. Ultimately, she is able to use her knowledge and love of Silver Springs to help Jake uncover the mystery behind the old abandoned mine, thereby clearing his name, all while romance blossoms between the two teenagers.

I would recommend The Perfect Blindside for tweens and teens. Both my ten-year-old daughter, and my twelve-year-old son read and enjoyed it, and since my son isn’t a big reader, that’s quite a complement to author Leslea Wahl!

The Perfect Blindside is offered by my very favorite publisher, Pauline Books and Media, under their Pauline Teen imprint.  While the characters are Catholic, the message is universal and will appeal to all Christian teens. The Christian message is understated enough that teens who don’t identify strongly as Christians will enjoy the book as well. I highly recommend adding it to your family library!

I was provided a copy of The Perfect Blindside by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on a link, and add anything to your cart, I’ll receive a tiny percentage, but you’ll pay the same amount! It’s a great way to show your support for your favorite bloggers. 🙂 


An Honest Look at the Life of One Catholic Mommy