saints

From HolyArt: Strange Patronages of Saints

I got this fun little piece in my email box from some new friends a HolyArt.com along with a request to share it here.  Voila!  I’m in especial need of the patronage of anybody covering gall stones

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Interview with Working Mother Debbie Gaudino

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother” by celebrating the working mothers among us.  Let’s meet working mother, Debbie Gaudino​!

 

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Debbie Gaudino​

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

​​My husband and I have been married for 18 years and have been blessed with two beautiful children: our son who is 12 and our daughter who is 10. A few years ago, our Pastor asked us to share about our family’s faith at a retreat for the graduating 8th grade class.  Each of us took a turn sharing how God has blessed our lives both personally and as a family. Father referred to us that day as “Team Gaudino” and the name really resonated with us and has stuck ever since. We try to approach all aspects of our life as a team and involve our children as much as possible in our work and ministry. Like many sports fans, the concept of rooting for our family as a team has drawn us closer together and helped us to support each other’s interests and activities.

Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?

​”May I have another glass of wine?” In all seriousness, my life is a constant juggle of a wide variety of roles that defy an easy one-line dinner party answer. I am a homeschooling Mom, a blogger, a free-lance writer, the director of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in my diocese, a retreat speaker and leader, a theology graduate student at Franciscan University of Steubenville and an account manager for Lighthouse Catholic Media. If I had to sum up these roles in one short answer I would say: “I am a child of God and my life is spent trying to grow and reflect that reality more perfectly both interiorly and to others.”

 

How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be? 

​I “grew up” working in the banking and software industries and spent many years doing project management, working on sales proposals and making presentations to clients. I am so blessed that the Lord has allowed me to use the skills that I honed during those years working “in the world” ​to now work to build his Kingdom here on earth and give him glory.  Honestly, I sometimes feel like I am the person God is touching the most through articles I have written, or a Lighthouse CD’s I have sold or a retreat talks I have given. God has used my own work and words to challenge me to grow in holiness and in surrender to his will in my life and I thank him and praise him for that!

 

What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home? 

Working outside the home on retreats or through my work with Lighthouse Catholic Media has helped my family grow​

 

​both spiritually and in knowledge of the teachings of our faith. We often listen to Lighthouse Catholic CD’s in the car as a family​ and my children accompany me to parishes to restock their Lighthouse kiosks. My husband and I try to stress the  importance of evangelization to our children and my work helps them to see that being lived out. One of the greatest joys I had was when my daughter, of her own accord, designed posters to promote Lighthouse Catholic Media for one of my Lighthouse parishes.  I treasured her efforts and, more significantly, her desire to share in my work.

 

 

How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace? 

​I try to keep the guilty feelings at bay by taking frequent check-points with my husband, my spiritual director, and my children as to how I am doing in the balancing act of life.  There have definitely been seasons in my life where I have had to back-off of some activities, and other times where I have been able to add things to my plate without issue. Making myself accountable to others I trust in this area has been a huge help to me. If everyone is in agreement that an activity is fruitful and the guilty thoughts creep into my mind, I am more easily able to push them out. On the other hand, if I am having guilty thoughts and have not discussed them, I know that there is a possibility that I am doing too much. ​

What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

​Above all else, I would ask for their prayers. On a more practical side I would invite them to ask questions. I find that many people shut down when you mention that you work for the Catholic Church in some capacity and I am not sure why.  I would love for family and friends to ask a few questions – I promise not to proselytize them, sell them anything, or force them to read my writings (unless of course, they are my parents – then all bets are off).

 

Thank you, Debbie!   Readers, Debbie has issued you an invitation!  “Visit me at my blog: Saints 365 where I reflect on striving for the heights of holiness in the trenches of everyday life, or stop by the Lighthouse Catholic Media store for some of the best Catholic teachings available on CD or MP3.”

Are you a working mother?  So was (and is) the Blessed Mother!  If you enjoyed this interview and would like to celebrate working motherhood some more, please consider getting a copy of my $.99 historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother.”  

Funny thing, humility.

St. Bernard defines humility as, ” A virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself. Jesus Christ is the ultimate definition of Humility.”

St. Thomas Aquinas says humility, “consists in keeping oneself within one’s own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one’s superior.”

In modern terms, I think, humility is the practice of not making it all about me.

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So what’s so funny about that?  The harder I work at humility, the more I can see the pride of others.  The more I see that pride, the more it bothers me.  Why does it bother me?  Because they’re making everything all about them.  In other words, they’re not making anything about me.  Which, if I’m expecting anything to be about me, I’m the one making it all about me.  Which means I need to work harder at humility.

That’s pretty funny.

7QT: All Kinds of Writers Block (and Saints to Help)

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Join Jennifer and all the other cool papists over at Conversion Diary for Seven Quick Takes Friday!

As often happens to me after professional conferences, I’ve started getting ideas of what kinds of topics I would like to see covered at a future conference.  My mind is already cooking up an outline for a talk on beating back writers block using the Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic.  In the meantime, though, here are some quick takes that I have developed over the years for battling several different species of The Block.

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The Empty Kind: I believe it was Anne Lamott who pointed this one out in Bird by Bird.  You’re out of ideas.  You have nothing to write because your brain is just empty of anything worth writing about.  What to do?  Get out of your house.  Go experience something you’ve never done before.  Never been to a thrift store?  Go visit one.  Don’t know how to knit?  Take a class.  Read a book you’ve never read on a subject you don’t know.  Get a map and drive to some place you’ve never been and look for a rock or a flower or a strangely-shaped building–something solid.  Just pray to the Holy Spirit, then go shake up your brain by putting it in a place it’s never been.  That’ll force new ideas into it like spooning applesauce into a stubborn toddler’s mouth.

Then you go home, put your butt in the seat, put your fingers on the keys, and write.

A Saint Who Might Help:  Mary the Mother of God happens to be the Queen of receiving something from nothing.  If you’re writing for her Son, she’ll be more than happy to lend a hand.

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The Too Full Kind:  So you have an idea, and you’ve done hours and hours of thinking, hours and hours of research, and you have so much to write about that you don’t know where to begin. What if you leave out something important?  What if some researcher somewhere reads your book and wrinkles her nose, saying, “Wow, this writer sure left out all the vital information on this subject.”

Relax.  Narrow your focus.  Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way suggests looking at children’s books on your subject to help you simplify (she suggests a bunch of other things I don’t encourage, but this one’s a good idea).  Then, you put your butt in the seat, put your fingers on the keys, and write.

A Saint Who Might Help:  St. Ignatius of Loyola is an excellent example of how our faith can be used to make insurmountable problems manageable.  If anybody has “divide and conquer” down, it’s him.

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The Fear of Failure Kind:  What if you put all this work into this book, and, GASP!  It never gets PUBLISHED!?!?!?!  What if it does get published and you get, GASP!  BAD REVIEWS?!?!

Despair.com has this awesome poster for sale:

Looking sharp is easy when you haven't done any work.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  An old friend of mine once said, “If you don’t face your fears, you’ll fear faces.”  Indeed.  So, accept that reality.  Then, you put your butt in the seat, put your fingers on the keys, and write.

A Saint Who Might Help:   St. John Vianney was a terrible student–terrible!  Even after he did manage to get into seminary, he still couldn’t pass the test that would permit him to hear confessions.  But when God wants somebody to do something, He doesn’t let that person’s weaknesses stand in His way.  Ask the Cure of Ars for advice on how to let God turn your foibles to His purposes.

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The Fear of More Failure Kind:  You’ve gotten your 116th rejection.  You’ve gotten bad reviews.  You overheard your own sweet, elderly aunt mocking your last book to her roommate in the nursing home–and then the roommate posted a bad review of it.  On Facebook.  And Twitter.  Really, who could go on after humiliation like this?  Maybe God is sending these trials your way to let you know that this writing thing is not really His idea , and that He thinks you’re more of a pastry school kind of person.

I won’t kid you.  That may be the message God wants you to hear.  Are you listening?  Are you spending time in prayer?  Are you meditating upon the crucifix, that concrete reminder of how Jesus suffered an excruciating death for you, GASP! not so you could be published, but so you rise again with Him?  If you’re not doing those things, start now.  Spend time with the Holy Spirit and ask for courage.  Then, if you still feel that call to write, put your butt in the seat, put your fingers on the keys–stop complaining–and write.

A Saint Who Might Help:  You think all your hard work has been destroyed by the negativity of others, and you just can’t bear to go on?  St. Louis de Montfort and his model Calvary are not impressed.

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The “This is a waste of time!” Kind:  This is closely related to Fear of Failure and Fear of More Failure.  So, let’s say you’ve been inspired to write a YA historical romance in which a moon scallop is the elusive love interest.  Some (well-meaning or not) person in your critique group says, “Come on.  Nobody cares about moon scallops.  How are you going to market this thing?”

This might be good advice.  Or it might not.  How can you know unless you try?  Are you otherwise working on improving your art and craft?  Are you reading good books for a healthy brain-diet?  Are you praying, most importantly, and keeping those lines of communication open so that, if God did want you to stop writing this now, you’d know it and you’d stop?  Did you do all those things, and you still have the itch to write, even about your handsome, manly moon scallop?  Let me tell you a quick story.

I heard a speaker at a writing conference, years ago, so I can’t remember who it was to give her credit.  Anyway, this speaker had a friend who wrote book after book and got rejection after rejection.  This friend was a mom with several children.  Then this friend got ovarian cancer and died.  Her children lost their mom… but in a way, they still had her.  They had her books.  Nobody else cared enough to publish her books… but her children cared enough to still have that piece of her, that slice of her human imagination, left in their lives to comfort them.

If you’re writing for God’s glory and not your own, then you’re not wasting your time.  So put your butt in the seat, put your fingers on the keys, and write.

A Saint Who Might Help:  Did you really think I’d get this far without a Dominican saint?  I chose St. Thomas Aquinas as my patron because he’s a big, clumsy writer who liked to eat… but then was able to look at all his work as so much straw, and then walk away from it when it was time.  Your writing is not your God.  God is your God.  Once you put that in perspective, if God really wants you to write, He’ll let you.  He did for St. Thomas, after all, and even the Protestants love them some Summa Theologica.  

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The Too Tired Kind:  Pretty soon, my friend Fr. James Tucker from Comments from the Koala and I are going to do a little blog series on how much writing moms and writing priests have in common.  This first thing we share is the main feature of The Too Tired Kind of writers block.  Our time is not our own.  Whether it’s a sick call with Oil of the Infirm to the hospital or a sick call to the top bunk with a bucket of Lysol (and then to the bottom bunk, because it’s always the kid on the top bunk who pukes first)… we are on call 24/7.  If we have a spare moment, we are often too tired to use it.

What to do?  Your primary vocation may not include the luxury of hours and hours in which you can be an artiste.  Use what snippets of time you have.  In other words, just put your butt in the seat, put your fingers on the keys, and write.

A Saint Who Might Help:  St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was of poor health and did not do well on boats, to put it mildly.  She still worked tirelessly and sailed all over the Western Hemisphere.  She did what she could with what she got.  Go and do likewise.  Bonus saint for when you just have nothing left to give:  Bl. Pope John XXIII was known to have said, “God, it’s Your Church, not mine.  I’m tired.  I’m going to bed!”

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The Malnutrition Kind:  Did you read up there when I mentioned the member of your critique group who may or may not have been speaking out of a pure heart hoping for your mutual improvement?  Maybe you are doing all the right things:  working on the art, the craft, the business; being kind; keeping up your prayer life; fasting; practicing humility.  Maybe you’re giving and giving and just not getting fed back.  It happens.  Nobody is immune, and it’s heartbreaking.  Then your creative gift may still be inside you, but it’s starving for love, like a monkey who has just had it with its wire mother.  You may need spiritual milk with skin on, with an actual, audible voice.  Jesus isn’t stupid,  He came to us as a human because He knows we need each other.  May I suggest a vessel for nourishing your creative spirit?

Retreat

Your Word is My Delight:  A Catholic Writers’ Retreat may be just what you need.  Set the date:  October 13-17, 2013 at the gorgeous St. Francis Retreat Center in Lansing, MI.  Click the link above for more information.  This retreat may be just what you need.  Go.  Be revived.  Be strengthened.  Pick up your hammer and bash through your block.  Then put your butt in the seat, put your fingers on the keys, and write.

A Saint Who Might Help:  Bl. Margaret of Castello knows what it’s like to be rejected by those very persons who are supposed to love and nurture you.  Look to her example of simple love and faithfulness.

Did I miss anything?  What kids of blocks have you experienced in your creative life, writing or otherwise?  How have you broken through?  Or, have you not yet broken through and you’re looking for advice?