Thursday, January 30, 2014

Check out Boomer Esiason Story

Link to the story:

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Link:

Friday, January 24, 2014

Two Reminders

Be sure to check out Denise's new website.

If you are on Facebook, you will want to stop by Denise's Facebook Page for the latest updates on her writing and speaking engagements.


January 2014 Catholic by Grace Column

This article ran in diocesan newspapers in the U.S. and in the Catholic Press Association paper The Catholic Journalist.
One morning last spring, I caught my older daughter flipping through a diocesan newspaper while eating breakfast. I had to smile. On that particularly morning, she wasn’t officially Catholic. She entered the Church later that day at the 2:30 Mass at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis, Missouri. It was Pentecost Sunday and soon, my second child would be entering the faith I had chosen less than a decade earlier.
“Did you read the diocesan newspapers when you lived here? Or is this a new thing for you?” I asked her.
She looked up from the paper and smiled. “When there was no catalog or magazine on the table, I would read it. It was something to do.” She laughed and closed the paper.
Those were rough years. She had moved into our house with her little boys and was trying to juggle them and full-time employment. She was also trying hard to avoid God.
But on this particular Sunday, the fight against God ended. On that day, she was received into Mother Church.
My husband also used to scan diocesan newspapers and magazines before he converted. He's the kind of guy that goes through withdrawal when he doesn't have a book to read. In the years after my conversion (before his own conversion), he would read the Catholic papers that were on the table – the random complimentary copies I received as a columnist. This is the same man who promised he would never become Catholic. He was born Southern Baptist, and he would die Southern Baptist.
He’s been Catholic since 2008.
I don't know if there is a cause and effect relationship between conversions and subscriptions to diocesan periodicals, but at the very least, there is some correlation. I believe families that have subscriptions to diocesan papers are the very families most likely to experience conversion and ongoing conversion – even among families in which some members actively resist God. There are times that the diocesan newspaper on the kitchen table is the only remaining voice for Mother Church in the lives of those who stubbornly resist grace.
I am blessed to write for diocesan papers and magazines, but I am even more blessed to have those periodicals in my home and on my kitchen table. There was a time when my husband told me to stop talking about my new-found faith – but he would still read the diocesan newspaper. My daughter tuned me out for years. But last spring, she entered the Church.
Diocesan papers are tools of evangelization. Sometimes, they are the only evangelization tool left in a household.
If you are reading this, you understand how important this magazine or newspaper is. You know that it assists you in your journey – and you know that it assists those who live under your roof and sit at your kitchen table.
In a world that is filled with many voices and so many words, it is a blessing to have faithful media coming into our homes, sharing words that matter – words that bring life.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Leaving Bethlehem

I'm not ready.

I'd rather stay here, in this house.

The company left yesterday. It's time to begin taking down Christmas and getting on with Ordinary Time. But I am dragging my feet. I enjoyed it, and now I'm clinging to it. I'd like to keep it a few more days - maybe forever. Not the flu I caught over Christmas despite the flu shot in October. But the rest.

The baking, the hostessing, the linen changing for guests, the grandchildren -- yes, those little faces!

I enjoyed my daughter's break from school - and those four extra snow days which kept her home until today.

But the season is ending. And there are things I have abandoned. Things I'm avoiding.

I'd like to stay inside. To keep the resting & lounging going. Hide here a bit longer, like the agorophobe I could so easily become. The reclusive writer - without the dedicated writing routine.

I want to freelance life. Keep what's easy.

Even grocery runs seem too much. And dog grooming. And that dental appointment I should schedule.

Lord, help me to leave the comfort of this house, to travel to Egypt with the Holy Family - though I'd like to stay in Bethlehem & wait to see who else might drop in.

Let the world come to me.

But that isn't how it works.

Ordinary days are going out days. Routines that fill up. Errands to be run. More people. More places. More work.

So give me that dreamy mandate to go, like you once did to St. Joseph.

Because what seems safe - it's not good for me. Egypt awaits.

Bethlehem on another day.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Lord of the Nations

Last night, before the snow began falling, my husband and I went to a Twelfth Night Christmas party. The night was something from a dream. We revisited a home we had not seen in seventeen years and talked with professors we knew in graduate school. And I had the thought before the party began, before we even left our home – what if we stepped across the threshold and suddenly were transformed into the people who met and married seventeen years ago – like some kind of plot in a Nathaniel Hawthorne short story. What would happen if people who knew each other a lifetime ago suddenly changed and re-entered the prime of life?

Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment all over again.

John and I don’t socialize very much. We’ve had company for two weeks, but they were all family members. Our idea of socializing is going out to eat with our parish priest (which we enjoy immensely). So last night was the kind of night that will stick with me; it’ll come up again in a dream. My subconscious mind will gnaw on this experience months from now.

My husband and I stepped into old patterns. We were the same two people last night that we were seventeen years ago – like the time travel-thing really did happen. John carried the conversations. I listened. Nodded. Smiled. Pondered it all. Because that’s what writers do.

I take the people with me, and they don’t even know it. Each room has a unique feel to it. The crowded dining room. The lovely sitting room. The large kitchen with its team of caterers in their crisp, white uniforms, offering roasted lamb and crab cakes. The sweeping staircase. And my favorite – the three-story library with its own spiral stair.

The people are as unique as the rooms. People from the Order of Malta and the Eugene Field House. Editors. Professors. Book designers. Architects. A priest.

The quieter ones, like me, gravitate to the library. This is where literature keeps its own time capsule. One can sit and read and discover that time travel is possible.

And we did step back in time.

My husband and I stood in the middle level of that three-story library, where just a few others had migrated, and John pulled a book from the shelf and read the poem he quoted to me more than seventeen years ago.

And we remembered our story. We remembered each other and this vocation that has been so full of grace and love.

It was Twelfth Night.

We had just been to Mass and celebrated the Epiphany – where Mary and Joseph’s quiet little life with Jesus was interrupted. The whole world came to them in the form of Magi. Joseph probably did most of the talking – like my husband. Mary probably quietly took it all in – like me. Perhaps this is where they realized that their life would not be their own. It was meant for others. It was meant for everyone. Perhaps their vocation was felt most acutely in that moment.

Christ is not meant to be kept a secret. He is Lord of the nations. We must let Him be who He is. We cannot remain closed off. We must not keep Him to ourselves.

It was like someone had taken the book off the shelf and laid it open before them - for us. The old scroll contained it all. And they found themselves stepping into those words – finding themselves there.

“Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; All from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.” Isaiah 60:6

Epiphany 2014

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Adventure Has Begun

It’s the excitement I used to feel when I was a child and it was time for the Children’s Film Festival on Saturday morning. The cartoons were over, and that was okay because Kukla, Fran and Ollie were about to present a movie. That’s where I met Heidi. It’s where I visited the Swiss Alps and had a curmudgeony grandpa who raised goats and befriended a girl in a wheelchair.

It’s the convergence of adventure and fear – like when the babysitter would let me stay up for Creature Feature, and I would battle Godzilla or the changeling woman who could morph into a serpent.

It’s the feeling of staying overnight for the first time at a friend’s house.

It’s the first day of middle school.

It’s the wedding night.

Or the moment the nurse puts a plastic hospital bracelet on my arm and hands me the gown which I wrap around my unborn baby and me.

The adventure has begun.

And that is how it feels every year when we pass through the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God and enter a new year.

This is where anything is possible. It’s so far beyond silly resolutions and high ideals. This is the divine adventure, where God lays the road ahead of us, and we know that we are living out Isaiah 61:2-3. We watch as Luke 4:19 unfolds. We will battle our own godzillas and serpents. We will encounter curmudgeony people who just might become family – by the power of true conversion and the mystery of the family of God. We will visit new places, give birth to new possibilities, wed ourselves to God’s amazing divine plan.

The adventure has begun.

To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God; To comfort all who mourn;to place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness instead of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a faint spirit. (Isaiah)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,  and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Luke)

So go ahead and get excited. Don’t settle for worn out resolutions. Aim high, because with God, all things are possible.