My Book – Continuing the Journey is Available for Purchase!


Continuing the Journey is officially available for purchase on Amazon!

Book PileSpecial Pricing is available for bulk orders of 10+ or 25+ on my book page.

Though I initially wrote Continuing the Journey to be a resource for folks who have attended a retreat and were looking to continue that retreat experience, ultimately it became a resource for all adults who are looking to learn, reflect upon, and grow in their faith. Regardless of where they may find themselves on their faith journey.

For those that haven’t gotten a copy yet, it has 28 chapters on a variety of topics:

  • each is short and includes reflection questions.
  • It is easy to understand, and it will really make you think.
  • It is educational and catechetical, referencing both Scripture and Tradition.
  • It is evangelizing because it gets you excited about living out your faith
  • It is great for independent study and journaling or a book club/faith sharing group discussion.

Find out more information and order
your copy on the book page!

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Rose in the garden

“The Rose”


For the longest time, our family dinner conversation was…painfully boring, and not for a lack of trying.  We ate dinner together as a family regularly, but we have young kids who were neither contributing to the conversation nor responding to unending questions: “How was your day?”  “What did you work on?”  “Who did you sit with at lunch?”  “What did you do in P.E.?”  To be honest, my husband wasn’t a lot better: “Fine… Had a never-ending meeting for [acronym-laced-NASA-project].”

We wanted our family dinner time to be an experience of community.  Sometimes fun and joyful.  Sometimes serious.  Often something in-between.  Really, we just wanted more quality in our time together.  And it just wasn’t happening.

  • Can you relate?  When it comes to cultivating quality conversations with your loved ones, what are your successes?  What are your struggles?

When I shared my frustration about what felt like a missed-opportunity with my dear friend Heidi, she shared an approach to dinner-time conversation called “The Rose.”  It is prayerful, it is diverse, it is easy to do, and it enriches the whole experience of dinner-time conversation.  Did I mention it’s prayerful?

Heidi learned from Sara, who learned it from a family retreat…  It is so simple and so powerful that I wrote about it in Chapter 10 “Prayer as Conversation,” in my new book Continuing the Journey.  And it is in this rich tradition of passing on fantastic ideas that I share it with you.

Painting of Rose, bud, thorn, and roots

“The Rose” is a loose adaptation of St. Ignatius Loyola’s Examen.

At the dinner table, one person leads by being the first to share their “rose,” and then invites everyone else to follow suit.  The reflection continues with each person’s “bud,” “thorn,” and “root.”

  • Rose – the parts of your day that you are thankful for
  • Bud – something you are looking forward to in the coming days or weeks
  • Thorn – a difficult part of your day (that you might ask God’s help with)
  • Root – someone or something you are hoping and praying for

We conclude our dinner-time conversation by saying, “Thank you for our rose, bless our bud, hear our root, and help us with our thorn.”  (Continuing the Journey page 43)

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Old Bible
Article, Questions, Scripture

Have You Ever Wondered: Why the Different Bibles?


Did you know that Catholics use a slightly different Bible than other Christian denominations? Have you ever wondered why?

My 8 year old son (mini-Bill Nye the Science Guy) made his First Holy Communion in May, and has been obsessed with what the differences are, and why there are differences.

When your kid suddenly becomes obsessed with a facet of faith, you do your best to respond in kind.  The explanation–which is wrapped up in Church history–is actually quite interesting.

Alex and Fr. Wencil at 1st Communion

Why the Differences?

A brief recap Jewish history to get some context:  

  • Around 1280 BC, Moses led the Chosen people to the Promised Land
  • King David reigned around 1000 BC
  • In 721 BC the Northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians
  • In 586 BC the Southern Kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians  

As each kingdom fell, the Jews were exiled and scattered–or dispersed (“diaspora”)–around the region.  In the Diaspora following the fall of the Southern Kingdom, many Jews settled in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, which was immersed in Greek language and culture.  After about fifty years, the Persian Ruler, Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem, but a whole generation had been born and raised while living in foreign lands, many of whom chose to stay.  As time passed and more Diaspora Jews spoke Greek, there was a desire to have a copy of the Jewish Sacred Scriptures translated into the Greek language.

Legend has it that 72 scholars set out to translate the Scriptures from Hebrew to Greek.  The Greek word for seventy is “septuaginta,” which is why this translation is known as the Septuagint [sep-tue-ah-jint].  It was completed around 100 BC and was widely used by Jews outside of Jerusalem.

So then the New Testament came to be:

  • The life, ministry, parables, teachings, miracles, crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus happened around 30-33AD.
  • The Letters of Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude were written to various Christian communities in the years that followed the Resurrection.
  • These Letters were so profoundly powerful that they got passed around from community to community while the stories of Jesus were told and retold orally.
  • Eventually the Gospels were written down and passed around as well.
  • Since most people spoke and wrote in Greek, the Gospels and Letters were also composed in Greek.

Although the New Testament itself was written in Greek, since Jesus and the Apostles lived and traveled in and around Jerusalem and Judea, they probably did not use the Septuagint when they read from scrolls.  They probably used scrolls written in Hebrew and Aramaic.  Which brings us to the next part of the story…

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Priest giving homily
Article, Evangelization, Faith, Liturgy

A Bad Homily is a Missed Opportunity


We have all sat through bad homilies.  Too many of them.  Too often.

In “Connecting Sermons to Life,” Margery Eagan is spot-on in her criticism of the disconnect between what’s happening in the world and most priests’ homilies at mass.  Between ISIS, Ebola, air strikes in Iraq, climate change, Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Ferguson, and the NFL’s mess with domestic violence, there’s a lot going on in the world.  The Church needs to help Christians process all of this from a faith perspective.

It matters when a priest acknowledges the overload of worldwide suffering, then reminds us that light always emerges from the darkness.

I could not agree more with this part of Eagan’s criticism.

However, Eagan stepped over a liturgical line by concluding that bad homilies mean that Mass is abig bust.”

Uninspiring Sunday sermons, described as “boring,” “irrelevant,” and “poorly prepared” [are a big reason why many Catholics no longer go to Church]. In other words, the Mass — the main contact many Catholics have with their faith — was a big bust.

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Do not forget reminder
Action, Article, Faith, Love, Scripture, Service

Help Me Remember


The last week of August is the first week of school in our area.  The Friday before school started, the boys and I returned from four weeks of traveling and visiting family (New York, New England, China, and Malaysia… including the rides to and from the airports, the trip home took 42 hours).  We spent the first week of school recovering from jet lag and readjusting to home, schedules, and packing lunches.   Things were chaotic and everyone was exhausted, but we were slowly-but-surely finding our way back to normal.

Mid-morning Thursday on that first week of school, my sister called with an urgent request.  Laurie is the Executive Coordinator for both SafePlace (an organization focused on ending sexual and domestic violence through safety, healing, prevention and social change) and Austin Children’s Services (ACS offers protection and healing to children who have experienced abuse and neglect).

ACS has received eight children this week, and our clothing closet is empty.  Three brothers came in late last night with nothing but the clothes on their backs…and they are going to be here for a while.  Do you have any clothes that you could donate for these three boys?  We need size 3T/4T and size 5/6, as well as size 9 shoes.
Sorting through clothes to make a donation was not on my to-do list.  It wasn’t even on my radar.  But I didn’t even hesitate; of course we can help!  We live in Houston and were planning to visit Austin for the weekend.  I had a little over 24 hours.  As I went through the closets and bins of clothes, I found a lot of 5/6 clothes but I had already passed the 3T/4T on to my nephews.

So I reached out to five local friends who also had boys.  Not one hesitated.  Every single one of them found something to donate – with apologies: “sorry it couldn’t be more…”  The generosity was overwhelming.  We barely had room in the trunk for our luggage.


  • Recall a time when you were asked to help someone in need.  What happened?

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