Ink Slingers Nicole B

Devoted, Devastated, Divine


In retrospect, there were most likely clues in the mundane. I am certain there were small iniquities that I was overlooking due to the fact that I was devoted to making a life with my best friend, raising two beautiful children, teaching full time, and trying to live a Catholic vision of marriage and family life. It wasn’t picture perfect, I am a realist in that respect, and now looking back, I see the fog in the distance. I see the abyss moving slowly, inching itself around my life like I am the tip of a mountain.


It was a gray day – ominous and wet. Had we lived in San Francisco, Grand Banks, or London there surely would have been fog. We were in Columbus, Ohio. My husband should have been at work as the Director of Admissions at a small Catholic University. I had just finished a day of teaching fifth and sixth graders at a Diocesan elementary school. He was supposed to pick me up from school around 3:30 because of car troubles.

At 3:09 I received a text:

With that text the fog quickly enveloped me. Choking me. I had never experienced such a blanket of anxiety, pressure, and feeling of absolute sickness in my life. I knew something was wrong. I was shaking as I held the phone in my hands. The sixth grade essays that I had been grading slid to the floor. There was a small statue of the Blessed Mother on my desk. I turned to it and began to pray quiet and quick Hail Marys . The familiar prayer able to calm my soul.

I can’t recall all that occurred next. I went to my principal, the police were called, I made arrangements for my children, I was driven home, and my family eventually arrived from out of state. The fog thickened, tightening its hold.

Throughout the night I recall prayers, confusion, and embracing my one-year-old. We sat in his room. The dim light of the hall illuminating as I again prayed to the Blessed Mother. I felt nothing but the fog. My husband was missing.

Around noon the next day I received a call. He had been found! Everyone around me was citing a miracle. He had been carjacked, abducted, taken out-of-state, but he survived. He was coming home!

I wanted to believe it. I wanted to feel such joy in my heart. My best friend had been found. My devoted husband and the boys’ fantastic father was alive, but I knew that something wasn’t right. I could feel it. The copious fog did not lift with the miraculous call. The weight instead intensified.

In the coming days there were interviews with the police and continued chaos.The fog lingered stifling me with a yearning for the truth. It was a truth, I would later find out, that I couldn’t even begin to fathom, imagine, or dream in my worst nightmares. I wanted to scream and shout. I wanted to sound the horn and warn everyone about the shroud of dangerous fog.

For 34 days I lived in a world that was strangled by the haze. My most vivid memories of those days are of my beautiful children and intense moments of praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I clung to the simple repetitions of that prayer and to the simple repetitions of my children’s lives. Together these repetitions were beacons in my fog-filled life.

During one conversation with my husband, he and I discussed the need for normalcy after such a horrific experience. I vowed to support him in anyway possible despite the warnings of the suffocating cloud.

Amidst this continued chaos came Holy Week. I attended Holy Thursday alone – just me and the fog. As I sat in the church, one pew behind a beautiful family of one of my dear friends, I wept. I knew something wasn’t right. I couldn’t rejoice that my husband was home. I couldn’t. The betrayal that Jesus foresees at the Last Supper lingered in my mind. Never had I experienced such suffocating pain. Such confusion in my life. Such devastation.


By the end of April, I couldn’t navigate the treacherous haze on my own. We needed help, and he insisted it was best for me to take the children and go to my parents. He would stay there for work – 445 miles away. He would finish the recruitment cycle for the university and then join us in Illinois. It would be a new start after this horrific carjacking experience. Through the repetitions of the Divine Mercy, I was told to go. It seemed reckless and crazy to others, but I knew it was absolutely the right thing to do.

I now know that my husband created the fog. He needed the fog. He was empowered by the fog. In it he could hide, relinquish his responsibility, and continue to fabricate a normal life. As things began to clear and I began unearthing excessive deceit, addiction, and betrayal, I clung to the Faith. Today, two years after my beautiful world came crashing down, I continue to seek a new sense of the Catholic vision of family life. I continue to seek the Divine.



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My New Purple Rosary

rosary3I recently purchased a purple rosary from a fellow CF Mom, purple being the “awareness color” for cystic fibrosis. Its centerpiece is a rose on one side with a tiny image of Mary and Bernadette at Lourdes on the other. Roses are a special symbol for CF (“cystic fibrosis” sounds like “sixty-five roses”). Not much about CF makes me cry anymore; I’ve steeled myself because I’ve had to grit my teeth and hand over my children too many times. I don’t get too excited over stories of healing or sainthood or miracles. But when I opened my package from Maine and the shiny purple beads fell into my lap, I fought tears and swallowed hope.

I read about the rosary; I love the idea of the rosary; I agree with the wonderfulness of the rosary; I just don’t actually do it. But I want to.

I want to sit with Mary and have her point to pictures in the photo album, “Here’s when I visited Elizabeth and her John leaped; here’s when He was born and the shepherds came; here He is telling stories of God’s kingdom…” I want to hold her hand as she remembers with me His crucifixion. I want to smile with her as she is reunited with her Son in heaven.

I understand that my body reflects my soul and that as my body absorbs the rhythmic motion within a set structure of sweet words, my soul can imagine, contemplate, and learn the great stories of our Lord. I understand that using such a sacramental is not a good luck charm but can help me focus my attention and inspire me to greater devotion. My soul can be brought closer to Jesus and in turn, my body can do better things.

The ex-protestant in me sees that it is not the repetition that is condemned by Jesus but the vanity (Matthew 6:7), that He Himself repeated prayers (Matthew 26:36-46), told His followers to pray in a certain way (Matthew 6:9-13), told a parable about persistence in prayer (Luke 18:1-8), and that the angels in heaven repeat prayers (Revelation 4:8). I see that the first half of the Hail Mary is Gabriel’s and Elizabeth’s words and that the second half reflects theology handed to us in the first few centuries of Christianity (“Mother of God” was defined and approved at the council of Ephesus in AD 431 in response to the roiling Nestorian heresy that Jesus was not fully God and fully human.).

And so I shall begin. I ask you, my Sistas that pray rosaries, to think of me when you pray your own- just one thought for this little child as I try something new in my walk with Christ, sitting with His mother, remembering Him and praying for my children with my new purple-rosed rosary.

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EGG-straordinary Lenten Rosary Project for your Family

I’ve been reflecting on Lent for the past week and how I am going to observe this time of penance, alms giving, and prayer. My thoughts then brought to mind the little souls with whom we are entrusted as parents, grandparents, and God-parents.

Since my babies are all so young (2 – 6) I thought it would be best to help them in the ‘doing’ and ‘praying’ categories. The resulting project reinforces/teaches all of the prayers of the Rosary (most know the Sign of the Cross, Our Father and Hail Mary). This can be a transitional addition to their customary nighttime prayers – reciting a decade of the Rosary, while concentrating on a particular mystery each night.

This simple, inexpensive and effective craft combines reciting a nightly decade of the Rosary with some good actions and creativity thrown in for good measure:

Lenten Rosary Project Materials List:

  • Plastic Easter Eggs (1 larger egg for the Our Father and 10 smaller eggs for the Hail Mary)
  • Colorful curling ribbon or pipe cleaners
  • Paper and markers/crayons
  • Tongue depressors or Popsicle sticks
  • Glitter glue, puff paint, stickers or other embellishments
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Lenten Rosary Project construction:

    • Thread pre-cut sections of pipe cleaner or small strips of ribbon through the holes on both ends of the small plastic Easter eggs, until you have a chain of 10.
    • Tie a knot in the ribbon or bend a ‘knot’ into the pipe cleaner and hot glue inside each egg to secure.
    • Add one larger Easter egg to your chain for the Our Father to complete the decade.
    • For the cross, shorten one of the tongue depressors and then form into a cross shape. Secure with hot glue and embellish with a sticker, if desired.

Lenten Rosary Project instructions:

Say one decade of the Rosary each evening using your Easter Egg Rosary and add your offerings (good deeds, petitions, or coins) for that day. This is a good time to discuss behavior, sharing and giving.

  • Chose a petition, good dead, or prayer for each member of the family and write/draw on a piece of paper.
  • You could also have your little ones earn pennies to share with the poor.
  • Place these papers or coins inside a plastic Easter egg.
  • On the weekend you may choose to draw or color pictures depicting the mysteries you have prayed during the week and make a booklet to go along with your newly completed Rosary.
At the end of a 5 day week you will have said all five of the respective mysteries and by the end of 4 full weeks you will have said all 4 sets of mysteries…and the COMPLETE Rosary. You should now have corresponding booklets with pictures of the all  20 mysteries.

You may now move on to coloring pages of the Stations of the Cross as your activity. Continue to use the Rosary you have made for praying a decade every evening as a family, as is now your practice. Last year, 3-year old Simon and 1-year old Rachel  learned all of their rosary prayers this way. The family developed a nightly rosary ‘habit’.

On the evening before Easter Sunday, parents may wish to fill each egg with a treat or surprise and then hide the eggs for the traditional Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday. Or you could keep them intact and still fill with treats. Your kids will have had a chance to count down the 40 days and reap a reward for their patience and efforts, seeing a tangible result! Hopefully you will also have enhanced your family prayer habits. God bless you…and may we all have a fruitful Lent.

Let us all pray for one another!

Here are some links to coloring pages for use with your Easter Egg Rosary Project:

Stations of the Cross coloring pages for all of the stations.

Stations of the Cross carousel – a great way to display the colored pages.

Lamb of God Lenten Calendar uses cotton balls on a cute lamb print-out.

Walk the Lenten Path  to countdown the days, put a sticker on each square every day.

Almsgiving Activity for Children During Lent fill this cross-shaped craft with coins.

Catholic Rosary coloring pages to print. Includes Luminous Mysteries and much more!

Sign of the Cross diagram and coloring page.
Our Father – prayer coloring sheet.
Hail Mary – prayer coloring page.
Designs by Birgit – find more of my musings, crafts, and recipes here.
*Note: you could also do the above project using a paper chain much like those that are made during Advent to adorn your Christmas tree. Each ‘link’ in the chain could be a Hail Mary and a larger ‘link’ could be added for the Our Father. You could write on the slips of paper before creating the links.


Ink Slingers Natalie

Hail Mary Full of Grace!


“There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.”

Sister Lucia dos Santos

 How many of us recite the rosary mindlessly? Without thinking about why we do or the importance behind the prayers?  How many of us actually pray the rosary daily? How many pray the rosary at all?

I will be the first to admit I rarely pray the rosary. It’s embarrassing to admit this. I am a practicing Catholic, after all. I should be the first to embrace this devotion. When I was a child, my family tried to pray the rosary daily.  Unfortunately, I didn’t understand the importance of the rosary then and most days I would daydream, wondering what I’d do after the rosary.  I was in a hurry to get it over with and would carelessly recite the prayers. To me, the rosary was a LONG 15 minutes. I know many people who still see the rosary the same way. How blessed I was to grow up in a family that made an effort to pray the rosary daily. How sad I didn’t pray it faithfully all those years.

I grew up, got married and started having kids. And suddenly found myself falling even farther behind in my prayer life. You know the excuses: the dishes need to be done, the laundry is piling up, or there is a screaming child who needs my attention.  I fall asleep many nights before I can even think about praying!

Where did we get this wonderful devotion? St. Dominic is usually credited as officially introducing the rosary to the faithful, but there is evidence that suggest the rosary has been with us for nearly 1,500 years. Crude rosary beads were found from the Middle Ages called Paternosters, which means “Our Father” in Latin.

The rosary evolved significantly between the 12th and 15th Centuries and eventually became known as the Rosarium, Latin for “Rose Garden.” By then, the rosary resembled mostly what we know it to be today: an Apostles Creed, followed by five decades consisting of an Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, and a Glory Be, ending with the Salve Regina. In 2002, Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries to the existing Joyful Mysteries, Sorrowful MysteriesGlorious Mysteries, to fill the large gap between the childhood of Christ and His Passion and death.

Mother Mary has revealed to several saints that each Hail Mary prayed is the equivalent of giving her a rose, with a rosary’s worth of the prayers offering her an entire crown of roses! What a beautiful image to think of while joyfully reciting this incredible, yet simple prayer.

Mother Mary passed along these 15 promises to St. Dominic and St. Alan with the words,  “Whatever you ask in the Rosary will be granted”:

  1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.
  2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
  3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
  4. The Rosary will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
  5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.
  6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
  7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
  8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
  9. I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
  10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
  11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.
  12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
  13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
  14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters of my only Son, Jesus Christ.
  15. Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

In addition to all the rosary can bring to our lives, it also can be a powerful tool for the conversion of others. My parents saw this happen to a Protestant couple, Seth and Tyra, who were friends of theirs during the 1990s. One day, some of the engineers who worked with Seth and my father asked Seth why there are so many Protestant denominations. His answer was, “It’s kind of like steak. Some like it well done. Others rare. Some prefer a potato on the side. Some don’t. But in the end, the basic substance is the same. It’s all steak.” The other engineers were satisfied with his answer–except my Dad. “That’s a nice story, Seth,” he said. “But I’ll eat my steak the way Christ serves it to me.”

This simple statement got Seth and Tyra thinking about their faith and they began to dig deeper. At first, they were hoping to save my family from the error of being Catholic, but after much research, study, and prayer, they both found themselves becoming Catholic, too! My family spent that time praying the rosary for their conversion of heart. They eventually converted and now support their beautiful family by running one of the largest rosary shops online. Their full conversion story and shop can be found here.

And finally, consider the special rewards offered to those whose own rosary practice draws others to the devotion through their example. Alphonsus, King of Leon and Galicia, wanted his servants to honor the Blessed Virgin by praying the rosary. So he used to hang a large rosary on his belt and always wore it, but unfortunately never prayed it himself. His wearing it nevertheless encouraged his courtiers to practice the devotion regularly.

One day, the King fell seriously ill. When he was given up for dead, he had a vision in which he found himself before the judgment seat of Our Lord. Many devils were there, accusing him of sins he had committed and Our Lord as Sovereign Judge was just about to condemn him to hell.

Just then, Our Lady appeared to intercede for him. She called for a pair of scales and had his sins placed in one of the balances. Then she put the rosary Alphonsus had always worn on the other scale, together with all the rosaries that had been prayed because of his example. The scales showed that the rosaries weighed more than his sins.

Looking at him with great kindness, Our Lady said, “As a reward for this little honor that you paid me in wearing my rosary, I have obtained a great grace for you from my Son. Your life will be spared for a few more years. See that you spend these years wisely, and do penance.”

When the King regained consciousness, he cried out: “Blessed be the rosary of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, by which I have been delivered from eternal damnation!” He recovered and spent the rest of his life spreading this devotion and prayed the rosary faithfully every day.

God has truly given us an abundance of ways to obtain grace  and I for one could certainly use all the help I can get to get to heaven. Certainly, the 15 promises of Our Lady for praying the rosary will aid us in our eternal goal. Join me in making your goal for this year to enrich your life with more prayer, especially the daily rosary. Come, pray the rosary with me!



“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.”
–Blessed Pope Pius IX

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Commanded to Love Mary

As Catholics, we wholly love our triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Every day  we attend mass we literally sit at the feet of our Lord Jesus, mystically united in time to the moment He gave His life for us on the cross.  Before the altar of the most Blessed Sacrament we are privileged to worship Him, thank Him, love Him, and depend on Him.  We are beside everyone that has ever attended the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, beside all of the angels, beside all of the saints, and beside everyone who was at the foot of His cross at Golgotha…  we are beside His Mother, Mary.

Jesus’s life was bookended with Mother Mary, she was present at His birth, and at His death.  Before God sent us our Savior, He first created the vessel by which that Savior would come.  Instead of celebrating Christmas each year, we could be celebrating the Descension of Jesus, or some other event by which God sent our Savior.  God’s plans are always perfect and always have more meaning than we can ever humanly fathom.  In all of His infinite wisdom and in His love for us, God included a mere human in His plan for our salvation.  Our Father gave Himself a human mother.

In the book of John it is recorded that during the Last Supper Jesus reminded his disciples, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” In fact, He mentioned keeping the commandments many times.  The first three commandments all deal with how we are to have a relationship with our Lord.  Then, surprisingly, the fourth commandment, listed before don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t bear false witness… is to honor your father and mother.  This particular commandment is oddly out of place between the first three dictating proper worship of our Lord God and the latter six thou shall nots.  It must be important.

Jesus entrusts his mother to his disciple John.

We are commanded to honor our father and mother.  We are also called to follow Jesus as our example of Christian living.  Jesus lived a life perfectly without sin, He upheld every one of the ten commandments, daily.  He perfectly honored both His Father, our Lord God, and His Mother, Mary.  Isn’t it interesting that God created a commandment to honor our father and mother, then when He came down to Earth He provided Himself a mother which allowed Him to perfectly fulfill the fourth commandment?  In His plan for our salvation, God submitted Himself to honoring a human.  Jesus showed us how to perfectly follow the first commandment and all the while have the most perfect honor for His mother with the fourth commandment. At the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus performed His first miracle at the behest of Mother Mary (John 2), and while hanging on the cross He made sure not to expire before arranging proper care for her (John 19).  He did not shy away from loving His mother out of fear of offending His Father.  He did not ignore His mother or feel indifferent toward her.  Jesus was still submitting Himself to honoring His mother while dying to provide us eternal life, that is how important she is to Him.  He wholly and perfectly loves His mother out of His love for His Father.

So, how is your relationship with Mary?  Do you forget she’s even there?  Imagine a family in which, day after day, the children lovingly flock to the father while it is as if their adoring mother is not even in the room.  Imagine the pain God must feel when day after day we ignore or even actively reject the Mother He gave Himself, the Mother that He loves with a child-like love, the Mother that He commands us to love.  Your relationship with Mother Mary should be a proportionate indicator of your love for Our Father.

Don’t know how to begin a relationship with Our Lady?  Pray for God to assist you in beginning a relationship with His Mother.  Remember to talk with Mary at mass, as she is there beside you, at the foot of Her Son’s holy cross.  Ask for her prayers.  Ask her to pray for you to have a devotion to the Father like the devotion she is privileged to have.  Ask both Our Lady and Our Father for forgiveness for not including her in your life the way we are commanded to.

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Please share about your relationship with Our Lord’s most blessed Mother!