Finding the Right Host

I spent this past weekend on a girls’ trip with my besties. We try to get together twice a year, and even a worldwide virus couldn’t stop us from seeing each other last year or the year before.

We played a few games on Friday night that Susan put together to see how much we’d gotten to know each other over the past six years that we’ve been as close as sisters. We learned so much about one another that we never knew! In fact, it was a whole weekend of learning with trips to the Air Force Museum, the zoo, a butterfly garden, a glass-blowing demonstration, and more. Of all that we learned, the thing that keeps coming to mind is that I learned what it means to be a good host.

Let me explain…

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Healing for Mind, Body, and Soul

I recently came across an article in Scientific American that really intrigued me. As we (fingers crossed and prayers said) go into the diminishing phase of Covid with its strange ailments, long-term effects–and trust me, I know about these–its indiscriminate taking of life, closing of churches, separating of loved ones, and alienation of those who most need socialization, I have become keenly aware of the rise in mental health issues and disorders, including in my own inner circle. It seems that the world has fallen into a deep pit of despair, and our lives have become meaningless and out of focus. We have lost the spiritual connection that is necessary to thrive.

Enter, David Rosmarin, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the McLean Hospital Spirituality & Mental Health Program. In his study of psychiatric patients throughout the pandemic, he found that prayer increased significantly in March of 2020 and continued to rise throughout the year despite the closing of houses of worship. He found this to be an extremely important find since “Spirituality has historically been dismissed by psychiatrists.” He noted that, in 2020, American mental health sank to the lowest point in recorded history with diagnoses of mental disorders increasing by 50%. The use of alcohol and drugs rose as did contemplation of suicide. YET the mental health of those patients who attended religious services, in-person or online, actually improved significantly!

Rosmarin goes on to say that studies show that nearly 60% of psychiatric patients have a desire to discuss spirituality with their psychiatrist yet are rarely, if ever, given the opportunity to do so. He says we can blame it on Freud and his characterization of religion as a mass-delusion. We see this trend in suggestions by both the American Psychological Association’s and Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for coping with the pandemic. The only near-mention of religion is the CDC’s recommendation to “connect with your community- or faith-based organizations.” The author goes on to say, “we ignore potential spiritual solutions to our mental health crisis, even when our well-being is worse than ever before.”

According to this study and another, “a belief in God is associated with significantly better treatment outcomes for acute psychiatric patients. And other laboratories have shown a connection between religious belief and the thickness of the brain’s cortex, which may help protect against depression.” He also concluded that “many nonreligious people still seek spirituality, especially in times of distress.”

Now, sit back and take all that in for a moment.

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New Year, New Chapter

Merry 5th Day of Christmas! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas weekend and is looking forward to the new year.

2021 wasn’t all that much better than 2020. With the exception of things opening and the promising vaccines and treatments, the fear rippling through our world remains, especially with non-stop news coverage of the dire situation we’re in. Despite the vaccines and treatments and lower risks strains, everyone is still being told that this is practically the end stages of Armageddon. Of course, if that is the case, I know that I had better step up my game before that final day of judgment!

The point is, there’s a lot of hope that 2022 will be a game changer. We want life to go back to normal, to be able to spend time with friends and family without fear, and to travel, go to the theater, and do all the things we used to do (and without masks). No matter how you feel about the virus or the treatments or the masks, I’m sure you hope that the day will be here soon when we can live like it’s 2019!

And that has me thinking…

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Sisters in Faith, Love, and Grace

It’s been almost six years now since I first walked on the holy ground of Israel where I met the people who would come to be major players in my game of life. I still can’t believe the many gifts and blessings I received on that pilgrimage and the countless ones I’ve received since then.

2016 Pilgrims
Jan and Amy on the Sea of Galilee

In 2018, one of my pilgrim family members, Jan, invited me to go on a second pilgrimage to the Holy Land planned for February of 2019.

I eagerly accepted her invitation and extended the offer to my sister-in-law, Lisa. That trip forever changed our relationship, making us true sisters in marriage, love, and faith. Since our return, rarely a day goes by that Lisa doesn’t check in on me to send her love and tell me she’s praying for me (she’s a much better sister than I am as I’m terrible at reaching out to people). Those texts mean more to me than she will ever know.

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Brownies – Good for the Body and the Soul

I am a brownie person, and I’ve raised brownie-loving girls! It’s not unusual for me to come down in the morning (when the girls are home) to find a batch of brownies on the kitchen counter–half-eaten of course! On the other hand, I’ve come down to peanut butter cookies, oatmeal no-bake cookies, and cakes in assorted colors (the green cake with blue icing looked so awful that even the baker–whose reputation I will protect–didn’t even eat it!

My sister-in-law, Lisa, makes wonderful brownies, and I never turn her down when she offers to bake them for any family occasion. And who doesn’t love brownies topped with ice cream like the delicious ones my mother made the last Christmas we were all together?


Alas, I’m on this anti-inflammatory diet, so brownies are off the menu, or they were…

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Family Togetherness, A Gift From Heaven

“The family is the first essential cell of human society.” –Pope John XXIII

Have truer words ever been spoken? Where would I be without my family? Though I put God first and foremost in my life, I would be nothing, have nothing, achieve nothing, and live for nothing if not for my family. Not seeing most of my extended family for over a year was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in life. Thankfully, that long, dry period ended this past weekend.

On Saturday, we hosted a graduation party for our middle child, Katie Ann. She graduated in May from Mount St. Mary’s University, but we wanted to give our family a little more time to be comfortable in a large gathering, so we asked them all to save the date for August 21. It made my day to get responses like, “I told the rest of the family they could do whatever they wanted, but I will be there come hell or high water,” and “I’m done with not seeing everyone.” We were all determined to be together, and not even a potential tropical storm was going to keep us apart.

Opera great, Robert Breault, is attributed with saying, “What greater blessing to give thanks for at a family gathering than the family and the gathering.” And he was so right.

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Are You Seeking Adventure?

Earlier this morning, I read that spending trends among Americans are changing. Rather than buying things (which we all did a lot of over the past year), Americans are buying experiences (which we did very little of in 2020). People are realizing that they have enough stuff but not enough experiences. People are not only ready to get out of their house (and out of their pajamas and sweatpants) but to get out into the world.

I’m always amazed by those who have little but live a lot. By that, I mean those who sell everything and buy a sailboat or an RV and live life as one grand adventure. A few years ago, friends took their four small children (and I mean really small–ages 3-9) on a sailboat trip around the world for a year. I can’t even imagine that! Ken was enthralled and talks often about selling everything and living the rest of our lives visiting one campground after another.

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Exposed to the Light


“Faith, like film, is developed in the darkness.” This was said by our associate pastor, Father Michael Angeloni, at daily Mass this past Monday, April 20. When I heard those words, I did what I so often want to do when I attend a live Mass–I stopped the video and backed it up to listen again. “Faith, like film, is developed in the darkness.” Father said that even those who walk closely with God experience times of darkness, times when nothing seems to make sense, times when we ask questions and seek answers.

Several times each day, I look at this situation we are in and wonder, what is happening? Why is this happening? How can we get past this? I question everything that is being done. Is it the right thing to stay home and not risk being exposed? Is it right to protest staying in? Is it right to close so many businesses? Is it right to keep businesses open? Is it right to visit with people whom we know have had no exposure? Is it best to shut ourselves off from physical contact with anyone and everyone? How do we know when it’s safe to go into the world again? What are the answers, and how do we know what the right answers are? 

I am stumbling in the dark, grappling for the light switch. I can’t see where I’m going. I don’t know if danger lies ahead. The darkness seems to swallow me, distorting my vision, and I can’t tell if I’m alone.2020 Darkness

But then, I remember… Read more

The Only Gift That Matters


Luke 1 37-39.jpg

I recently heard someone say that the greatest gift her parents gave her was her faith. It kind of stopped me in my tracks. Here we are, in the midst of the Christmas shopping season, and I hear that the greatest gift someone received from her parents was the gift of faith. Not an Apple Watch, not a laptop, not a designer bag or piece of jewelry, but the simplest of gifts–the ability to believe what is not seen and embrace it, the courage to trust in God, and the knowledge that there is a glorious new life awaiting us. 

I thought to myself, how true it is that the greatest gift we can pass down is easy and free to give, but then I realized, faith is not easy and it’s not free… Read more

He is there


This past weekend, I attended a retreat at the beautiful St. Vincent the Martyr Catholic Church in Madison, New Jersey. With all the craziness of the past few months, it was a welcome treat to be able to spend twenty-six hours in prayer and reflection and listen to the stories of other women who are at various stages in their prayer lives. It made me realize how blessed I am in so many ways, and it made me realize just what true love is… Read more