Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review: The Mass by Cardinal Donald Wuerl

The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the TraditionThe Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition by Cardinal Donald Wuerl

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s book The Mass is a 212 page volume which delves into the mysteries we encounter each week as we head to church.   Each part of the service is examined in depth from preparing for Mass to the dismissal.   The people and other parts of the service are discussed, such as explaining the function of the cantor.   Also, parts of the church are mentioned, such as the Tabernacle.   Even the vestments are explained.

This is a fantastic book for those who are new to the Church.   One thing I particularly enjoy about Cardinal Wuerl’s style of teaching is he starts at the basics, but it’s in a style that no one feels talked down to when he is explaining something.  Even when you think “I know that”, his wonderful style is such that you will still gain something new from enjoying this book.

This book also has a number of photos so you aren’t guessing as to what is being discussed.  In the chapter “The Great Amen”, the chalice and paten are mentioned as being elevated, and there is a photo of Cardinal Wuerl doing just that — what better way to know exactly what is being taught as by seeing it.

As Catholics, Mass is just what we do.  But WHY do we do it?   This book delves into that, and not only is it an informative book, but one that could easily be a springboard for mediation as the meanings behind the rituals are explained.   For example, making the sign of the cross at the beginning or the end of a homily is a way of asking God to help us make the message real in our hearts.  (While not all people do this, I found this example to be especially interesting!) So many times things become habit rather than meaningful.  I would highly recommend this book to any Catholic to try and bring the original intent of each ritual back into the forefront of your mind, and hopefully you will enjoy Mass as never before.

FTC disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher to review.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The tree isn't up, but the bed is down

It feels like forever since I've posted anything but a review.  It's 1 in the morning, and my boyfriend and I just prayed together.  Since we met online in February, that's often been part of our goodnight routine.


Something that has felt so lacking in my life this year.  

On August 12th, I had strep throat and a horrible sinus infection.  Nevertheless, I had to drive my mother to dialysis.  I went to tell her I was up at a little after 9 in the morning and see what help she needed before I got myself ready enough to drive her the 20 minutes.  I often would spend the extra time in the library bumming wifi, but that morning I was so sick I was going to come home and come back to bed.  But my plans changed instantly -- and life changed in a moment.  I went into her room and found her on the floor.  Instead of driving her 20 minutes to dialysis, I drove her an hour to the E.R.  She was in the hospital for a week, then into a rehab facility, then back into the hospital where they gave her a 10% chance of living.  From there she was transfered to another hospital, one in a "big bad" city about 2 1/2 hours away.  (Remember I live in a town of 1500 and any city of about 25,000 or more is a "big bad" city! ha!)  I burned every Hilton Honors point I had earned in over 10 years to be near here.  (Thank God I had enough that I wasn't worried about how to pay for a hotel room.)  She came home from the hospital and from rehab just after Thanksgiving.

It's been a hard year for a lot of people.  Some have had a much worse year than we have.  I have two online friends and a friend from college who have lost children this year.  Their year has been much harder than ours.  But ours hasn't been easy.   It's been a harder year for Mom than it has for me (physically at least).  She didn't realize she was on a ventilator for 11 days.  Eleven LONG days that she thought was two.  My boyfriend came in (he was living in Virginia at the time) and we were in Pittsburgh for eight of those days. 

I finished up my pre-Christmas eBay sales tonight.  Now what?   Not one light is up, not one gift is wrapped.  I did a great month on eBay.  Still $700 shy of what I had hoped, but I had set my sights really high this month. However, when my mother got a hospital bed this year, the bed she had been using was moved to the living room.  It's finally down.   A living room without a spare bed in it.  Some people will see Christmas decorations as a tree, stockings, and a nativity scene gracing the mantel.   This year I see a Christmas decoration as a spot where a bed is no longer standing.  The mere fact it was there and is now gone is a miracle -- or at least symbolizing a miracle that my mother survived being so sick this summer.

A week from now we'll be at Grandpa's.   I didn't want to go.   My mother insisted.  She wants me to meet Grandpa  (my boyfriend's grandfather)   She said she can get along okay without me because some people will be coming in to help out.  I am scared.  When I saw her on the floor, I don't think anything will erase that image from my mind.  She never asks me to check on her in the night, but yet I felt like "if only" I had.

Life is returning to normal.  I don't know what that new normal is quite going to look like.  I just know right now it looks like an empty spot in the living room where a bed stood.  There is no tree, but there is no bed.  And for me, that's all the Christmas decoration I need this year. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Apps for Holiday Sharing and Gift ideas from U.S. Cellular

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post by U.S. Cellular.  I am part of their blogger team, and I only recommend items and services I use myself.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

’Tis the Season . . . To Instagram the hot cocoa that your grandmother makes with real chocolate.  To Tweet a photo of Uncle Ed’s crazy Christmas Sweater.  To upload a Vine video of your little nephew opening his gift and jumping with joy. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Review and Giveaway: The Promise DVD

The Promise: Birth of the Messiah, The Animated Musical is exactly what it sounds like it is -- an animated musical.   Using the Biblical narrative of Jesus' birth from the book of St. Luke, this DVD presents a fresh look at the birth of Christ.  I was highly impressed with how much was included and how much it stayed true to the Biblical content.  This is one Christmas DVD where you won't find talking animals or such because the true story is so amazing that you really don't need anything that didn't really happen.

Something I really enjoyed about this DVD is the relationships.  I never thought of the reaction of Mary's parents.  While I had thought about Joseph's reaction before, I never considered how Mary's parents feelings to their daughter being chosen by God for such a special role in history.  Also, in the movie, Mary sings to Baby Jesus and calls him her King.  I never considered if she explained to Him who He was or if it was totally revealed by God to Him that He was to be the Messiah.

Watch the trailer:

The one thing I did dislike about this DVD was I think if you weren't very familiar with the story it would be difficult to follow.  If you are showing it to children, I would read through the entire Biblical account first -- including Simeon, Elizabeth greeting Mary, as well as Luke chapter 2 which is commonly read at this time of year.  A friend said he felt like he had watched an opera about the birth of Christ.  Personally I wouldn't go that far, but these are not songs your children will sing constantly (which is a huge plus considering how annoying some songs are in children's DVDs.)

Overall, I think this is a very well done portrail of Christ's birth.  While is says it is for children, I think anyone would enjoy this because of the quality and how closely it follows Scripture.  It is a DVD I think families would enjoy year after year!

Connect with The Promise:
The Promise Website
Glorious Films on Facebook
Glorious Films on Twitter

Purchase The Promise:

Win The Promise:

(Terms and conditions, United States only, 18+.  Must respond to winning e-mail within 24 hours or another winner will be chosen.  Giveaway ends December 8 at 11:59 pm)

"Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products with services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising"

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Old El Paso Frozen Dinners

I have a busy life.  It's one of those busy lives where people look at me and ask "What do you do all day?" because it doesn't seem like since I work at home I'd be busy, but I am.  When it comes to food, I like things I can cook quickly and that are tasty.

I recently received the opportunity to review Old El Paso Frozen Dinners from My Blog Spark.  "Frozen" is currently one of my favorite words when it comes to dinner.  That often means it's quick to fix!

I received a coupon for any Old El Paso frozen dinner, a chip and dip bowl serving platter, and a $10 pre-paid Visa so I could buy anything else I needed for my Mexican meal.  I picked up the chicken fajita meal.  It has enough for three fajitas for two people.  I liked the though of the peppers, onions, and chicken already being in there and taking 10-13 minutes to cook!

After about 13 minutes it looked liked this:

And finally I put it in some tortillas and added a little sour cream:

It was quick, easy and delicious.  I will certainly be buying this again.  I love fajitas but don't always have the time to chop everything to fix them for dinner that evening, so this will solve that problem.  I believe my store sells these for about $6 so and that is so much cheaper than eating out!  They were tasty, just enough spice for me but not too spicy for those who like mild Mexican food, and they certainly hit the spot!

Be sure and check out the  Old El Paso website and the Old El Paso on Facebook

FTC disclaimer:  I received a coupon for a free Old El Paso Frozen Dinner, chip and dip tray, and $10 pre-paid Visa to allow me to make a Mexican meal for review.  All opinions are my own and I only endorse products I personally have enjoyed and I think my readers should know about them.

On to the giveaway:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Apps to Help With Shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

FTC disclosure:  I am a member of the U.S. Cellular Better Moments Blogger Brigade.  This is a sponsored post.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

The holidays are coming!  That means Black Friday and Cyber Monday are closer than you think!  A few years ago on Black Friday I saved over 90% of the original price on the items I bought with a lot of time and effort.  I'm glad, though, that this year I have a phone that will help with my shopping so I can save time as I save money that way I can put lots of gifts under the tree without going over my budget.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Coming Home for Christmas DVD Review and Giveaway Ends 11/22

I love Christmas movies and Christmas specials.  I could watch them all year long.  I had nearly a dozen videotapes years ago filled with Christmas shows I'd taped off TV.  Everything from the classics to things that no one had ever heard of but me!

To me, to make something a perfect Christmas movie there needs to be humor, sentimentality, love of family, and maybe even a touch of romance sprinkled in.   Based on this, the new movie "Coming Home For Christmas" is a hit!   I really enjoyed it because it's got a bit of a twist on the traditional Christmas movie.  Kate wants her family to spend Christmas in the house she grew up in -- but there's a slight problem -- it has been sold and someone else lives there.  As with most Christmas movies, the story line was a bit predictable (but would it be a good Christmas movie if it wasn't?  So, of course it's going to be predictable because Christmas movies must be happy and heart-warming.)  I really enjoyed this movie, and I know it will be a classic around here.

Want to buy it?  You can do so at Walmart.  You can even order it HERE and have it sent to you directly or to your local Walmart for pick-up.  It even includes a limited edition Norman Rockwell print inside the DVD case.

You can watch the trailer here:

Wal-Mart has graciously given an extra copy of this DVD to be given to one of the readers of The Radar Report.  Just enter on the Rafflecopter form below.

Giveaway ends November 22nd.  Open only to the USA and Canada.  Must be 18 or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.   I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising"

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Book Review: At the Heart of the Gospel

FTC disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

At the Heart of the Gospel: Reclaiming the Body for the New Evangelization

In  At the Heart of the Gospel, author Christopher West takes deep theology and makes it accessible to those of us who aren’t scholars!  I appreciate his writing style as he explains things thoroughly without talking down to the readers.  He has dedicated himself to studying Pope John Paul II’s writing “Theology of The Body” and in this book, West explains how that work relates to the New Evangelization. 

I’ve heard in my own theology classes in college about the Gnostics who believed the body was bad and spiritual things were good.  One of the things that West points out in this book is if we believe that, then what is life without the body?  It is death.   This reminded me of the many times in college that I’d be in a “feminar” (a seminar for girls) and we’d be told beauty isn’t important, it’s only what is inside that counts.  I realize that not everyone is a model, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and ask most men, and they would tell you their wife is beautiful.   We can survive in a world without beauty, but that’s often what it is, survival and not thriving. 

One chapter I especially enjoyed was “The Narrow Gate Between Idolatry and Iconoclasm”.  We can make anything into an idol be it beauty, food, other things that relate to our physical bodies, or something more abstract such as a hobby, or even veneration of saints.  But do we need to go so far as to do away with things rather than keep them in check?  Most likely not.  If you have ever tried to lose a few pounds, to do it in a healthy manner, you still have to eat.  So to have a healthy relationship with anything, it must be in moderation. 

I also very much appreciated West tackling the tough topic of “The Great Analogy of Spousal Love”.  Have you ever read through the Song of Solomon?  That is an erotic book of the Bible!  The high school I graduated from decided they were going to read through the Bible, one chapter a day, and being super conservative, I wondered what they would do when they came to that book if they continued that plan!  Like Pope Benedict XVI said “The Prophets describe God’s passion for his people using boldly erotic images.”  (page 103)

I enjoyed this book, not as much as a previous book by the same author, but it’s still a good, solid book that makes Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body not only accessible but practical.   I highly recommend this book.

FTC disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I only recommend books I enjoy.

You can purchase this book here:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Our School Won from U.S. Cellular! Yours could Too!

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

Do you know a school that could use an extra $25,000?  What would your school be able to do with that?  New computers?  Equipment for classes that have been affected by budget cuts?   Making the playground safer or even putting in a handicapped playground?  I'm sure every school in the country would love $25,000 so if you are interested, read on!

In 2009, it was the first year of U.S. Cellular's Calling All Communities contest.  Locally, it was everywhere.  It was in the newspaper.  I heard about it on the radio.  There were signs up in our community.  Our high school decided they were going to rally the community and see if they could win part of the prize money.  Of course, it made front page news when a representative from U.S. Cellular handed a representative from Preston High School in Kingwood, WV a check for $100,000.  If you think about contests and sweepstakes that no one really wins those things, think again, you can find Preston High on the list of winners at the U.S. Cellular website.  The students really helped get the word out to the community asking for votes for our school, and the teens were asked where they would like to see the money applied from a few ideas that were pre-approved.  It was used for new technology.  Can you imagine the impact that much money could have in updating computer equipment and even tablets for a school?

You can watch when U.S. Cellular told the students and faculty at Preston High right here:

Isn't that amazing?   The excitement is just contagious!

Since Calling All Communities started in 2009, U.S. Cellular has awarded over $4 million to 56 schools across the nation.  The reason they do this is U.S. Cellular believes in being active in the community and wants to give back while encouraging the community to work together towards a common goal.

A few things have changed in the U.S. Cellular Calling All Communities campaign since its inception and my original experience with it.  Now, twenty schools will each win $25,000!  It's out there just waiting to be won!  Think how many bake sales it would take to raise that much money!  Once the campaign launches there will be flyers you can print from the U.S. Cellular website, and think how fun it would be for the band or sports teams to hand out this information!  Students could even ask local businesses if they could leave a flyer there.  You can post the link on your school's website.  Don't forget about social media.  Asking friends and family to vote for your school by posting a link as an update is a great way to spread the word!  Maybe you could get administration involved by promising if your school wins the contest they will be willing to go in a dunk tank.  (What student wouldn't love dunking the principal?  I know I would have been a hit when I was little!)


  • The Calling All Communities Campaign runs from November 4-25
  • One vote per person.
  • You can find out more including complete official rules at U.S. Cellular Calling All Communities or if you live in my local area at these U.S. Cellular locations:
248 Walmart Drive Kingwood West Virginia
12451 Garrett Highway Oakland, Maryland

Do you have a school you would like to see share in this year's award money?  What would they do with $25,000?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book Review: Chasing Francis

Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's TaleChasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale by Ian Morgan Cron

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Chase Falson is a successful church planter whose church has grown over the years.  He is respected and admired.  Then a little girl in his church dies unexpectedly and it all crumbles.  He admits from the pulpit he isn’t sure what he has been teaching is what he believes.  He’s honest.  He bares his soul.  He’s relieved of his duties so he can “pull himself together.”

Chase calls his uncle who is a priest in Italy and embarks on a journey which takes him from caves to Rome to a musical concert.  He explores faith.  He learns about St. Francis, and he develops new ideas about himself as well as God.

This is one of the best fiction books I’ve ever read.  I’ve recommended it to others, and the question that is proposed in it has haunted me.  What if faith is to be a approached as a community and not focused so much on as a personal journey.  What would that look like lived out in today’s world?

Chase takes this question to heart.  The ending surprised me, and like any good book left me wanting more.  I would hope that the author would write a sequel.  I could relate with Falson in the fact he was disillusioned with the faith he had become so comfortable with, and I’d love to see how the author would tackle living the faith in the United States that Chase embraces while following in the footsteps of St. Francis.

An added bonus to this book is you will learn more about the life of St. Francis without realizing it as these tidbits are woven seamlessly into the story. 

I have been enjoying spiritual memoirs this year, and while this book is fictional, it almost feels like it could fit into that category.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough and I’m still pondering its message and the truths it contains about life, faith, and church.

FTC disclosure:  I received an advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.