28.02.2021
Joy in the Journey
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 San Gabriele - Our Lady of Sorrows

I have known about you and loved you since I was a little girl. 

I got to know San Gabriel I guess you could say from the day I was born, although it would be a few years before I could say his name and come to know him through my mothers devotion to him. And it would be a few years more till I developed my own friendship and devotion to this joyful and youthful Saint.

I came to know San Gabriele of Our Lady of Sorrows through stories my mother would tell me about him, his miracles and his life. He is the patron saint of the Abruzzi region in Italy where she lived and grew up.  My mom loved San Gabriel and often spoke of him.  She often would ask for his intersession with the Blessed Mother and Jesus. And she longed to return to visit his shrine that was built in the Gran Sasso mountains of Italy.

I guess you could say my mother came to know him from birth as well through my Nonna Rosina who was devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary and had a love for San Gabriele and many other saints.  And San Gabriele being the patron saint of Abruzzi  was a very popular saint with many people in the area.  But I also think the devotion may stem from his receiving his canonization by Pope Benedict XV on May 13, 1920, just 5 days before my mom was born.

At the end of the summer of my junior year in college I took a trip to Italy with my dad. My mom who had suffered many hardships in Italy before coming to the United States had always had issues with her hips and recovering from her numerous surgeries between both her hips through the early 70's and 80's.  She was one of the first to have a total hip replacement and she suffered other ailments and issues because of complications from the surgeries, anesthesia and blood transfusions over the years.

With her difficulty walking my mom was not able to travel with me and my dad to Italy that year. But she was adamant that daddy take me to San Gabriele's Shrine in the Gran Sasso mountains.

It was an amazing trip with my dad.  We visited with his family, my mom’s family, we walked the land that he and my mom walked as kids, as a couple, visited family churches, sites of family events, beaches, landmarks, holy places, graves of our family, spent time walking our families land and the remaining parcel of land my parents still owned at the time, sitting outside and inside around the table, singing, making music under the stars and drinking wine into the night, we attended family events, and local feast days in the village, we picked fresh figs, apricots, cherries, grapes and fresh vegetables for the family table from the family gardens and orchards, took a peek in the chicken and rabbit coops, took strolls in the evening, played bacci, ate gelato, drank tons of espresso and shared meal after, meal and story after story.  We even took a bus trip with a small group of family to Padua and Venice and traveled with family to Rome and so many places in between.  

I got meet face to face relatives that I had spoken to on the phone and knew all about but had never met before.  I took lots of pictures and notes, asked lots of questions, got birthdates and anniversaries, got details on family lines and soaked up anything I could to capture the historical details of our family tree.  I wanted to capture every moment. And I got to speak italian, not the proper roman italian, but the dialect I was raised with and it was glorious.  I was experiencing a great blessing and I knew it, and I had the blessing of sharing this time with my beautiful family in the country of my parents and siblings’ birth.   

And as part of our adventures, my dad arranged for us to visit San Gabriele’s Shrine during  our third or fourth week there.  He wanted me to fully experience the beautiful Abruzzi region that was his home before coming to the United States and to experience other areas of Italy as well,  And we have the blessing of having a large family in various places.  

Yolanda, in front of the chicken coopBut most important was spending time with our family just relaxing and catching up, no plans just wherever the day took us.  Daddy had devoted a whole week to taking me to visit my mom's village and meeting her relatives.  During that week daddy took me to visit my mother’s best friend Yolanda.  Yolanda kept hugging me, and she kept telling me that looking at me was like seeing my mom when she was my age.  I knew all about Yolanda because of my mom’s communications with Yolanda over the years and their loving friendship that transcended years and distance as they wrote letters and exchanged packages over the many years since my mom left Italy. For me it was like meeting an old friend.   I listened to Yolanda’s stories as she talked about her friendship with my mom and their life growing up and the many memories they shared. We laughed, cried and in short time I came to love Yolanda like I know my mom did.

Daddy also took me to the one room with a tiny loft home my mother shared with her mother and grandfather before they married and then years later shared the same one room with my grandmother and siblings.  That one room over the years had become a chicken coop. It was so small with a barley discernable loft and I was baffled how my mom made that house a home for three adults and three children.  My mom worked in the fields, made pasta from grain and would sweep the dirt floor clean every day.   It was amazing to me, by my mom and dad made that one room chicken coop a home to raise their family before they left Italy for America.

Early one morning as my uncle drove us towards my mom's village my dad asked my uncle to stop the car at the base of the hill that led up to her village. He wanted us to walk the steps my mom walked growing up and that he and my mom walked together.  

Along the way we met a woman from the village, we stopped and talked with her and took a picture.   She was walking with her donkey balancing a heavily laden basket atop her head.  

And as we walked along we stopped in surprising various relatives and friends.  Seeing me, they all commented how much I looked like my mother when she was my age.

We had wonderful visits along the way.  It was surreal and amazing to meet my family, walk the fields and meadows, groves, gardens and vineyards that my mom walked and worked.  We stopped by old homesteads of my mother and her family growing up, meeting cousins at their homes, in the fields and on their tractors working the land.  

We even walked through overgrown brush and vegetation to visit the old washing font where my mother would wash clothes and where my parents first met each other and began their love story.

As my dad tells it, the day they met, my dad and his brother were taking a short cut through the woods when they heard someone singing.  My mom was alone at the washing font.  The font is an area where people in the village would go to wash their clothes.  My mom was washing her clothes and was singing in her lilting raspy voice.

Daddy heard mommy’s raspy lilting voice singing and when he got closer to her, he saw a beautiful young woman as he has described over the years in a bright salmon colored dress washing her clothes.  The rest as they say is history. Daddy was smitten, and my uncle who was with him and recognized my mother cautioned my dad that her mother, my Nonna Rosina, was known in the village as being very protective of her daughter and would not let anyone near her.  

But my dad was not deterred by the news, he instead went right home, told his father that he wanted to meet her and would not take no for an answer.  So my dads father, Nonno Sabatino, a widow, made the arrangements for them to meet with my Nonna Rosina and her father, my mother's grandfather.  And so, my parents courtship began and as my siblings and I can thankfully attest, or we would not be here, the rest is history.  

On the day that we walked the hills of my mom’s village we came to face to face with some of my mother’s relatives from her father’s side of the family who I don’t think my dad was planning on bringing me to see.  But they got word that were in the village and they found us.  It was a sobering day walking around and meeting relatives of my mother’s father's family who were not kind to my mother and my Nonna.

Nonna and MariaAngelaIt's another story for another day. But to put things in context.  After my grandmother and grandfather married and when my mother was three months old, her father set sail with his older brother for the United Stated to make a better way for their family.  He left my grandmother and 3 month old mother in the car of his father and over the years he sent back money to support them.  My mother's grandfather, her father's father was a wonderful man, he adored my mother and took wonderful care of his daughter-in-law and he made sure that the money that my grandfather sent back from the United States for them took care of all of their needs.  My mother adored her grandfather.  When she was 7 years old he died and with her father still away in the United States one of his brothers and his wife took over control and were unkind to my mother and grandmother and they endured many hardships over the following years.  I had heard some of the over the years growing up. Being the youngest left at home with my siblings married and in homes of their own.  I was a sponge soaking up the love and memories my older parents shared.  I have always been a bit of a gatekeeper of family history and I have always been interested in the stories and details that my grandparents, parents and relatives would share.  So as difficult as it was be in the environment of many of my mother and grandmothers painful memories, I was grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the amazing woman that I was so blessed to have in my life.

Suffice to say I learned a lot of the family history that often stays hidden on that sobering walk through the village that day.  And when my uncle picked us up at the base of the hill to bring us back home to his house across the valley my heart was in agony and aching for what my mother and Nonna endured and experienced and the trials they faced after my mom’s beloved grandfather passed away and unkind and often cruel relatives stepped in to take over control the money that was being sent back for my mother and grandmothers care and they suffered great hardships.  That is a story all its own and will be left to another day.

My head and my heart were swirling with the events of the day when we returned back to my Zio and Zia’s.  After dinner we relaxed in the courtyard.  I shared some of what I remembered from my mother’s stories, what my dad had told earlier in the day and the events of the day with my uncle’s wife, my beloved Zia Assunta, a distant relative of my moms who was married to my dad's brother Vincenzo.   

When I shared with her about the woman, we met walking the donkey carrying the basket on her head she told me that my mother did that all the time and she taught me how to do it myself.  I could not believe that I could balance a basket on my head, for even just a few minutes.   For a short while the heaviness of the day was at bay while we laughed and joked and I tried again and again to balance the basket until I finally got it and was able to walk with the basket on my head.

 

And later as we sat in the courtyard of their house under the starlit August sky sharing more stories Zia Assunta shared her knowledge of the events and people and some of the struggles both she and my mother endured as young wives during the war.  I learned more of our family history and came to love this beautiful woman even more as we laughed and cried together.  And I came to understand the deep devotion my Nonna had for praying the rosary and her deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and  the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I came to understand the inside of her closet door and all the prayer cards of saints she had plastered all over it.  I came to understand my mother’s deep devotion to her beloved San Gabriele. And in some small part I came to understand where the deep joy that my mom and especially my grandmother came from despite the years of hardship and trials.  Although at the time I’m not sure I fully understood as I do today.  And I am sure that I will say the same years from now, because I know that in no way while I am traveling this journey on earth will I ever fully understand the depth of joy and love that surpasses all understanding.  But in certain moments we can catch a slight glimpse.  And in those moments I can see they possessed teh dame joyful spirt that was a hallmark of their patron saint.

And in thinking about what was coming up the next day I was a little apprehensive about going back to have lunch with this branch of my mom’s family.  Not so much about seeing them, but in the confrontations I might have.  At the same time, I was excited about our trip to visit Gran Sasso and San Gabriele shrine the day after that.   

But the shrill ringing of the phone that broke the early morning silence of the house as we all slept that morning dramatically changed our plans.  My sister Irma called to let us know that mommy had been rushed into NE Baptist for emergency surgery because a bursa had burst in her hip, it was serious.  We needed to get home right away.  My sister Anna was also on her way to Massachusetts from Texas.   The rest was a whirlwind.  

My dad who was always so strong and gently commanding allowed me to take the lead and make the arrangements to get us back home.  And through the process I was able to show him that he and my mom taught me the Italian language well growing up as speaking Italian I was able to make the calls and communicate with everyone I encountered at the travel agency in Pescara to make the changes in our arrangements so we could leave Italy earlier than planned.  Arrangements that were made more difficult by an airstrike over Canada that was also taking place at the time.  San Gabriele was with us all every step of the way.  I think he was working overtime.  We made it back not as soon as we had hoped, but soon enough to greet mommy when she was brought to her hospital room after first recovering after her surgery in ICU.  And when mommy saw us she wasted no time in sharing with us how she prayed for San Gabriele’s intercession, how she felt his presence there with her and how she longed to make it back to Italy one day to visit his shrine on Gran Sasso.   From that point on it was my mothers great desire to get back to Italy and to make a pilgrimage to San Gabriele’s shrine to thank him.  And it was mine to go back with her.

 Sadly, my mother was never able to make it back to Italy to her beloved San Gabriele.  I had mass cards made for her with her beloved saint.  

A year or so after her death 7 of us along with my dad were able to go back in her stead and a group of us made the pilgrimage to San Gabriele.  Along the way I asked my cousin to stop at a florist so I could have a bouget of flowers made to bring with us to place at his tomb.  

It was a blessing to share this time in Italy again with my dad and to also be there with my sisters, sister-in-law, two of my nieces and my nephew. And for me it was so important to keep a promise to my mom to make a pilgrimage to Gran Sasso and the Shrine of San Gabriele in her stead.

But Jesus is never to be outdone in generosity.  And I know that San Gabriele is always interceding.  And he did in many many ways on this trip.  It was a turning point in my life and the beginning of many changes that would eventually lead me on the journey that I am on today,

For it was on that second trip to Italy I made it to the Gran Sasso mountain to visit San Gabriel my childhood friend and was led to yet another mountain, the Maiella, where I found healing in places I never expected and experienced miracles that at the time I didn’t fully understand.  

It was through my mom’s death, our visit to Italy to see our family and our pilgrimage to San Gabriele and the experiences that followed that I deepened my friendship with San Gabriele, found my voice, grew stronger in my faith, found my way back to the church and opened the door of my heart to a deep and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Happy Feast day San Gabriele.  

Thank you for your brief but powerful life, your love of Jesus and your devotion to the sorrows of the Blessed Mother.  

Thank you for always being a guiding light in our family, in my mother’s life and in mine. 

Someday I pray to make a pilgrimage to your shrine again, this time with my beloved.    

 

25.12.2020
Joy in the Journey
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Pope Francis dedicated this year in the church to St Joseph and my beloved and I could not be more excited because we both have always had a devotion to St. Joseph. 

Years after I had received my annullment I had no intention of every marrying again.  But I always remained open and I would tell the Lord that the only way that I would marry again is if he sent me a just man, a good man, a man like St. Joseph.  And just when I was settling into a comfortable single vocation the Lord did just that and sent me the greatest gift and blessing of all in my beloved John.   

Since the beginning of our relationship we have always prayed together in addition to our individual prayer. So a few months ago when John was gifted the book of the Consecration to St. Joseph as part of his men's sharing group we decided to do the 33 day concecration together.  But after a few days we became distracted, then inconsistent and decided not to continue and to do the concecration later.

And the Church has perfect timing because in this Year of St. Jospeh and as a Church we are given the opportunity to draw closer to this beautiful Saint and foster Father of Jesus.

John and I decided to start the concecration on December 22nd with our Concecration Day taking place in 33 days on January 23rd which is the little known Feast of the Holy Spouses.

And as part of our daily concecration we are also praying a rosary on our St. Joseph Beads.  Through prayer and discernment with our Spiritual Father my beloved was inspired to create a rosary in honor of St. Joseph and we now have the blessing to add this to our daily prayer.

Today is day three in our 33 days of concecration and in todays reading the author Donald H. Calloway, MIC states " God the Father doesn't have a human nature.  Every time Jesus saw Joseph, heard him speak, watched him work,or witnessed his chaste love for Mary, the humanity of Jesus witnessed a perfect reflection of the Heavenly Father"  

This gave me pause to reflect on what it must have been like for Jesus growing up, knowing his Divine nature and the surpassing love of God the Father, but seeing that love, goodness and faithfulnes modeled every day in the day to day in his foster father Joseph.  Even before Jesus was born, St. Joseph was obedient and trusting the word of God, taking Mary as his wife when she was with child, protecting Mary with Jesus in her womb as they traveled to Bethlehem, caring for Mary when she gave birth in the manger, rising in the dead of night after the Angel came to him and told him to take Mary and the babe Jesus to Egypt and on and on in the many ways that  Jesus witnessed the love, care, guardianship and protection of Joseph as he grew.

I love how spiritual readings and the grace of the Holy Spirit can open the door wider to a deeper understanding and provide me with a new lense in which to see St. Joseph and that only serves to give me additional reasons to fall more deeply in love with him.  

If you are looking to dive deeper into the life of St. Joseph or looking to come to know him better, check out the book and the concecration.  

Or if you like ask Our Lady through the grace of the rosary to help you get to know St. Joseph better.  

There is so much to learn about St. Joseph and this my friends is the perfect year to do it!

  

23.05.2020
Joy in the Journey
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"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I’ve been off track, out of my groove and indulging in too many treats. I know because of how my body feels and because my scale tells me that I am up 7.9 pounds. Frankly I’m shocked I’m not up 20 pounds. I’m not lamenting or complaining, I don’t feel bad and its not anything that is going to hold me back from continuing to move forward, I’m sharing simply to hold myself accountable and be transparent. I’m not at all concerned because my mindset is strong and in a very different place than it was years ago when something like this would have had a whole different reaction. It’s life, it happens. I’m a big girl and I’ve come a long way and I have all the tools and knowledge in my tool belt that I need to get my balance back. And most of all, I’m committed to making the changes to some of the old habits I’ve allowed myself to slip into during these crazy times we’re in. It’s really pretty simple. And it’s even moreso when you have a badass group of warriors that are in it with you!! I love the ladies in our Joy in the Journey group, they are sisters, friends and pilgrims on a similar journey of love and faith and good health. This perspective comes after waking this morning around 5:30 am in a pool of sweat, not unusual for a woman my age, and with a pounding headache. I messaged my group telling them I wasn’t going to make our standing Saturday morning chat at 9am. I felt awful. I realized that the headache may be from being dehydrated and so I got up, ate a banana for a kick of potassium and drank down a good helping of water. Then laid back down to try and sleep. Since I couldn’t sleep I started to scroll through a mindset group I recently joined on Facebook. Before I knew it the headache was gone and rather than lay in bed and waste the morning and miss my group I had the motivation I needed to get my butt out of bed and onto the bowflex for a short burst of cardio before my shower. No hero here, I’ve had a lot of back pain lately, I did an intense few minutes to bring up my cardio, quit when my back pain kicked in, hit the shower and made myself some licorice root tea, fresh squeezed grapefruit over ice, yogurt with museli and a nice jug of water and headed to the office to show up for myself and my group. And before I went on line, I connected with my beloved, we made plans for getting back to better sleeping habits, meal prep, exercise and working out. I also got on the scale, pulled out my tracker and made a list of daily goals that I will tackle one day at a time, one baby step if I need to. Bottom line I have a plan. And I was able to share that with my group. Easy, of course not. Doable, absolutely!! It’s all about baby steps, listening to my body, keeping a strong mindset and focusing on my goals. And always always finding Joy in the Journey! And what a great call we had, we are all on the same page and the feedback we share is helpful to all of us. We came up with a plan to remember and revive our WHY and a plan to tackle our GOALS together this summer. Because that’s what we do, we support and encourage each other, help each other remain accountable, persevere and help each other be the best version of ourselves that we were created to be. It feels good to have a timeline, a plan, a group of accountability partners and the commitment to reach my goals. I was created for a beautiful purpose, my body is a temple created by God and I want to serve those I love and to care for my body in a way that honors my creator and that helps me to be the woman that He has created me to be.    I am grateful for the turn of events this morning, its like coming out of the fog and into the bright beautiful light!
11.12.2019
Joy in the Journey
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Merry Christmas, peace, joy and blessings to you and yours!  Stay tuned, 2020 is going to bring a host of new blessings.   For now we end out this year's blog with our Joy in the Journey 2019 December Newsletter
28.09.2019
Joy in the Journey
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At the beginning of September we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary and for us the celebration continues as today we celebrate the anniversary of our engagement on the day that John proposed 9 years ago. Amazing how it feels like decades have passed since we have been together and at the same time like it was yesterday.  That's how it is for us, we are so connected and familiar and like we have always been together and at the same time everything seems exciting and new, like the start of a beautiful adventure.   As I recall,  it was an unseasonably warm September night 9 years ago when John proposed.  Much like the weather we have enjoyed this week. We had been out on a date and as often we did, we stopped into the Adoration Chapel at St. Mary's to pray and sit with Jesus for awhile. St. Mary's quaint Adoration Chapel is a favorite.  I was in the habit of visiting the Blessed Sacrament every day. And I often went there on my own and also with John.  I was often there when either the Chapel was empty when I arrived, or only a few people and often everyone would leave and I would remain in the Chapel alone until someone else showed up. I never had a set hour and sometimes would visit for hours at a time, so I had had many occasions to be there on my own.  Just me and Jesus.  But that never happened anytime John and I were there together, there were always other people there praying as well. On this night, 9 years ago it was a first, everyone else who was there when we got there had left. At first I didn't notice that everyone was gone and that we were the only ones left in the Chapel, just us and Jesus. John and I were both each silently praying the rosary.  John reached for my hand and I thought that was so sweet to hold hands as we prayed.  But with my hand in his he stood silently inviting me to stand with him. John then lead me to the altar rail at the head of this beautiful small chapel where we knelt before Jesus. Over the years I had often seen people get up and go to the altar, kneel at the rail and pray.  But I had never approached myself. I was thinking that being alone in the Chapel we were going to the Altar to pray the Rosary at the foot of the Blessed Sacrament. And so I was a little surprised when as we were both kneeling, John on his knees turned facing me and he silently encouraged me to kneel facing him.  Both of us with our rosaries in hand.  Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out the most beautiful engagement ring.  He took my hands and right there with us kneeling at the foot of the altar, alone in the chapel and in the  presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament John professed his love, fidelity, commitment and desire to spend our lives together and he proposed and asked me to be his wife.  Tears of love and joy were streaming down my face and I am sure the look of surprise that this beautiful moment was happening was on my face as I too with delight and joy said yes and professed my love, fidelity, commitment and desire to spend our lives together too as he placed the ring on my finger. It was a proposal and engagement that was perfect for us and our relationship and it was an experience and moment in time that is and will be forever etched into my heart. We stayed at the altar rail together praying to the Lord offering prayers of praise and thanksgiving. After a time, we returned to our seats, newly engaged and bursting with excitement to enjoy the moment and to share the news. And as If on cue people started coming into the Chapel. As more people came in, it was our cue to leave and share the  good news with our families. And there is a bit more to this story that began many months before.  The Fede ring that John gave me on August 19th and my engagement and our wedding rings have a beautiful story all their own.  They are very special to us and have great sentimental significance not only because of the thought and effort that John put into creating them, but because they are made from a combination of my mothers Italian gold rings and jewelry and John's grandmothers wedding and engagement ring. John was thinking about proposing and during that time his mother was asking him when he was going to propose. After another inquiry from his mother he told her that he didn't yet have the money for a ring and thought that would stop the inquiry for a bit.  But soon after, his mom came to him with his grandmother Albertine's engagement ring and told him that he cold give it to me when he was ready.  John was really touched by this knowing that the he owed his relationship with Jesus to his grandmother and now she was helping him to start a new relationship with me.  John knew it was going to be special to have me wearing his grandmother's ring but he wanted to make it even more special.  He contacted my sister Anna and let her know his plans having a new ring made using the diamonds from his grandmother's ring and wanted to use diamonds from my mother's ring too.  Anna told him that I had my mom's jewelry.  So he had a decision to make.  To stick to his plan he would have to reveal the plan to me and ruin the surprise or he could just use the ring and not add anything to it.   But, my beloved loves to research and so he started looking into the traditions of Italian wedding rings and engagements. He found some information on what is called a Fede ring.  The Fede ring was used as engagement/wedding rings in medieval and renaissance times. The name Fede is from the Italian phrase mani in fede ("hands [joined] in faith" or "hands [joined] in loyalty").   So John decided on a third option.  He would purchase the Fede ring and give it me as a promise ring and then he could let me know about his plans for the engagement ring.   It was the perfect plan, on August 19th, 2010 John gave me the Fede ring. It was a magical night when he gave me the ring and I was so touched by the thought of him using an Old Italian tradition.  And when John told me about his plans for the engagement ring I told him that my mother's ring had a lot of gold but there were no diamonds that could be used in the engagement ring.  But the more we talked about it we came up with the solution of having the engagement ring made using the gold from my mother's ring and the diamonds from John's grandmother's ring.  And there was enough gold left over from my mother's ring and jewelry to make a copy of the Fede ring from my mother's gold for my wedding band.  And we used the gold from John's grandmother's rings to make a larger copy of the Fede ring for John's wedding band.  After the initial discussions about what we wanted and giving John my mothers rings and gold, John took care of everything and worked closely with a jeweler friend of ours to have the rings made so I had no idea on the timing. And it didn't matter.  When John gave me the Fede ring we promised ourselves to each other, hands in love, faith, fidelity and loyalty with the thoughtfulness of the mani en Fede he had researched so I had no idea the beautiful surprise that awaited that night in Adoration. When I look back I can see how the Lord's hand provided the perfect setting for us to begin our friendship, engagement, marriage and our life together.   The blessings and the growth over the years are many.  Our foundation of faith and unity with and in Jesus remains firm.  Jesus guides and sustains us both individually and together in our relationship.  And little anniversaries, like today, are affirmations and reminders of the grace of Jesus in our lives. And lest you think our life was and is perfect, it's not. Nothing is. But it's perfect for us. And our union has always had Jesus in the middle. And thanks be to God for that.  Like all couples we have challenges and obstacles amid the highlight reel. It seems sometimes at every turn we are challenged to grow and stretch and not always how we would like it to be. But in the process we have the opportunity to grow, to get to know ourselves and each other on a deeper level. And in the process we grow closer to each other and individually and as a couple we draw closer to Jesus.   How grateful we are that our hearts and our eyes are open to His love, we can share it with each other and with those around us and it opens our hearts to see the many many ways He spoils us.  We are both so thankful to have the special blessing of my engagement and our wedding rings made from John's grandmother, Albertine and my mother, Maria's rings and gold.  John is also blessed by his grandmother Albertine who also inspired him to make rosaries.  She and his grandfather used to make them when John was young. Last year after witnessing for years John's blossoming talent and gift of making beautiful and meaningful rosaries and items that deeply touch and bless the lives of others we founded and created Heart's Rosary Company.   A business and ministry that is not only a blessing to us, but to so many. Today, as I think back on the memory of our engagement and the beautiful and special rings that bind us, I offer thanksgiving and praise to Jesus for the gift of my beloved.  And I am reminded that our union is not just for us, for it is in the "oneness" that we have become in marriage that together as a couple we can touch the lives of others as we live out our Holy Sacrament of Matrimony.    Yes, Jesus spoils us, He spoils us in many many ways and He gives us so many gifts.  And when John and I use the gifts and talents that we receive from Him we can serve others touching their lives and spoiling them with blessings and love from Jesus.   How can my heart not overflow with gratitude and thanksgiving.
30.07.2019
Joy in the Journey
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Over the past few years I’ve learned a lot about myself including what I need in my personal tool belt to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle. And I’ll tell you a secret...... I’ve got the winning formula. That winning formula is me!! Specifically me applying myself, staying in the right mindset, making the hard choices, staying the course even when it gets hard, and most important making the choice to commit not just to a healthy weight loss program, workout and nutrition plan, but making a commitment to myself and staying accountable to it. You’ve got the winning formula too! You!! But I’ll tell you another secret....... That winning formula works best when the journey is shared. That for me and I think I can speak for the ladies in our success group is the secret sauce in a nutshell!! So I’ve made a choice, as has my beloved to do 100 workouts. To start we are joining a VIP coach group with the super trainer who created the program to get a first hand look at the program and the first 10 workouts. We will also get personal access to her for tips, insights and questions so that we can learn and bring our best to our team and the challengers joining us in our 100 day challenge! Our 100 day journey starts Monday, August 12th and we are going through the end of the year. We don’t do one size fits all but we do follow a plan and I can help you create one that will work for you if you want to lose 10 or 100 pounds or maintain and gain some muscle. For our Joy in the Journey family it’s ........ A new day! A new challenge! A new commitment! A decision! A choice! A path to success! Together!! If you’re “IN” say so and go to Be 100 Success group to join our group. Let’s rock this 100 workouts together!! Together is the best path to success!
13.03.2019
Joy in the Journey
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ROCCAMORICE - SAN BARTOLOMEO One evening after dinner our cousin Gabriele and his family took my sister Irma, nephew Mark and me to the hermitage of St. Bartholomeo in Ligio.   The cavern is located in the hills of the Maiella Mountains in the Abruzzo Region where our family lives. The hermitage is extremely old and dates back to before the 1200’s and the first hermits on Maiella and stands under a 50 meter long rocky ledge that is built directly into the face of the mountain and which can be reached by a sacred staircase, usually done on one’s knees.  This beautiful refuge is very remote, steep, and not easily accessible and is approximately 750 feet above sea level.      The heights were dizzying, the fresh mountain air intoxicating with the sweetness of wild herbs and flowers and the myriad of vistas absolutely breathtaking.   While standing on the ledge of the hermitage looking at the amazing work of the Lord’s hands I felt so very blessed and so very close to heaven that I thought I could almost touch the face of my Creator.  Visiting the hermitage of St. Bartholomeo was one of the highlights of my trip and a moment of deep spiritual awakening.  When we returned home later that evening I remained sitting outside under the stars long after everyone had gone to bed writing in my traveling journal of that days experience and eventually writing a short poem that I titled “Maieletta” which in English translates to “Little Sweater”.  I realized that our beautiful unexpected excursion to St.  Bartholomeo had brought healing and a deep sense of peace in my grief for my mother who passed away the previous November and whose pilgrimage to visit our family in Italy and the Shrine of her Patron Saint Gabrielle had brought us all together on this family trip.   I have also come to realized that that unexpected visit to Roccamorice and the brief but powerful encounter with the Lord was a transforming moment in my life and the beginning of a deep and intimate relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   And the blessings continued.  One morning before sunrise, Irma and I went with our cousin Gabrielle and his son and two of their truffle hunting dogs deep into the hills and woods high on top the mountain to hunt for truffles.  At daybreak we found ourselves in the middle of a clearing filled with butterflies, mountain peaks close in the distance.  Blessings and experiences that brought me closer still to my family and in particular to Jesus who I always knew in my head, but whom I was discovering in such an intimate and tangible way in my heart
13.02.2019
Joy in the Journey
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I have the great blessing of coaching and helping others on their journey to a healthier lifestyle and I am on that journey too.  It's not always easy and there are struggles along the way and right now for many it is a time of struggle.  Coming off the holidays and into the new year.  Maybe starting off strong and then falling off, wanting to get back on track and stumbling more than we'd like.  Knowing spring is around the corner and wanting to get there strong......whatever the reason or wherever we are in the process I think we can all relate at one time or another. This morning I shared the following thoughts with my group: I was thinking about how sometimes we all get to a point when it's difficult to shake that downhill trend.  You know doing good for a few days, then sliding off a bit, getting back in and kind of that cycle. And where at one time or another we have been able to pull out for a good long stretch of going in the direction we want to be going in without frequent side tracks or derails that can set us back from our goals. And I was thinking about some of the things that I have learned from 2B Mindset and Ilana. So I wanted to share a few thoughts I had this morning: One - A consistent breakfast. A couple of staple breakfast choices that we can go between but that keep us on a steady path and help us to get the day started right and with us feeling full and satisfied in the thought that we will keep it going throughout the day. Two - Weight loss Mode. In short speak, MINDSET. Keeping the goal of losing weight at the forefront of our mind and having that be the choice maker when there are temptations, meal choices and derailing behavior that comes our way. And if you hold tight to faith, use it, look to Jesus and if you feel at that moment you are not strong enough to make the healthy choice, let HIM make it for you and just go with it. Tell yourself, there will always be other opportunities to indulge, to treat, to step off the weight loss platform. BUT THIS TIME, "I am going to stay the course" not going to vere, not going to cave, not going to "treat" just yet. I'm going to FROG it!! FROG - Fully Rely On God. And I am going to proudly walk the weight loss road. In my mind, in my heart, in my actions. Three - Openness to learning. Learning to lose weight is a LIFE SKILL and its going to take effort. Yes, we put in a LOT LOT LOT of effort, but if we are finding ourselves slipping, shifting, not able to get a good hold, we have to take a look at it. Are we really putting in all the effort that we can? Are we giving it 100%, 100% of the time. If I am honest with myself, it is a resounding NO and the scale is in my face to prove it. So I can continue to resist and not acknowledge I'm not fully in 100% or remind myself I don't have to like it or even want it at the moment, maybe I want to be rebellious, all good, but that changes nothing, I'm still going to do it, because I don't have to "feel" like it, I just HAVE TO DO IT! And that means learning new ways to look at things, new behaviors that replace the old ones, the old narratives that I have been telling myself. Learn new stories, be open to hearing them, go back through videos, research, google, so things to enlighten my mind to hep me keep my attitude positive, to strengthen my mindset so that it is serving ME in the way that I want it to, in helping ME to achieve those goals that I SAY I want. Plain and simple, it's going to take effort and consistent effort at that, even when I don't want to or feel like it. I am going to have to do it ANYWAY! Four - Be unshakeable, Be secure in what your doing, do not allow yourself to talk yourself into veering from your course. No matter how HANGRY we get, no matter how we want to soothe a hurt, pain, feelings and a suck day. Find other ways to soothe than food, a walk, a talk with a friend, a trip to get nails done or a massage, sitting in nature, sitting quietly and reading a book, listening to music, diving into an organizing or cleaning project, exercise, a workout, a self-help video or motivational one, anything that takes the mind off of indulging or treating when a treat is not the best thing right now. Self care and resolve to not let anything move you from your goal. get to the root of what is driving the desire to jump the rails and face it head on. Get a long drink of water, sit with a warm cup of tea, meditate, pray, walk away. Remind yourself what and why you are doing what you are doing and how good it feels on the other side of it. BE UNSHAKEABLE. BELIEVE!! I write this reminder, this cold February morning as much for me as for you. And the rest I wrote was personal to our group.  Support is key and that is truly the foundation of our group.  We have a quick check in once a week and a regular Saturday morning chat where we share about our week, how we are doing, areas that we are doing well in and areas where we struggle.  It's so much more, we have become a family and we support each other in ways that go well beyond making healthy meal choices.  If you want to make healthy changes and join us, I'd love to help.
31.01.2019
Joy in the Journey
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 WOW, WOW, WOW So much to say about this but I'm keeping it brief and providing you with a link that can answer your questions and provide you with more information. I learned about Anthony William the Medical Medium and the benefits of drinking fresh Celery Juice from a friends post.  I almost discarded the idea without looking further into it.  Mostly because the idea of drinking celery juice was not at all appealing to me and also because I thought this may another fad.   But knowing that my friend isn't into fads, is health conscious and does her own thorough research.  And then taking the time read the comments on her post of others who were starting the day with fresh celery juice and following various methods recommended in these books  I was intrigued and decided to dive into a little research myself.  After looking into the Medical Medium, Liver Rescue and Life Changing Foods and scanning through the information and excerpts from the books I downloaded the Medical Medium on Audible and all three books on Kindle and in no time was more than halfway through the first book.   We made a decision a few years ago to live a healthier lifestyle and have been making strides in that direction with our nutrition and exercise.  I also prefer a natural and holistic approach to nutrition and healing and enjoyed reading about Anthony William's journey.   So we decided to give celery juice a try and we are loving it.   We now have a whole new arsenal of healthy recipes to add to our already lengthy list and we have been drinking fresh celery juice first thing in the morning for over three weeks now.   Both John and I are amazed how one simple addition to our morning routine has increased the energy we already have from our shake.  And how the celery juice and the other tips from these books compliment and add a multitude of additional health benefits to an already healthy lifestyle!! This article from the Medical Medium  about the top 21 questions on Celery juice is a great place to start if you want to learn more.  It's a bit long, but in my opinion covers a lot of ground and is totally worth the read.
26.10.2018
Joy in the Journey
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https://www.facebook.com/lindasousa.joyinthejourney/videos/181649059381298/ We are capable of so much more than we think or know. If I never took that first step towards self care a few years ago my life would look a whole lot different today and I sure as heck could never have jumped while doing a burpee, let alone 11 of them in a row as an added challenge at the end of a half hour workout. I would also never known the blessing and joy of serving and mentoring others with their health, lifestyle and business goals. And the grace of helping them tap into their own beauty and greatness. I am so grateful that I have learned to challenge myself and stretch beyond my own self limiting beliefs to bring out my best self, live intentionally, increase my self-knowledge and confidence and walk in my purpose serving others. It didn’t come naturally, I work at it every day because I AM worth it, I was made for a greater purpose. You are too, and if you want to figure out your purpose and tap into your greatness, then we should chat because I can help. 📲

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