Birthday Miracle!

Today I am getting ready to celebrate my 50th birthday with my dear family of almost 50 people!  I am full of nostalgia and gratitude and remembering my Mom in a very special way as December 4th approaches.

thI was number six of nine kids and I love being part of a large family. Mom said she always wanted at least ten kids but the Lord allowed her to get to nine by 43 years old. I am forever stunned by the mere fact that each of the children were born in a different month…from August through April! I am not sure another family of nine could repeat that. My mom of course did not plan it that way – it was God’s plan.

On each of our birthdays, she would always call in the morning and sing “Happy Birthday” on the phone. We just expected it and always treasured it although as an adult, you felt a little weird listening to your mom singing to you on the phone. She did not feel uncomfortable at all and you could feel the love and how very proud she was of you in her voice. I can hear her sing “Happy Birthday” in my heart always.

When Mom turned 60 years old, we gave her a very special gift – a Mother’s ring. It had 9 different birthstones for the 9 different months that each of us were born. My sister Susan said her April stone (the diamond) should go in the middle but in our family one child was not more special than another. We were all loved completely, uniquely and fully. The ring ended up having the nine stones in two rows which were placed in numerical order from the oldest to the youngest. It was beautiful and Mom was so overwhelmed with joy when she received it. She wrote us a thank you note and below are some of her treasured eternal words of wisdom:

“First of all I want to thank each of you for my beautiful Mother’s Ring. It is the most treasured gift I have ever received. Every time I look at it I think of each of you and the gift from God all of you truly are…..I have such peace in knowing that I was open to the life of each of you….I encourage you to stay close and love each other. Someday, Dad and I will be gone and we won’t be around to pull you all together. Each one of you have positive as well as negative sides. But you must always see the good in one another….Most of all you have been baptized in Christ Jesus when you were babies. The Catholic Church with all its flaws is our heritage. Draw closer to God and His Church. Remember when your twilight years come, it’s not so much how much money you have or leave behind, but how very much you have loved others. Leave a legacy of love for your children.”

God gave us all a Birthday Miracle when mom was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. We first heard the word cancer in August of 2007, the month of my brother Chris’ birthday. One by one we each celebrated our last birthday with Mom as she battled her disease that we all knew would take her life: Chris – August, Debbie – September, Billy – October, Mary Beth – November, Jeanette – December, Peter – January, Anna – February, Patrick – March, Susan – April.

Most pancreatic cancer patients go very quickly and sometimes within weeks or months of diagnosis. Mom’s cancer had spread greatly by the timMom's Portraite it was diagnosed. The Lord allowed her to have one more birthday, one more song for each of her 9 kids. She made it through Susan’s Birthday in April of 2008 which left one more special day to celebrate in May – Mother’s Day. What a day I will forever remember! Mom looked beautiful that day, almost like she was healed and glowing with love. She was laughing, talking and full of energy. At the end of the day, we all waited in a long line to kneel at her feet and say good-bye to our precious Mother. I felt like we were in a grace bubble at her house that day and did not want it to end. The memories carry me.

The day after Mother’s Day, everything changed. Mom looked different…more sick, more distant, not herself. It was almost as if she worked out a deal with God to live through one more Birthday for each child and one last Mother’s Day and then she would surrender to the disease that was raging through her body. Mom died two weeks after Mother’s Day on May 26, 2008 with all of us gathered around her bed.

She had completed her earthly journey and mission to point us all toward heaven. She taught us how to live and now taught us how to die. The words of her thank you letter for her ring were read at her funeral Mass. They are etched in my heart and I thank the Lord for allowing my Mom to live for one more Birthday for me and my brothers and sisters.

Mom was buried with the Mother’s Ring she so cherished. It did not make sense to keep it for us but to forever let it be a part of her heart and soul and a symbol of her love. Today is a day to celebrate that love with my family.  Thank you Mom for my life and your legacy of love – you forever live on in my heart!

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Want to Dare Greatly?

What comes to your mind when you hear the word vulnerable?

Most people’s natural reaction is to run from that feeling of being exposed and out of control. It is not a pleasant thought and most of us would never choose vulnerability if we had the option. We would choose the “safe, secure and controlled” route away from harm, pain and potential suffering.

What if I told you that by opting out of vulnerability in your life, you will never fully experience joy, love and belonging? You may have glimpses of what they could be but the wall that you build to protect yourself from risk, vulnerability and exposure will also block out the best of the best and possibly make you cynical. C.S. Lewis described it well in this quote from the Four Loves…..

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

I recently became certified to facilitate and teach Brene´Brown’s work on shame, courage and vulnerability. Her program is called The Daring Way™. After 12 years of research, she discovered that vulnerability is really courage and the birthplace of love, joy and belonging. She was inspired by “The Man in the Arena” speech given by Teddy Roosevelt in 1910 and speaks of it her book Daring Greatly – How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the way we Live, Love, Parent and Lead.

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In September, 2014, I will be facilitating my first small group coaching program on The Daring Way™ for 8 weeks. I am also incorporating Brené’s work into my individual coaching practice and will continue group coaching and weekend intensives on this powerful program in the future. It speaks to my heart and is at the core of my personal vision/mission and my coaching practice. Authentic living from the heart takes courage and work on the journey but it is so worth it.

Vulnerability is key to our spiritual journey, our faith, our relationships and true authentic living. Anyone who opts out is missing out on life.

Do you want to Dare Greatly?  Check out this short Brené Brown video with Oprah to find out how to Show Up, Be Seen and Live Brave!

Join me on this exciting adventure in The Daring Way™ and discover your authentic self and the joy of wholehearted living!  More information coming soon…….contact me if you are interested.

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I Remember…..

The tears stained my eyes the day I told my dear neighbor who lost her mom years ago, “I don’t ever want to forget – please tell me you never forget.”  My mom had just been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and her days were numbered big time.  The punch in the gut was beyond words.  As I look back – the diagnosis was almost worse than the real thing.

Mother’s day is right around the corner and the 5 year anniversary of my Mom’s death is May 26th.  The tears seem to be coming easy again as they did when the word cancer first reared it’s ugly head in my world that August, 2008.….and, thanks be to God – I remember.

  • I remember the gentle smile on her face and the twinkle in her eye when she looked at her 9 children.  You knew you were wanted, loved and safe.
  • I remember her prayers.  They were strong, constant and never ceasing.  The world was going to be OK when Mom prayed.  My friends even knew that.
  • I remember the consistent dinners on the table, the folded clothes, the clean house (don’t know how she did that with 9!), the hard work and the tired look on her face at the end of a long day of service.
  • Mom's PortraitI remember the sound of her voice singing and praising God at Church as we both played the guitar at school Mass or she led the congregation in song at Sunday Mass.
  • I remember the phone calls during college – “Don’t put so much pressure on yourself – B’s are great”.  She knew each of her children so well and did anything to relieve their stress.
  • I remember her hatred of alcohol, never really enjoying a drink or wanting to be in the presence of alcohol since she struggled with the difficult memory of her alcoholic father.  I remember telling her that there will probably be no alcohol in heaven!
  • I remember sitting in our childhood kitchen overwhelmed with sadness when the doctor shared news of infertility.  She promised God had big plans and I would have a house full of kids.  I believed her and am daily reminded of  her words with the gift of adoption, motherhood and the love of my 3 girls.
  • I remember her unfailing presence at the adoption of my girls.  So strong, so proud, so supportive.  I could not have done it without her.  She carried me through some very emotional and difficult times.
  • I remember her tears and proud smile as she looked at her Mother’s ring on her 60th birthday.  A birthstone for each child born in 9 different months – her most treasured gift that was buried with her mother’s heart.
  • I remember the complete joy she expressed on her 50th wedding anniversary.  She counted her many blessings – her husband, her kids, their spouses, the many grandkids.  She told me she felt like a princess that day and was overwhelmed with gratitude and love.
  • I remember telling her of the cancer diagnosis.  She bravely took our hands and prayed the Our Father – thy will be done – and asked that all her kids join her that night to thank God for our blessings.  We followed her lead and her strength carried us.
  • I remember how she told us to be there for Dad.  She would be so proud of his love and his leadership in our family.  She taught him well.
  • I remember wanting to go be with her every day of her illness.  The presence of her children gave her peace and brought her joy.  I wanted to bottle up that feeling of heavenly love as Mom prepared to die and teach us her last life lesson.
  • I remember her last night on earth – she was so brave and strong and suffered greatly before she waited for her children to arrive and usher her into her heavenly home.  She died peacefully in her bed.
  • I remember her funeral – the beautiful Mass, the celebration of life, the joy, the gratitude, the 400+ people, the love, the support.  It was OK.  We did it.

I remember, yes Lord, I remember.  Most of all, I remember her unconditional love.  She loved deeply and with her whole heart.  She focused on our strengths and our gifts and taught us to love God, our faith and each other.

Remembering is God’s reminder that love never dies.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom  –  I remember!

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Why am I Running a Half Marathon?

For the longest time, I thought they were bible verse bumper stickers with a spiritual message.  Could it be John 13.1 or Luke 26.2 that was attached to the back of a few cars?  I finally asked a friend coming out of our workout class.  “Oh, I ran a half marathon” she said.  Duh….the light bulb went off – and 26.2 was a full marathon!

Now I was programmed to look for those significant bumper stickers.  It was a sign of a challenging accomplishment, one that I thought I could never achieve or never even wanted to try to achieve.  It represented a one-time event that only nutty people had the guts to try.

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You could say that I am crazy or just took an opportunity when it came along.  I was in OK shape and intrigued by the thought of a half marathon.  A friend informed me of a last minute chance to run the inaugural Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Washington, DC on April 28th.  The race includes 15,000 women, the course is flat and the prize is a Tiffany necklace at the finish line.  The flat course was the sell.  It was now or never for me.

I realized early on in the training that I needed a cause or a “why” for my running.  It was not just about getting in shape or the physical achievement.  The Tiffany necklace is no big deal either.  I needed to run for something more meaningful.

A few months ago, I joined a group called liferunners.  Their mission is to run to support the pro-life cause through fundraising and awareness.  I bought the T-shirt that says:  REMEMBER THE UNBORN – Jer 1:5www.liferunners.org.  The Lord said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”  This was the cause that spoke to my heart.  I will wear my T-shirt and offer my running challenge and pain for the unborn, for the women caught in the lie of abortion, for those babies that were never given a chance to live.

Will you help support my cause?  All gifts will support 1st Choice Women’s Health Center in Lansdowne, VAwww.1stchoicewhc.org.  They have a goal of reaching more pregnant women by updating their internet marketing plan.   Please send all contributions to 1st Choice – 19415 Deerfield Avenue, Ste 109, Lansdowne, VA  20176 with Jeanette Engel –  liferunner in the memo line of your check.

Thanks for your support!

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Jesus is My Lenten Life Coach

Lots of pancakes for dinner tonight.  One last big meal before we enter the beautiful, penitential season of Lent.

Thank God for Lent – the church was wise to give us a 40 day season to stop, pray more, sacrifice and give alms.  As much as I dread Lent, I look forward to it.  I sometimes need someone or something to guide or coach me into being more than my regular self.

Lent is my season and Jesus is my Life Coach as I enter into a time of remembering and meditating on His passion and death.  I want to pray more, to sacrifice and to look for ways to give my time and talents to the poor and Lent is my motivation.  With God’s amazing grace, I finally stop my regular routine and ask Him to help me become more.  It is very hard and I constantly fail, but I remember His love for me and I get back up and keep trying.

I have given up sweets and chocolates many times in the past and tried to pray more – weekly holy hours, stations of the cross, etc but I found a book and fasting program a few years ago and it gave me a deeper motivation.  It is called The Daniel Fast.  Image

This fast is about getting back to the basics of eating the food the Lord gave us – fruits, vegetables, whole grains and journeying with prayer.  It is not about giving up food but more about a spiritual journey with the Lord with the side benefits of getting healthy.  My success increases when my motivation is clear and prayer is part of the process.  I truly have to beg God each day to give me the strength and willpower to follow this fast.  The Daniel fast is biblically based on scripture from the book of Daniel where his fast was a spiritual journey of prayer and petition before the Lord.  Prayer is the key ingredient and there are daily prayer ideas here or you can just use your Magnificat to follow the daily Mass readings that prepare you for the passion and death of our Lord.

There is a great website here that provides information, explanation and recipes for the fast.

The first 3 days are always the hardest – especially if you have to come off a sugar high like I have been on since before Christmas!  I am afraid to try this and worried that I will fail – but I am going to trust that the Lord will carry me through these Lenten 40 days.  You can even give up one thing each week with a goal to do the complete Daniel Fast for Holy Week – what a glorious Easter it will be!

By the way – here and here are great resources with other Lenten ideas for prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Anyone want to join with me?  We can support and pray for each other along the Lenten journey.

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Are You Living in Your Sweet Spot?

Maybe the title was the draw.  I was amazed to present my Life Coaching Kick-Off Workshop to a crowd of almost 30 people!  They were as young as 18 to folks in their 70s – male and female.  The inspiration for my workshop was Max Lucado’s book – Cure for the Common Life:  Living in Your Sweet Spot.   I felt compelled to share the passion for living the abundant life that God put on my heart and soul when I started my Life Coaching journey.  I knew that at some point in our life journey, many of us are not living with passion, intention and purpose.  My own journey included a time when I was working 50+ hours per week with two small kids and knew I was not being true to myself, my values and my heart.  Walking away from a big career in Human Resources in 1999 was the best decision I ever made allowing me to live in my sweet spot.  My priorities were finally aligned with my heart and at that moment I was living the life I was created to live.  If I had died, my tombstone would say Wife, Mother and Child of God.

One of the workshop participants described sweet spot as the feeling that you know you are doing what you were meant to do in this life.  Using Max Lucado’s analogy, I described sweet spot as the What, How and Why of your life.  Just as a baseball hits the perfect spot on the bat for a home run, your life can click when you use your strengths, gifts and talents (What) in your everyday story (How) to give glory to God (Why).

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We discussed starting with the Why in your life when you need to find your purpose and passion.  Why are you in that job?  Why are you a stay at home mom?  Why do you spend your hours in a day on that hobby?  Why are you even at this workshop?  The why will lead you to a deeper understanding of yourself and your passions and give you conviction for major decisions of your life.  Check out this YouTube by Simon Sinek who wrote the book Start with Why….

This simple concept can get us thinking.  If you do not like the answer to your Why, you may need to make some changes and re-prioritize to live in your sweet spot.  Remember, all your are and the gifts you have been given come from God.  Your sweet spot has to include a way to give him honor and glory.  Your life should show off who God is!

Are you living in your sweet spot?  Are you living your priorities from the heart?

Try this Free Assessment to see where you are and what changes you need to make to live your one life – on purpose, with passion and joy.

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“Turn the Unplanned into a Loving Plan”

40 years and over 55 million precious lives gone since Roe v. Wade was legalized on this day in 1973.  It is a staggering number and my heart feels heavy today.

I started thinking what life would be like if Roe v. Wade did not end in Roe’s favor.  “Jane Roe” – Norma McCorvey – was actually used to push through the legalization of abortion and is now a pro-life advocate.  I guess someone else would have come forward suing for the rights to kill their unborn baby – but what if we took a different perspective on all this?  What if we did not worry about what the courts, the government or Obama says? What if we treated each woman facing an unplanned pregnancy with dignity, love and compassion as a child of God?  What if we reached out to the confused and lonely women who find themselves in this difficult situation and offer help, love and assistance?  What if adoption was an accepted choice and our society fought for each unborn child and provided love and support?  Would the world be different?

thI know the world is different because 3 birth moms chose life for my girls.  All birth moms are unsung heroes in my book.  Mother Teresa said “I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption..”  That is the fight that I believe in and I will spend my life promoting and sharing the choice of adoption.  It is not enough to just hope and pray that the courts overturn Roe v. Wade and honestly with the current administration – that is a long shot.  It is not enough to say that those who become pregnant have to become parents when they may not be ready or able.

We can do something right now – and that is to promote the choice of adoption by showing love.  Love the unmarried birthmom who is confused and does not know where to go.  Love the college girl who thinks that sleeping around will bring her happiness.  Love and celebrate birth moms who made adoption plans and treat them with the honor and respect they deserve.  Love the hurting woman who carries a heavy load on her heart with the scar of abortion.

Let’s stop abortion with love and possibility – one person at a time.

Let’s help Turn the Unplanned into a Loving Plan……

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I Have a Confession to Make

Ok – I thought I would get this out of the way right up front.  I truly do have a confession to make.  It’s not like I need to go to a priest to get some serious sin off my chest (which, by the way, is always a great idea!), but I do need to make something crystal clear.  I need to do this just as much for me as I need to do it for you.

reconciliation_11Here it goes.  I am a certified Life Coach and Human Behavior/DISC Consultant and I truly did the hard work and mastered the coaching skills to be able to put these really cool letters after my name – CCLC, CHBC; but I am just a simple, ordinary messed up girl like the rest of the world.  Yes, it is true.  Just because I have the title Life Coach, I am certainly no expert on life.  In fact, the only true expert I know is Jesus Christ and all His advice can be found in the Holy Scriptures, the teachings of His Church and in the silence of our prayerful hearts.

I CAN tell you what I definitely am.

I am a woman with passion trying to live my priorities every single day from the heart.  I want to look at my journey always with the end in mind knowing I was created for eternity.  My heart soars when I connect with people on the journey trying to bring out the best in each other and having an awesome time doing it!  I love reading, researching, learning, growing, teaching, leading, encouraging, coaching and sharing life-changing resources that challenge us to live fully.  I rest in the fact that I do not have all the answers and humbly lay in my Savior’s arms as He leads the Way!

I became a Life Coach in part to fulfill my craving for daily inspiration, but also to share my passion for life and help bring out the best in others.  We are called by God to live an abundant life and that takes work.  Every step of my training was a journey of personal self-discovery amongst a community of friends.  The journey continues daily as I set new goals, face new fears, step out in faith and try to become the best that God made me to be.

As I journey, will you come with me?  I have the training and passion to coach, motivate and ask the right questions.  I know Life Coaching works.  I have been coached many times myself and experienced the positive results of speaking my struggles, facing my fears, being held accountable and moving one step closer to living in my sweet spot.

The truth is YOU are the expert of your life and YOU have the answers.  What are your gifts, your passions and your joys?  What changes do you need to make to become your best self?  Are you Living Your Priorities from the Heart?

Join My Journey Coach blog and updates and get your FREE assessment by clicking here.

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