Getting Creative with the Rosary

Yesterday as I washed dishes, unbeknownst to me, my toddler son was upstairs making a swimming pool out of my bathroom.  I heard the water running above when I turned off the kitchen sink faucet.  I immediately bolted upstairs and, not yet noticing the drenched floors, I ran into the bathroom to shut off the water.  I must have looked like a cartoon character slipping on a banana peel as my feet flew out from under me.  My knees slammed into the cabinet just before I landed harshly on my rear.

I was hurt, annoyed, and even a bit angry.  I yelled at my mischief making little one.  Guilt and fear washed over his sweet face as his bottom lip quivered.  I instantly felt awful for yelling.  But, darn it, I was hurting.

As my curly mop-topped little guy walked away sheepishly, I wondered; would I have had the graces to proceed more calmly if I had begun my day by praying the Apostles Creed to kick off a rosary instead of sifting through social media. I’m not sure, but it certainly could not have hurt.  I have yet to regret finding time to pray the rosary.

Making the rosary a daily habit is not easy.  However, once I discovered and also created some alternative tools to help me pray the rosary throughout the day, it became more habitual.  I love the traditional beads that I received as a gift at my first communion as well as the beautiful crystal beads my husband gave me for Christmas one year, but sometimes they are not conducive to my busy mom life.

These are my five favorite alternative ways to pray the rosary.  Even if you already have a nice habit going, it’s always great to try something new.  You may add a different dimension to your prayer life when you mix up your routine.

Laudate App

Several years ago, I started using my ipod, and then later my smart phone, to pray an occasional rosary.  The Laudate app offers the perfect way to get back into praying with its interactive rosary.  It walks you through each bead.  Don’t have the mysteries memorized? No problem.  Laudate has you covered!  You can read here about how I relearned the rosary with during my long train commute to work.  This was of course before I became a Catholic Homegirl, my funny way of saying a Catholic Stay at Home Mom.  Find the Laudate app for the iphone here.

Rosary Bracelet

Do you have a rosary bracelet from Chews Life yet?  It is an ideal rosary for the busy mom.  Fifty Five colorful beads wrap around your wrist.  A clasp with a crucifix keeps your place when your prayers are interrupted.  I have to thank the makers of this bracelet, Shannon and Laura, for helping jumpstart my daily rosary habit.  Their 28 day challenge was also a game changer for me!

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Also, with this bracelet, my daughter came to understand Mary as her other mother.  A few months back, she started getting anxious before bedtime on a regular basis.  I gave her my bracelet to wear to bed and told her it was a reminder that when I’m not around, she can look to Mary for comfort.  It’s now a ritual that we pray a decade of the rosary together before bedtime.  Sometimes if I stand close to her bedroom door, I can hear her sweet almost 7 year old voice reciting another decade on her own.

Laundry Piles

I love the Laudate App and my bracelet, but sometimes, my hands need to take care of household chores.  Although I love watching TV while I fold laundry, I often find myself distracted.  Praying a rosary while I fold laundry keeps me on task.  I count out ten items to fold while doing the first leg of the rosary.  I use these folded pieces of clothing as beads.  I pray the rosary while folding the rest of the laundry, keeping track of my decade by moving one of the ten pieces of laundry from one pile to another.

Doodling

One Tuesday night I found myself in adoration with no rosary, not even my bracelet.  I did, however, have a pen and my journal.  I began drawing a rosary as I prayed. Doodling engaged my right brain, helping me enter into an almost timeless, but also focused, state of mind.  If you already pray the rosary often and are in a bit of a spiritual rut, I highly recommend doodling your next rosary.

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I started by drawing a little cross to say the Apostles Creed and with each prayer, I drew a flower or other design for the duration of that particular prayer until I had completed a the rosary.

Hands Free Rosary – a Catholic Homegirl original

My final alternative way to pray the rosary uses something that I created.  I call it the Hands Free Rosary.  The rough idea came to me about six months ago when I longed for some sort of object to help me pray a rosary while doing my dishes.  I finally had a bit of inspiration and went to Michaels to buy some materials.  I had a vision in my head but was having difficulty helping it materialize.  Then, on the morning of the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, it came to me.   My original plan had me searching for pink flower shaped beads.  At Michaels I could only find white rose shaped beads and I’m convinced that it was no coincidence. They were perfect to help illustrate the Immaculate Heart of Mary:image2 (1)

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The beads across the heart are the decade beads and the bead on the side trace the decade that you are praying.

Do you have any creative methods of praying??  Would you like to enter a contest to win a Hands Free Rosary?  Comment below!

 

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St. Frances of Rome

I love stories that illustrate, without a doubt, God’s guiding hand, His providence, giving evidence of something more than just coincidence.  This is one such story.

At the beginning of this year, I used Jennifer Fulwiler’s website to randomly select my patron saint for 2017.   St. Frances of Rome was the winner.  I was pretty excited about the selection because from a quick glance at her bio, it appeared that she was the patron saint of discernment.  And wouldn’t you know it – my husband and I were in the midst of making a big decision for our family.

You see, we were trying to determine whether or not we should move back to our hometown.  For a long time I had felt a pull to relocate our family closer to our roots.  Currently, we only live an hour away.  I know, I know.  It’s a relatively short distance!  I could be an airplane ride away.  But I was longing for the type of proximity that would allow my children to truly grow up with their cousins, go on impromptu adventures with aunts and uncles, and spend summer afternoons swimming with grandparents.

I also really wanted help.  If you’ve been reading my blog or know me in real life, you know that our son Theo is not a neurotypical child.  Although at this moment I finally feel like our family’s arriving at a somewhat well adjusted place, for a while we were drowning.  Well, I should specifically say that I was drowning and I wanted to be nearest to the people who loved us the most, our family.

So what was holding us back from picking up and moving?   Aside from job issues, our biggest concern was Theo’s education.  He’s currently in a self-contained classroom in a special education preschool.  He receives an abundant amount of speech therapy services as well as some occupational and other social services.  After doing my research it seemed likely that Theo would not receive the same amount of services if we moved to a school district in or near our hometown.

Despite the possible decrease in educational services, I still felt we were being called to move.  However, at that time I wasn’t completely at peace with either option, staying or leaving.  So, my husband and I prayed and prayed looking for clarity.  I also frequently prayed a St. Frances prayer for discernment.

I decided to tour a couple of schools that Theo would possibly attend if we moved.   I thought that after viewing the schools I would feel a definitive answer in my heart. Instead, I felt more confusion.

My mom was watching my three children while I toured the schools.  After I was done I figured I’d take advantage of having a little alone time and headed to a boutique makeup store to treat myself to a new lipstick, something I probably hadn’t done in about eight years.  On my walk from the parking lot to the storefront, my fingers moved from bead to bead, praying a bit of a rosary.

Upon entering the store, I was greeted by a couple of familiar faces, asking me what I was doing in town.  Another woman, who I did not recognize, began to help me search for the perfect neutral pink tone for my lips as I explained my reasons for being in town. Some tears came to my eyes as I explained my concerns for my son who was mostly nonverbal at 4 years old.  As soon as I started to get to the part about relocating our family, the woman helping me just blurted out,

“I don’t think you should move here.”

It wasn’t what I wanted to hear…but I listened.

She went on to explain that she had a close friend who had grown up in the area and now has a son with autism.  The previous spring this friend and her husband had decided to move their family away from their friends and family so that her son could receive more therapy and other educational services at a different school.

“Wait,” she stopped in her tracks. “Where did you say you live now?”

“Crystal Lake,” I responded.

“Oh! That’s where they moved!”

No way.  Then I asked her if she happened to know where the child was going to school. She texted the mother, her friend, and the response gave me chills.

Her son went to my son’s school.

I had been praying for God to just be blunt, to tell me what we should do.  And through this stranger at the make up store, He spoke to me in no uncertain terms.  We needed to stay put.  I felt this sense of peace wash over me in that moment, knowing we were where we needed to be for our son.

Even though I had this peace that comes with being in alignment with God’s will, I still felt a mix of emotions.  I was elated thinking that I had received this most amazing God moment.  But I was also deeply saddened that living a 5 minute drive from most our extended family was not in God’s plan at this time.

As I left the store and looked down at my rosary bracelet I remembered that just the day before I had completed a 28-day rosary challenge.  You may or may not recall that one of the fifteen rosary promises is “whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.”  That had certainly just happened.

Later that evening, I was scanning Twitter and I noticed a link to an article that I had retweeted earlier in that same day so that I would be reminded to read it later.  The article initially caught my eye for two reasons, first it was about St. Frances of Rome, my saint for the year.  And second, the title was St. Frances’ Secret to Finding God Through Your Family.  

After the day was done, I read the article.  Although I had learned a little about St. Frances when I initially picked her for my 2017 saint, I didn’t know her full story.   She had thought she felt a calling in a certain direction and then came to find out that it really wasn’t where God wanted her at the time.  It turned out that the calling she felt was real and in agreement with God’s will, but the timing was not.  And once I read this, my day made so much more sense.

I called one of my close and faithful friends to tell her about the signal grace at the make up store and the article about St. Frances.  She knew how long my husband and I had been discerning this decision.   At some point she interjected,

“Courtney, isn’t it the feast of St. Frances of Rome today?”

I had chills for the second time that day as my quick google search revealed that, yes, that day (March 9) was indeed the feast of St. Frances of Rome, patron saint of discernment, and my saint for the year.

Sometimes I really need God to slam me over the head with his will.  That day I don’t think it could have been any any clearer.

Friends, if you are discerning something, I strongly encourage you to try to make the rosary a daily habit and then check out St. Frances of Rome.  She’s pretty amazing.

St. Frances of Rome, pray for us!